When I was in 9th grade, my English teacher made me write a 10 minute speech on NASA and the space program. I wanted to write about sports, but he wouldn’t hear of it….it was NASA or get an “F”. So I wrote a speech about the space program, using the time-honored kid argument of “Why do I have to do this…I don’t want to be an Astronaut…I’m never going to use this”…you know what I’m talking about.
I told you that story to tell you this one. It was 30 years ago today (January 28th) that the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in the sky, just seconds after lift off. I was doing a morning show in Tyler, Texas when my news director came in, looking like he’d seen a ghost, and told me about the Challenger. Keep in mind, this was pre-911, so this was a huge tragedy for our nation. It was also pre-24/7 news cycle, so we had about 20 minutes to fill before the ABC News reporting could start. We didn’t want to play music and CERTAINLY didn’t want to screw around on the air, so we started talking about the space program. Luckily, the news director was a NASA buff, so he could carry the conversation, but I was amazed at how much of that stupid report I had to do in 9th grade that I was NEVER going to use came flooding back to me while we were talking. In short, we were able to intelligently and reverently talk about NASA and the space program until we could turn things over to ABC News. It was one of the proudest moments of my radio career on an extremely sad day.
What did I learn? Learn everything you can in this life about EVERYTHING that you can. I tell this to my students and I tell it every time I have to give a speech to school children. Life is moving WAY too fast these days and it’s more frightening than ever before. Knowledge can be a very powerful weapon. Don’t just read about what you like…read about EVERYTHING. You need to know what’s going on in the world and WHY it’s happening.
Ok…I’m hopping off my soapbox…and RIP to the brave members of the Space Shuttle Challenger.