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Photo by Crystal Hayduk. The Breakfast with Bubba show broadcast live from Chelsea on April 14 for Firehouse Friday. Pictured left to right: Brian Welch, Bubba Cowan, and Madison Rally.

By Crystal Hayduk

The Breakfast with Bubba radio show of W4 Country 102.9 FM Ann Arbor broadcast live on April 14 from Chelsea Area Fire Authority’s Station 1.

About 150 people dropped in between 6 and 9 a.m. on Good Friday to visit with “Bubba” Cowan, Madison Rally, and Brian Welch, hosts of the popular morning radio show. Seventy people received one box of Girl Scout cookies each, courtesy of Bubba’s bulk purchase to help boost the girls’ sales. In the midst of a county-wide Easter egg hunt, several prizes were also given locally.

Between songs and banter among the hosts, Bubba circulated throughout the fire station’s garage, chatting with visitors. “Getting into the community and making a difference is the best part of my job,” he said. “It’s an honor to be able to make a mass impact.”

Beach Middle School eighth graders Breanne Black and Rachel Geer said they “listen to W4 Country all the time” and were excited to spend their morning at the fire station. “We go to other events whenever possible,” said Black. “It was great that this one was in Chelsea and we were off school today.”

As the girls watched Brian Welch don firefighter garb and run an obstacle course, Geer said, “Everything they do is always interesting.” 

Chelsea Milling Company donated Jiffy Mix for the event. Fire Chief Rob Arbini said, “The guys [firemen] had a few griddles going at once, flipping pancakes to be ready for receiving citizens.”

Siblings Monica Merz and Christine Cobb were among the early visitors who enjoyed breakfast. Merz, who got to speak on air and received an honorary meteorologist title, was also the lucky winner of two tickets to Goodrich Theaters. “It’s nice to have breakfast with my sister and win some tickets from Bubba, but today is most meaningful because of the connection to Matt and Scott,” said Merz.

Merz’s reference to Matt and Scott pertains to the history of Firehouse Fridays. The first Firehouse Friday was held in Chelsea ten years ago to honor the memories of Fire Captain Matt Tuttle and Police Chief Scott Sumner, who died April 13, 2006 in the line of duty as the result of a helicopter crash.

Tom Gilbreath, Chelsea police officer, said this year’s anniversary of the accident felt especially reminiscent of the day Tuttle and Sumner died, which also fell on the Thursday before Easter. “It’s hard to believe it’s been eleven years,” he said. “They were friends of Bubba’s, so W4 always comes to Chelsea on the Friday closest to April 13th.”

Fire Captain Chris Smyth remembers that day vividly. “It’s one of those terrible events where you just can’t forget,” he said. “Firehouse Fridays started with that first memorial event, and it just grew from there.”

As Bubba prepared to interview Trinh Pifer, executive director of the Chelsea Senior Center, about the upcoming Spring Expo, he said, “W4 Country is hyper-focused on the local communities. We’re here and want to be a voice for them. And I want to thank the listeners for 15 great years with 102.9.” 

Firehouse Fridays are sponsored by Suburban Chevrolet in Ann Arbor, Boullion Sales Outdoor Power Equipment in Dexter, and Roofman. Visit http://www.w4country.com/2017/03/20/firehouse-fridays/ for information about future Firehouse Friday events.

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