A few days ago I was talking with a friend about one of those turning point moments of life, a moment that took me by surprise. I’d been working at a suburban Chicago radio station for about a year and a half at the time. My first radio job and the place where I got my start doing voice-overs. Or, at least where I got my audition, as I’ve written previously.
So, I’d been working at the station, WKKD-FM (long since changed formats, owners, call letters, etc.) for about a year and a half when I learned that a big Chicago station was looking for new announcers. I called and asked for an interview with the program director and amazingly enough got an appointment.
A few days later, I’m in the office of that station (part of the old Century Broadcasting company) in the John Hancock Building. The format of the station I was applying at was Beautiful Music. (link in .pdf format) The same format WKKD-FM had at the time. After I get there, the receptionist tells me that the program director will see me in just a few minutes. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, after about 45 minutes, she tells me that the program director is dealing with a crisis but that he would like me to wait if I can and meet with him when he’s free. Since I’d taken the day off, I had the time. I waited some more. Finally, he came out and got me. (I so much wish I could remember his name!)
We sat in his office and chatted for a minute. He then asked me if I brought my demo tape with me. I said, “yes” and handed him a 5″ reel. Yes, this was a LONG time ago! I thought that would be that. He would take my tape, thank me for coming down, and tell me that he would call me back. Instead, he turned around and threaded the reel onto a deck he had sitting behind him in his office and pushed “play”! He listened for a few minutes. Asked me a couple of questions about the format of WKKD-FM and then stopped, re-wound the tape and handed it back to me.
Then he looked at me for a couple of seconds and said, “Bob, I think you have just the kind of voice we’re looking for. I don’t know when my next position is going to open up, but I’ll stay in touch and let you know when we have something for you.” I was stunned. And elated. And the most amazing thing is that he did just that. He called me about once a month for the next 7 months. The 7th time he called, he had a job for me. I took it and it was one of the best things I ever did professionally. At least in those early years.
So, what did I learn from that experience? Just this: you never know when you’re going to be thrust into the spotlight. You’d best be prepared, because opportunity doesn’t often knock more than once. While I certainly haven’t been perfect about putting this lesson into practice, if you’ve read other posts on this blog, you know I’ve managed a few times, anyway.