Twenty-five years is about a third of a lifetime. And long before the twenty-five years was up I’d often wondered, “How long will this last? How long CAN this last?”
When I was in my 20’s and fresh out of college, armed with a degree in education and nothing even close to resembling a plan so far as gainful employment was concerned I took a part-time job doing news Saturday mornings on WCDL in Carbondale. Hey, I’d volunteered for the college station. I had some kind of experience. And I had no kind of a job. It was 1980 and this meant a couple of bucks a week that I could throw in the gas tank of the car and maybe buy a couple of drinks on a Friday night.
One thing led to another, more hours, different tasks, and eventually I ended up hosting the morning show on WCDL’s FM station which played country music. Couldn’t have cared less what we played. I was having fun and getting a bigger check. Then they tossed a few more bucks my way and when I got off the air at 10am I became the traffic manager. I scheduled the commercial logs for the station. And that’s what I did until October, 1983 when I heard about an opening for a traffic manager at a radio station in Scranton. So I applied for and got the job pulling down a princely sum of $225 a week. My wife and I were celebrating our one month wedding anniversary.
But this new job, the data entry and filing weren’t all that interesting to me, just the paycheck. And so I spent a good deal of time hanging out in other people’s offices and the hallway making odd noises and cracking jokes. The general manager of the station decided my so-called “talents” might be put to better use in the programming department instead of the business office. So they put me on the radio. It was March, 1985.
And that’s what I did for twenty-five years. Showed up every morning, cracked some jokes and made odd noises.
My son John came along in 1988, my daughter Emily in ’91.
And all along I knew it was not where I’d end up. I knew it wasn’t going to last until I retired. I prayed it wouldn’t! What might be sadder than a man in his 50’s pretending he wants to play “Freebird” again? The keyword is “pretending”.
And so I knew that someday I’d have to leave and I knew I wanted it to be my choice and not decided for me. It already felt like I’d overstayed my welcome.
I had some very good friends where I used to work. And I miss them a lot. But they’re still my friends and I know where they are. I just don’t get to see them everyday the way I used to.
And in the end you can’t base what is best for you and for your family on familiarity and comfort and complacency. I knew that if I had any chance at all of continuing to make a living on the radio it wasn’t going to be feigning interest in doing the same thing over and over again. That door was going to slam shut. It was inevitable. And until that happened I realized that there are few things worse for the mind and spirit than faking enthusiasm for a living.
And so I leaped at this new opportunity, this chance to try my hand at something new. This is only my second week on the new job and I will say that after a quarter of a century there are some old habits that die hard and there is a bit of a learning curve.
But while I get comfortable and learn the ropes I’m thankful that my wife, my kids, and so many friends and listeners along with my new co-workers have offered their kind and generous words of support. It’s not a comfortable place to be when you upset your own apple cart but I know that the move I’ve made is the right one. I’m grateful for the offer and for the opportunity. And I’m happy to make so many new friends at WILK and Entercom.
And so how am I doing? It remains to be seen. Every morning seems to glide by so quickly and unless I’m kidding myself I think that’s a good sign. I do know that if this new job lasts six months or if it lasts ten years, whatever I do next will not be in radio. But until the day comes when I’ll leave radio for good I have the peace of mind of knowing that I’ve done this for my family and for me. And who could argue with that?