Often imitated but never duplicated, Anne O’Bannon is a true believer in the adage that everything happens for a reason.
“I never intended to be on the radio,” the media maven laughed.
As a show producer and host, Anne was one of the chief organizers of this week’s KAIR-athon, a day-long broadcast orchestrated to raise money and food for the Middle Keys food bank.
“When so many people are in proximity to each other, certain things like this just come to fruition.”
That same social and professional proximity gave her not only the most perfect partner but her eventual relocation from the frigid northeast of her childhood to her now forever home.
While working for a Fortune 100 advanced technology firm in the early 1980s in what she called the first position not earned through nepotism, Anne met Bill and was immediately swept away.
“He was so admired by his colleagues and everyone had such good things to say about him,” she remembers. “I thought to myself that the woman who has him has got to be the luckiest woman on the planet. Little did I know that three years later, I’d be that woman.”
Anne admits that it’s always been her M.O. to embrace each day as it comes with little regard for roadmaps and plans.
Though she first visited the Fabulous Florida Keys in 1978 with a group of friends who came down for her sister’s honeymoon – “We stayed in our motorhome on Knight’s Key and saw real turtles at the Turtle Kraals in Key West” – it wasn’t until after she met Bill many years later that her relocation plans were set in stone.
“We weren’t supposed to come permanently until 1995, but when he announced that we were coming down earlier, I was ready to go,” she laughed. “The only reason I can think of to endure that kind of cold is for ice skating. I gave my skates to my niece when we moved down.”
Bill planned to retire to Key Colony Beach and pursue his post-corporate life as a light tackle fishing guide.
“He always had a plan,” she remembered, adding affectionately, “I just never knew I was part of that plan.”
The pair enjoyed their new lives together until Bill passed tragically in 2003 of a rare, fatal disease.
In a strange twist of fate, yet another chapter in Anne’s life began. She refers readily and often to her providence that “you just never know what’s going to happen.”
She needed organization, structure and somewhere to focus her abundance of energy.
“I’m not a very good employee,” she laughed, explaining that she doesn’t do well sitting at a desk in an office. “I thought I could just keep the books for somebody and that’s something you can do at two in the morning at home.”
About the same time she was ready to seek employment again, she was approached by the local radio station 94.3 to produce a show.
“I’d never produced anything but children in my life,” she laughed.
In the spring of 2008, she began filling in at the microphone position and admits she was terrified.
“I was scared to death, and after we went off air, I just melted into the chair!”
Anne’s taken quite nicely to the position and can be heard every Tuesday through Thursday morning. She’s also hosting the Community Hour program the first and third Tuesday of every month from 5-6 pm. This show is one near and dear to her heart, since giving back to the community has been a part of her life since childhood. The show features local organizations and non-profits, describes what they do in the community and how listeners can work to give back to them.
“I love it,” she explained with her perpetual enthusiasm. “I’m having a ball.”
Anne is the proud grandmother to five grandchildren, who she affectionately calls “the perfect progeny of my imperfect children.”
Between her duties as a Florida Keys Community College Board Trustee, Rotarian, Chairman of the Monroe County REC, Chamber of Commerce and Key Colony Beach Code Enforcement, Anne has little time to launch her kayaks and spend some time out on the water.
Q: Hey Anne! What’s best part of being a ‘local’?
A: Water and weather. And wonderful people.