A DJ Once More.

Strumings has been on hiatus since earlier this year. Hiatus is over so It’s time for me to get back to a more regular publishing schedule. I have enjoyed writing my thoughts since I launched Strumings in 2009 and am gratified that some readers enjoy reading my missives. For 11 years (2009-2020) I published once a week, without fail, and sometimes more often. It was my personal commitment to a regular publishing schedule that I kept. My vision going forward is to post once a month. And I will continue to focus on the things I continue to be passionate about–marketing, music and sports with a dollop of financial thoughts as well. So here goes…

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to do a radio air shift at my alma mater (Rutgers) at WRSU-FM “sitting in” with my buddy Mark Chernoff. Mark was honored last week as one of the inaugural members of the WRSU Hall of Fame. He was an incredibly deserving candidate. Kind of like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were to MLB’s first Hall of Fame Class. My friend Mark is a radio industry titan as the former head of sports programming at Entercom and running WFAN for 28 years before he left Entercom. Mark continues to work on 2 classic rock stations as a DJ, one in New Jersey and another in DC. He also does a morning sports report in NJ as well. And last Saturday Rutgers asked Mark whether he wanted to do an air shift at WRSU-FM again on the day of his Hall of Fame Induction. He said yes, and he thankfully he asked his buddy Lonny to do it with him, a 2-hour shift from 3-5pm.

My radio career was not nearly as distinguished as Mark’s. Like Mark, we both worked at WRSU in the early 70s during our college years. And then we both gained MBAs. I then started a marketing career in advertising and while my passion for radio was as strong as Mark’s, Mark took the harder route. He built his radio career from the ground up first in Sussex County, New Jersey near the Delaware Water Gap, at a daytime AM station, WNNJ, and then later in Morris County at WDHA, an album rock station. He then went to NY to legendary WNEW-FM in the 80s, then to K-Rock in New York, and for 28 years at WFAN.

Thanks to Mark my radio career did not end at Rutgers in the 70s. I did some air work at WNNJ in the late 70s, but then in 1983 Mark offered me an overnight shift at WDHA, playing rock and roll records to the sleep deprived from 1AM to 6AM on Saturday morning, making $5/hour (and overtime on holidays!). In those years, I was an ad exec at BBDO/New York, and I did this air shift each Saturday morning after a grueling week at my “day job” at BBDO, which paid better thankfully.  I ended up working at WDHA through the rest of the 80s even after Mark departed, though I stopped doing overnights and did fill-in weekend work instead. When we moved to Southern New Jersey in 1989 when I shifted my ad career to Philadelphia, I stopped working at WDHA, though I did do some air work at WMGK on Christmas in 1991 and 1992. Jewish disc jockeys, even those of us with modest talent, are in great demand on Christmas. But then my radio “career” was over.

Radio was indeed my first love, though the industry is alas not nearly the same as it was in its heyday. Not even close. Yet the thrill of playing a record and talking into a microphone has not faded. That’s why I enjoyed sharing Mark’s show last Saturday so much.

I also realize that I learned so much from my college experience in radio.

–I learned to speak clearly. And also, to speak slowly. Diction is important.

–I learned when to turn on the microphone and impart helpful or interesting information.

–I learned when to turn OFF the microphone. That’s a skill more people need to learn in business. Often in the ad business, less is more. It’s an overall communications philosophy I have always embraced. I was taught and understood, when you make the sale, stop, say thanks, and let’s get to work doing what we agreed to—and leave.

–I also learned that when you do something you are passionate about, it’s not really working at all.

I did not have a radio career like my buddy Mark did, but then again few do. Nonetheless I still enjoyed my modest experience, and was appreciative for the opportunity to do it again with Mark last week. I had a blast and it was thrilling to reconnect with my first media passion.

PS For anyone who is reading this and still works in radio, I am available to work on Christmas Day.

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