AV People: Jason McGraw of InfoComm International

Let me set the stage for you:

It’s August 8th, 1993. Jason McGraw, sound guy for a local band, guitar player, and young exposition operations manager for ICIA (now InfoComm) was home after an Emmet Swimming show he’d be doing sound for that night and couldn’t sleep.

InfoComm, then ICIA, had just gotten a new Mac Portable and Jason had brought it home for the weekend to play around with it.

He’d also happened to pick up a compact disc with 500 FREE hours of America Online at the grocery store earlier that week.

Bored, unable to sleep, and curious, Jason installed AOL on that Mac Portable, logged on, and discovered the now-infamous AOL chat rooms.

There weren’t too many people chatting in the different rooms, but one chat room in particular, Romance Connections, had a few folks milling around. Jason went in the chat room.

Moments later, he noticed there weren’t too many women and a whole lot of men in the chatroom.

Suddenly, “Razz-something-or-other,” caught his eye. So, he sent a message to “Razz-something-or-other” saying, “Hey, what’s up?”

Little did Jason know, that at that moment, he had just introduced himself to his future wife.

Jason and his wife Michele have been married 18 wonderful years. But clearly they didn’t meet in traditional fashion.

“In 1993, online dating wasn’t even a thing,” Jason recalled, “It was so random. There I was, at 2:30am, I couldn’t sleep, so I logged on to America Online on my Mac Portable and there she was. I think she had bronchitis or something and so she was up late, too. Michele was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I was in Washington, D.C. We just started chatting and the next thing I know, we’d chatted till day break. We had similar interests and this and that.”

Over the next several weeks, Jason and Michele would log online every night and they’d chat. Talking about anything and everything.

One day, Jason made the move to send her a picture of himself to which Michele returned the favor.

The next thing they knew they were talking on the phone. LONG DISTANCE.

“It was the most expensive way to date someone for two months. AOL minutes weren’t cheap past those 500 free hours… let alone the long distance calls. I think I racked up a couple hundred dollars in phone charges during that courtship,” said Jason.

After two months, Michele flew down from Milwaukee to meet Jason in D.C. — which also happened to be the same weekend as a large family reunion for Jason.

So what did he do? Well, he brought her of course.

Everyone at the family reunion kept asking Jason, “Who is this woman?” “You met her HOW?!” “What?!”

Well, by October, Michele was no longer a resident of Milwaukee. Michele packed her bags and moved to Washington D.C. to live with Jason.

In three months they went from randomly meeting in a chat room on AOL to living together.

The following spring, Jason took Michele to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, got down on one knee and asked her to be geeky with him forever. Well, I don’t know if he specifically referred to them as geeky, but he definitely popped the question, and she definitely said yes.

Jason and Michele married the following fall on Thanksgiving weekend at his parent’s church in Virginia Beach.

“We had brought down the priest that had married my parents in 1964 and Michele and I were able to be married by the same priest. It was really special for us,” said Jason.

18 years later, they’re still happy, and geeky, as can be.

They’ve got four amazing kids, and they share a love for family, friends, technology, and fountain Diet Cokes from McDonald’s.

Michele is actually a professional geek, if you will.

Michele runs scrapsofmygeeklife.com, a family, fitness, technology and digital scrapbooking blog for moms, dads, men, women, and well, anyone. It all started with her love for technology, her love for computers and her love for digital scrapbooking. She’d make digital frames and buttons, and design page after page till one day she realized others might share in her interest.

She started her blog and has been running the site for four years strong and it continues to grow every day.

So, when Jason isn’t busy running the expositions for InfoComm, he’s bass fishing, photographing, drinking Diet Coke and being a husband and a dad.

Jason’s humble about it all though, “I wouldn’t say I have a glamorous life; I don’t have any particularly exciting hobbies, but I spend a lot of time with my family and I love to be involved in my kids’ lives. I also hope that one day my family and I can have a Partridge Family-type life… I dream of having a family band.”

I’d say Jason’s got all the right things in order.

Molly Stillman is the director of marketing and new business development for rAVe [Publications]. Reach her at molly@ravepubs.com