Sunday, September 18, 2011

After the talent is gone, then what?

Cliff Note: the first comment is a response from Jeff Kinzbach. He sent it to me via Facebook and gave me permission to copy and paste it here.

First a tip of the hat to longtime WMMS morning show host, Jeff Kinzbach, who I had the pleasure of meeting last night. The post I'm writing is based on a post he made on his website,

His post links to a story about Chris McAlister, former cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens. In 2004, he signed a 7 year contract worth $55 million. Now McAlister is broke and living with his parents and needs to pay $11,000 in child support. Question is, what happened to the money? Next question is. should we be feeling sorry for him and others?

Most pro athletes nowadays are mercenaries. We in northeast Ohio are painfully aware of that, as we are only 14 months removed from Lebron James "taking his talents to South Beach." Good news is he also took his entourage and mother to South Beach.  I just wonder how much his entourage costs him and what do they do to earn it?

Too many hit the big time way too quickly and don't know how to handle it. And those around them aren't much help as they pretty much see dollar signs and little else. Nationally known financial counselor, Dave Ramsey always meets with rookies on the Tennessee Titans at the beginning of rookie camp and attempts to give them advice on how to handle the money they receive and to prepare for a life after football before they ever step on the practice field. Fact of the matter is that most have this condition called perceived immortality. They feel that they have this never ending stream of income, not realizing that life does happen. They never think of the one injury that would end their career.

You could equate this to any facet of entertainment. To the rock stars, actors, TV and radio stars. I thought this week of Ted Williams, the former radio personality who was found begging on a freeway off ramp last winter. His voice captivated the interest of many people. Williams was a former radio personality who developed a substance abuse problem, then ended up homeless. When his story hit the news, he became a subject of many articles and a guest on many news shows. Dr. Phil even offered his help. But Ted Williams fell off the wagon again. As someone who has a great voice and never got the chance, don't expect me to feel sorry for the man.

As mentioned earlier in this post, I got to meet one of my radio heroes last night, Jeff Kinzbach. For those of you living out of the area, Jeff was the host of the long running Buzzard Morning Zoo on WMMS/100.7 Cleveland. For years this was the top rated morning show. But as life goes, all good things must come to an end. WMMS was bought out by another company and a duopoly was formed with WMJI/105.7. There was friction between key members of the Morning Zoo and the WMJI morning show, and Jeff was cut loose, soon to be followed by his longtime morning partner, Ed "Flash" Ferenc. They resurfaced with a very entertaining afternoon show on WWWE/1100(now WTAM) but that ended after a couple of years. Funny thing is when they got to the bridge, they didn't jump off or set up housekeeping under it. They kept traveling. Flash got a job with Cuyahoga County, and fills in for some radio personalities on occasion. Jeff went to Dallas and dabbled in real estate. Made a good living for himself. He recently moved back to the area. His daughter marches in the Pride of Highland Marching Band, and Jeff is their announcer. He's a good one too. Most importantly, he is not full of himself. He was on top, started falling, grabbed onto a branch, and started working from there. For  what Jeff Kinzbach has done since the Buzzard Morning Zoo ended, is something to admire him for.


74WIXYgrad said...

From Jeff Kinzbach:Thanks for the kind words, Cliff. I try to tell people that you have to have a back-up plan. While I was in broadcasting I knew that it could be a life-long career but the odds were better that it would not. At the time, being in broadcasting was like being a baseball manager. Eventually you will lose your job. Now, most businesses are like that. I was fortunate. I worked hard and kept my head on straight. But, I was always fascinated by the economy. So I studied it and it became my second passion. I began to think that my next goal would be to work for myself. As time went on, radio started to change. The companies were expanding and buying more properties. However, they started to cut staff and corners in order to make the bottom line look better to shareholders and investors. Key people were let go because they made too much money and had too much vacation time. Creativity was put on the back burner for the safety of playlists. I knew at that point, radio would not be a life-long career for me. I actually wanted a new adventure. I was 41 at the time and had spent over 25 years in the business. I sometimes worked 7 days a week. Anywhere I had to go, whether it was a vacation or for business, I flew because I had to be back for work. One thing I realized more than anything...was that life was not about radio. I wanted more. I wanted to see other places and experience other things. Most people think that being in radio or television is great. You are famous. That was never an attraction for me. For me it was the creative ability to put together sounds, music, news, comedy and to enjoy it. Having another plan was starting to work wonders for me. After having been shown the door in 1994, when I came home, my wife said, "Why don't you just do your investment business?" So I took the plunge and did that. Was it easy? No. But I stuck with it and am glad I did. When I got out of radio I went through a very interesting change. I had never realized how wound-up I was. I started to relax. My wife and I got into the car and drove all the way down the east coast. No agenda. If there was a ferry to take...we took it. One of the first things I did when I was out of radio was to watch the sun come up one morning over the Atlantic in Hilton Head. With a great cup of was super. Soon we were parents to a daughter. We moved to Texas, bought an old ranch and fixed it up. We harvested hay, had cattle, dogs, cats and whatever else showed up. The ranch was way out in the country so we would sit around the firepit at night and listen to the coyotes howl. It was a great place to raise a child. As we got older, the heat and the ranch work were wearing us down. We moved back to Ohio. It is great to be back. One thing Texas lacked was the seasonal changes. The vivid fall colors of Ohio are amazing. We lived through a pretty nasty drought. (not as bad as the one they have now) So rain, clouds and snow do not bother us anymore because we know how important rain is. Would I change anything? Probably not. Are we perfect? Of course not. If I had a dime for every mistake I have made....geez I would be rich. Life is to be lived and enjoyed. However, you have to have a plan and a back-up plan too. A good lawyer once told me, "I don't like surprises." And I agree. You have to look both ways. "What if," should be in your plan.

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