Reasoning with Madness
"This is a barbaric yawp, and it will be sounded over the roofs of the world."
Between starting a new job and all the holidaze get togethers, it's been a busy past few weeks with not a whole lot of downtime...I haven't had much time to keep the fun updates coming on social media, but one of the many highlights this holiday was teaching my nephew Ayden his first "guitar lesson" with his first guitar from grandpa. We had little time at the pizza parlour so I went with what's easiest to teach in the shortest amount of time. The lesson was simple: how you hold your guitar like a rockstar! At this point, notes don't matter. Strum it loud and get the stance down. I'm hoping he likes it enough to learn some more. If so, I will teach him his first two songs: Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood and Iron Man by Black Sabbath. Those were my 1st two songs. If he gets those, I teach him a bar chord and the rest will fall into place.
Friday, Dec 7th will forever be known as the “Date Which Will Live in Infamy”, as FDR declared, following the hellish tragedy of an act of war from Japan on Pearl Harbor that would send America head first into World War II.
It also marked another moment in my life that I will most likely remember forever.
December 7, 2018 I retired from broadcasting.
I have worn many hats throughout the 20 years I’ve worked in this industry. Radio Host. Music Director. Executive Producer. Reporter. DJ. News Producer. Program Director. Digital Content Director.
I had a great run in this insane business. My home studio and office is a testament to this, as I look at all the memorabilia that covers the walls and is spread around me as I type these words. The all-access passes, the autographs, the pictures and the boxes of tickets. The thousands of CDs and stacks of journals. The calendars and records of all my missions.
My radio career has taken me all over the country, from Slash’s tour bus to the East Room of the White House. I’ve been a visiting media fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. I was a News Producer on the morning of 9/11. I covered award shows, festivals, conventions and the election and inauguration of two presidents. I’ve been backstage and on stage, as a host, a journalist, a judge and a musician. I’ve been in the heart of protests, political campaigns and rallies.
I've booked a sitting Secretary of State, Attorney General, multiple White House officials and cabinet members, CIA, FBI and secret service agents, bestselling authors, scientists, high ranking government officials, think tank experts, sports legends, Hollywood legends, and a face-to-face interview with a sitting President of the United States of America.
I’ve met more rock stars, authors, politicians, "deep staters", music industry leaders and renowned journalists than I can count and I’m lucky enough to even call some of them my friend. I've worked with some of the best minds in broadcasting. Mad scientists, daredevils, brilliant geniuses and cutthroat cunning business people. I've practiced the Art of War throughout my career.
I’ve done a thousand remotes from car lots to pot shops, job fairs to strip clubs and everything in between. I’ve broadcast live from Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Medford, Columbus OH, Berkeley, San Francisco, Capitol Hill, Charlottesville VA, Las Vegas and the White House.
Most importantly, I've met a lot of listeners, fans and musicians, just pure incredible human beings that I never would have known otherwise. I made some lifelong friends in this racket. I could never name them all here. You know who you are! But a few of them deserve mentions, because they were taken far too soon.
And just recently, Jason Rowe.
You are all missed dearly and often painfully. But I know Valhalla is louder with you now.
Hopefully you'll save us some seats.
In addition to radio, I’ve written for newspapers, magazines, websites and television, but there is no other industry that has served me with better access to worlds I would have never been allowed in otherwise.
Radio has been good to me. Mostly.
As I’ve said for many years, “The pay is shit, the hours are long, but the adventures are fierce.”
Adventures, unfortunately, don’t pay the bills. I’ve struggled far too long to have so little in the refrigerator every month.
I want to start a family and a radio salary ain’t letting that happen. Sure, there are a few who make a killing in this racket, but most of us are starving. Obviously, this doesn't include the brass on the upper floors or the sales people who hustle for their money. Down on "this side of the building", as they say, it's a different story. Many great talent, veterans, sometimes working two or three jobs, often 50-60 hours a week. The day to day grinding down of a never ending, rapid fire deadline pressure and constant changing of duties and directions, dictations sent from above...just more work being added to already overworked, underpaid people. That stress sent me to the hospital and to a shrink personally a couple times in my career.
Aside from the thrill of the job, the only real reward you can count on was the high-five salute of a "Great ratings book! You wanna see the numbers?"
Over the years, my reply went from, "Yes!" to "Fuck you, pay me", an old phrase a mentor once gave me for advice when I first started in this business. I used to think it was just a funny phrase. I get it now. That warm fuzzy pat on the back only lasts so long. At some point, those numbers need to translate to a bank account.
Remarkably, It never really did for me.
I've got a degree, I've been at the top of my game everywhere I went, but I've always found myself scraping the bottom of a bank account.
All of my work, all of my dedication...it only made money for people above my pay grade.
I can't be a poor man forever. I'm not getting any younger.
Twenty years of high-powered success in any other industry generally translates to at least a moderate amount of wealth. But for so many of us, it never has. It never will.
I know far too many incredibly talented people in radio who either retired or are near retirement with little to show for it, except great stories of a bygone era. Great people who have migrated to other industries or just called it a day entirely.
This past year for me has been wonderful on a personal front, but absolutely ruthless on a professional front. I was confronted with a hard lesson to face. Something had to change. As BB King once said, "The Thrill is Gone".
So I decided to retire from broadcasting and move on to something new, something familiar, but different enough for me to feel as if a rebirth is upon me. And something that will bring in more money. Potentially much more.
I have accepted a job with a company that pursued me, much like my now former employer. A company who appreciated my background so much so that they crafted and created a position specifically for me. I was made an offer so good, only a fool would have turned it down, and while I may be crazy, I’m no fool.
I will be the Media Manager and New Venues Manager for an international concert and event production company based here in Portland that is on the cusp of some spectacular developments and projects. And I will be spearheading some of them.
There are many exciting things in the works at this new venture with many avenues of serious growth. They brought me onboard to make much of this growth actually happen. And it will get me back into the music industry, the event industry and with like-minded people (the company was founded by a musician who did so to help musicians!). They are taking good care of me already and I will be doing some really fun stuff at this new venture with some great people.
Tomorrow is my first day. Not just of a new job, but of a new outlook, new challenges, new potentials and goals. It remains to be seen whether this new venture will be one of grand success or hideous failure, but much of that outcome will depend solely on me. The rewards, too, shall be much more in my favor as well. I will remain the cautious optimist that I've become in my adult years.
But part of me is as excited as a school boy for the first day of classes. I feel good about this. I am very excited.
Today though, on this cold, windy, rainy Sunday, I will reflect on a wild legacy in an industry I loved more than she ultimately loved me. The good, the bad, the happy and the sad.
The Pure Gonzo Blessed Hellride...
I bought the ticket, I took the ride.
And what a fucking ride it was.
Who Am I?
I am Ahab.