Updated Thu, Sep 20, 2012 2:20 pm
Occasionally in life, you cross paths with someone who serendipitously makes a mark on your life, leaves a lasting impression and actually alters your future. Such was the case with me and Connie Stevens – a long time WOUB employee.
Connie spent more than 20 years at WOUB from November 1979 through June 2001 and most of that time as WOUB AM Program Coordinator. I am sure most of you remember her voice and her easy-going “on-air” style as she greeted you every weekday morning for a number of years.
Yesterday, we received word from her daughter that Connie died last Thursday at her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she had resided since 2002. According to her daughter, Connie passed away surrounded by her daughter Katherine, her cat Bojangles, and her dog Dillon.
The news has profoundly saddened me. The WOUB family has lost a great colleague and I have lost a longtime friend and a radio mentor.
I remember first meeting Connie when she was a waitress at the old Oak Room in Athens. I was a young attorney and she was a working mom. I next encountered her when she worked at WATH radio and was an on-air personality. Her dulcet tones were always calming and she always seemed to have something interesting to say.
Then in 1979 she started working at WOUB – the same year I got elected Athens County Municipal Court judge. We both had new jobs but our paths crossed again. After I complained to her that public radio had information about politics, health, gardening and but no tips or information about courts or the law, she asked me to talk with her.
When I arrived, her office was filled with plants since Connie also was an avid gardener. She invited me to create a series of one minute audio explanations of law and the legal process. “Legal Reminders” was born. We did almost 500 different scripts and it aired for about three-years.
Simultaneously, Connie started a community-based program called “In Conversation.” It was the precursor to our current “Conversations from Studio B.” She invited me to do a talk-show about the law featuring attorneys and others involved with the legal systems in our region.
Not only did we have substantial audiences for both programs but the radio exposure got me noticed on a national level – thanks to Connie. Soon I was invited to speak across the country and internationally to judges about media. I taught media relations to judges and court administrators for more than three decades.
My media relations teaching also enabled me to win a Judicial Fellowship at the Supreme Court of the United States where I worked in the administrative office of the Chief Justice and with the national news media covering the Supreme Court.
Connie gave me my first chance at radio and followed-up with constant encouragement. She inspired me to continue and to grow professionally.
She always was a true friend. Every Christmas and sometimes at random times during the year, I would receive a hand-written card from her with one of her beautiful watercolors. She always had words of praise and true caring.
When I became Director and General Manager here at WOUB, Connie sent one of the first notes of congratulations and a vote of confidence.
I will miss her talent, her warmth, and her true caring. She loved WOUB and we loved her. Her death leaves us with a hole that, right now, seems impossible to fill.
A memorial service for Connie will be held at the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, November 3. In addition to the ceremony, Connie’s watercolors will be on display. More details will follow.