12/12/2007

The holiday season is a good time to prove your value to your radio station.  That plus having a track record of proving your value to the station could lead to big things.

I spent a good part of 1979 as Assistant to the Chief Engineer, Randy Custer at that time at WAAM in Ann Arbor. I was also doing weekends on-air.  I was a combination promotions, remote techie, cart machine and miscellaneous repair dude along with the oh-so-important on-air weekends and fill-in jock. Our Operations Manager and morning host was Jack Hood who had actually hired me earlier that year.

This was way before the days of automation that we have today.  Jack had a special “Voices of Christmas Past” package on 7” reel to reel tapes that ran for 24 hours on Christmas Day… at least when we got done with it!  We copied the entire package plus station Ids, spots, liners and promos to 10” reel to reel tapes.  There was a stack of 24 tapes when we got done and the board operator merely had to shuttle back and forth between reel decks once an hour on Christmas.  We made a big deal out of promoting and selling it. It was a great package.

Jack did some of the work himself, but he asked for my help and I ended up doing the bulk of the “grunt” work, literally “living” in the Production studio overnight.  You wouldn’t think this would be the case, but it was actually exciting for me!  I was “building” a whole day of broadcast using equipment in use at the time.   I was not “officially” a full time employee, but was working full time hours with all the people taking vacations and the large number of remotes I set up (at least once a week for “Fat Bob” Taylor alone, who was doing middays).

The staff holiday party was almost missed by me because I was so busy at the station.  I was late, but Jack rolled out the red carpet for me and made sure I was served a full meal. The first week of December, Jack offered me the full time position of Production Director and his 6-10 PM Monday-Friday host.    Naturally, I accepted!


I had some spots on the air that I had produced, so he was already familiar with my work.  But I feel like jumping in with both feet and finishing the work for the holiday programming ahead of time played a part in landing my promotion.  No matter how “good” you are, or THINK you are, that is really only a small part of your success.


“Getting stuff done” has been a pre-occupation that I carry with me today.  Sometimes – not always but SOMETIMES – hard work and dedication DOES pay off.   Even when it doesn’t you have a sense of accomplishment when a project is completed.

Figuring that out for myself, and being lucky to work for people like Jack led to where I am today.  Jack tapped into my youthful enthusiasm and tossed in a few words of encouragement as any good manager will do.  Sometimes you run into bad managers and in that case, just make the best of the situation.  Get the most of you can possibly get out of a situation, personally, and make plans to leave as soon as possible.

People who are struggling, getting discouraged or impatient just need to keep the brain securely in place, keep on working and put in their best effort at all times, no matter how bad the situation is. 

I had already been in radio a few years prior to landing at that station, so it didn’t happen overnight.  

Jack was also a programming genius, although he would deny it in his later years.  We were hoping to meet at Specs Howard for lunch just prior to his untimely passing a few years ago.  He wanted to give radio "another shot."

Besides Ann Arbor, he had radio stints in Flint, Bay City, Louisville KY, and at one point at WJR.  He would also be a pioneer in a wildly successful video tape rental business.

As far as radio, his “reward” to me 29 years ago for MY work and dedication will never be forgotten.  His morning show will always be a “voice” in my Christmas’s Past. 

Hope you’re having a good holiday season!
Bob Burnham

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