My Gratitude for Joe McConnell

On weekend mornings, when I drive on CA-85, I drive at 85mph; when I drive on US-101, I drive at 101mph; when I drive on I-280, I take off from land; when I drive on I-880, I stuck in traffic.

But when I drive on weekday mornings(and not joking), I tune in KQED public radio to understand what I can expect on highways, from Joe McConnell. Like this:

“…South bound 101 two car crash near Willow, left lane blocked, slow traffic from Woodside…”

Or this:

“…San Mateo Bridge minor crash near high rise, back up all the way to toll plaza…”

Or this:

“…slow traffic North 101 near San Antonio, there is a ladder at middle lane…”

It has been my, and my daughter’s source of morning commute information and joy.

I have been driving on Bay Area highways since 2013, but I hadn’t known about JoeMcConnell until (1) I commute daily by car (2) I switched to listen to KQED while driving. That was sometime in 2018, at which time his less-than-one-minute traffic report did not draw much of my attention yet. One year later, when my commute pattern changed, I started to find it helpful: I first need to navigate 3 different highways, to drop off my daughter at her school, then go reverse direction, to go to work. (Yeah since that time I could not longer avoid driving to work) During this period, I found it not onnly helpful (to optimize my commute) and knowledgeable (from which I learned Maze, Hospital Curve etc), but also fun1: I would hear all kinds of things dropped on highways, like ladders(the most frequent one, I personally encountered one, narrowly missed it), couches, and the best: Christmas trees after New Year: it’s probably the fun stuff that made my 6-year-old daughter enjoyed the traffic report.

At that time, we were curious enough to research more, and we were so pleased to find and watch how Joe McConnell, and his colleague Julie Deppish, make this happen behind the scenes.

Pandemic up-ended traffic all a sudden. I do not know what did the traffic report look like. But when my daughter’s school reopened, we found Joe McConnell is still there! Until recently, we took a break from traffic report by listening to KQED’s pledge free stream, and when we switched back, Joe was not there. We were wondering what happened, did we miss Joe’s retirement announcement and party? We started missing him more and more so I searched online and found:

It’s bittersweet: Joe McConnell will enjoy his retirement! But no more “Joe McConnell for KQED” on our commutes. We will definitely tune in and enjoy the last two days of his traffic reporting, and from then on, we are sure that we will miss Joe on our every morning commute going forward.

Thanks Joe!

  1. There are sad things too: sometimes there would be injury or even fatal crashes. We really need to drive safe to not show up in Joe’s traffic report.