For as long as I can remember, my father was in the public spotlight. During my preschool years, he was a TV weatherman. He had a unique style, using a cartoon character named “Wally Weather” to deliver the forecasts. If rain had been predicted, he would draw Wally holding an umbrella. If a sunny day lay ahead, Wally would appear in sunglasses or perhaps holding a picnic basket. The technique was so innovative, it ended up being mentioned in a college textbook years later. It was that kind of creative spark that gave my father an edge throughout his career.
After a stint as a Top 40 disc jockey at WTRY in Albany, he took a job in advertising. The advertising gig was particularly exciting for me because I got to be on television. For two or three consecutive years, I appeared in local “Back to School” commercials for the Montgomery Ward company. I didn’t have to do much—just stand there smiling at the camera in the uncomfortable clothes they gave me to wear. But it made me a minor celebrity at school. While my own fifteen minutes of fame came early, my father’s star burned brightly for a very long time.
When the 1980s arrived, he returned to his radio roots as a morning show host on 810 WGY. I remember him saying to me countless times: “If you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.” He was one of the lucky ones, maintaining his enthusiasm for the job until the day he retired. For many years, he filled the airwaves with comedy bits he wrote, produced and performed himself. A perfectionist, he would sometimes spend three or four hours creating a two-minute sketch. My favorite was “Amish in Space,” a serialized Star Wars spoof featuring antiquated Amish characters who traversed the universe in a flying grain silo. My father would sit in his reclining chair at home and come up these funny ideas, scribbling them down on yellow legal pads. He would almost always crack himself up in the process and you could hear his high-pitched laughter echoing halfway up the block. It’s what I remember most—he was constantly laughing.
The final years of my father’s career were bittersweet. He was named Medium Market Personality of the Year by the National Association of Broadcasters in 2005. Four years later, he was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Unbeknownst to his listeners at the time, he had been diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a progressive autoimmune disorder for which there is no cure. In 2010, he was forced into retirement.
Despite all his accomplishments, there was one goal that had eluded my father over the years. It was the one he wanted most—to write a novel. He had started one when I was in middle school, but the demands of his radio job ended up derailing the project. Though my father was sick a great deal of the time, there were periods in which the disease was in remission. It was during one of these phases that I suggested he finish the book he had started decades earlier. Unable to locate the original manuscript and notes, he started over. Perhaps sensing that his time was growing short, he produced a rough draft in a frenetic three-month outburst. Again, he never got to finish the project.
In 2014, my mother developed a brain disorder that ultimately left her unable to walk or care for herself. She died peacefully in her sleep shortly before Christmas. Around the same time, my father was diagnosed with yet another rare disorder known as Merkel Cell Cancer (a complication of Wegener’s disease). Only 1,500 cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. My father underwent exhausting rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and dialysis, but eventually succumbed to the illness. As he lay dying, I asked him if he wanted me to finish his novel and publish it. It was difficult for him to even speak by then, but he was smiling widely when he answered ‘yes.’ He passed away in March of 2015.
And so now I appeal to potential readers. My father always felt deeply indebted to his audience. He commented repeatedly that he would be nothing without them. Won’t you please pick up a copy of his novel and help keep his memory alive? For years, he donated time generously to the WGY Christmas Wish fund, which benefits a variety of charitable causes in upstate New York. All author royalties from Scarecrow on the Marsh will be donated to this year’s campaign.
About the Author
For over thirty years, Don Weeks was among the most popular radio personalities in the Capital District region of New York State. He received a Marconi Award for radio excellence in 2005 and was inducted into to the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame four years later. He had just completed a rough draft of Scarecrow on the Marsh when he died of Merkle Cell Cancer in March of 2015. Author royalties from this project will be donated to the WGY Christmas Wish Campaign, which benefits a variety of charitable causes. Weeks worked tirelessly over the years to help raise money for the campaign.
Jonathan Weeks has published several books on the topic of baseball–four non-fiction projects and one novel. His latest work, a mystery-thriller entitled Scarecrow on the Marsh, is a posthumous collaboration with his father–former radio icon Don Weeks, who passed away in 2015. Weeks finished the book in fulfillment of a promise he made to his father before he died.
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About the Book:
When the mutilated body of renowned cosmetic surgeon Randall Landry turns up at a secluded bayside marsh in the town of Sandwich, Police Chief Thom Burrough’s life is turned upside down. While investigating the murder, he and BarnstableCounty coroner Abby Rhodes will uncover a plot more sinister than anything they could have imagined. On the outskirts of Chatham, a group of terrorists has assembled to unleash destruction on Cape Cod.