In Memory of Dad, a Van for WCMU

This Father's Day, we wanted to honor a special dad… Kevin Tate. Kevin's kids donated his van to WCMU and share why the station and memories of their dad are so intertwined. We're warning you, get out the hankies cause this is a tearjerker.

In memory of our father, Dr. Kevin Tate PhD
The heat roared out of the vents, the sky was white, and the air in the car held the scent of coffee and Chapstick. Our dad fixed his hair in the rearview mirror, curving his hand around the side of his head, and topping off his tamed curls with his tweed Irish cap.  In the background, the calming voices of NPR journalists welcomed us to the waking world.
This is how our many memories of riding in the car with our dad, listening to NPR, converge: in an image so soothing, so familiar that we can visit it when we are in bed, trying to sleep.
Sometimes we'd listen to jazz, music that still makes us feel like we could take on the day, take on life, and sometimes we'd listen to Car Talk, my dad laughing too hard at the jokes, throwing his head back and pounding the steering wheel.  Sometimes we were on the way to school, and sometimes on the way to get more coffee and breakfast at Roast and Toast.  Other times, the sky wasn’t white, but it was finally blue, and we were on the way to the car wash on a sunny Saturday so exquisite that we all had the urge to be productive, to be a team, vacuuming the car and teasing each other with the hoses.
The van that we are donating to WCMU Harbor Springs was the last vehicle that our dad owned.  He passed away in February of this year (2017), and we miss him deeply.  We are glad to be able to pass along his vehicle WCMU in order to help the station continue to reach listeners in Northern Michigan.  To him, NPR was a place to gather information and insight, a place where culture and ideas mattered, a place where there was room for humor and for music, the good stuff of life.  

We rode with my dad in many cars through the years, but NPR was the constant thread, the background soundtrack to our rides with him.  We will revisit our memories of these car rides when we want to remember what it was like to be near our dad, happy and loved, the air in the little space of the car growing less chilly, our dad’s fingers tapping along lightning quick on the steering wheel to the beat of a Mingus song, everyone safe, everyone warm.


Kelly, Van, and Mary Tate