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Radio Free Montone: Not Ready To Retire…Just Yet

Two men clear snow off a sidewalk along Fifth Avenue in Harlem on Feb. 3, 2014. (credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Two men clear snow off a sidewalk along Fifth Avenue in Harlem on Feb. 3, 2014. (credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

John Montone John Montone
You never know where John Montone will spend his morning. It may be...
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By John Montone, 1010 WINS

NEW YORK (1010 WINS)  – Having covered the Super Bowl from Sunday afternoon into Sunday night and not wrapping up until the wee hours of Monday morning, my clock radio did not call out to me at 3:20 a.m. I had the day off.

And it snowed.

I was a little confused at first looking out my bedroom window as the flakes fell furiously. Shouldn’t I be out somewhere in the 1010 WINS Mobil Unit reporting on poorly plowed roads and snow-covered commuters waiting and waiting and waiting for city buses? Shouldn’t I be LIVE on the radio talking to some poor fellow whose car tires were spinning crazily?

Not being out there made me feel, I guess — guilty. So I called our Assistant News Director Ivan Lee to let him know that if needed I was available. PLEASE SAY NO I thought even as the words poured out of my mouth. And he did say no.

The station was well-staffed for the storm. Hearing him I felt relieved and excited. I had a snow day! A week day, work day SNOW DAY. After more than 30-years of sloshing and skidding about in winter storms, I could sit back and watch the snow pile up.

Ducks on Saddle River (John Montone/1010 WINS)

Ducks on Saddle River (John Montone/1010 WINS)

But first Mary and I took a walk in the park. The branches of the trees were already white along the Saddle River where a few ducks floated on the unfrozen stretches of water. The trail was so quiet we could hear a woodpecker out in the forest. We stopped to examine tracks in the snow wondering what animal had gone before us.

Back home I lounged with a book and a beer. And still the snow fell. Then came a movie and maybe a second beer and dusk. And still the snow fell. Sometime after 5 p.m. I turned on the local TV news and watched reporters driving around city and suburban streets to say the streets were plowed or not plowed. That the snow was six inches deep or eight inches. That a car was stuck near the top of a hill.

It’s snowing, I thought, that’s what happens.

It did not occur to me as I watched the guys and gals on the screen that they were doing, more or less, what I do. I switched them off after maybe five minutes having learned nothing useful.

By Tuesday morning I was one of them again, broadcasting from Brooklyn — talking to a bus driver about how he tries not to spray waiting passengers with slush, to a fry cook at a coffee shop who told me he accepts the bitter cold and snow as God’s will — to a fellow from Guatemala who said of this winter, “Enough, enough!” but said it in Spanish, “Bastante! Bastante!”

And I asked aloud on 1010 WINS that since the mayor dropped the groundhog, ‘Do we not deserve a mulligan?’ Shouldn’t Staten Island Phil have to come back out of his hole and this time predict an early spring?

And when the morning was over I was tired but satisfied with my work which objectively provided about the same level of insight as the TV reporters did the night before. But now as I think about it, it’s all the stories in all the city and suburban neighborhoods, on every street and at every bus stop, train station, supermarket or bodega that connect us to people we’ve never met but because we see their faces on TV and hear their voices on the radio we feel we know. It becomes one giant storm community.

Race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation -we’re all the same when we’re trying to dig our car out of an eight foot snow bank.

I guess I’m not ready to retire just yet.

John Montone.

Be well.