Van Hardin and Macey Brackin at WHO radio's studio for Macey’s job shadowing. Photo by Bev Nordyke
Nine years ago, Bonnie Lucas from the Van and Bonnie show on WHO radio was on vacation. The station decided they wanted a child to fill in for her.
“It was a contest and somebody had told my mom about it,” began Macey Brackin. “I woke up that morning and my mom was on the phone. I had no clue who she was talking to, but she handed me the phone. It was Van Hardin. He was talking to me, just having a conversation when he asked me to spell where I lived, which is Woodburn. When I spelled it to him I spelled it Burnwood instead of Woodburn.”
When asked if she was nervous and that was why she spelled Woodburn wrong, Macey laughed and said, “No, I just didn’t know how to spell!”
That afternoon at her babysitters the phone rang and the babysitter handed her the phone. “When I answered the phone, it was my mom. She said, ‘You got it, your going to be on Van and Bonnie!’ I was like great, what’s Van and Bonnie? I am not quite sure why I got it, but I do remember Van said ‘I was very sharp.'”
As she was only seven at the time, Macey admits she doesn’t remember much about doing the radio show. “I remember talking about boys, I remember specifically saying he is not my boyfriend, he is a boy and he is my friend.
“I also remember singing High School Musical, because Van asked me what my favorite movie was and that was it.”
“Macey’s first time on the Van and Bonnie Show was Aug. 31, 2007,” said Debby Brackin, Macey’s mom. “Macey was seven years old and in second grade.”
Debby said they got up very early in the morning, because they were supposed to be at the studio by 4:30 a.m.
“Macey slept most of the way to Des Moines, but we stopped at a convenience store and got chocolate milk and big muffins before we got there,” said Debby.
Once they got to the studio, Debby said Van took them around and introduced them to everyone that works on the show, including Steve Locker and Bob Quinn.
“Macey wasn’t shy about being on the radio at all,” said Debby. “Van said that normally when someone comes in to guest-host with him, they are very quiet and uncomfortable to begin with and it takes a couple of hours for them to get comfortable talking on the radio. That was not the case with Macey. She took to it like a duck to water! She talked, answered questions, asked questions, sang and was very entertaining.
“Macey called several people and talked to them on the air. She called her dad, her summer babysitter, and my boss. She really had a good time and would have really liked to have stayed longer and gone back again.”
After she got done on the radio, Debby said Macey went to school for the rest of the day. “She was very tired!
“Van seemed quite impressed with her and said that they would have her back again when Bonnie was their too, but that never happened,” said Debby. “Not until she asked to job shadow him.”
Both times she has been on the show, Brackin said she was made to feel very welcome. As she was standing in for Bonnie she did not get to meet her the first time, but was able to meet her this time.
Asked if she had any trouble talking on the radio either time, Brackin said, “No, oh no. This time around I was a little more nervous, but no I didn’t have any problems talking now or then.”
Macy said she thought Van remembered who she was; at least she would like to think he did. When she was on the radio he said, ‘if you guys can think back to nine years ago, you will remember Macey Brackin.' “I can’t be like oh yea, he totally remembered me, but I am pretty sure he did.”
Macey was the youngest guest on the show until recently, when Van’s three-year old grandson was on the show. “I just found out a couple of years ago that I was the youngest to ever be on the show,” said Macey.
Admittedly, Macey only gets to listen to Van and Bonnie once in awhile. She divulged that they are very nice and really funny. “When they are not on the air, they just sit and talk about different things that are happening. Sometimes it’s just quiet because they are working and looking for something new to talk about like political things, or something new that has gone viral on the Internet.”
Macey said everything just flows smoothly in the studio. She said when Bonnie had to do the weather, she didn’t have to look up she just knew when to do it. “Scott would say stuff like weather and then back to me. I think Scott also did the sports. They talked with Mark Allen another sports guy who was in Newton who airs from his basement.”
When asked what stood out the most for Macey, she replied, “Nine years ago it was the thrill of knowing people were listening to me. When you’re seven years old people don’t really listen to you, but when you are on the air, you know people are listening. Because you are on the air, you think wow; somebody is actually listening to me, wanting to know what I have to say.
“This time was the same way. Even though I didn’t get to talk very much, but it was kind of the same way, just knowing that somebody was listening, which is exciting, knowing that somebody is actually hearing what I have to say. Again, I wasn’t on long, but still that is pretty great.”
Macey was going to school in Chariton when she was on the first time. She remembers her whole class had listened to it. “They said, you did great, what was it like? They were just asking me all these questions and it was fun, I had a lot of fun! It felt really good, because I was the only kid in my class that had been on the radio.”
Her second time on the radio, Macey said she got to talk a couple of times. “I don’t really remember what I said because it was really early. I was the first one on at 5 a.m. and then again at 8 a.m.
“I was pretty lucky, because most people have to work a six-hour day for job shadowing. Most people have to be to their job shadow at 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. I had to get up at 2 a.m. to be there by 4:30 a.m. To me it was easier, because I was done by 10:30 a.m. while everyone else was job shadowing, so I went home and slept.”
Macey said Van and Bonnie’s schedules are pretty similar to what she did, but they have eight-hour days instead of six-hour days.
When she got home from the studio job shadowing, Macey said she text her mom and said, “I’m not ready to be home yet, I’m ready to go back. She said, ‘are you saying you had a good time?’ I said, “I’m saying I liked it a lot!”
To get the job shadow, Macey said she e-mailed Van and said, “Hello, my name is Macey Brackin. I am a sophomore in high school and I was on your show in 2007 when I was seven years old. I don’t know if you remember me, but I would really like to job shadow you. If that would be okay, please contact me.”
Van Hardin sent a statement saying, "It was so good to see Macey again after all these years. She was just a little girl when she was on our show and filled in for Bonnie all those years ago. We both look different, Macey because she is growing into a beautiful young woman and me because I've lost 97 pounds.
“She was one of our most popular ‘designated Bonnie’s’ ever, and at the time, set the record for the youngest person to ever do it. I was proud of her then and I'm proud of her now!"
Macey lives in a town called Last Chance with her parent’s, Jeff and Debby Brackin and her 21 year old sister Bailey. “Last Chance is a tiny little town. It’s kind of like LeRoy,” said Macey. “There is only one public thing, theirs is a church ours is a cemetery. I think that is really ironic, Last Chance cemetery,” chuckled Macey.
“I really like radio, I think its really great having people hear you and thinking I might have something important to say. Sometimes it’s just me liking to hear myself talk. I just think there is something really cool about that, being anonymous. You know my name and that I’m on the radio, but you don’t know me, but you know what I have to say.”
Admittedly not a shy person and proclaims she loves to hear herself talk, Macey said, “I would talk to the wall if I could. I got an award in third-grade; the award was I could talk to a brick wall award. I got that award and I was the only one that got, but it was true!”
Asked if her classmates think she talks a lot, Macey answered, “Oh yea, if you knew my grandpa Bob who lives in Colorado you would understand. He buys and sells cows and people always say about him that you know when Bob Brackin is in the room, because you can hear him over the auctioneer. That’s kind of how it is with me too, I talk really loud, in fact I think I am talking pretty loud right now. Talking is just kind of my thing, I love to hear myself talk, I think I am a great speaker.”
Macey was also in the school play, playing Jonie, aka Red Chief. “It was about a nine year old girl with red hair,” laughed Macey. “She is a rowdy, rambunctious, mischievous little girl who can out smart some people. Two crooks come to town and kidnap her. She is a smart girl and instead of getting a ransom, they pay her parents instead. They can’t stand her because she talks a lot. In one of the scenes, Brett Leer who played Bill said to another character, could you make her shut up, just make her shut up! It wasn’t the first time I have heard that!”
In the movie 'Mama Mia,' Macey said a song called 'Thank You For the Music' says, “Mama said I sang long before I talked,” Macey said that was the opposite for her, she talked long before she sang. “I talk to everybody, people I don’t know, people I know, people I am a good friend with, people I’m not good friends with. I’m just not afraid to talk to anybody.”
Macey would like to pursue a career where she can talk to people. Whether its radio, TV, movies or a speaker of some sort, she just knows she wants to talk to people and find a message she can share with them.
Macey’s advice is, “I feel what I have to say is kind of cliché, but do whatever you want, do what makes you happy as long as it’s not hurting anybody or yourself. Don’t let anybody get you down. If somebody tells you you can’t do something, don’t let them bring you down, do it and be proud to say that you did it.
“Do your job shadows, pick something that you really like to do, it will be fun as long as you pick something that goes with what you like to do!”