Remembering Gail Leblanc, Former WBSM General Manager
There's no doubt about it, today has been one of the toughest days of my life.
For those who don't know Gail Leblanc, she was the senior saleswoman and former GM at Fun 107 and WBSM. She was also like a grandmother to me (she'd kill me if she heard that reference, but it's the truth) and a close friend. She was more than just a co-worker, she was a listener when I needed guidance and someone who I could trust to always be there.
Gail has been with the radio station for many years and was one of the kindest, toughest, most go-getting hustlers in the sales business I've ever met. Plain and simple, as Michael Rock once put it, she could sell advertisement to someone who doesn't even have a business. Her work ethic was old school, but she knew exactly what she was doing, and even up until the day she passed, she was ready to get back to work and sell.
This past year, Gail had become ill and was in and out of the hospital. Her presence was missed around the office, and that's when the worry started kicking in. None of us at the time knew how serious her illness was, at least most of us didn't.
Going back to when I first met Gail is a memory as vivid as daylight. At the time, she was the acting general manager and was part of the process of hiring me, something I'll always be grateful for. She was spunky and energetic and right off the bat, we became friendly co-workers. I would always be helping her out around the office or running tasks for her (even if it wasn't work-related), but I was always there to lend a hand.
If her computer was acting up, I would help. If she needed me to run to her house to pick up the office Christmas tree or bring her golf clubs down to her basement for the winter season, I wouldn't ask questions, I would just do it.
Whenever we had a live broadcast somewhere, I always remember her showing up to make sure the client was satisfied and everyone was happy. Her remote broadcasts were extravagant and she went all out every time, but it was always to make sure the client was taken care of. To this day, I still have grill burns on my knuckles from cooking linguica dogs at her car dealership broadcasts.
Despite the day or the weather, Gail's hair was always 10 out of 10. I'm pretty sure she spent more time in the salon than she did in the office, but she knew she had to look good for her clients and her unorthodox style was pretty successful. One thing that always stood out about her that I'll never forget, was that she always had a feather extension. She always made sure she made time in her day to get down to the Ruby Room in South Dartmouth to spruce it up.
Honestly, there are so many memories, but if I wrote them all down, this article would turn into a novel.
But there's one last memory I shared with Gail.
On Monday, December 10, immediately following the devastating news of the death of Fun 107's patriarch J.R., I went to visit Gail at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford. I didn't call or make plans to see her, I just showed up, and it was the best thing I could have done. She looked tired, but her spirits were high. She saw me and smiled with the most welcoming "Hello." I could tell she was surprised, but also happy at the same time to see me, as I was to see her.
We chatted for a short period of time, but I knew she needed rest. I took her hand once more--not knowing it would be the last time-- and began my goodbye.
"I'll see you soon, Gail, I promise." I told her.
"Ok," she said quietly.
"I love you, Gail." I said.
"I love you, too," she replied, and those were our last words exchanged.
Since day one, for some odd reason she called me her "Cabana Boy." Strange, I know, especially since she didn't have a pool for me to clean. That was just her funny sense of humor. She was feisty, but we all loved her.
As saddened as I am for your passing, Gail, just know that I promise to make you and J.R. proud and will work as hard as possible to make sure Fun 107 thrives and the party on the airwaves continue. I will always be your "Cabana Boy" and will always have a very special place in my heart for you. Everyone misses you dearly, but we are happy to know you're not suffering anymore and that you're up in heaven with J.R. and Sharon.
Until we meet again. I'll bring the Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and you bring that contagious smile. I love you, Gail, rest easy.