George Michael Evica
Host of Assassination Journal
by Ed McKeon
(as excerpted from his online blog, Caterwauled)
You can learn a lot from a man with intellectual curiosity. George Michael Evica was that kind of man.
The lack of this kind of curiosity defines a leader like George Bush – swagger, self-assured, stubborn and mostly wrong.
George Michael Evica, the longtime host of Assassination Journal, which was broadcast each Tuesday on WWUH, died on November 10, 2007.
He laughed at those who dismissed him as a conspiracy-theorist, and rightfully so, because much of what he presented on his show that seemed, on the surface as outlandish, impossible and unbelievable, eventually proved to be the truth.
If he wasn’t cutting close to the truth so often, then there’s little explanation for the reams of files that our government kept on him.
George Michael was brilliant, gracious, funny, acerbic and until the late stages of his cancer, indefatigable.
I listened to his show regularly. It was a forerunner of many of the shows which we now consider pioneers of alternative news and broadcasting. I can’t say there’s any one story or fact that stands out as a “eureka” moment for me, because there were so many of them. George Michael’s great ability to synthesize, and connect-the-dots, allowed him to point the light of his intellect at shadowy areas that threatened democracy.
What I learned most from George Michael was a way of thinking. Ask questions. Don’t accept facile facts. Don’t believe what your government tells you 9and unfortunately, this is a necessary practice most of the time.) Don’t believe what you read in the papers (this is something my dad told me too). And most of all, don’t settle for anything less than the truth.
I thought of George Michael this morning (11/12/07) when I heard a newscaster report that US military leaders in Iraq say violent attacks are down, proving that the “surge” is working. The newscaster reported this government report as fact. I thought, “Who created this report? What figures are they using? Why would they want me to believe this? If violence has decreased, what are the real facts (neighborhood-by-neighborhood ethnic cleansing, the flight of the moneyed and intellectual classes, alliances with forces which were once considered the enemy)? And finally, why should I believe anything the government, especially this government, is telling me?”
Do I believe what that newscaster said? No. Could it be the truth? Maybe, but unlikely. I’ll wait for the facts.
And for this healthy skepticism, I can thank George Michael Evica. We’ll miss him at WWUH, and his audience will miss his absence every Tuesday at noon.
Host of Friday Morning Jazz
by Chuck Obuchowski / Jazz Director WWUH
God Bless the Child Who’s Got His Own:
(January 2, 1952 – November 4, 2007)
Terry Weichand gave his heart to the music he loved. The longtime WWUH announcer, who died on November 4, always focused his DJ efforts on premium song selections. He kept his mike breaks short and to the point. No idle chatter or corny jokes; just artist and song names, the occasional weather forecast and lots of enjoyable sounds.
Make no mistake, however: Terry may have been self-effacing, but he wasn’t shy. He displayed a cheery, affable demeanor on the air. For nearly 20 years, as producer of Friday Morning Jazz, Terry treated WWUH listeners to a unique combination of new releases, along with swing and trad jazz classics from the station’s extensive library.
Actually, by the time Terry found his jazz niche, he’d already devoted many years to the station as a volunteer, having officially joined in 1976. He hosted an overnight rock show for quite awhile, eventually moving to Saturday mornings for an eclectic mix of jazz and rock styles he christened “FM in Bed.”
Current WWUH General Manager John Ramsey remembers Terry’s early years at the station: “[He] was thrilled to be on the air. Back then his tastes in music ranged from Frank Zappa to Tangerine Dream … he was always ready and willing to lend a hand to various [WWUH] projects: putting the Program Guide together, running the board for the fiddle contest, helping with announcing duties at Bushnell Park broadcasts …”
Terry cherished the opportunity to share his favorite sounds with the ‘UH audience. In fact, none of his colleagues can recall him ever missing a jazz program prior to the onset of his cancer, which began impacting his health last spring. Even after dislocating his shoulder early in the year, he’d taken the bus or gotten rides to and from the station in order to host his program.
When his doctors at the hospital told him in September that he wasn’t going to be able to return home, Terry reportedly asked, “can I still do my radio show?”
Terry arrived at WWUH a few years after sustaining serious injuries in an automobile accident while serving in the Navy. Although some of his disabilities proved to be permanent, he never faltered in his devotion to broadcasting on Connecticut airwaves. Additionally, he received a communications degree from the University of Hartford in 1980 and furthered his studies at C.C.S.U.
Hearing the music of piano and vocal legend Thomas “Fats” Waller had a profound effect on Terry’s musical tastes. He was drawn to Waller’s quirky sense of humor, as well as his wild sense of swing. An avid reader, Terry began immersing himself in jazz books and magazines. Eventually, he was drawn to use another of his favorite activities – writing – as a means of sharing his observations about the music with readers of the WWUH Program Guide.
Terry’s Friday morning jazz show evolved over the years as his interests and knowledge expanded. His own distinctive wit, an attribute recalled often by WWUH associates since his passing, found kindred spirits in artists as diverse as Louis Armstrong and Lord Buckley. In recent years, he frequently closed his program with a set or two of groovin’ Hammond B-3 organ tunes as a festive way of anticipating the weekend.
Station members and listeners alike most fondly remember Terry’s devotion to the music of Billie Holiday. Rather than settling for a single theme song to introduce his show, Terry opted to play something different each week from Lady Day’s extensive discography. Sometimes the piece might be inspired by the weather or an anniversary; at other times, he spun whatever Billie Holiday songs fit his mood. He’d developed an appreciation for soulful female vocalists over the years – Ernestine Anderson and Etta Jones, for instance – but Billie remained Terry’s Muse until the end.
Terry greeted me with a firm handshake and a wide grin when I joined the WWUH staff 14 years ago. When I visited him in the hospital several weeks before he died, the grin had been reduced to a weak smile, but Terry’s spirit remained vibrant.
I asked if he’d like to make any requests for my next show, and he named several novelty songs which indicated his sense of humor was still intact. However, he also asked for “Bloodcount,” which jazz fans will recognize as the last song Billy Strayhorn composed before his death. Terry seemed very cognizant of his situation and had made his peace with it.
In a UH Program Guide article published in July 2001, Terry closed his show description with a paragraph celebrating the Monday Night Jazz Concert Series in Bushnell Park. The last sentence reads, “I will see you there, somewhere near the stage, diggin’ the evening jazz.”
That’s how I’ll choose to remember Terry. I won’t see him near that stage anymore, but I’m sure I’ll sense his spirit in the sounds that flow over everyone gathered in the park to dig the evening jazz
REMEMBERING GEORGE MICHAEL AND TERRY
by Kevin "Moondog" O'Toole
In the last week or so (November 2007),
WWUH lost two wonderful announcers to cancer.
Terry Weichand, longtime jazz host on WWUH’s Friday Morning Jazz, passed away on Monday November 5. Terry had his trademarked response ready when people would mispronounce his name as “why-CHand”: “Weichand (‘Why can’t’) you say my name correctly?”
I remember Terry as far back as his Saturday Morning show, circa 1987. He turned me on to some classic Louis Armstrong and various other bits of classic jazz at the time.
The strange thing is that his departure from that show (in a brief hiatus from the station) was linked with my first show. Immediately after Terry finished his Saturday show, the replacement show, “Polka Madness with Johnny (Prytko) and Ted (Niehay)” began its’ long run (it still continues today). The polka show, however, had vacated the Thursday All Night Show (Friday mornings from 3-6 AM). I began in that slot the very next week. I had to field a few calls asking where the polka went at the time. I’m sure John and Ted, likewise, had to suddenly answer why Billie Holiday was abruptly replaced by Stas Bulanda...
Terry sported a wild wig of black/gray hair and a bushy mustache through most of the years of our acquaintance, which gave him the appearance of a short Mark Twain. I next saw him after he rejoined WWUH. In the early nineties, when the station briefly worked with a local theater group to produce radio plays, I took a seminar with Terry about writing for and producing radio drama. Both I and Terry assisted with that first production, and, from that, I knew he was a fellow believer in the possibilities of radio broadcasting.
Over the years, we crossed paths at meetings and during fundraisers, and he never lost his enthusiasm for sitting behind the mic and spinning and sharing the music he loved, even as he dealt with cancer treatments. I hope I can muster that much enthusiasm and courage.
Five days later, on Saturday November 10, Professor George Michael Evica passed away. He devoted more than three decades of his nearly eighty years to a mystery that has come to confound and re-define the American Psyche. Professor Evica’s work shedding light on the numerous inconsistencies surrounding the official story about John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination was unequaled in its’ sober and piercing attention to detail, and that alone would be a great legacy to leave behind.
Of course, there was much more. Over the years, “Assassination Journal” delved into other curious stories which shared little with the Kennedy Assassination, but this: governmental powers that are directed more by ambition and greed than democratic will.
He carried that willingness to question, in recent years, directly into his analysis of the news coverage of 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His was among the very first voices on the radio to repeatedly challenge the “official story.”
Outside of the station, I would run into George and his lovely wife, Alycia, around town in Hartford, particularly at the movies, which he loved as he did theater and poetry. I was definitely thinking of him and his show, when, in an early promo for “Culture Dogs,” I suggested a different attitude for our movie review show, saying “Who knew Assassination Journal had a lifestyle section?” Perhaps, in a better world, Professor Evica would have had time to be a Culture Dog, too.
I remember that, when Oliver Stone’s JFK was released, Professor Evica, and his program, shared a bit of that film’s limelight in local news stories. The Professor’s time in that spotlight revealed his work to have what Stone’s well-intended entertainment could not: an enduring sense of the ongoing crisis that emerges when violence trumps the people’s will. Kevin Costner put away one of the bad guys in the movie. Professor Evica reminded us that the people never had their day in court in real life.
The other day on the bus, I overheard a diatribe from someone who was urgently trying to communicate the connections between the death of Vince Foster and the design of the ancient Pyramids of Giza. I avoided any conversations with that guy, and felt a little guilty about it, perhaps only because, as mad as his ideas clearly were, they poked at the idea that I was merely dismissing them to feel comfortable in my state of denial.
Okay, maybe I didn’t feel that guilty about the Foster/ Pyramids guy.
But there were those who would lump Professor Evica and his serious and scholarly pursuit of the truth in with that guy.
If everybody who wasted their energies denying, began, instead, to read and to listen and to exercise their minds the way George Michael Evica did, we could perhaps stop people dying in senseless conflicts, leave no child behind for real, and, just maybe, solve problems for once.
Sidebar comment: George Michael Evica was one the smartest, funniest and best humans I’ve had the pleasure to know.
WWUH Program Guide © 2008