This week started the exact same way many, maybe hundreds, no, thousands have over the years….early! Alarm blaring at 2:15 a.m. to get up for work. Only this time I didn’t have to be dressed in my television regalia. I try to never be sloppy though. I wear make-up, attempt to fix my hair and sport something somewhat fashionable. Oh, and I never don flats. I hate them. I do wear them to work out, but tennis shoes don’t count in my mind. Then, out the door with a protein shake and off to play the role of fill-in on the Morning Wave. JLew in for JRo. Jennifer Roberts has been a fixture on morning radio as long as I have. We are both long in the tooth in this biz and she’s a good lady. Spring break calls for her this week, so her lovely co-host, Paul Richardson is stuck with muah. Paul is a local radio legend in Hampton Roads. He has been on the air here for 40 plus years. His voice is smooth and kind and so is he. I got to know him a little better this week and what a pleasure it has been. More on that in a minute…
Morning radio is much different than any other “daypart”. It moves faster, there are more elements, listeners want to be informed and entertained. However, they also want music, for the hosts to talk not too much, but just enough, to be witty, but not annoying. Sound about right? Well, we sure try to be all of the above and more. I do love the challenge. I also enjoy the banter with a co-host, someone to bounce ideas off of and someone to sip coffee with between songs. Paul is not a coffee man in the morning though. He prefers a caffeinated soda. That works too. He is incredibly pleasant considering the five hours of sleep he gets a night.
Now, more about Paul. Gentleman. That’s the word to describe him best. He is a consummate gentleman. Mind you, I have only spent 25 hours in the studio with him this week, but this is my takeaway. He asks your opinion and genuinely wants to know what you think. He does not mind sharing the mic, in other words, he lets his co-host talk. Paul listens and shares, but never speaks out of turn. Oh, and I didn’t hear the man cuss one time! Now, I’m trying to think back if I did – hope not. My other takeaway is how much he adores his wife, Kathy. You know the heart eyed emoji? That’s Paul. He says they’ve been married for a bizallion years and you can see he is still over the moon for her. ADORBS!
I’ll be back to my normal 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m./midday/workday show next week and grateful for the extra zzzzzs. However, being JLew in for JRo for 5 days was both fun and enlightening. I have only been on 92.9 The Wave for a month and a half and so far, it’s a cool ride. The studio, though, is super bizarre! Inside, sits a leather arm chair, refrigerator, toaster oven, Keurig, paper towels and house plants. The walls are colored in painter’s tape blue and covered in pictures of waves (makes sense), staff pics (also makes sense) and one framed print of a goose wearing pearls. I believe a make-over is in the works. Stay tuned!
“Nothing is permanent but change.” (Elbert Hubbard)
For this Type A, stability craving, middle aged gal change has been tough. It has taught me a great deal though – we’ll get to that later. The most recent gear shift is my move to 92.9 The Wave. People ask a lot of questions and by people, I mean even people in the check out line at Harris Teeter! I get things like “Why did you leave television?”, “Why would you go back to radio?”, “How old are you?” and “How many dresses do you have?” I am always polite and just say something vague yet brief. So, I thought my first blog might be a fun way to fill you in if you are curious or just have a minute to read about my saga.
Let’s get started! I may as well begin with why I left WAVY TV-10. That’s the first thing I should clarify, really. I LEFT. It was my decision. I was not fired, I was not asked to leave and there was no drama at all. I loved being employed at WAVY. The team works tirelessly to do their very best for viewers and I am grateful for my time there. I walked away with some very dear friends. The main reason for my departure is I simply didn’t want to work as a traffic anchor long term. That, coupled with the 1:50 a.m. alarm blare, is what made up my mind. I miss the people at WAVY tremendously, but they are a phone call away and I still connect with them on a regular basis.
Now, to the radio question. It is not a lesser media outlet or a demotion. It is still an incredibly viable industry. Just like television, we consume radio much differently than in the past. However, I believe in radio, its ability not only to entertain and inform, but to touch people and support our community. 92.9 The Wave is a perfect place for me to land. It is a fun music format that works beautifully for families, businesses and commuters.
Most wonder why I didn’t go back to 97.3 The Eagle? I sat behind a mic in that studio with Jimmy Ray for 19 years. Returning was not right for me and I am enjoying my independence – so to speak. Oh, and to address the “elephant in the room”, I/we were FIRED four years ago from that gig. The reason? Money, the economy, and business are honestly why. I was desperately hurt and confused at the time. I knew I had not done anything wrong and wanted to crawl in a hole. The Eagle listening family was incredibly supportive and reached out through social media quite often. The more difficult part was local newspaper reporters, one television station, and a media gossip spewer nagging at me for a while. They were looking for me to spill my guts and that’s not who I am. I am pretty private and wanted to be left alone. It also bothered me when my, then, 8 year old daughter was asked at school why her mom got fired. Didn’t see that one coming. Ouch.
I didn’t allow myself to sulk or dwell on being axed for very long. It did help, I had a few job offers right away. Get this, I was terminated on a Monday and on Thursday of the same week, WAVY TV-10 called. I started a month later.
When I reflect on it all, being fired was one of the best things to happen to me, professionally. I had to go it alone. I worked with a partner for nearly two decades and it was time for me to stand up on my own. At first, I only acted like I believed I could, but after a while I owned it and didn’t have to act anymore. I am stronger and a little wiser for it.
So, about the dresses and my age….
Viewers regularly asked where I shop and how many dresses hang in my closet. I buy most of my clothes online because I detest shopping. I tend to say that’s why my husband married me. I am embarrassed to admit I have close to 300 dresses. I know, it’s ridiculous, over the top and they take up way too much space. I only know the approximate count because when we moved, the movers counted them. (Insert face palm here)
The age question? Not dropping that number, friends. I don’t talk age, weight or politics 😊