I can't remember the last time I let out a literal gasp at a story in the news because it shocked me so deeply. I read a lot of stories every day while prepping for my radio show and I see a lot of awful stuff. Sad stuff. Brutal stuff. Heartbreaking stuff. But they don't often make me gasp.
Yesterday my wife walked past me as I prepped on the laptop and I let out such a gasp. The sound that came from inside me startled me.
Someone I used to work closely with was found murdered in their Brooklyn apartment, viciously stabbed to death.
The reports out today are even more horrifying and detailed and today I would rather focus on the man I knew in George Weber. I will let the forensics experts and the newspapers focus on the gory and awful specifics.
I will never forget the first time George Weber and I met. It was actually on the phone before we met in person. I was an intern at the time and had not even earned my own radio talk show yet. I was helping to produce other shows and the "new guy" who was coming to town was on the phone I had just answered.
"This is George Weber," he said.
I can't honestly remember the nature of the call. Probably to confirm directions or something like that. But I DO remember how classy and nice he was to me, having no idea who the voice was he was talking to.
There is a saying I have heard that rings true to me: character is how you treat people who aren't in a position to give you anything.
Think about that. It's not unheard of to be nice to people when we expect something from them, when they are in a position to give us something we want. But how we treat most people around us who AREN'T there to benefit us AT ALL--that's a true sign of one's character.
And George Weber treated me like I was gold.
That was my first impression. It made me giddy to meet the "new guy" coming to the radio station. I was a young man--right around 21 or so. My dreams of hosting a radio show had been fermenting in my soul for about 8 or nine years already and I was trying to soak in what the talented hosts did like a sponge.
I was told by my bosses, "Take note! Do what this guy does! He's a trailblazer!"
And yes, he was. I got to call screen and produce for George Weber when he came to town. I was blown away by the freshness of his approach. His youthful energy and humor and creativity and drive to think and act outside the box really tapped a nerve in me. These were all things I eventually did in my own show as well. Not because I copied George. But because we were radio soul mates...talents who didn't want to sound like everyone else who had come before us.
He ended up befriending me. Sharing tips with me. Guiding me along.
George Weber would later end up in New York City, working as a newsman and an anchor for the last years of his radio career.
But I will never forget what a gentle spirit he was. He was a kind man in a business that is ripe with jerks and egomaniacs.
I remember how he used to purposefully mumble his last name on the air and all the people who would call me up and yell, "He's George WHO?!?! WOOOBER??? WEBAR??? WOOOBAR???"
That was George. And he did it all with a giant smile on his face.
What a sad and tragic loss that he was found the apparent victim of homicide in his New York apartment over the weekend.
Damn, George. We were never close enough to be called close friends. But I miss you deeply and painfully inside as if we were. I remember the e-mail you sent me just in the last couple of years. Out of the blue. Just catching up. I was honored you even remembered me, let alone cared how I was doing.
God bless you my friend. Your smile and spark and magic will be missed.