On the first working day of 1994, I was invited to leave the employment of the radio station I had served since the spring of 1990. It was a shock, but it also turned out to be a very good thing. It was at that point, in my 30s and burned out, that I decided to explore other careers, and whatever’s happened to me these last 19 years is due in part to that firing.
I was out of a job, but not out of the biz. By the summer of 1994, I’d found a part-time on-air gig, fooling around on the weekends and doing fill-ins, and having a ball. I always felt as though I didn’t get good at on-air work until those years. In 1997, we moved to another city, and I gave up my radio job. For the next nine years, apart from a once-a-year gig as a sportscaster for some friends of mine, I was out of radio entirely. (This blog started in 2004, in part, to medicate my lifelong radio jones.) By 2006, we’d relocated to Madison. I landed a part-time job on the classic-rock station here, and I started doing weekend shifts on Magic 98 in 2008. Over the last four-plus years, I’ve done a lot of weekends and fill-ins on Magic and sister station Q106. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in radio. Both are successful stations and my contributions to them are valued—not always the norm for part-timers, in my experience—and I’ve been able to work with some of the best people I have ever known.
For these last 19 years, even during the time I was out of the biz entirely, I have never said never to the possibility of another fulltime gig in radio. If the perfect opportunity came around, said I, I’d have to consider it. I didn’t think it was likely, but despite all the other things I’ve tried to be in my life—social studies teacher, book editor, freelance writer—I remain a radio man.
And radio men do radio. So beginning on March 11, I’ll become the permanent afternoon-drive guy on Magic 98, on the air from 3 to 7. I’m honored and humbled by the confidence they have in me, and conscious of the fact that from the time I was a little baby disc jockey, doing afternoons in Madison seemed like one of the best gigs in the world, as long as WLS wasn’t going to call. And since they’re not, this opportunity is as perfect as any opportunity is likely to be.
What this means for this blog not much. I will continue posting here as much as I can, because the only other thing I’m halfway good at is writing. Although if I was really good, that last sentence would have been better. And this piece would have a better ending.