Extraordinary questions are the impetus of exceptional answers.
Truth Be Told: "Behind the Set"
The Grateful Dead came to Hartford on several occasions over the years, and outside the Hartford Civic Center, spilling over to Bushnell Park, gave one the sense you were back during the "Summer of Love"… 1967. It looked and felt that way when the Grateful Dead came to town on March 18-19, 1990.
I had interviewed various members of the legendary band numerous times, and though I didn't sense this particular one was going to be one of any specificity, it later manifested into one much to my surprise.
Hours prior to the Deadheads filling up the arena, I was inside the Civic Center to broadcast my program. One difference this time was that I was not upstairs in one of the skyboxes, looking down on the coliseum to give the listeners a verbal bird's eye view of the stage setup, the way I had done for other artists in the past. This time I was on the floor of the venue.
As I walked around, Dan Healy – the Dead's soundman – came over to me, and as neighborly as someone could possibly be, introduced himself. He extended an invitation to take the listeners and me through the magic of the airwaves, behind the soundboard, to explain every detail of the sound system and his responsibilities. He spoke on the air telling us that the Dead never have to do a sound check in buildings that they have played in before, because once they have done a sound check and appeared wherever, he had a log of the venue and how the levels on the board must be set. Everything is perfectly balanced.
Dan also invited us to return later that evening, while the concert was taking place, to stand at the soundboard with him. That way the listeners would get to hear a little bit of the Dead on stage through our broadcast, which had been agreed to by the Dead's management. Dan Healy was truly a great guy to me.
During intermission, I went backstage to conduct my interview with the members of the band, but that is not what makes this "Truth Be Told" so special.
Sidebar: While I did afternoons at WHCN-FM in Hartford, one of my colleagues who worked in the production department – who I must inform you did masterful, quite remarkable work – was Bob Smith. Bob would do anything to promote a WHCN broadcaster, and – above all – the station's image. He was all about WHCN. He was also a huge fan of the Dead. That night Bob was back at the studio recording and documenting every moment of our broadcast and every word of my interview.
This time around, unbeknownst to me, Bob went above and far beyond most of the "off the computer screen" things he would do to promote a WHCN event. He took it upon himself, without telling anyone, to send a copy of the tape of my interview to David Ganz in hopes David would use it on his "Grateful Dead Hour" broadcast around the country. David did, indeed, incorporate it into one of his shows dated May 14, 1990. Bob even ratcheted up his promotion machine a notch above that. He transcribed my interview with the Grateful Dead, word for word, and sent in to Relix Magazine, the magazine of the Dead. Truth be told (and this blew me away), Relix printed the interview and made it the feature story in one of their issues. You gotta love Bob Smith. Anyone he works for is most fortunate to have him. He is an extraordinary team player.