I realized something today that made me a little sad. It occurred to me that I will probably never again have to get up at 4:00 AM to go out and commit radio.
The not getting up at 4 part is fine with me. But the no more radio part sort of hit me upside the head. Now, if there’s a decent morning radio job out there somewhere, I won’t count out the possibility, because it is, after all, the only thing I really know how to do professionally. But the reality is that it’s extremely unlikely, given my age (I’ll be 57 in a few weeks) and the state of the radio industry, that I’ll ever again be hired for a good, fulltime radio position.
I’ve made a lot of boneheaded choices during the 35+ years I’ve spent behind various microphones… and those boneheaded decisions have led me, in no small part, to the dubious situation in which I now find myself. But the fact remains that, generally speaking, I was pretty good on the radio, if I do say so myself. And I do.
I’ve worked with some really great professionals: Charlie Neeld, back at WMFJ in Daytona Beach, for example. That was my first job as a hot-rockin’ Top-40 morning DJ — on an AM station! I was 22. I got to live in Honolulu for a couple of years because of radio. I did a morning show called “The Rude Awakening” with the late Mike Lyons on WDIZ in Orlando. Some of the most fun I’ve ever had was doing morning shows with Ed Wenck at QWK Rock and with Jeff Brown at The Bus… both in State College. Wenck did more meticulous show prep than anyone I’d ever known. With Jeff, it was just the opposite. Neither of us did any show prep, but we had such great on-air chemistry, we could just wing it every morning and somehow it worked.
I’ve done commercial radio, and public radio. I’ve been a DJ, a talkshow host, a news anchor, and a production director… and all of the on air jobs I held had at least one thing in common: The pay was lousy. But that’s not why you get into radio.
Luckily I was always able to supplement my income with a bit of freelance voiceover and narration work, and occasional writing. My ex and I had a broadcast creative services business as well… and I was, for awhile, a certified hypnotherapist. I’d get off the air at 9 and go to the office, where I’d wait, usually in vain, for clients to show up. Now, I do have a small professional studio, and I’m scrounging for freelance work.
My last on-air job was as the morning anchor during News Watch with Tom Miller at WJPF in southern Illinois. And although I knew I was going to leave there to come to North Carolina where my wife was looking for work, the job ended in an unplanned and abrupt manner. I was sitting at the newsroom computer at 4:30 AM on Tuesday May 31, when it became apparent that something was very wrong in my chest, so I went to the Emergency Room.
I had no short term disability insurance, and the station’s long term disability wouldn’t kick in for 90 days, so, although I was unaware of it at the time, when I went to the E.R., that was it. My employment was, for all intents and purposes, over.
So I never had the chance to say goodbye to radio. Like I said, I won’t entirely discount the possibility that I might be back on the air someday, but it seems very unlikely. I think I’ve probably hung up my headphones for good. I guess it’s about time…. I started out at the age of 18, and now I’m, uh, way older than 18. And I never finished college, because I was havin’ too darned much fun as a radio guy. Big, big mistake.
So anyway, goodbye to radio! It was, usually, fun. Always interesting. And quite a ride. Now, on to whatever comes next. I have no idea what that might be.