Straight Talk | Loss of a friend



I was shocked and broken-hearted upon learning my dear friend, Alicia Butler, had died suddenly. I knew she had been suffering in recent days because she told me, first on a Monday afternoon and then two days later. I said that following Wednesday, “Alicia, you sound terrible.” She replied, ”Thanks, Roger. I needed that.” We both laughed. It was the last time we laughed together. It was the last time we talked. She was found dead on the living room floor within reaching distance of the mother she loved so much. Alicia Butler … dead at the young age of 55 of cancer. Yes, cancer. No one knew. Perhaps Alicia did not know.

Alicia, a student at Washington’s Gifted School who attended Peoria High and proudly Bradley, was better known for her desire for public service. She was elected to the Peoria school district board and subsequently named president for two years. Alicia embraced her position with unmatched support for city students attending numerous school events. Students often reached out to thank her for the interest and enthusiasm she displayed with her personal appearance. Alicia was active in PACE, the Gus Macker basketball tournament, Steamboat Days, Santa Parade and more. She loved her college sorority, Gamma Phil Beta and continued to volunteer for a variety of sorority projects and community activities.

When Royce and I started our morning radio show on WOAM she was tabbed to do sports. She was a natural and could talk sports with anyone. After Royce died, I asked if she would like to co-host. She did with gusto and excitement. Alicia was a natural and attracted a large fan base of adoring people. We all loved her.

Her greatest love was her mother. LaDonna, we called her Donna, went with Alicia everywhere from Central games to Bradley basketball to July Fourth fireworks shows to Peoria Chief baseball games and to the grocery store. Alicia even took Donna to Chicago for heart surgery. Alicia wanted the best for her mother, but put herself last. That may have cost her. During that time, cancer was invading her body, and we were slowly losing a beautiful, vibrant and loving woman. Alicia Butler. Gone too soon.

Difficult to follow

Bradley president Gary Roberts recently made a surprise announcement that the university was ending its affiliation with WCBU, effective in 2019. However, since Bradley owns the license, it appears the radio staff must find a new location but will not have a frequency on which to broadcast. A few years ago, I put together a group to consider buying WOAM from the Nelson family of Plano. We didn’t even make an offer after learning the asking price and the condition of the transmitter. When Bradley announced a desire for management bids, I decided to investigate. Three calls to the public relations office resulted in answering machines twice and finally a human voice. With all three, I left a message seeking more information. All three produced the same zero response. Great public relations. Next came a call to the office of the president. The pleasant secretary “passed the ball” to someone in IT. The pleasant secretary “passed the ball” to another answering machine. What the hell did the school do before answering machines? I would ask the F.B.I. to investigate, but they’re too busy trying to get the goods on Trump. Maybe Norm Kelly can help find out what in the world is going on with Bradley and WCBU.

Great show guests

One again we remembered 9-1-1 with an outstanding show. Former Congressman Ray LaHood gave a dramatic account of what he was doing when the country was attacked by terrorists in hijacked commercial airliners Sept. 11, 2001. He saw the plane that eventually crashed into the Pentagon and the emotions he felt that day and that year and today, as did Peoria Manual and Bradley graduate Dick Crain, a Navy fighter pilot who flew missions in the Iraq war. We ended with the recorded interview I had years ago with Gary Griggs of Louisville, Kentucky. He was on the 81st floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when it was hit by one of the planes. His account of running down the 81 floors in the successful, but exhaustive experience is memorable. So were his thoughts about those who criticize efforts by the government to track terrorists living in this country.

Why do they do it?

The Peoria Journal does it. So does the Wall Street Journal and every newspaper in the country. You can only go to their web site so many times and then they block you unless you pay a fee. Now the newspapers sell ads on their web site, so when they block readers they are blocking people from reading the ads they sell, thus advertisers fail to reach potential customers. On the other hand, TV and radio stations welcome people to their web sites and their advertisers. Now tell me who looks stupid in this brief story and there’s more than one.

Quote of the month

“To survive in peace and harmony, united and strong, we must have one people, one nation, one flag.” — Pauline Hanson

Roger Monroe

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