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Passion and Purpose

I'm sitting at my desk. The desk is situated in front of the window and my chair is positioned so that I'm facing the open window as I'm working, far too often, on my computer. For the past few weeks the view has been full of bright sun and very little cloud cover. This afternoon, a dark sky started making its way from behind the tree line. As the afternoon went on and the ominous sky got closer to my office building, the sun went away, and the welcomed rain made its way over the building. Although, the rain lasted only a few minutes, the feeling of a welcomed change washed over me and I could feel the cool rain on myself as if I were standing outside in the middle of it, soaking it all in.

I must admit that when I started that paragraph, I wasn't certain how I was going to end it. Both that admission and that paragraph perfectly describe what I'm going to be doing over the next month as I transition from one job to another.

Many of you know that my REAL job is in broadcast engineering and education. Two occupations that I had no idea I'd be a part of right out of college. I had it all planned out. I was going to move to California and become the next Ryan Seacrest... but better. All throughout my college career, I soaked up every aspect of radio broadcasting -- even sports! Thankfully, the tape of me color commentating a basketball game is long gone! It was just... awful... but having done that, I can say that I did EVERYTHING at the radio station! While I wanted to know about everything, I gravitated and soaked up more of the programming side of radio. How do you decide which songs play 365 times each hour? How do you coach your air talent? How exactly do you create that sound that's in your head?

Wanting to get deeper into it but also not wanting to miss opportunities, I became the student Program Director of the station. Yeah, it didn't mean much. I mean, I couldn't fire anybody or shuffle around show schedules. But I could decide what songs play when and I could also try and coach the talent. I read Valerie Geller and Dan O' Day became my God figure.

On graduation day, I thought that I was going to send out my resume and demo and station managers would just be throwing themselves at me with offers. I sent my material to stations around the country and waited.

One week. Two weeks. A month. Three months. Six months.


Man. Talk about a bulls-eye to the ego. What happened?

Well, I need a job. Like, now. So, I switched my thinking on the advice of my Mom and Dad. Parents are so good at giving advice. I wish I would have picked up on that earlier. They pointed out that I always have had a knack for technology. I built my own computer, I've disassembled devices to see how they work and then I put them back together. I grew up with DOS, Windows 3.1, Radio Shack computers, Commodore 64's, Packard Bell's, and on through all of the Windows versions. I knew a little bit about networking and the back end of Windows. I was alive when the internet didn't exist! I used Mosaic to access my first text and graphic only website! Tim Burners-Lee and I are chums! One of those sentences is false -- but my parents pointed out that perhaps I should shift my focus to a more technical angle.

About that time, what was the Fine Arts Society of Indianapolis had an opening for an Operations Director position and the person holding that position was responsible for... wait for it... the operation and maintenance of studio and computer equipment! It's funny how things present themselves when you shift your focus. Since I worked with them in college, I knew most of the people there. I interviewed and I got the job!

Several years later an opportunity presented itself with the radio station that I worked with in college. It was an engineering position. I not only knew the people there but I also knew the operation. Remember how I poured myself into everything radio when I was in college? That translated to knowing how most everything worked at the station and now, with my new focus, I could do that job! I interviewed and got the job!

Now, even though I was deeply entrenched in the technical side of radio, the desire to make a living doing on air work remained in the back of my mind. I combined my love for 80's music and my new position at the radio station and created A Blast from the Past which is... well, if you're reading this you're on the website for the show. I worked on getting the word out about the show and what exactly it was but it was still just a small show, late at night, on a small public radio station. Plus, because of my real job, I didn't get to put as much time into it as I would have liked. The love was still there... the passion was still there... the time, however, wasn't.

About a month ago, it came to my attention that the NPR station in town was advertising an afternoon drive position. I thought to myself that this -- this is the chance for me to make a living doing what my passion is every. single. day. So, on the recommendation of several of my friends, I applied. I got the phone interview! I got the in person interview!! I got the job!!!

Part of going through this trip down memory lane is self indulgent. Well, let's face it... most of it is. But another part of it has to do with being open to other possibilities. I'm not sorry or sad that I had to switch my focus from being an on air presenter to being an engineer. In fact, now that I know how the radio station operates, I can help the engineering staff since that is a field that desperately needs more people. I can troubleshoot problems myself, I can set up remote equipment myself, I know how the station operates, therefore I can be a better presenter because of it.

I can also be a better on air presenter because I stood up in front of a classroom every semester for ten years and taught two sections of a computer class in an undergraduate setting. After doing that, getting on a stage is nothing!

Every. Single. Thing. that I have done in the past 18 years has prepared me for the moment that I NOW get the opportunity to do and I'm a better and more valuable person because of it. I am extremely grateful for the years that my employers have given me. I'm extremely grateful for the relationships that have been built. I hope that I can keep a relationship going with each of these organizations.

But, now, it's time to stand in the middle of the rain and soak it all in. Like the first paragraph above, I'm not sure how this next leg in the journey is going to end or what fantastic opportunities this move will open up. But the passion that I've held onto in the back of my mind for so many years is now becoming a reality and I can't be any more excited than I am.

The goal of being the next Ryan Seacrest? Eh... maybe Peter Sagal would be a better choice.


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