Chapter 32 - "Great Expectations"

Checking his rearview mirror, Steve Jackson hit the key on the steering wheel to take an incoming call.

"Hello, Steve here."

"Hi, Steve.  This is Charles Jones at WTMJ - do you have a minute?"

"Sure Charles, how are you?"  

Steve and Charles were acquaintances dating all the way back to college and kept in touch with each other as they climbed the career ladder.

"I’m fine, Steve.  Hey, I'm calling because we have an opening over here in Milwaukee and I think you'd be perfect for it."

"Oh really?  Wow, thanks for thinking of me Chuck.  What is it?"

"We're opening up more of our on-air programming to include a digital dimension and as a result of our research we realize we need more local programming.  I've kept tabs on what you guys are doing in Roseville and I'd like to bring a touch of that to Milwaukee.  I think you're the guy to help us get there."

"I'm flattered, Chuck, but I don't know.  We've had some changes at the station here and I've just been promoted.  It might not look good for me to bail on them now."

"Sure, I get that.  Could I persuade you to take a day and visit us to discuss it?  If you want to stay in Roseville, that's fine - but I really think this could a great fit."

"Sure, Chuck.  It never hurts to learn more, I guess.  How about next Saturday morning?  If we can't do it on a weekend, then I don't know when I can get over there."

"You've got it.  I'll see you then and I'll shoot you an email with more details on the position.  Drive safe.  See you next week."

Steve checked his side view mirror before pulling back on the highway.  Just a few minutes ago he was content and looking forward to the next several years - heck, the rest of his career in Roseville.  Milwaukee?  That's been a dream going back before he got his first job. 

The WRSE signal was nothing but snaps and pops now, so Jackson changed the dial to a good local station out of LaCrosse.  He half-listened and thought about his future the rest of the trip.

The afternoon in the office was a busy one for Kevin Storm.  It had been a few years since he spent more time navigating a desk than looking at weather radar, but it was a refreshing change to be part of a great tradition with so much promise ahead of it.  He turned to his computer to complete his proposal for Pete on changing the way they do weather.

After several weeks of increasingly serious conversations, Kevin thought the time right to join forces with the leading TV station in the capital city.  Partnerships like this were increasingly common and seemed to benefit everybody.  The TV station got more local exposure as their meteorologists provided regular daily updates and showed a personal side in on air chit-chat with the news anchors or disc jockey.

Radio stations like the relationship because it was a big step up from the rip and read forecasts that dated back to a time when there actually were teletype machines in sound-proof closets near the studio.

Beside, with a growing web presences, the TV station could shape it's weather webcasts and maps to become co-branded with the station.  And, Kevin thought to himself, 'there's no way I can keep doing all these local forecasts and severe weather updates all year and serve as general manager.  If we can make this a real partnership with the station in Madison - it could be a win - win - win.'

Pete Moss asked Emjay to return to the station for a private meeting.  She wasn't sure what it was about.  She liked her job, but knew interns don't stay forever.  Paid internships are even more rare and with graduation approaching fast, she needed to get her resumes out.

"Come in, Emjay." Pete called through his door into the break room where he saw Emjay sipping on a coffee.  She sure liked those warm caffeine delivery systems, he thought, just like nearly every other radio news guy he'd ever known.

Emjay walked in the office with a smile which changed slightly when Pete closed the door and returned to the chair behind his desk.

"Emjay, relax.  It's good, at least I think so - let's see what you think."  Pete knew Emjay got nervous about these kind of meetings and he had been vague about the purpose for meeting.  "You've done a fantastic job these last 11 months, Emjay.  I appreciate it and I've heard good things about you from people in the community to whom you are not related."  They both laughed.

"Seriously Emjay.  I'm offering you a job.  Full-time, starting immediately in our news department.  I know you have a couple of more classes before graduation, but we can work around those details.  

While I'm going to continue doing the news - I'm going to need more help and we want to increase our coverage in Roseville and the surrounding area.  Interested?"

Emjay sat quietly for a moment.  Her mind raced thinking about getting a job offer, being able to work in a place where she already felt at home, and hearing she could work and finish school... so many thoughts it was like a flood.  "Gee, thank you, Pete.  This is quite an honor.  This is exciting, but I hope you don't think I can work full-time for the same pay."

Pete laughed, "No, of course not, Emjay.  It took us a while to start paying interns at all and believe it or not, you make more than your predecessor.  In any case, I'm talking about $30,000 a year salary with two weeks of paid time off to start.  In addition, for weeks you work more than 40 hours we'll bank those hours as future days off.  We also will have a news car for you which you can drive full-time.  I can't offer you as much as you might make in Milwaukee, but I hope it's enough to keep you here.

"Personally, I expect to reduce my role in news over the next year so you'll have an increasing role on the air after you graduate and get comfortable.  I haven't worked out all those details in my head yet, but I want you to consider this as a long-term position until you get a big-city job suitable for your talent."

Emjay folded her hands in her lap and looked at them trying to use a Jedi mind trick to keep them from shaking of excitement.  "Pete, this sounds fantastic.  Would it be OK if I talk to Jake about this first?  I'll give you an answer one way or the other tomorrow."

Pete stood and extended his hand to Emjay who reached back. "You have my word, Emjay.  And I won't tell anyone else about this until I hear your answer.  Please say Hi to Jake for me.  If he has any questions or concerns he, or you, can call me tonight."

Jeff usually was out of the station by Friday afternoon, but with the State semi-final game and special broadcast plus a special on Jack to produce - he was busy working email and the phone. He looked at the clock to see it was almost time to head to Gus & Tom's to make sure all was ready for the pre-game show.

At the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse; Steve, Kathy, and Coach Suter met in the press box to review plans for the broadcast before Coach and Kathy needed to meet up with the Roseville head coach to tape an interview.  Steve had to force himself to concentrate on the game and the broadcast, he could scarcely believe the turns and potential twists introduced into his life in the past few hours.

The trio of coaches in Roseville were enjoying their pizza while discussing strategy for the game and the  post game broadcast.  Coach Hidorn remarked he hadn't seen Gus and Tom this nervous since the first time the show aired.  Hundreds of Rosevillians in LaCrosse, but hundreds - if not thousands- were tuning in tonight and a good chunk of those folks were inside Gus & Tom's.

The coaches expected a good game.  More than that, they figured if the game kept going the way the Roseville coaches expected, there would be at least one more week of high school football. 

Only a few chapters left, catch up here.