Transcripts

D.C. Gigs: Greeting Power Brokers At The Willard

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
We'll head back to the District now for this month's edition of D.C. Gigs. This time around, Jocelyn Frank takes us to one of the city's most iconic hotels, the Willard Intercontinental, to meet Steven Blum, a man who's been interacting with all sorts of people, including numerous U.S. presidents, for more than a quarter of a century.

MR. STEVEN BLUM

00:00:26
Welcome to the Willard Intercontinental.

MR. STEVEN BLUM

00:00:31
1401 Pennsylvania Avenue. Best view you could imagine from your office window of the United States Capitol building. Turn to the right. Within a two minute walk, you'd be at the doors of the White House, east gate. What an address to work at.

MR. STEVEN BLUM

00:00:53
My name is Steven Blum. I am the uniform services director at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. I began as the hotel doorman in 1986 and I remained a doorman for approximately 7 years, and then I moved inside as manager. I manage the doormen and the bellmen and I'm the Ambassador of the Lobby.

MR. STEVEN BLUM

00:01:15
I knew about the Willard's history even before I came to work here, going back to 1816 and the 1840s. Abraham Lincoln stayed here. The term lobbyist was coined in the lobby of this hotel. You never know what to expect. The first morning that I was scheduled, and on my own that day. I'd only been a bellman at another hotel for a few months, and I heard someone coming through the door, and I turned around, and I was like, and it was Jimmy Stewart.

MR. STEVEN BLUM

00:01:51
I greeted him, and he asked me how long of a walk to the White House, should I get a car? I said, no, a car wouldn't help, but you could walk three minutes and sort of knock on the door. And I – that was my first celebrity. One of the things I always enjoy is we have a high number of diplomatic arrivals here at the hotel, and you have the motorcade coming, and the Secret Serviced, and the police, and everything's blocked off. You can hear the sirens of the motorcade coming down the street. And the only person allowed behind the police lines, with the exception of security, it's just me.

MR. STEVEN BLUM

00:02:33
And there's still, even to this day, of 27 years of doing this, there's an excitement when you hear the motorcade coming and the sirens, you know, and you get pumped up, you know, and it's – yeah. Every president since James Buchanan has come here. I've greeted from Gerald Ford on. And I got, actually, got to know Gerald and Betty Ford by their, they would know me by my first name.

MR. STEVEN BLUM

00:02:57
It takes a lot of smiling, a lot of charisma, and, you know, you adapt to the guests for that day. I can't be the third baseman for the Washington Nationals, but then the third basemen for the Washington Nationals might not be able to do my job either.

SHEIR

00:03:13
That was Steven Blum, the Uniform Services Director of the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, speaking with reporter Jocelyn Frank.

SHEIR

00:03:23
If you have a distinctively D.C. gig you think we should feature on the show, let us know. Send an email to metro@wamu.org, or send us a tweet. Our handle is @wamumetro.
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