A couple of weeks ago, I got invited to a concert in Columbia, S.C. It was a band that was on my bucket list, so I was ecstatic to get the invite. “The Rockfather” Chuck Williams let me tag along with him to see the Foo Fighters.
The show was everything I thought it would be: lots of straight up rock ’n’ roll, sometimes goofy, sometimes heavy but all the time Foo Fighters. It’s easy to lose track of all the songs these guys have put out. However, it makes sense, given they’ve been making music since I was in high school.
On the hour-long drive to the Colonial Life Arena, I shared a story with Chuck about the first moment that I thought radio was something I wanted to do. Again, tracing back to my high school days, I was getting ready for school one morning while listening to the local rock station’s morning show. Some people may remember 96RXR. The morning show was hosted by a guy called “Joe Mama.”
I had a weird calendar hanging in my room back then that listed all kinds of oddball holidays. For some reason one morning, I decided that the guys on this morning show really needed to know that today was “Tricky Handshake Day” (side note: after a quick Google search, it appears that it’s actually September 11th, which is weird). I called and called and called. Finally, the co-host picked up the phone while Joe Mama was talking on the air. Seriously, the guy took off his headphones, walked over to the handset and picked up the phone — something that would NEVER EVER happen on a live radio show. Joe stopped what he was talking about and just roasted his co-host for picking up the phone.
He said “oh, no no…we’re putting this one live on the air! I GOTTA see what was so important that you had to get up during a live bit and go answer the phone!” I hear the now-familiar ‘ckshhhh’ sound of a call being picked up in a radio studio and then I hear Joe’s voice: “Who is this?” in my nervousness, I managed to squeak out “Kris from Butler High School!” Joe says “What are you calling about?” I excitedly and somehow, proudly, answer “I just wanted to let you guys know that it’s National Tricky Handshake Day!” this was followed by a short silence that lasted about three years in my head before Joe responded “Careful, y’know, that’s how Pee-wee Herman got in trouble” then he kicked off the next song (“Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne) and said “this one’s for the young man on the phone.” I heard “click” and my radio debut was over.
I. Was. Hooked. Right then and there, I knew that this was the thing I wanted to do with my life.
During the Foo Fighters’ show, Dave Grohl stopped to tell us a story. Well, not really. He made a promise that they would never stop playing music during the show. And they didn’t — for 2 1/2 hours. Dave strummed away as he recalled the moment that made him a rock superstar.
He said that when he was younger, he was watching “Saturday Night Live” and this new band came on. They were nerdy and goofy and different and their music was fantastic. Dave said that he looked at them and said, “Wait a minute, they’re different and weird just like me. And they can play music like this?” He then said that was the moment he knew that he wanted to be a musician. The name of the band was The B-52s.
Dave never said if he got to tell Fred Schneider or any of the other B-52s about how they influenced him. If I ever got the chance, I’d love to tell Joe my story. If I ever influenced anyone in this way, I’d want to know.
The fact is, you never know when you might influence someone or how. It could be through your profession or through a personal passion like a hobby. But, it could also be through a moment of anger or frustration. It could be how you treat someone, how you tip someone (or don’t tip someone), how you talk to someone, how you talk about someone, how you look at someone, etc.
How will you influence someone today?