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Thursday, September 17, 2009

My first night on air... for real...

I think I was a last minute choice made out of need and out of an emergency. 

I've never asked my very first PD about why I got the call that day to come work overnights from Friday through Sunday. I never really asked. I've always had - after being a PD, and after growing in my own blessed career - assumptions as to why I got the call to come in and be airchecked in the WSBG conference room with a tape from this college station I was at which basically consisted of me talking up alternative rock songs and bashing the morning guy there at the time. 

Never the less, it happened. And I went in and shadowed some of the jocks at that station to learn enough about what I needed to know so that I could do the job that the station needed me to do at the time. 

I did it for months. Never complained. Never questioned. Picked up some bad habits along the way (like smoking and stuff), but I did what I needed to do. And I learned the industry ropes at the most basic level. 

Looking back years later, God, I sucked. My delivery was horrible. I was what we call a puker - that is - I didn't talk with my own voice. Puking in radio means you talk in this over-annunciated HEEEEY EVEREEEYYYBODYYYY IM THE DEEEJAYYYY sorta stuff. 

But I fell in love with doing commercial radio. Pop radio. And I learned so much. Along the way in that mountain Pennsylvania town, people like Mick Ryder and Steve McKay - and even Chaz Henderson among others - took me under their wings and let me grow, fail, grow some more, fail some more and learn while the foundation took hold in me. And while I got to get back on the air weekend after weekend in the middle of the night and practice what I'd been taught. 

Some of the exploits and insanity of my career at this stop will be in the book, so understand if I hold some stuff back... 

... but what I took from Stroudsburg as I moved forward into my career up until this point was invaluable.

But the reason I'm thinking about my beginnings in radio tonight is for a different reason entirely. 

See, tonight, in her college town, one of our interns, Elizabethany, did an audition for nights on the station there. And it makes me think of when I did my first shifts, after a tumultuous college radio career which, well, will also be in the book. 

She's doing it right. She interned here for Kane. And she's a natural personality. She has the 'something' you can't teach that my old boss and I always looked for in the next generation. She has the something that kept Kid Kelly from canning me on my ass when I caused him to have a radio pain in the ass so many times. 

It's why I hope she gets this gig. Because her heart and the passion for what we do is most definitely there.  She just needs a place to get the chance to do it. 

Tonight, I think she might have found this place. 

If I were the PD there, I'd embrace it. She's a diamond in the rough. The future of what our industry needs. And at at time when these sorts of people are becoming more and more rare, and when this sort of opportunity is becoming harder and harder to find, I hope this PD at this station realizes just how special she really is. 

I'm where I am because people recognized a talent in me and let me grow, fail and learn as I traveled down the path which has brought me to this point. 

If Elizabethany gets this chance, I know she will do the same. 

Regardless, by doing this audition tonight, she's already won. 

She went in and gave it her best. And with that we now know she has the passion that those who believe  romantically about radio and personalities - have. 

I'm proud of you, Elizabethany. Welcome to what will be an amazing adventure in your life. 

I'm looking forward to saying I knew you when... 

-t.