I went on the air without permission.
People always ask me how I started in radio and that’s the answer.
I was a super nerdy and overly confident 17-year-old not phased by the consequences of my risky behavior.
Obsessed with the idea of getting thousands of people to pay attention to me at once, I hatched out a plan to achieve my goal of being on the air.
I would do whatever it took to get my foot in the studio door.
On a nightly basis over the course of two years, I harassed the evening personality on the Top 40 station in the Midwestern town I grew up in. I convinced him to talk to his boss and consider me for a board operator (board op) position. My persistence paid off and I was finally hired shortly after turning 17.
Being a board op essentially means you press buttons and are not allowed to talk on the air. For some reason, I believed those conditions didn’t apply to me.
With less than 10 days of employment under my belt, I was assigned a shift to board op on a Saturday night. Around 5:30 p.m., I plugged in a pair of headphones I found in a production studio and started talking in between songs.
That Monday, I was called to the radio station by my boss for a meeting and that’s when I knew I was in big trouble.
Of course I was reprimanded and cried like a baby. My boss said, “what you did was totally disrespectful to the process and your job description. Who told you that was okay?” After a short pause and a sigh he then inquired, “but where the hell did you learn how to do breaks and talk on the radio?”
After I apologized and explained to him my fiery passion, he then offered me to do a Saturday shift from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
From there, I proved myself and started filling in for any shift when they needed me. Shortly after, I was recruited to a larger market about 70 miles away in Illinois for my first full-time radio job.
I made a stops in Denver and Atlanta before coming to 94.7 Fresh FM.
When you have a dream that moves the core of who you are, do not ignore it. Follow it and do it without fear. Immerse yourself in what you love. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Maintain your faith. That’s what I did and I regret none of it.