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Monday, May 03, 2010

Dave Reinhart...

I've got this letter which I keep on my desk. I got it back in 2002, and it meant so much to me at the time that I put it in a frame and kept it to the right of every computer monitor I've had since.

When I left Tampa for WNOK in South Carolina, the letter was the first thing I put up on my new desk.

When I got to DC, it was among the first things I put on my desk.

It's not a letter of commendation, or some letter of merit or achievement.

It's just a letter that says "thanks…"

I got it from a man named Dave Reinhart, a man who was my General Manager when I arrived in Tampa.

He's also a man who God called home earlier this morning after a long, storied career and a long battle with illness.

"Thank you for your help with…" this one thing I helped out with at the time, he wrote. "I understand you were a big part of our win. I appreciate your team attitude."

This man was and is just amazing.

During my time in Tampa, I watched this man manage some amazing situations, all the while leading our team and cluster to some amazing revenue and ratings heights. While at times the ego of our business placed him in the, well, interesting position of having to mediate, manage, motivate and inspire through some, well, interesting situations, he managed to do so with the grace of a Saint, with the skill of a master politician, manager, and leader.

And people loved him. We were absolutely loyal to him. Through thick and thin, this man commanded loyalty because he was one of us, and had come from where we were to being one of the most prolific leaders and market managers in our company at the time. You see, he was a jock once upon a time. Like me, and so many others, he pushed buttons and played songs and was taken by the magic that is radio. He was in programming, and it's so rare now that our market managers and such come from the programming side. It was rare. That's probably why he was so good.

So many great radio talent, general managers, program directors, general sales managers and more came from the building during his time. His reach continues to reach into so many areas of the business and the things he managed to do are legendary. I mean, how many people could lead a station called "Power Pig" through an evolution while not missing a beat or losing significant amounts of revenue. How many people could mediate between two talents named MJ and Bubba while managing through department heads, talent and staffers who had personal drama and other issues which at times spilled into the hallways of 4002 Gandy Boulevard? Not many. Not many at all.

He did it. He empowered his leaders to do it. And in doing so, he became a legend.

That building on Gandy is the house that Dave Reinhart built. They ought to name the building after the man… at least to me. You can dress it up and paint the walls and change the carpet, but it will forever be Rhino's house. Again, at least to me.

He was at our place in Tampa for Kyla's baby shower with his lovely wife. He didn't have to be. I mean, after all, the situation surrounding Kyla's arrival in this world was, well, let's just say, it was one of those "interesting personal situations" I was referring too earlier. Yet I remember him being there. I remember talking with him over a beer, getting life advice from a man who had been a parent, grandparent, and was again like a parent to so many who worked for him.

I remember him telling me about being on air, doing what I was in Tampa to do, with a gleam in his eyes and a voice filled with nostalgia for an industry which we both shared a pretty passionate love for.

I remember learning about Shortwave radio and HAM from him as he showed me the wiring the engineers had done for him so he could go live from his General Manager's office, should he need to do so.

I remember when he left 4002 Gandy on a day to day basis to become a "consultant" while began the ride into the sunset of his life. I remember sending him an email telling him that he had set the standard for General Managers in my life and that it would be pretty hard for those who followed him to match who he was as a man and leader. His response to me is something I'll keep to myself,  but let's just say that it was another final piece of advice from a master.

He is an amazing man. He leaves behind an amazing legacy.

I'm better because I worked for him. I'm better because he allowed me to make some mistakes and grow from them. I'm better because he stood by me as I learned from those mistakes and I'm better because he believed in me.

I was only blessed to work with Rhino for a few moments in this life. Some others who I know well were blessed to be a part of his life for a bit longer and there are stories I can tell you that I wish I was there to be a part of…

… but I'm thankful I got my few moments with the man. Those moments have impacted and changed my life for the better and the lessons I learned from him will last a lifetime.

To the Reinhart family: thank you for sharing Dave with me. It's my prayer that God will bring you all the peace that he's found now as he assumes his new role as Vice President and General Manager of what is about to become the most incredible radio station heaven has ever heard.

May we all get to crack the mic there someday with him. Because I'm pretty sure he's going to be the GM… and the first jock on, as well.

Thank you, Rhino, for everything. Well done. Rest well.