This is Ohio State Fair week number two. I have about a million things going on at the moment, and really should be asleep ahead of another big day tomorrow. This required putting a stop to it all, even if just long enough to write this post.
Today, I made a call – the same call I have made what feels like a million times. I habitually dialed my cell phone and waited for Ryker to answer on the other end of the line. It’s almost second nature when I needed to get on the air in a hurry. Call in the report and we’ll sort it out later. Except, things were different this time. I don’t work at WKTN anymore, for starters. This time, I didn’t have new to report. The news of the day: Fleece leaves post as night, weekend host.
My former college and still good friend Ryker Drumm asked me to share my favorite memory of Chase. Some of my favorites are nowhere close to radio-friendly. I told Chase, and subsequently, the world, how proud I was of my “good buddy Chase W. Fleece” as my listeners will recall me saying. Chase would call me up after a city council meeting. He would tell me exactly how it went, read me the notes, then read me what he wrote. He was always looking for one thing. He wanted to make sure he had the truth. Sometimes, what he wrote was edgy for small-town politics and it took some guts. Chase Fleece values the truth and his listeners.
If you’ve been on this crazy blog before, chances are you’ve read A Tribute to 2017. What I failed to mention in that post, was that June 13th, 2017 was Chase Fleece’s first day on the air. So, not only was he getting air training (from yours truly) he was also getting a real, hard dose of news and life all at the same time. I remember looking at him when we got the news and saying “this isn’t fair to you. You don’t have to do this. I can take over.”
“It’s going to happen at some point. We might as well get this out of the way. I can do it,” he replied without breaking eye contact. I remember thinking he was a trooper through that and the terrible things that were said about us that evening and in the days that followed. Chase Fleece is a trooper.
We can all agree that first responders see some pretty disgusting and terrifying things that the rest of us don’t want to think about. I remember one night the Buckeyes were playing their night game. I had seen online a car vs. Amish buggy crash. About that same time, I could hear the scanner jump to life in what would later be known as the Southeast EMS ambulance crash. I jumped right into newsman mode. I couldn’t leave the station and Chase lived the closest to the scene. I called him and sent him to go get the scoop.
Maybe, just maybe, sending the rookie newsman in highschool on an active fatal crash scene to interview the Sheriff was not my best leadership decision. But, that’s in the past and neither here nor there. The point: Chase took it in stride and handled it with class. Because Chase Fleece is Tough.
First of all, I feel really old knowing the first guy I trained is graduating. Second, Hardin County suffered a loss today. Sure, someone new will fill the time slot and “keep you informed and entertained” but Chase always had something special about being on the air that just brought a smile to your face. I’ve used a lot of words to describe him today. The ones that sum him up are these. Chase Fleece is top shelf. It was an honor and a privilege to serve the Hardin County Community alongside one of my best friends. Knock ’em dead in College, big man and remember – keep it running smooth.