Thursday, March 22, 2012

Great Hobby, Lousy Career...

As most of you know, I'm a radio geek. And I'm not shy about making it known when I make an acquaintance of someone who is, or has been in the industry.

About 6-1/2 months ago, I started contacting former WMMS  host, Jeff Kinzbach, via Facebook. I had found out he was going to be the band announcer for Highland High School, where I had graduated. His daughter was playing in the marching band. We had some good exchanges back and forth. I gave him some advice that he had probably known already, but thanked me anyway.

A few weeks later, Rittman and Highland played in the same band show. Jeff came looking for me and introduced me to his wife, Patty. We had a good conversation, probably things he had discussed ad nauseum with countless others over the years. He messaged me the next day, telling me that he enjoyed the Rittman Band's performance and gave me kudos over my announcing style.

About 5 weeks later, after I broke my ankle, Jeff sent me well wishes via Facebook. Safe to say, Jeff Kinzbach is not full of himself. I had written a post several months ago called "After the talent is gone, then what?" Jeff was kind enough to write this response to the post:"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."
 Sometimes a response can be longer than my post. Anyway we have had a few exchanges over the past several months, as he has probably done with his over 4000 Facebook friends.

Lately, Jeff has made a return to radio. He has begun to do fill in work at WNCX/98.5, classic rock station in Cleveland. People have been able to get small doses of what had made radio great in "The Rock N Roll Capitol of the World." And I'm sure it has revived interest in WNCX. As he said in the above comment, he has moved on in life, but he gets to do something he has loved, now on a part time basis.

This week, the regular morning show host on WNCX, Slats, is on vacation. Jeff has been filling in to the audience's delight. Would this work on a long term basis? Probably not, but for me and many others, it's dessert. Better had in small servings. Today he also has in studio, his longtime on air partner, Ed "Flash" Ferenc, reliving past glory days. Good listening. Always good to hear one of the good guys who has never forgot who and what had made him popular. Cliff Note: Photo above was courtesy of the WNCX website.

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