10 Questions with ... Christopher "Charlie" Padgett
January 8, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started at WVGO in Richmond, VA in 1996, followed by four years in Boston at WFNX, then back to RVa at WMXB, then WDYL, then a year-and-a-half in Montpelier, VT at WNCS and closed out the loop back at WFNX from 2007 to 2010 doing mornings as lead and straight guy on The Sandbox.
1) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
Like many "on the beach" radio people, I have branched out into a bunch of fields to keep myself busy, including contract I.T. work, photography and teaching. I've had the privilege of continuing to work with good friends from the radio days like Cox/Connecticut's Keith Dakin on WPLR's "Girls of the Web," working weddings with CBS Radio's "Big Jim" Murray and, most recently, writing blog posts for Cox Connecticut's Kevin Begley on CTBoom.com.
2) Some people get discouraged or enlightened with the business when they actually step out of it for a while. Tell us your observations from the outside.
I initially felt like I took one-too-many on the chin with the last "break up," so I backed away for a little while. Once I got over the initial hurt feelings (and don't tell me your feelings weren't hurt when you got s-canned), I realized that I missed radio. Maybe not enough to dive right back in, head first, but to maybe dip my toe back in the water and see if the sharks bite again, which is kind of where I am now. I was very fortunate to have worked with not just good radio people everywhere I went, but just good people, in general. It's hard not to want to try to do that again.
3) What's the longest stretch you've had on the beach?
This one is going on three years. Three years! But really by design. I'm lucky to have found other things to do that I genuinely enjoy, but if the right opportunity is out there, I don't want to turn my nose up at it. I still check the "Jobs" page on All Access every now and again!
4) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
Sat in a lobby until the PD, after dodging and weaving for months, came out and said, "Well, I guess you really want this job." I was a sophomore in college and had NO IDEA what I was talking about, business-wise, but was young, hungry and dumb. I had friends who were graduating with degrees and fighting for overnight board-op shifts on the Easy Listening station. I was doing nights on the coolest Modern Rock station in town at 20! I learned so much from Kevin Mays (The Buzz in Burlington, VT) and Bill Glasser in a very short amount of time. Deregulation screwed that up, but then it was off to Boston with Bill.
5) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
WVOD used to have studios in "downtown" Manteo, NC. It went: brick sidewalk, pane of glass, board, mic, jock, and it was awesome. I want the closest thing to KBHR (the one from Northern Exposure, not the real one) that I can find. Locally-owned, locally-operated, locally-appreciated. WNCS was as close to that as I came in my career. WDEV in Waterbury, VT is very close to that as well. Listen just once to "Music To Go To The Dump By" on Saturday morning. You'll hear what I'm talking about? So, to answer the question, all of that.
6) Are you finding salaries/benefits lower than you ever thought, about the same, or have you seen some pleasant surprises?
Look, if you're in this for the money, you're in it for the wrong reasons. At the same time, I have a family to feed. As is evidenced by my current job situation (four paycheck sources and counting), I'm willing to bust my butt for it.
7) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
Skill set, skill set, skill set. Can I crack a mic, engage people, keep things moving, don't talk down, appeal to men and women, etc.? Absolutely. The bad news (for me) is, there are so many extraordinarily talented people out there who can also do those things. It's the behind-the-scenes capabilities that set me apart. Need great photos for your website of the bands at your Christmas concert? I'm already on-stage and know what the hell I'm doing with a DSLR. Network issue between your music server and the studio? Guess what? I'm an I.T. guy. I can fix that. Need someone to record, edit and podcast the live acoustic performance of
from 's location? Guess who knows his way around multi-track audio-editing software, a mixing board and the Interwebs and has recorded Silversun Pickups on a couch and Queens of the Stone Age at a guitar store? This guy! The only thing I haven't put my hands on in a radio station is the transmitter, and that's only because I was never invited.
8) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
I actually listen to much more radio now than I did when I was involved, primarily because my job requires me to be in the car for long stretches. I'm an NPR junkie, primarily, and am spoiled by the WGBH/WBUR battle in Boson. I have gotten hooked on Sports radio, too. Having a Boston Bruin on The Sandbox on a regular basis really got me into hockey, just in time to win the Stanley Cup, and the utter collapse of the Red Sox has been fascinating to follow. As for music, I am a die-hard fan of 92.5 The River (WXRV) and occasionally WERS.
9) What do you miss most about music/radio? The least?
The fun. Even when it was "work" it was always fun. My current day job involves visiting offices for an hour or two at a time. I have been to some places that have crushed my soul in a matter of minutes. I couldn't imagine working there forty hours a week. I never had that experience in radio. There was always the underlying current of creativity that made things exciting.
As for what I miss the least; people in the building who just didn't "get it." As someone from the programming side, it was usually the salespeople who got pigeon-holed as "not getting it," but I have worked with plenty of people in both programming and promotions who didn't "get it," either. Of course, the "it" is often nebulous, but the fact that listeners would "get it" and someone in the building wouldn't, was very frustrating.
10) Is there anything specific that you regret doing while you were still working?
Taking things for granted. There were so many amazing concerts and events that I poo-poo'd at the time that I am now kicking myself that I didn't attend. It's the old story about "I had tickets to the Nirvana show" -- and it was the last show in that town before Kurt died. I've told myself that if I am ever in that position again, I will take nothing for granted.
Any books you can recommend to people who need something inspirational to read?
"Thinking Small" by Andrea Hiott. On the surface, it's the story of the Volkswagen Beetle, but dig a bit deeper, like Andrea did, and you'll find it's the story of Hitler, Ferdinand Porsche and the Jewish ad executive and his team who took the Nazi's car and made it a cultural icon. It's truly inspirational and a really good read, whether you're into cars or not.