I made the second turn, and there it was. The studio building was still there, although the house next door wasn't. It apparently hadn't been for a long time, either, given the lush, green look of the lawn that covered its former foundation.
The studio building looked … different, mostly since trees and bushes had grown unchecked. The sign in front was down five of its eight letters; while it had once directed visitors (including eager prize winners) to WHJY and WHJJ ("WSNE" never got added), it now read: "WHJ ." The final "J" was gone, along with all below.
The small circular road in front of the building felt more claustrophobic than I'd remembered, and even if I could've driven around it, I decided not to, given the debris in the way. A dumpster that hadn't been there the last time I was there seemed in danger of overflowing with assorted pieces of drywall (and upon closer inspection on foot, more than one TV set. Not flatscreens, either, the big, heavy kind. A convenient metaphor for how traditional media used to be bigger in many ways).
The front door to the building was boarded-up, reinforced by padlocks and covered in graffiti. What the ample shrubbery gently foreshadowed, wood and steel more ominously made clear: Do. not. enter.
The other potential opening to the building that I knew, and perhaps the more-often-used one in its day, was through the men's room on the other side. It, too, was now sealed off. (More than one job interviewee is said to have entered the building that way, only to be greeted by an occupant. There were no walls, doors or any kind of dividers in the room. If prospective employees could get past that, no question in an interview was likely going to throw them.)
I walked further around to the side of the building, and what looked like a groundhog ambled across the driveway next to the torn-down house and into some bushes. He didn’t seem to be expecting my pop-in (to use a '90s-era Seinfeld term). Given the condition of the grounds, he probably wouldn't have felt comfortable having company.
A small bird fluttered away, too, and I made my way to the back of the building. Whereas the front was being reclaimed by nature, the back was open. Literally open. Glass windows on both floors were broken, and blinds swayed aimlessly. On the first floor, an entire section of plywood covering a window had been moved off to the side, affording the only entrance to the building that I could find.
I debated. Should I go in? It would obviously be trespassing … but it was kind of a former home, considering all the hours (at all hours) that I had spent there.