Being Syndicated – Freedom!

This is part one of a multi-part series, “Being Syndicated,” which chronicles the ins and and outs of a radio DJ in the syndication business; an inside glimpse of the good, the bad, and the ugly of being in the syndicated radio business.

I love my freedom. The freedom to leave my job at anytime. The feeling of knowing, in my heart and my head, that if I want to leave my day job at the radio station, I can, and that I’d be just fine.

As soon as I realized that I was working at my local radio station because I wanted to–not because I had to–the job instantly became a thousand times more fun…and a thousand times less stressful. While others are keeping their head down and trying not to attract attention for fear of being noticed (and fired), I can actually “do radio,” make noise, and get noticec.

I must state that it did not make me arrogant, lazy, or a dick. And I don’t go around announcing to people that I “don’t need this job.” But in my head, it’s great to know that I can leave anytime I like. My bosses know that too, and I’m glad. I’m not their slave. I’m here for no other reason that I want to be.

I actually love the company that I work for here in San Diego–best radio group I’ve ever worked for. But this wasn’t always the case. There were some scenarios, at past stations, where I really dreaded coming into work. I was overworked and under appreciated. Sometimes even downright depressed. Maybe I shouldn’t have been–after all, I could have been digging ditches, but sometimes even our job is tough, especially mentally.

It’s important to tell you that I never started syndicating my show in hopes of making any more. How I got started is another story for another chapter–but I will tell you that it happened by accident when two other PDs I knew in other markets simultaneously asked if I’d sent them a generic version of Sunday Night Slow Jams; and that’s how the “syndicated” version of the show was started. And I wasn’t making a dime. But I didn’t care! I did it solely for the love of the show.

Fast forward a year or two later, and I’m shipping off 27 Fed-Ex packages every Monday to my 27 affiliates…still not making a dime by the way, and now it’s starting to cost me real money. Eventually I was finally picked up by Superadio and when that first quarterly check came in for $782…I thought I was rich! Well maybe not rich, but I was absolutely delighted that I had a few hundred dollars for weekend show that I was doing anyway. Happy as a clam.

As my affiliate list grew, so did the checks; slowly, but steadily. The turning point was the day that I realized the money I was making for this one little Sunday night show had surpassed my yearly salary as a Program Director and afternoon DJ on my local radio station. To this day, it’s still mind blowing.

After a few years of making enough money on Sunday Night Slow Jams to support myself without my day job, I resigned. I said goodbye to my post at Clear Channel Tucson and found a spot on the beach in Brazil. Mid life crisis? Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted to do Slow Jams on the beach in Brazil. I sold my car, rented out my house and kiss my mom goodbye. I was headed to Brazil. Only three days before my flight, I was offered the PD position at KHHT-Los Angeles. I couldn’t say no.

I liked L.A. Didn’t love it, but liked it, and had a great run working in the Burbank building with some really wonderful people. But two years later on Clear Channel’s infamous “reduction in force” day, when I was one of three program directors in the building to be let go, I was actually happy about it. I’d still been dreaming of living in Brazil and now I finally could. I was on a flight that night, to Rio.

I enjoyed a couple years out of local radio, just doing Slow Jams. Not having to worry about weekly ratings, tons of meetings, and silly sales cram-downs. I spent my days at the beach, traveled some, and got in the best shape of my life. A few job offers came my way, but I refused every one, not even going as far as an interview. Why waste anyone’s time? I did not want back in the game.

Only did I consider coming back after I was hired to host afternoons in San Diego, live, from my house in Tucson. I was back in Arizona finishing my degree (another project I could focus on since I had the time), when I was offered PM drive, and able to do it from the comfort of my own house.