Friday, January 2, 2015

A Memory of Mario Cuomo

Mario Cuomo died yesterday. In an article by John Mason in today's Register-Star, Democrats from around the county share their thoughts and memories of the former governor: "Locals recall Cuomo's hard work, charm, idealism." I too was a great admirer of Mario Cuomo, but I never met him and had only one close encounter with him. It happened during a WAMC fund drive, back in the day when Mario Cuomo was governor of New York and was regularly interviewed by Alan Chartock on The Capital Connection.

I was working as a volunteer at the station, answering telephones. On that afternoon, the fund drive had been going on for a few days. It was "drive time," and Chartock was making an impassioned appeal for listeners to support the station. The phones started ringing around the room. When my phone rang, I answered, as we were instructed to do, "Welcome to WAMC. May I take your pledge?"

The voice on the other end said, "Could I speak with Alan? This is Mario Cuomo."

Chartock was on air, so I said, "Just a moment, please," covered the receiver, and gestured frantically to the WAMC staffer who floated around the room to assist the volunteers. When he got within earshot, I said in an awestruck whisper that hushed the room: "It's the governor!"