Monday, September 05, 2005

The Next 20 Years

I'm stepping away from talking about Katrina today although I will point those of you who have contacted me about ways you can help our little church as we try to provide concrete aid to individuals to our Pastor's website,, for some tangible suggestions. Amy and I hope to open our home to at least one family but these things take time and planning and we are trying to be patient.

I'm in the process of backing up what I consider the important stuff on my computer, so I (under Amy's supervision) can wipe it out and start anew. That's sort of appropriate today because this is my anniversary...not my wedding work anniversary. It was 20 years ago today I started work at WOAI. That's something of an oddity in the broadcasting industry, although it's becoming more common now. It used to be three years was considered a good run at any radio station.

Two decades later a lot of things have changed.

I certainly have.

I started at WOAI coming in to work at 6 p.m. and working through the night chasing death on the streets and in my spare time re-writing copy to put a fresh spin on it for morning. I would leave at 2 a.m.. Only a few months into my job, my first wife and I divorced. That is still the single biggest regret of my life...not that we divorced, but that I did not work harder at our marriage, I gave up easily.

Our marriage lasted less than two years and our divorce provided me with the flexibility to work whatever hours I was needed, do whatever job I was called upon to do, and it left me alone to drink a drugs...and wallow in a good deal of self-pity...years of self-pity I realized later.

Regrets are easy... but had that not happened I would likely not be in the job I am in today and I would certainly not be the husband and stepfather I am today. It's highly possible I might not even be a's not unthinkable I'd be dead.

A couple of years after I started at WOAI, I had a new boss who put an end to switching my shift around saying it wasn't fair to I started coming into work consistently at 3 a.m. - somehow I considered this a promotion - and I've been working similar hours ever since, although now actually I'm usually at the office at 2 a.m.

When I started, Clear Channel Communications owned 8 radio it owns some 1200 in this country, plus billboards, and TV stations. I'm on the air on 8 radio stations in three cities.

When I started there were no computers in newsrooms, there were still manual typewriters being used by some folks. Big clunky wire machines spewed out news and I remember the noise they made, plus the inky mess created trying to change ribbons on them. Today I have to explain the concept of "editing tape" to our reporters, they can't conceive of using a razor blade to "splice" audio bites together. The digital age marched in virtually unannounced and radically changed the way I do what I do...and provided me with more opportunities to do it.

There will be no celebrations or parties for my "anniversary" - for one I didn't go to work today (seniority does buy you a few perks like an occasional holiday off). No one will make mention of it tomorrow either. That's fine with me because this anniversary has little to do with "work" in my mind's more of reminder of a sense of seasons.

I have changed radically in 20 years. I am sober. I am drug free. I am a Christian. I am a husband and step-father....and I am better for all those things.

My company has taken a lot of flak in recent years, an easy target for criticism, but I've never been asked to compromise my integrity, I've always been paid on time and it's always been interesting. The company has provided me with security when I needed it most and hopefully will continue to do so.

I have felt a calling lately which may lead Amy and I in new directions some time in the future, who knows...but if I spend the next 20 years working in the same place, doing the same basic things...I suspect I will still have very few long as Amy and God remain at my side.