Sometimes you meet someone halfway famous, and they end up being the biggest jerk in the world. I'm thinking of last year's film Big Fan, in which a huge New York Giants fan gets beat up by his favorite player.
I didn't think Lino would beat me up, but heading to New York City last week, I had no idea what to expect. Would Lino be the same super-nice guy off the air? Or would he be so wrapped up in his work that he'd only have a few minutes time before going back to the busy world of Catholic media?
Fortunately, I found out that answer before getting to the studio Friday night. My girlfriend Allicia and I were walking to St. Malachys late Friday morning (to hear Mass from Busted Halo's Father Dave Dwyer), when we wondered if there was a chance we'd run into anyone from The Catholic Channel.
"That'd be crazy if we met Lino," Allicia told me.
Flash forward two minutes, and as we're looking at the people crossing the crosswalk, a very familiar 3-time Emmy winning face is walking toward us. It was not the face of a mere mortal, but of Lino Rulli himself.
Wow! The last famous person I met in New York City was Fox News Channel's Steve Doocy, so it's easy to say that seeing Lino on the streets was the coolest person I've had the opportunity to meet. He apologized to us for the weather, assuring us that New York usually isn't near the zero on the thermometer, and giving us a few minutes of small talk before we headed off to hear Fr. Dave.
What was amazing about seeing Lino like that out and about was that you really saw the normal guy deep down. For all his accolades and Catholic radio popularity, he's just a regular guy, trying to get to work just like every other New Yorker that day. The quality I long enjoyed about Lino's radio work: Faith from the perspective of a down-to-earth man was proven true that day on the crosswalk: Lino truly is a guy who cares about his fans. Hell, he could have just kept walking, or told us he was a little too busy and that he'd talk to us in studio that day. But he didn't. And that's what makes him great.
I'd like to tell you that we had fun on the show that night, but I can't. We didn't have fun. We had the best night imaginable. The thing that surprised me the most was just how hard everyone worked THROUGH the breaks. Instead of sitting around and taking a breather for two minutes while Gus Lloyd and Dr. Popcak babble on about Jesus and children with ADD, they're furiously working through a segment while Lou perpetually reminds them how much time before the show resumes.
Whenever I listened to the show, it sounds like everyone is sitting around talking with nothing else to do. Instead, Lino is constantly reading over notes, Lou never looks up from the massive sound board he's operating, and Maureen seemingly never has a chance to sit down.