Are Your Dreams Coming True?
October 7, 2014
Voice Over talent Kendall Kendrick brought a gift to my going away party in Charlotte when I was heading to New York City. It was a coffee mug with the words, "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over… She became a Butterfly."
Speaking positively into people's lives has been my style of programming for over twenty years, and I've seen a kid who worked in a family mortuary become the producer of one of the five biggest shows in radio. I've seen a guy who pushes carts at a grocery store become a protégé of Howard Stern, and host his own morning show. I've seen a struggling actor become a weekly fixture on a hit TV show.
Over the years, I've seen talent go from part time and unknown to being launched into programming roles that bring them notoriety almost overnight.
Words are, in fact, powerful. Check out these lyrics from the band Hawk Nelson, a song called Words, about this very thing.
Positive Words Are Life Changing
They've made me feel like a prisoner
They've made me feel set free
They've made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They've lifted my heart
To places I'd never been
And they've dragged me down
Back to where I began
Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out
I have to be completely honest and also say that while I have been a man of speaking positives into people's lives, that there does come a time with some where I can see my influence isn't having impact, so with those, I have simply withdrawn or in some cases, walked away.
In 2009, when I had gotten the boot in Charlotte, within an hour my phone rang. It was David Israel from the Cox cluster in Jacksonville, FL. He had a PD gig open and shared that he'd be excited about us having discussions about working together.
Do You Know Your Worth?
David's phone call was incredibly important. At the time of being kicked to the curb by one, another was calling to say, "You have worth."
By this point in my career, I had long been past feeling sorry for myself for losing my gig, so while David's call wasn't a necessity for me to continue moving forward and remaining optimistic, it was a reminder of one of the things that can be right about this business, and that is simply, a positive word.
David had sent me a multiple question 'questionnaire', and one of the questions asked me to list any talent or programmers who I had helped grow or reach a goal. I don't remember the exact wording, but I began listing the names and realized that something miraculous had occurred in Charlotte during my time there, which would lead me to a quick understanding of the words that were on the coffee mug that Kendall Kendrick had given to me.
Kendall was an on air talent, but she wanted to be much more than that. She wanted to be a VO talent, something that she hadn't done up until that time in her career. So I tested her voice out with Dr. Dave's voice and I liked the two of them together. When I had switched from Dr. Dave to Dave Kampel, Kendall's voice remained a great match.
So, BAM, just like that her dream came true.
The Dream Grows Into Bigger Dreams
I was on vacation in my hometown of Chicago and a commercial came on TV for Meijer supermarkets, and whose voice was now the voice of Meijer? Yep, that same young lady named Kendall; but enough about that caterpillar, with whom I am well pleased.
So, I was writing my list of names for David Israel, and I noticed I was able to include all of the hires I had made in Charlotte. CJ was my first hire in Charlotte, my night jock, and he had gone to number one in one book and maintained that from the time I hired him until the time I was shown the door. It was a sturdy door, mostly metal, with some plastic parts. I am not sure of the maker.
CJ is now the morning drive talent in Memphis, and has been sought by major markets for the same position.
My second hire in Charlotte came down to two people. For PM Drive, the two finalists were DZL, pronounced Deezl, who was nights in Rochester and Brotha' Fred, who was nights in Austin at the time. While I chose DZL, I did put Brotha' Fred on the air as a voice tracker on weekends, and later hired him to be the host of our morning show.
You Will Know My People By Their Fruit
DZL who saw number one books month after month, would later find his way across the hall on the Alternative station, 106-5 The End, where he has continued that success.
Brotha' Fred has done pretty well himself, now co-hosting mornings with Angie in Chicago.
Brotha' Fred's first co-host was Sarah Lee Owensby, who was snagged from the street team to fill that role, and she showed fruit immediately. She would later become co-host to Nick Cannon in New York City. I would later listen to Beyonce's advice and put a ring on it. Sarah Lee is now my wife.
The success ratio in Charlotte was so wild that even my part time staff would rise to great jobs. Supa Dave Jackson was my mix show DJ and weekend talent, and people were shocked when he would go from part timer to program director, which was what he did when he joined Cox in Greenville at Hot 98.1. And within the last couple of weeks his rival, Entercom, hired Dave in an OM Role.
Yeah, But Can You Repeat That?
Just so you don't write that off as a fluke, Todd "Chase" Gore, was another part timer and weekend talent in Charlotte, also hired away as program director. When the Beat in Savannah hired Chase as PD, they were the number 14 station in town. Not only would Chase raise them into the Top 5 quickly, but he also overtook his competition and soon thereafter hit the top spot. Before long, he was given programming reins over WAEV, the Top 40, as well.
David L was a nationally touring comedian, and long before I had hired Brotha' Fred, I was looking to build a local show for Charlotte to overtake Ace & TJ, and I found a great nucleus of that vision the first time I saw David L on stage.
He was, first and foremost, hilarious; secondly, extremely likeable, and third, in spite of his ventures across America, doing comedy, he called Charlotte home. He was so good on the radio already - in his interviews he'd do from town to town to promote shows - that I knew his learning curve would be fast, and it was.
I did, in fact, build the morning show around him, and it did, in fact, work, as even upon my last days in that building we were closing in on a victory over Ace & TJ.
Ignorance Is Bliss!
What I didn't know about David L was that he had a degree in broadcasting. I also didn't know that he had been ailing with a disease called sarcoidosis, brought to light, more so, when Bernie Mac passed away of complications due to the same.
I didn't know he was ailing, but upon hiring him, I did notice that something was changing in him for the better. It was then that he revealed that the new job allowed him to be treated more sufficiently, one of the benefits of having great health insurance, (Thank you Clear Channel!)
Two dreams came true that fast; one, radio; two, health. BAM!
Before Cubby became a national sensation with his Beyonce' spoof, I had sought him out for a role on the Brotha' Fred morning show, because Ace & TJ had kicked him to the curb. Believe it or not, this video wasn't the first time he'd danced in his room on You Tube; it was the third for the morning show, but the one that took him all of the way.
From Charlotte To Sensation In Three Videos
He went from fired, not knowing what would be next for him, to producing these in-bedroom dance videos, to performing on stage with Beyonce'.
To quote Hawk Nelson, "Let my words be life, let my words be truth!"
Isn't it amazing what can happen in the lives of the people around us when we speak words full of life and truth, with the power to propel them?
Thank you David Israel for your words of life. In spite of never having the luxury of working for you, I know it would have had its own fruit in the form of more people who would have had their dreams come true.