Wow… 20 Years In Radio
Wow, it hit me a few weeks ago that I’ve been in radio now for over 20 years.
I first cracked the mic on a tiny college radio station in Bangor, Maine in the summer of 1989. I attended a program for high school students looking to pursue a career in media. They suggested anyone interested in radio could drop by the campus station 89.3 WHSN in the basement. I walked in to watch. The student on the air didn’t feel much like working. There were some parties going on in the dorms. I took over about an hour later. Of course, I told him I’d done it before. Complete lie.
When I got back to Portland, I scored the dream job of a lifetime (at that point) of being a board operator…meaning I pretty much just pressed play. I didn’t care. I was officially working in radio on my hometown Top 40 station “Thunder 107.” I ran a dance mix show Saturday nights and the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 countdown Sunday mornings. A couple months later and I got my “big break.” I was put on the air weekends and after graduating high school, landed my first full-time show doing middays. But soon, I would be off to college.
When I got to Boston for my first semester at Curry College, I wasn’t getting anywhere with the radio stations in town. I couldn’t even get an internship. Fortunately a guy I worked with in Portland was the new Program Director at a soft rock station in Worcester, WXLO. After classes wrapped on Fridays, I’d do the hour drive west and play Phil Collins and Michael Bolton songs til 6am. That’s payin’ your dues! Fortunately the station evolved into a hit music station and after graduating college, I went full-time hosting the afternoon drive show.
By 2002, I had enough of winters in New England and headed south, accepting a midday job at Hot 104.9 in Tallahassee, Florida. It was a brief stay, but a fun one. Later that year, my old boss at WXLO brought me to California to host the morning show on his new station KHOP. I spent 6 great years there, but my mother’s health was beginning to take a turn for the worse, so I needed to get home.
I lucked out big time. When Radio & Records and All Access ran the story of my leaving California to head back to the northeast, 2 Program Directors reached out right away. One however had a set of call letters in the e-mail subject line that sealed the deal: WBCN. I listened to ‘BCN all through college… Howard Stern was on at night, Green Day & Nirvana were breaking out, and Gil Santos’ powerful voice calling Patriots games rocked on FM. This wasn’t an on-air job, but I had done all I wanted to do at that capacity anyway. I was ready for something new. And I couldn’t wait to be a part of the station’s legacy. Unfortunately I only got to spend a year at the station before it flipped to 98.5 The Sports Hub. But I did get to work with some of my favorite Boston radio icons like Dale Dorman, Karen Blake, Ralphie Marino, JJ Wright, and a bunch more.
When my mother’s time came, I knew it was time for one last move. CBS had treated me well, so I stayed with the company, transferring to the Tampa market. I oversaw digital operations for 6 stations, including WiLD 94.1, Play 98.7, 1010 Sports and 92.5 MAXIMA… even though I don’t speak a word of Spanish. We broke every record and raised the bar, but all of a sudden… that bug to be be on the air again started biting. So in the summer of 2012, I dug out the Sony V600’s for the first time in years.
What’s next? Who knows? When I was a kid, I thought I was going to be a stock broker or pro wrestler for the WWF… preferably both. I’m pretty sure neither of those are going to happen now. But I’m keeping my boots just in case.