I was truly saddened to learn of the untimely death of a local New York radio personality this morning. It sounds like a cliché to say you welcome a radio host or TV anchor into your family room, but that’s how it felt for me with Caroline Corley.
Corley was a boisterous personality on 107.1 “The Peak” in Westchester County, just north of New York City. She died at 52, Nov. 25.
We moved out to the suburbs seven years ago, when my son was almost one and we no longer fit in a one-bedroom apartment. We knew almost no one in Westchester County and certainly no one in our town. We arrived in October and soon it was winter. I would wake up at dawn with my little boy, take him downstairs, turn on the heat, turn on the radio, get him something to eat, and proceed to roll Lightning McQueen cars and Thomas trains around the family room until the rest of the world woke up.
Corley was the morning deejay then, and up until yesterday — a warm and entertaining presence in that chilly family room as we waited for the heat to kick in. She was sort of a den mother to young rock stars — she referred to her beloved “skinny long-haired boys with guitars” frequently, and many of them she referred to as her “boyfriends.” She loved the rowdy Stones and was lukewarm on the artsy Beatles. She was frequently issuing a “hearty high five and a pat on the ass” to people around town for their good deeds. She talked a lot, which some people surely found irritating, but I almost always enjoyed. (Disclosure — Corley once interviewed me on the air for a humorous little book I’d written.)
Listeners commiserated every time Corley’s basement flooded. She had a chocolate lab named Mick Jagger that she spoke of frequently and obviously adored. Mick died suddenly just a month ago. My children made a card for Caroline, my son, now 7, drawing a picture of Mick with a brown crayon.
Even though most of my peers think of SiriusXM and Pandora when they think of radio, we’ve listened to The Peak over the air ever since we moved in. My wife and I liked the station — the eclectic mix of music, the local spots, the effusive personality of Corley — way better than any station we found over many years in Manhattan. Corley simply was The Peak — she never seemed to take vacations.
She used social media well — she had a giant Facebook following and tapped the platform constantly to connect with listeners. That was where I learned of her death this morning, while I was riding the train to Manhattan. My wife must have learned of it the same time — we both emailed each other with the news.
“So sad and awful,” wrote my wife.
I completely agree.