With apologies to author Thomas Wolfe, sometimes you can go home again. At least I was afforded the unique opportunity to do so this past week – returning to my radio roots for an on-air thrill ride that was equal parts fun and hard work.
I have written previously and been quoted in Crain’s on Superstation 910 AM, owner Kevin Adell’s still young and well-timed venture aimed at providing a prominent media voice and forum for the African American/urban community. As such, Tanner Friedman often seeks to book appropriate clients on station shows, including with midday man Cliff Russell and afternoon host Karen Dumas. Interviews conducted on the station are typically in-depth, long form and enlightening; again refreshing and needed. And then came the request.
As the station prepared to broadcast live earlier this week from Oakland Hills and the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship, the opportunity suddenly presented itself for me to co-host Dumas’s “The Pulse” Show on Tuesday. Now, some may know and others not that radio was my a first love and initial career – starting in college as a music radio air personality and newsman and continuing for 10-years after graduation. Following on-air stints on several stations in my hometown of Champaign, Illinois, I moved on to suburban Chicago and then to Detroit. In town, I was most known for reporting traffic and weather, including on WWJ, WXYT, WLLZ and others. That ended in 1994 as I entered the world of PR, and, while I still do voicework for radio commercials and videos, I have not worked in the industry in over 20 years. That is, until this week.
For those who have never before hosted a 3-hour radio talk show (like me) it is very hard work. You need to be knowledgeable, upbeat, intuitive, engaging, adaptable and, perhaps most importantly, possess the ‘gift of gab’. Really listen to the masters – Karen and Cliff among them – like Paul W. Smith and Frank Beckman and the crew at WWJ , and you’ll truly appreciate how good, smart and prepared they are. Thankfully, with a bit of handholding from Karen, the three hours went by fairly fast. Yet, like running a marathon (something else I’ve never done), the long haul can leave you content with your accomplishments yet drained by the effort put forth. All applicable here.
Indeed it was a thrill but for now I will stick with my day job, free from massive amounts of show prep, headphone hair and the need, quite often, to extend an interview to fill time and accommodate a show clock. At the same time, I remain eager to get back into the hot seat in the not too distant future to talk to the masses while quenching my own thirst for living on the air – at least every so often.