If inclement weather is in the forecast, he’s the voice parents and school kids are longing to hear: Is school closed or not?
Few are embarrassed to admit that they wait by the phone for Wayde Byard, the Loudoun County Public School’s public information officer, to call. Recent snowstorms have prompted several parents to create a Facebook fan page for Byard called “Friends of Wayde Byard.” Started on Jan. 27 with the status, “waking families in Loudoun County since 2000,” the group attracted more than 900 fans in less than a week.
Byard rings Loudoun’s public schools teachers and parents to inform them of inclement weather delays or closures. His automated voice message sometimes calls at night, but he most often sounds off during the wee hours of the morning. Several parents, who likely recall last winter’s back-to-back blizzards, said they know Byard’s on the other end of the line when the clock reads 5:30 a.m.
“It’s to the point that he really can dismiss the formality of identifying himself when he calls, don’t you think?” Tiffany Powers Burfield commented on the Facebook page. “He should simply say, ‘This is Wayde. Go back to sleep.’”
One woman jokingly pleaded with Byard to stop calling her house because her husband is starting to get suspicious. Another mother inquired if he had her on speed dial. Loudoun schools have closed five days this school year and had a few delays.
Last Monday night, Kelly Young said she answered Wayde’s call with, “’What’s the good word, Wayde?’ And he gave me the good word! What a guy!” He informed her that school was closed the next day.
All may receive the call, but all do not want it. Carolyn Edwards Pennebaker wrote, “No offense Wayde … but I don’t need any calls this week!”
Many commenters wondered if Byard was aware that a Facebook page had been created in his honor.
“The wife’s amused, I’m amused and the dog doesn’t care,” Byard said.
Byard said he finds the fan page funny and thinks it was created in good fun. He also appreciated that the fan page founder had posed a recent picture of him.
“As a student of the media, it’s always interesting to see the next wrinkle in communication,” he said.
The fan page’s founder, who is not identified, said they foresee a t-shirt in the group’s future filled with the “Wayde-isms,” including, “What’s the Wayde-ger for tomorrow?” or “Wayde is the real man with the golden voice.” The t-shirt’s proceeds could make up the school’s budget deficit, the founder wrote.
Despite the presence of his fan page, Byard plans to use the traditional outlets to inform parents and teachers of the school’s operational status.
So, Byard’s fans and foes still can expect more phone calls in the future. And they are awaiting, like schoolgirls anxiously anticipating the call of a love interest.
“Looking forward to your call, Wayde! ,” wrote Bethany Thiele. “Call me baby!” chimed Nancy Parisi Tessman. “Call me, I’ll be waiting,” wrote Anne-Marie Daniel Frattali.
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This article was first published by Hannah Hager on LoudounTimes.com.