It’s okay to do what you want to do until it’s time to do what you need to do. What if those two things merged, though?
Working in a warehouse isn’t for everybody, but I did it for seven years. Five different warehouses over those years but the one constant that connected them all. No air conditioning. Yes. The odor I projected after a 10-12 hour day of lifting, shipping, and receiving rivaled the pandas at the neighborhood Zoo. Sweaty days with a large fan blowing hot air around the dock area is not a way to live if you have a passion to do something else. You do it though to provide for a home and hope something better exists.
I’m not a fool. I don’t have a college degree. I took three swings at MU and Forest Park Community College and struck out everywhere but leaving others and myself in debt. After working in the movie theater and a warehouse briefly out in Hazelwood, I worked for Whelan Security and wore an outfit that would make Paul Blart blush.
In 2007, I joined the team at Senoret Chemical and worked there until 2012. Afterwards, it was unemployment. It’s not easy from making 15.50 an hour with quarterly bonuses and benefits to accepting 9-10 dollars an hour. I don’t care what kind of person you are. It’s bad. I had cups of coffee with Bommarito Wines, Conway Freight, and more time with Ronnoco Coffee before moving to Arkansas and becoming a stay at home parent/writer.
I didn’t even have an eye on radio work.
I really didn’t. It wasn’t like I was immune to speaking my mind or dishing my take. I did weekly hits on a small radio station in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I called into ESPN KTGR Columbia, MO for Cards/Blues hits. I did a little of this and some of that. It was fun, invigorating even, but not something I saw becoming a full time gig or centerpiece. That’s life for you folks. You can be riding high in April, shot down in May, and kicking ass in June. Predict where you will be next August 31st and it won’t be what you expected today.
On January 12th, the same day the Rams left for Los Angeles, I got a Facebook message(the new way to communicate for millennials and old hats) from Chris Denman, a man many St. Louis cool kids will know today as one of the heads of the new radio sizzle in town, We Are Live. He wanted me to talk Rams. Why not? The entire city was pouring each other drinks that night so I said yes. It was CBS Sports AM radio, and you don’t say no to opportunities.
It was fun, easy, and I could have spoke for another 25 minutes. I called in a few more times over the next few weeks. In March, I sat in for a whole show in that small building off Forest Parkway(what we will refer to as the outhouse in Munich for the radio station). I’d drive in the next month and co-host shows with Rafe Williams and Pat “That really is my hair” Imig. Frank Grillo called in. It was a blast. I wanted more. I was a kid in a candy store with a parent doing constant circles around the block.
My son and I moved back in July because there was a potential for more radio work. We left mom behind in Arkansas(temporarily).
In early July, I hosted an entire three hour WAL by myself. I booked four guests in two hours and ran with it. I had no idea what I was doing. It was talking. Talking. And more talking. I could do this. A blind monkey with no pants could do it, but let’s get into sabermetrics yet. Two weeks later, I hosted another three hours of We Are Live and booked four more guests, including legendary boxer Vinny Paz.
Through a wicked series of events, I was offered the 5-7 AM slot on 920 AM that was currently vacant. Gathering dust. Sleeping. At Hartford Coffee on an otherwise dull Wednesday. I said yes. Again, you don’t turn down good opportunities. Always. Stay. Hungry. ASH. Always be ashing. And hungry…ah fuck it.
I needed a partner and not just any talking head. I needed a break pedal for my revamped sports car. I needed a straight man for my maniac abilities. Matt Whitener and I had hosted a few United Cardinal Blogger sessions before. We had a good tempo. He had a red velvet voice and a mind that kept its eyes on the foundation of a building instead of what was inside of it. I just dished my take. I needed someone who I thought was better than me in certain areas and could also stand up to my blunt doses. An immovable object for my unstoppable force. Matt accepted the offer and off we went.
August 2nd. 2016. A day that didn’t live in infamy but instead cast a shadow over the future. I remember sitting down at 4:50 AM in studio without a fucking idea of how this was going to go. What if I ran out of words and froze? What if I sounded like Steve Buscemi in Things To Do In Denver When You Are Dead. He said a total of six words in that movie, folks. Luckily, I did okay. Matt called in for the second hour and with the exception of one show, have knocked out 5-7 AM doses for the past four weeks. How sweet it is?
When Tim McKernan offered us the spot, Matt and I accepted. Sure, we had to find sponsors. Sure, we had to do this and complete that. However, tomorrow morning, Daybreak Dose is the official start of the ALL NEW 590 The Fan. It’s something big folks and it didn’t happen overnight. It happened over the course of eight months actually.
Am I making a lot of money right now? No. That is the honest answer. The boring answer is it takes time but folks it is true. You have to put some skin in the game to play pick up basketball in radio. It takes some bold risks and guts to step into this arena. Many walk in, look around, and walk right out. It’s not for everyone and in the end, it’s not just talking on the radio.
Radio is hard ass work. The harder you work, the more money you can potentially make. It’s as much work outside the station as it is inside of it. It’s a lot better than lifting boxes in a hot warehouse and driving around a forklift with a propane tank on the back though. If you work in a warehouse for a living and like it, I tip my hat. If not, I’ll buy you a drink because it can be debilitating. We will drink whiskey by the way. Not beer.
Am I great at radio? No. Not yet. I think I get better every show. I get more comfortable. I learn how to control my words and arrange them in a smoother tone and create a sharper outlet. It’s all about repetition. Going to the batting cages and stepping into the 70-80 mph and at first you will whiff a few too many times. Eventually, you will time it and smash line drives. For me, that’s radio. I get better every show and I am fine with that.
Here’s what I can always promise. I’m a fucking pitbull when it comes to things I am passionate about. I work hard, try to get better, am not afraid to break myself down for good measure, and respect others need to express their opinion as I express my own. I talk at the rate of a Tommy Gun and write even faster. It’s what I do. I like to say I am just like my dad but with better knees. Buffa’s like to talk, I like to write, and so here I am.
Most importantly, I can take a hit and keep on coming. I can be knocked down and get up before the ref counts to 8. I can handle someone else’s fury and deal my own back in return. I can express my need to impose my will at anytime and only feel like an asshole 40 percent of the time after it’s all said and done.
If hustle is in the DNA of a task, I always have a shot because there isn’t a groundball that I hit that I don’t run hard and try to beat out. I’m always in the fight and that is why I am cranking up Morning Drive radio five days a week on the biggest, boldest, and do whatever the fuck I please radio show in the Midwest.
590 The Fan. KFNS. AM Radio. 105.7 HD2. InsideSTL.com. Coming at you like a lightning bolt tomorrow morning at 5AM.
Sometimes you can do what you want and need to do for a living if you don’t pass up good opportunities and work hard.
It also helps to have a KICKASS WIFE at home. Seriously! I mean, damn!