10 Questions with ... Bryan Bishop
May 13, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
"Loveline" (Westwood One); "The Adam Carolla Show" (KLSX/Los Angeles and syndicated); "The Adam Carolla Show" (podcast). Also host of "The Film Vault" podcast with Anderson Cowan. Author, "Shrinkage" (Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin's Press, 2014).
1. You started in radio out of USC as a call screener, got out, got back in... was radio always part of the career plan, an accident, or what? How did radio become your career foundation (bearing in mind that you've done TV production as well)?
It was mostly an accident, but I was raised on the radio. In high school, it was Howard Stern in the mornings and Loveline at night. Two of the best radio shows ever.
2. The primary story in your book, and much discussion on the show, is your battle with your brain tumor, and one thing that I've found in my own family's dealing with cancer is that it tends to inform every conversation and remains lurking behind every thought for a long time before it recedes into sort of a chronic thing that mostly pops up in certain contexts, like insurance and long-term planning. You're five years out from diagnosis, treatment's done very well -- do you find that, other than talking about the book, you're spending less time conscious of the tumor, or is it still in the foreground a lot? Can you turn off the cancer thoughts for extended periods?
It's mostly in the background, but you're right - it subtly informs every major decision in your life. We recently bought a house, and of course we considered my long-term health when doing so. Now we're looking to have a baby, but of course me having cancer is a consideration there too. Ultimately you have to live as normal a life as possible, because if you spend every day worrying about what MIGHT happen to youâ€¦ well, the next thing you know, five years have passed, and you've spent the last five years worrying instead of doing.
3. Perhaps to prove that you're not just fearless regarding your health, you name names in a chapter called "The Worst People I've Ever Met," including an ex's father, a USC professor, and a certain former PD of yours whose voice you frequently channel on Adam's show. Do you think facing down illness and career setbacks has made you more bold in calling out people like that, or were you always that honest?
A little bit of both. The fact of the matter is, those people EARNED their place on my list. I don't go out of my way, looking for people to call douchebags. Quite the opposite; I want nothing more than to encounter good, salt-of-the-earth people in my life. On the rare occasion that I don'tâ€¦. well, just be aware that there are consequences to your actions.
4. Let's talk about another instance requiring fearlessness, or at least a leap of faith: Going with Adam to do the podcast. Once you recovered sufficiently to be able to work full-time, was there any thought in your mind to try and get a "real" radio or TV job, or was going with Adam your goal?
Much like the rest of America, I've turned my back on radio. Adam was an extremely loyal and kind boss throughout the course of my illness. As soon as I was able to contribute to his show regularly, I jumped at the chance.
5. In the book, you list 10 major regrets, one of them being "not exploiting my tumor more." Let's reverse that: Do you find people (okay, not Adam, but, like, regular people) treating you differently when they know what you've been through? Do you get treated gingerly too often, or do you not notice that going on much? If they do that, how do you put them at ease?
People definitely didn't know how to interact with me when I was going through the worst of my recovery. I certainly don't blame them - that's just human nature. It's up to you to set the tone for how you want to be treated. Tell a joke to break the ice, or just tell people, "Hey, I'm having a tough day. Go easy on me."
6. Who have been your mentors and inspirations, in radio and in life?
Well, obviously Adam Carolla, for both. I've learned so much from just observing that guy. In terms of specifically doing the sound effects, or "drops", of course Fred Norris from the Howard Stern Show is the acknowledged "king" of the drops, and he was a huge influence, But Engineer Anderson from Loveline was a huge influence, and - in my opinion - the best there ever was in this business.
7. I've noticed that you're more active on Twitter as your book promotion continues. How do you use social media -- is it for entertainment and promotion purposes only, or do you use it to enhance your work?
I fell in love with Twitter several years ago, and have been an active Tweeter for years. I love the interaction: getting to exchange ideas and thoughts with fans of the show is awesome. Plus, I have a long-standing policy: I will retweet any negative tweet. The more creative, the better. First, it's funny. Second, it's a great way to embrace criticism, rather than running from it.
8. Of what are you most proud?
Things like making the New York Times Bestsellers list - while awesome and a total honor - are totally out of my control. Thus, I don't feel a tremendous amount of "pride" towards them. When my Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brothers voted me "Brother of the Year" back in 2000â€¦ that was pretty awesome.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ___________.
...looking at my calendar on my laptop. I need that level of organization and structure to make it through my day. Usually within the first hour or so.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten?
My grandpa - a firefighter who never went to college, nor did any of his children - told me (repeatedly) that "Education = money!" Turns out grandpa was a very smart man.