Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Five Years Ago - The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island

Five years ago tomorrow, I was sitting in my hotel room at The Westin Pasadena. I remember turning on The Today Show, and hearing them report about a huge fire from the night before at a small venue that featured live music.

For some strange reason, before even knowing the details, I had a feeling that I was going to feel connected to this story.

The night club was The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island. The band performing was Great White. Immediately, I knew 94 HJY, a client of mine at the time, was involved.

Sure enough, I'm watching coverage, and see the 94 HJY van right there on national TV.

While I had never been at The Station, I certainly lived in Rhode Island for four years, and had been to many clubs like this one during my time in radio. At the time, if you worked in rock radio, you worked club gigs like this one. Beer promos, band intros, random appearances at small venues.

It started to hit home.

The personality hosting the event - "The Doctor" - was killed. I remember listening to him during my late nights studying.

100 people died in total - concert goers, band members, and people simply doing their jobs that evening. When I worked random midweek bar appearances, I was more concerned with getting home at a reasonable hour than burning to death.

I'm sure I wasn't the only radio person thinking that this could have been any of us at any 300-person club anywhere in the US.

It made me much more hestiant to be in crowded indoor venues. At the very least, I now make sure I can see the fire exits if I feel uncomfortable. For example, while I have liked the few times I have been to Lizard Lounge (downstairs from Cambridge Common), I don't like being in the confined basement of a venue with just two exits and no windows. Same deal downstairs at Clery's.

I found a good story at The New York Times about some of the survivors five years later. Their stories are heartbreaking.

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