A LIFE LESSON ~ THANKS TO RADIO
“I have people who turn my microphone on.” I would proudly say.
Even seeing that in print right now makes me feel pretty bad on a lot of levels. For one, it sounds arrogant (although that was never my intention). My saying it was twofold. I believed it to be self-deprecating. When somebody asked about the specifics of doing my job as a syndicated radio host, “Hell, I don’t know. I have somebody who turns my microphone on.” Plus, that lame answer seemed to stop any further questions.
I got some great advice when I decided to have a career in show business. My brother had a friend at NBC, so to get my foot in the door I talked to him about my getting on as a Page. He said, “I can get you that job right now if you want. But why? If you want to act, start acting.” I loved the advice because it was totally in-line with my belief in universal law. You know, visualize it and take massive action until you manifest it.
I had the perfect setup. I had cleared all the clutter from my life. I even got my wife to handle all of the finances so I could be a total content machine. For many years I would spend all my waking and sleeping hours thinking and dreaming of bits and jokes. All I would think about all day long was the radio show … and I loved it. I excelled in that world. What a great life I had created for myself, and it was all by design.
What a free feeling it was to dream up an idea, then tell yourself to go back to the drawing board and dream a little bigger. I would then hand that idea off to somebody else who was living their passion, like David Moore our Program Director, who would then work his magic and POW! Before you knew it the idea came to life and everybody in the city was talking about it. Ratings soared.
Then radio changed. A new system for ratings left radio companies to believe that music was the easiest, and above all, cheapest way to go. Many of the more popular talk shows got kicked to the curb for the new business plan. We waited out our contract knowing that our heads were on the chopping block. Sure enough, we lost our job in our home city of Dallas. Something that still stings to this day. Luckily we still were a syndicated show even though we had no home. Scared shitless, we blindly did everything we could to stay alive. Overnight we became small business owners and thanks to United Stations and our loyal affiliates, we were able to weather the storm.
But there still was a problem. Now we were responsible for paying our staff, health insurance, worker’s comp insurance, taxes, our own studio, finding an engineer (thank you Louis), all the computers and servers, office supplies, somebody to do the books … and the list goes on. I was way out of my element. I was in total survival mode. The worst part of it all was that I could no longer just think about content. My on-air performance suffered. I was now a businessman first and a radio host second and I hated every single minute of it. No longer were my ideas enough.
As far as I could tell I had two choices. I could quit, or I could pay close attention to my industry and the other people who decided to learn and grow from turmoil. Nobody was taking our calls. We were damaged goods, so I had to watch and learn from afar. I watched people like consultant Fred Jacobs (whom I’m sure had similar fears). Fred continues to grow as a person and as a brand. We don’t work with Fred, but I have always loved his passion. I learned from my agent Paul, who had some things to figure out on his own. His belief in the show and in me as a person gave me some much needed confidence. It turned out to be a real gift to see people reinventing themselves, or in some cases, just trying to keep up while learning.
All of a sudden I was finding inspiration in an industry many were saying was circling the drain. It’s all very exciting for me. I see huge opportunities in the industry. Although I haven’t figured it all out yet, I feel great. It kind of feels like a wildfire that’s 95% contained.
The best part is that my chosen profession is now responsible for teaching me a valuable life lesson. I now embrace change. To embrace change doesn’t mean to surrender to the inevitable. It means to recognize that you really have all the power. There are no rules and I believe the people that are still left in this industry are the ones who recognize that. No rules. It’s what radio needs again. There are very few people who know how to create a buzz. Unfortunately there are even fewer people who will let them do it.
Embracing change has now got me back to where I feel that I’m doing my best work ever. It’s content 24/7 again! I get the feeling that some people think the change in radio will eventually die down and we can get back to business as usual. I have news for you. Change doesn’t stop. In fact, I’ve learned that it doesn’t even slow down, and I’m super comfortable with that pace.
I mentioned earlier that I wanted a career in “Show Business.” Doing a five hour show with three segments an hour, I look at it as 15 shows a day, 75 shows a week. Now that’s show business. I want to thank radio for letting me create and laugh with my friends every morning. Because of change I learned a lot about myself. I now know I can learn from any adversity life throws at me. That is if I choose to.