I’ve been asked the same question over and over since about the middle of last November. That’s about the time I returned to Augusta from a failed attempt at following a dream and started having to explain to people why I’m not on the radio anymore. Some people don’t listen on a regular enough basis to even know I’m not on the air anymore. So they ask “Aren’t you on the radio?” I have to answer “Well, I used to be.” Then that question that always follows is “What happened?”
So for all who have wondered, this is what happened: Back in October, my good friend and mentor (and 95 Rock alum) Jordan Zeh had just lost his morning show partner in Panama City Beach to another station in another market. Jordan, knowing my years-long goal to work in morning radio, asked me to send my resume and tape for the newly available position.
This job was my dream job. Not “a” dream job, but “the” dream job. See, I have worked on this station before. I hosted a night show there for just over two years. Since the day I left Panama City Beach, I vowed to make it back. Then, when my wife and I got together back in ’06, we made it our combined goal. We met in Panama City and both felt that was where we wanted to call home. And if I could possibly host a morning show on my old station, well that would be icing on the cake!
So after sending my resume and tape, the operations manger of the cluster offered me my dream job. It was extremely difficult to leave my seven and a half year afternoon show with HD98.3. But my goal is to host a morning show and that just wasn’t going to happen in Augusta. That morning show is very established and very loved. I mean, if the show’s creative force, it’s centerpiece, it’s namesake dies and the show lives on, that is a devoted following. So if my morning show goal was to be reached, I realized it would have to be elsewhere.
Now, even though this was my dream gig, the decision was not an easy one. To be completely honest, the wife was a little skeptical. We were very stable here. She wasn’t a fan of not being able to all move down together at the same time. But ultimately I told her that I didn’t want this to be another missed opportunity in my career that I regret for years to come (there are already a couple of those). I even changed my mind about going a week after accepting the job. But 6-pack (yes, the operations manager calls himself 6-pack) assured me that this was the job for me. He said that this company would be by far the most stable company that I had ever worked for. The pay was a good deal more than I was getting here, there were ample bonuses, great benefits and they wanted someone who would commit at least four years to building the show. He went on to tell me how great the job market would be for my wife, great schools for the kids, etc. I left this phone call feeling like the guy should be also working for the Panama City tourism committee. I was beyond sold.
A week later I’m down in Panama City doing morning radio with one of my closest friends. It was everything I thought it’d be. Going to work with one objective: to make people laugh. It wasn’t all easy, though. Even though I was driving back to Augusta every weekend, the distance put a huge strain on my family. But I remained positive. There was no way I was going to fail. When Jordan and I weren’t on the air we wrote. We blogged. We shot videos. We made appearances. We wrote some more. Lots of people said they liked what they heard and all signs pointed to a great start to my first ever morning gig. That is, until November 14.
November 14 marked my one-month anniversary on Hot 107.9 and immediately following the show I was called into the general manager’s office so they could inform me that the company had lost $500k that year and had to make some cuts. I was the last one in the door, so I had to be the first to go. Heartbreaking would be an understatement. But budget cuts happen all the time. I survived two of them in Augusta. I was bound to get cut eventually, right? Well, it turns out I was the only budget cut (for the record, I made no where near $500k). In fact, since I was booted they promoted two part-time employees to full-time.
I’m not mad about that. Those employees are great people and deserve the promotion. No, the part that really was the salt in the wound was when I saw an ad on an industry website that they are now hiring again. So why was I fired, again? I sincerely doubt it was a budget cut. Maybe they thought I wasn’t the fit they were looking for in the show. Honestly, I’d much rather them have said, “You’re really not that good and we regret hiring you” or something. That would have actually made more sense to me. By the way, I applied for the job they advertised. Still waiting to hear back.
Most people inform me of all the things I should have said to them in that office. Truth is, I’ve always been one of those people that think of the perfect thing to say long after the opportunity has passed. And oh, did I ever think of better responses during that six and a half hour drive back to Augusta.
Nevertheless, here I am. By the time I moved back, my afternoon replacement had already been hired. But it’s not all bad. I’m back home, my kids don’t have to change schools, my wife still has her awesome job and I have my DJ business. We’re around family and friends and I’m okay with that. I host my trivia nights, still post stuff online from time to time and I’m extremely grateful to be allowed to ramble in the Spirit every week.
Will I ever be on the air again? I don’t know. But I do know that for a little more than 16 years I got to do the one job that I wanted to do, including holding my dream gig even if only for a month. A lot of people can’t say that. So I feel pretty damn lucky.