“There’s a romantic image in most minds of what the cowboy was. For most it’s this idea that you could own a wide open space -- where you could just go and ride forever.”
Last night, over a glass of wine, I had a talk with a brother and colleague about being what I will from now on refer to as ‘being a radio cowboy.’
See, once upon a time, in a far more innocent, and lawless place, these cowboys were people who used primitive tools to drive industry. They were the lords of the untamed land. The purveyors of a time when a gun, a horse, a rope and cattle were the ones who could command the respect, the romance, the economic reality of a different time.
A place that was too tough for some to tame, but that everyone wanted to conquer.
Time went by. Technology changed. New economic realities were realized. Yet all in all, these rough riders of a different time evolved. And while the methods changed and the ideologies matured, these cowboys remained true to their core. Driven by their honor and their instincts, they became masters of their past, masters of their present and the people who - in spite of change - remained the masters of destiny...
And the idea of what they were became the stuff of legend.
Times changed. Some cowboys became oilmen. Some cowboys stayed on their ranches and even others went into the employ of carpetbagging ranch owners, lending their skills to much richer people who provided a degree of financial stability as times changed and as some even went so far as to write the 'cowboy' off into the anals of history - remembered as relics of a time gone by.
But through it all - they remained - cowboys.
The word "cowboy" is also used in a negative sense. Originally this derived from the behavior of some cowboys in the boomtowns of Kansas, at the end of the trail for long cattle drives, where cowboys developed a reputation for violence and wild behavior due to the inevitable impact of large numbers of cowboys, mostly young single men, receiving their pay in large lump sums upon arriving in communities with many drinking and gambling establishments.Seems to me they worked hard. Worked until the job was done. No matter how long that took. No matter what odds or obstacles they were presented with. And when they were done, they played a bit. I'm not condoning it. Nor am I saying it's right. Actually, I'm just saying...
"Cowboy" as an adjective for "reckless" developed in the 1920s. "Cowboy" is sometimes used today in a derogatory sense to describe someone who is reckless or ignores potential risks, irresponsible or who heedlessly handles a sensitive or dangerous task...
Read into it what you will.
How does this relate to an invention by a man named Marconi who came along long after the cattle drives of the past had faded into a memory?
Because today, there are still cowboys. In the romantic sense of the word. There are still cowboys... in all industries. In some parts of the world they call them entrepreneurs. In others, they call them venture capitalists. In any industry, you'll find them. From Wall Street to Wal-Mart. Even at Target. And, yes, at McDonalds.
We've even got them today... in radio.
They’re the ones who remain true to the romance of an idea that what we once did was just as important as what we can do and what we will do tomorrow.
They’re the ones who take inspiration from where we’ve been as they re-define where we’re going.
They’re the ones who say that the times may change and the methods may mature, but we’re going to continue to ride out to the frontier of where we’re going, armed with the knowledge we’ve mastered from where we’ve been and say, “we’re going to master this land we’re riding off into and we’re going to do what we have to do to continue to be the masters of our own destinies....”
They’re the ones who have looked off into the sunset, armed with the simple tools -- and weapons -- that have carried them through the past into the present and which will ride out to the frontier of media to tame whatever it is which is to come.
I don’t know about you, but to be called a 'cowboy' seems like an honor. At least when you look at it through the eyes of history.
And if this is to be our country club, then history seems to be on our side.
Saddle up. We’ve got a trail to blaze.
See you on the frontier... broadcasting live.
ps: JOHN GARABEDIAN!