12 years a broadcaster

Anyone who has been at a job long enough has witnessed how industries change. For example, I started writing newspaper columns 13 years ago before social media was a channel for people to get information.

Yes, it was a time when a stack of papers was dropped on your doorstep or left in your mailbox. When it wasn’t there when you woke up, you angrily called to find out where it was. Sigh. The good old days.

As I reflect on 12 years in broadcasting, it too is an industry that has seen significant change. I got in on the early days of internet radio. It was a foreign concept to terrestrial — that’s the AM/FM radio stations on the dial — and mainstream broadcasters didn’t see it as viable competition. This is much like blogs and social media didn’t initially pose a threat to newspapers.

Internet radio became a “thing” and then satellite radio soon followed. Then online streaming services allowed people to make their own playlists and be their own music programmer.

With new technologies and trends, industries have to adapt. Sometimes they can and do, while other times they don’t. (Who still has a VCR?)

When I look back on my time behind the microphone I think about how I started in my parents’ basement with a basic computer microphone and no knowledge of the industry. I knew about radio what I thought about radio. It wasn’t until I became friends with someone on the air that I sort of started to understand it. Quickly I realized that talking for the sake of talking isn’t radio – at least it wasn’t back then.

Making the best sense of it I could at the time, I pursued entrepreneurialism to be my own boss in broadcasting. I didn’t want to work for a radio station where someone dictated the music on my show or what I could and couldn’t say. Instead, I produced a two-hour show and shopped it around to any radio stations that would be interested in airing it. Luckily for me, my personality sealed the deal. Months after launching my own show and throwing the concept at program directors, I had six stations ready to run my show.

I didn’t go on the air with a fake “radio jock” voice. I talked like me. OK, maybe I did put a little oomph in it at the beginning but soon I figured out that just being me, and not a character, was what set me apart on internet radio.

As the concept grew in popularity and seemingly everyone became a broadcaster (quite frankly I was starting to get bored of myself) I upped my game. I strived to have more interesting content. That’s when I approached celebrity interviews and covering entertainment events.

No longer was I just heard on the radio, I was attending red carpets. Granted, this was still before the days of social media and selfies so the best I could do was send mass emails to friends and family and post a picture or two on a badly designed radio show website.

Fast forward 12 years where radio is more than just talking to a microphone on a desk. It is now talking and video streams and social media posts and is way more involved. It has evolved over time.

Every spring I reflect on what I have accomplished, though every day in my office I pass my Wall of Fame with pictures from red carpet events and my media credentials swinging with every breeze.

Have I done anything revolutionary in broadcasting? No. I will admit it was flattering to make a list of up-and-coming personalities in an American publication a few years after getting started. The whole thing has challenged my creativity, tested my patience and pushed my career expectations. I created something out of nothing and it has opened many doors for me.

People wonder why the anniversary date of April 24 doesn’t end the celebration then. Truth be told, I take a few weeks to think about what I have achieved and give a half smile/smirk at the good, the bad, the dramatic — the everything — that has come along with this life.

It has led me to write a bestselling book and be recognized in my city as consumer writer. It has led me to visit different tourist destinations and essentially get paid to vacation. It has led to my dogs having their own bank account and endorsement deals for a line of greeting cards.

I am far from being a millionaire and most businesspeople wouldn’t consider me a successful entrepreneur. I haven’t amassed a fortune or run a company with hundreds of employees.

I’m successful because I haven’t given up. I’m successful because I always believe I can do better. I’m successful because I have a thought and run with it. I’m successful because even when someone says I can’t accomplish it, I give it my best shot.

When asked where my career is headed in the next five years, I always say, “I have no idea.” Twelve years ago I never would have said I’d be doing radio but I was open to the idea (even after saying no a few times) and eventually gave it a go. I can only imagine how things would’ve turned out if I hadn’t been open minded to consider something that wasn’t on my radar.

It’s been a wild 12 years of constant learning and adapting but it’s been worth every sleepless night, every double-cheek-kiss on a red carpet and every minute on the air.

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