.....is the most asked question I get. After reading a blog from our consultant, Fred Jacobs, I thought I'd share my story with you. (It's not true that I slept my way to the middle....fake news!)
I was always a hard worker. I knew if I wanted something, I had to go and get it. No one was going to do it for me. I started getting part time jobs as a sophomore in high school. My father had lost his job at the steel plant around that time, like several dads did back then, so I was on my own to buy a car and what not.
I started working at the local restaurant/bar in the one-horse town I grew up in when I was about 15. Just doing dishes, which turned into cleaning the bar Monday and Tuesday mornings of my senior year, before school. I would get up at 2 or 3am and get to the bar, turn on MTV or the radio, work till about 6am, then hustle off to school. Something magical happened one night while listening to the local radio station. As I was thinking about what I was going to do with my life, I heard a guy on the radio. HE WAS TERRIBLE! At that very moment, I thought to myself "That's what I'm going to do". Light-bulb moment! Hell, I loved music, had a decent voice, how hard could it be?! I started listening to the radio more intently than ever before. Made friends with some of the local DJ's, and would even sneak down to the station at night, where an on-air guy named "Brother Mike" would let me fart around in the production studio.
It was so cool to be in the station in the middle of the night. You could hear the music piped in all throughout the floor of the station. I'd make 'demo' tapes, that all sucked, but I was trying to go after my dream. I told anyone that would listen, that I was going to be on the radio. I'm sure no one thought this kid, who barely....and I do mean BARELY graduated from high school, was going to land a job, let alone a career, on the radio.
After graduation, I got a pretty decent job doing janitorial work with good pay and benefits. But that was just something to get me by until I forced my way into radio. I was determined to do that! The first breaks I got were when I was put on the air by two local guys. First, "Snortin'" Norton, and then Ted Shredd, who did the overnight shift. I would give them bad jokes, mostly stolen from the previous nights late shows, or just terrible jokes I worked on. They called me "The Meltdown One"....a character or sorts. I started to network and meet people that would eventually open the door for me. (On a side note....when I got on the air full-time, my boss told me to just use the name "Meltdown"....how I got that name is another story for another blog)
I was hired on September 28, 1989. It was a bitter sweet day. I went in, did the interview with a radio legend I had looked up to for years, got the job as a board operator for the am oldies station, then went to the hospital to see my mother. She had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy that day. She was happy I had gotten my foot in the door, even thought I'm sure she thought it would never last.
After submitting tapes to the program director of the FM station down the hall, I got the break I was looking for. I was about to make my on-air debut! All this, after no college or broadcasting school. On February 10th, 1990, the world, ok....Buffalo, heard the tones of my voice on the airwaves.....and I sucked!!!! Bad! I had never done a shift on the air before and I was really nervous. Lets just say that after listening to that first shift, I'm surprised I was ever asked back! LOL But I got another chance the following week, and the rest is history.
I ended up quitting that good paying, union job, to work in radio for $5 an hour! It was a chance I had to take to do what I wanted to do.
My mother passed away on May 1, 1992. I was always proud that she got to see my start my career and heard me on the radio, even though she would have preferred me to be on a country station! HA.
Someday, I'll blog about how a po-dunk kid from the sticks of Buffalo, NY, got on one of the biggest rock stations in the country...and has been there for over 22 years.
Thanks for reading....Meltdown