With the end of February now in sight – and hopefully the end of a harsh winter season as well – Clinton County basketball fans are beginning to think about the closing out of regular season play this week, and next week’s arrival of the post-season tournament stretch.
For the past several years, local fans have been able to settle on a firm, definitive mark of that transition between basketball season with the annual Clinton County High School Basketball Booster Club / WANY Radio Auction fundraising event.
This Friday night, it’s time once again for the Booster Club, basketball players, parents and coaching staffs to come together with the community in a joint effort that will provide not only a night of fast-paced buying and selling, but a night of entertainment and fun as well.
As has been the case for several years, this year’s Radio Auction will once again fill in the break between regular season play ending this week, and the start next week of the 16th District Basketball Tournament.
The program is slated to be held this Friday night, based from the cafeteria at Clinton County High School and featured over the radio airwaves of local station WANY (100.9 FM).
The program can also be heard on local access channel 16 for television subscribers of local cable provider MediaCom.
“It’s a long, hard night for those of us working to keep things running before, during and after the program,” said Al Gibson, long-time on-air co-host for the Radio Auction. “At times, I know it seems like to those listening that we’re working in a mass chaos environment, but for the most part, it’s a highly organized event that usually goes off with very few glitches.”
Gibson will once again be joined during the auction by his long-time on-the-air partner and co-host, Jackie Flowers.
The program is once again set to get underway at 5:00 p.m. Friday, and the center of the activity will be the Clinton County High School cafeteria, where program hosts and workers will spend the night choosing groups of donated items and services to offer up for auction in varying lenghts of on-the-air segments.
Listeners to the program will work the event much like attending a live personal property auction, only bids are made either over the telephone, or from members of the audience who are attending the event in person at the cafeteria.
Event organizers spent the first few years of the program fine-tuning the Radio Auction format, and for the most part, it has gone unchanged in the bidding process for several editions now.
The event was first held in the early 1980s and was hosted by Gibson and long-time radio sportscaster Sid Scott. The auction was then stationed from one of the small studio rooms inside the WANY facility.
“Those first couple of years there were only a handful of people working to organize the items being sold, while Sid and I worked the on-the-air descriptions and managing the time slots,” Gibson said. “As the event became more popular and successful, people wanted to hang out with us at the station, so we had to move it to the high school after just a few years in order to give us enough room to pull it off.”
Scott retired from broadcasting for a few years, and Gibson recruited Flowers to co-host the program and the two have been working the program together ever since.
The basic premise of the auction is unchanged from years past, with a group of three or more items or services being described over the air and listed on a large bulletin board at the cafeteria for segments that usually last for just three minutes.
Bidders calling in over the phone or in person, can continue to raise the bids on items until the segment ends, winning bidders are announced and the process starts all over again.
To keep the process fair to those bidders calling in over the telephones, the final 30 seconds of each segment is always reserved for telephone bids only, which is the most effective way to keep in-house bidders from having the biggest advantage and being able to “snipe” bids at the last instant.
Gibson noted, however, that in recent years, with the increased popularity of cellular telephones, oftentimes those attending the event live, can switch to using a telephone in those final seconds.
“That’s as fair as we can make it, so it just keeps everyone on their toes when they are bidding on items,” Gibson said. “When it’s all said and done, the split between winning bids from in-house bidders and off-site bidders will be about the same.”
Friday night’s on-site organization and working lineup will include a host of parents and community members joining forces to make the production work as smoothly as possible, but also the basketball players and coaching staffs working every aspect of the many needed tasks.
While coaches often stand side by side with parents at the description board and tally tables, players take turns actually answering phone bidders who call in during each segment.
The auction headquarters will also feature a wide lineup of concessions being sold during the night, an aspect that often not only draws a larger crowd, but keeps the crowd on hand throughout the entire program as well.
The lineup of items and services that will be offered at Friday night’s Radio Auction will of course be as varied and interesting as it has ever been, normally ranging from clothing to health and personal services to furniture and tools and from time to time, even pets and livestock.
While the majority of the items and services that will be offered for sale during the program are smaller, inexpensive and certainly affordable, there are always several items that are promoted as “special” items and are featured for extended segment runs and usually garner higher prices.
Those items can range from houseboat or pontoon boat rentals to handmade items or even antiques or collectibles.
Of course a host of food items can be expected to be auctioned off as well throughout the five-hour long program that normally runs until about 10:00 p.m.
The annual auction is designed to raise funds to help finance the varsity basketball programs at Clinton County High School, designed to give the small high school program a boost in being able to perhaps afford some of the things that are often commonplace purchases at larger schools, but would not be possible for the much smaller and often strained athletic budget at smaller schools such as Clinton County’s.
Gibson also pointed out again this year that the auction is always a fantastic demonstration of how the community comes together for the common cause, with the public and the business and professional community stepping forward to always make the event a tremendous success.
“When it’s all said and done, and we’re packing our equipment up at the end of the program, it’s the kids – those young athletes who wear the blue and white and represent our county so well – who will benefit from this joint effort,” Gibson said.
During the program, the items being sold during each segment will be on display for viewing by those attending the auction, while radio listeners will have the on-the-air descriptions of Gibson and Flowers.
Items that will be sold Friday night can be picked up during or after the auction at the C.C.H.S. cafeteria that night for awhile following the end of the program, and an additional pick-up day will also be announced throughout the program for those who can’t make it out Friday night.
While most of the items being sold will actually be on hand for pick-up by the winning bidders, other items and services that have been sold will involve gift certificates that can be taken to the vendor.
Gibson also expressed the gratitude of the program towards the businesses, professionals and individuals who donate to the program each year.
“From the first year, I’ve just been amazed at the generosity this business and professional community has had toward this,” he said. “Without these donations of goods and services, of course this effort couldn’t continue, and we truly thank everyone who donates to make this auction so successful every year.”
Home listeners/bidders enjoying the program over the WANY broadcasts are reminded that only one telephone number is necessary with the multi-line “roll-over” system in use at Clinton County High School, and the telephone number that will be used Friday night is (606) 387-5689.
Bidders using the telephone will be asked to state a bid amount as well as the caller’s name.
If a caller is out-bid by another caller or in-house bidder during a particular segment, then placing a new bid is as simple as making another phone call and placing a new bid on the item.
When each segment ends, Gibson and Flowers will announce the winning bidder on each item before getting a new segment underway.