March 27, 2002 was Wednesday of Holy Week. It was also the first day of my on-air audition in Knoxville. Over the weekend, I was reminded of my ten-year anniversary by the program director who hired me. My wife and I happened to run into Shane Cox and his wife at the store on Sunday and he congratulated me on ten years in Knoxville. I’m glad he recognized me, since I don’t look the same as I did back then.
On the night before my audition, I walked from my hotel on Summit Hill to Manhattan’s in the Old City. Before I left Burbank, I had searched online for any improv groups in Knoxville and discovered Einstein Simplified. I couldn’t have predicted that I would be performing with them on that same stage three months later.
I was on the air with Phil Williams on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. I remember two of the segments distinctly. There were three celebrity deaths that week, which is probably why we called Death Pool Dave to get his reaction. I found out later that the interview helped them decide to hire me. On Holy Thursday, Phil picked me up at the hotel and we went to a 24-hour supermarket. We bought Marshmallow Peeps so I could see how many fit in my mouth. We repeated the bit a year later and I surpassed my personal best.
I flew back to Burbank in time to attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Finbar Church. I was one of the parishioners who had their feet washed during the ceremony. In the days that followed, my friend Pam Baker suggested that I wear my new sweatshirt in front of Hollywood landmarks and pose for pictures for the station’s website.
By the end of April, I had moved to Knoxville. I had a week or two to get acclimated before my first broadcast, which was a remote from West Town Mall during the station’s “Hands on a Harley” contest. I was thrilled that “Survivor” winner Tina Wesson came to the mall for an interview.