I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, because sometimes I’ll see someone in the radio world or a non-radio person who’s listened to my podcast, and they’ll ask me if I’m still doing it. I am, but I’m not posting as often. I was actually going to write nothing about it, but the very kind and friendly Duffy Atkins encouraged me (when I was at WGN-TV interviewing her) to share my feelings with the public, and I’m taking her advice. So here are some reasons why my activity has slowed down:
1 – I’ve already interviewed a lot of people, so I don’t have as much of a burning desire to interview everyone under the sun. There are certain people I’d love to interview, and I’ve asked some of them, but sometimes they ignore me, get busy, or blow me off once they’ve agreed. I don’t know why they do that, but it’s quite rude and discouraging. Which brings me to my next point…
2 – I’ve been discouraged. This isn’t from a lack of hits, page views, website visits, or exposure, because I’ve gotten lots of hits over the years. In fact, I’m going to share some stats in another post because I include this podcast on my resume, and in the non-radio world, they seem to not care or perhaps don’t believe me. But radio professionals seem to understand. They have been very supportive of me and believe me when I tell them about the thousands of hits I’ve gotten. Maybe it’s because they know how hard it is to get attention for podcasts as opposed to broadcast radio, which already has thousands of listeners, while the non-radio world only seems to care about brand recognition or some other variables that an expert put together to shut us homegrown content creators out. Luckily, I have felt very supported by the radio community, so I’d like to thank everyone who’s given me positive feedback and even work based on what I’ve done here.
Right now, I’m not really discouraged but perhaps not as motivated as I once was. For instance, I recently interviewed someone, and I have to finish putting it together to post online, but I don’t feel the same burning deadlines I used to give myself before (it will be posted, but I’m more motivated at this moment to express myself via the written word). I think I know what the issue is, and I’m going to be totally honest, even though I’m afraid to be forthcoming, because a lot of people try to put on a brave face and pretend everything is okay, even while surrounded by burning buildings: the radio business is not as robust as it used to be, and I’ve been experiencing the decline first-hand.
Actually, I never worked in the biz when it was good; I started when it was already in trouble, and I had my share of difficult experiences due to people fighting for the crumbs that were left. But I think what made me more motivated to do the podcast was my proximity to the business, and the excitement and pursuit of my share of the dream. Whatever I was feeling, whether good or bad, could be channeled into the podcast, so I had a drive and an internal flame that wasn’t quenched until I ended up barely working in the biz. So I became very discouraged about my radio career, and what made it feel worse was when some people didn’t respond to interview requests or vanished after they confirmed. I just felt very discouraged, and even was thinking of giving up.
Then I had to spend my energy on finding new work outside radio, which was time-consuming and disappointing for its own reasons. Now I’m doing fine work-wise, but it took a while to attain such stability (that can be a separate post as well). But there were other much more serious situations that affected me as well…
3 – Illness and death. This has been a running theme throughout my podcasting pursuits, and some people already know what I’ve been dealing with over the years. I’d like to thank all the people in the radio biz who listened to me and supported me as I shared my struggles, while I concurrently tried to achieve my radio dreams. I’d also like to apologize to some people I interviewed, who would wonder why I didn’t post their interviews right away. It’s basically because I had so much to deal with in my personal life, sometimes it was hard to find the head space to concentrate on producing the pod in a timely manner. I was also dealing with radio drama because the business is competitive, unfair, and has dwindling resources, and I was trying to attain positive outcomes in the midst of those trials.
I remember when I started at WBBM (the best, most professional station), and I had to schedule training times. I wasn’t always available, and I wouldn’t say why. My boss eventually found out the reasons, and I’ll share that here now: my sister had late-stage ovarian cancer (she encouraged me to take the WBBM job), and while she was becoming more ill, I ended up being responsible for my elderly dad, who already had late-stage lung cancer in addition to other health issues. Then she died, and I was totally responsible for him. And this all happened after my mom had died a few years before. So while I was trying to build a podcast and tread the radio waters, the entire time I was dealing with a lot of illness, hospital visits, doctor visits, medical facility visits, errands, companionship, suffering, grief…a lot of stuff that I could write reams about at another time in another place.
When my dad passed away in late 2016, I realized that I was quite sad for years and lived life in a heavy way. When my mom died, my radio dream was still going. When my sister died, my radio dream was dying. When my dad died, my radio dream seemed to die too.
I don’t know why I link the podcast to the radio biz, but they were running congruently and seemed to complement each other. I had a passion for both, which pushed me along. I could go into the studio at work and play around with editing, etc. (another apology to those people whose interviews I “experimented” on seemingly unsuccessfully), talk to geeks about audio issues, and get recommendations for how to approach potential participants. Basically, it was very exciting, even though it wasn’t easy.
I’ll be honest again (actually, I’m already being honest, so I shouldn’t have to say that): I really miss those days. I ended up having the best time at WGN (which I wrote about at my blog), and I really felt like I was sailing along on a calm sea below a sunny sky (after years of choppy waters below dark skies). Stupid people probably thought my enthusiasm was weird or circumspect, but I was truly excited. That led me to the wonderful WBBM, which is a total class act (which I also wrote about at my blog), which probably helped me get some non-radio work because it’s such a stellar place that is listened to by all kinds of people in Chicago and beyond.
Okay, so here I am, still in the first quarter of 2017, when I don’t have to spend time in ICU, discuss funeral plans, or arrange meds. I’m not going to quit this podcast, and writing all this out has been cathartic enough to ignite the spark that propelled me before. I still have more to say, but let me end with this: thanks to all the people who’ve listened to this podcast over the years, thanks to those who’ve sent me emails and given me feedback on Facebook and Twitter, and to reiterate, thanks for the support I’ve gotten. It’s really been encouraging, and hopefully I’ll be able to find something that I can be as passionate and driven about, because I don’t want to exist in a mediocre rut.