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Losing All Sorts of Saints

    Since the last blog entry was all about change and how we are affected by it, in both good ways and in bad, I thought I’d explore the topic of change a little further and examine the subject of loss.  “Loss” was one of the topics given to the KIPP Renaissance students last year for their poetry project at WRBH, and it was fascinating and certainly heartbreaking to read about the different kinds of loss they had suffered in their young lives.  Some poems dealt with the pain of a breakup or an estranged friendship; many more told the story of losing of a loved one through violence.  A few shared the ache of losing an adored grandparent who had been a wise, steadying influence in their lives.  Included in the mix were poems that told of a different, good kind of loss: of breaking free from the people and things that hold you back, from bad influences, from those with cruel intentions.  These writings all had a small seed of hope tucked within, a glimpse that the loss might be a gateway to a better place.  I think we all wish that when something is lost, something new will arrive to fill the hole and make things right again.
  I was reminded again, in a much lighter way, of change and loss during this season of transition before the new football season begins.  There’s been a lot of speculation and discussion around the office lately about the upheaval and dissemination of the almost sacred team we knew as the Saints in 2013.  This isn’t an unusual occurrence at the station; after all, two thirds of the employees are rabid fans of the boys in black and gold, and some of the livelier discussions can even be misconstrued as  “heated” or even “argumentative”, depending on your outlook, opinion, and whether or not you are wearing earplugs. With each online announcement of which player has been let go and which has been retained, who will get paid an astronomical salary and who will be selling used cars in Slidell in a few years, the tone of the discussions range from hushed and sad to disappointed, upset, and astonished (who wouldn’t feel upset to read Lance Moore’s Twitter response to signing with the Steelers: “Excited to be a part of #steelernation. Couldn’t ask for a better organization to continue my career with!”)  Sigh.  I’m really going to miss watching him do his little “Lance Dance” after touchdowns.  There are other players I’ll miss too– I was particularly disgruntled to see wonderful Darren Sproles go, especially since last Christmas my gift from my son and daughter in law was a #43 jersey that I was really crazy about.  (Luckily for Natalia, her Marques Colston #12 will still be quite in fashion for the 2014 -2015 season, and of course anyone with a Drew Brees #9 can pat themselves on the back for making a classic, never-goes-out-of-style choice.)  So far my awesome Jimmy Graham earrings (another Christmas gift, this one from my daughter) seem to be pretty safe bets for our “dress in team colors Fridays” during the playing season.  As Tim keeps reminding me, this is the BUSINESS  part of the Saints, where we all get a peek at how the institution runs and how, on the business side of the game, all sentimentality and fondness for the team goes out the window when hard decisions have to be made. At WRBH, we see our readers as our “team” and even regard some of them as “saints”.  Luckily for us, there’s no salary cap at the station since all the readers are volunteers, and we never need to cut our favorite readers because they may be getting older.  We cherish our readers, and we like to keep our team intact.  That’s not to say our roster doesn’t change periodically–career moves to other states, new babies, and added responsibilities in already hectic lives have all taken their toll. Admittedly, sometimes the business end does have to play a part in cutting a reader who refuses to play by the rules or ignores the guidelines we all have to follow, and that’s okay– part of being a team is BEING A TEAM.  However,  when we lose a reader who has played a major role at the station and has been very well loved by our listeners for many years, it leaves us all, staff and listeners alike, with a void that seems impossible to fill.
 A few weeks ago,  WRBH suffered a loss–we said goodbye to one of our most beloved and recognizable readers.  Although Nick Krieger had not been in the station to read for some time, his deep, glorious voice had been mesmerizing  listeners for at least 20 years before he was confined to Covenant Home.  He was a terrific actor, with many credits to his name, including a wonderful part as the farmer who identifies the pie plate as a UFO in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.  Nick always seemed like a larger than life character from a Tennessee Williams play: a consummate gentleman, extremely Southern, polite and well mannered, humble in spirit but also self assured when it came to his great gift as an interpreter of the spoken word.  He was a contradiction of sorts–he would wear ancient, rumpled, sometimes grimy clothes, and yet in the studio, he sounded as refined and elegant as if he was wearing a tuxedo.  He didn’t have much money, yet he was always studying the stocks and bonds in the Wall Street Journal and made several good trades (and once treated the staff of WRBH to a paella dinner after a particularly wise investment.) He was gracious, thoughtful, generous to a fault, and intelligent, with a charming sense of humor.  Nick possessed a confidence and grace that had nothing to do with his outward, often shambling appearance–he believed in himself, and he trusted others to treat him with the respect he deserved.  At his funeral service, there were two fine oil portraits on display of Nick from when he did part-time work as an artist’s model at Academy Gallery.  Nick had a very large head (and body, for that matter) and because he was so expressive, he was an ideal subject.   Both paintings focus on his face.  In one of the paintings, Nick’s eyes shine and he wears a hint of a smile, as if he is recalling an amusing story or a fond memory of a dear friend.  He seems happy, content, a man at ease with himself. In the other, Nick’s expression is pensive and serious, and his face has a lovely nobility, shining with a soft light.    The student artists showed two distinct sides of Nick, and they are both true.

Just as we remember him.

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WRBH 88.3 FM, Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is the only full-time reading service on the FM dial in the United States. At WRBH, our mission is to turn the printed word into the spoken word so that the blind and print handicapped receive the same ease of access to current information as their sighted peers.

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