Peter Cavanaugh

“Shamrock & Roll”

It was a far more joyous time - before accountants were in charge.

With St. Patrick’s Day 2015 hardly more than a hundred thirsty hours away, all sorts of random recollections come reeling through the years, but one unique event leaps to the head of the six-pack.

In 1980, a mere 35 years ago, our WTAC Sales staff had hit and greatly surpassed first quarter target goals. Consequently, as promised, we headed out that morning for a gloriously extended, all expenses paid “lunch” at Paddy McGee’s, Flint’s #1 Irish pub. It was wall to wall by the time we arrived a bit before 10.

Home by dinnertime, a rare March 17 achievement, I was greeted at the door by my lovely Eileen with a fierce frown and multiple questions.

“Who was the blonde? Who was the redhead?”

The best defense is a strong offense.

Feigning shocked surprise and wounded innocence in a futile attempt at borrowing adequate time for situational assessment, I lamely blurted: “What blonde? What redhead?”

“The ones sitting on your lap.”

Oh. Those.

Subsequent review of a leading story that night on ABC 12 revealed yours truly captured in animated merriment with, in fact, two attractive young ladies symmetrically arranged with one on each knee, beneath which read a caption presented in screaming green font proclaiming: “WTAC’s Peter C. Cavanaugh celebrates St. Patrick’s Day at Paddy McGee’s.”

Yes. That.

As the years bring to most of us a measure of responsible maturity, I reluctantly suppose I am pleased to report that such moments have become more rare than any remotely similar occasion recently realized. Yet that particular St. Patrick’s Day in Flint is the one I fondly remember most - outrageously self-busted in front of tens of thousands or not.

Being of Irish descent on both the paternal and maternal side of things, St. Paddy’s Day has always been a particularly special occasion from my earliest memories. Accordingly, radio promotions celebrating such a special day during Michigan years were inevitably subject to sharply focused and significantly extended creative attention.

We gave away six pound notes drawn on the Bank of Ireland, itself, during the entire month of March. Our station also won a Gold “Addy” award from the Flint Advertising Federation for designing WTAC “Lepre-Cans” featuring “an actual leprechaun trapped inside his magical chamber of eternal enchantment.” We gave these away every hour for a week. Winners were warned, “No refunds if opened!”

We recruited a dozen volunteers from “Little People of America,” dressed them up in wild emerald green and had them picket the station March 17 with signs protesting, “Leprechaun Bowling,” an audio fantasy being simultaneously produced and broadcast by our morning DJ.

We received live coverage during newscasts on both Flint and Detroit TV.

An accord was finally reached, with bowling ended and peace restored.

Everyone then piled into our ”WWCK 105 super van,” including those leprechauns, who now waved large shamrock-shaped signs declaring: “One o’ five FM – Irish Radio.”

For the rest of the day and into the night, we visited every major bar within a 50-mile radius distributing “WWCK lepre-condoms,” tastefully engraved with our station logo – amiably encouraging “safe Irish sex.”

That was in 1984, when Flint’s “FM one o’ five” became the highest-rated rock station in America.

With St. Patrick’s Day now celebrated around the world since the great Irish Diaspora, March 17 is a holy day of obligation in Ireland. You’re supposed to be in church.

In Oakhurst, given my own take on blessed surroundings, I’ll be looking for you next Tuesday at The Brewery, Roman’s Bar, The Dirty Donkey, The Oak Room and The Hitching Post in Ahwahnee - wearing my official Dublin City “Roma Atletica” full zip track jacket.

Made in Pakistan.