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Plotting a Course

February 5, 2015

"I'm getting tired of starting again somewhere new"
-Foo Fighters "Best of You"

In a decision that was months in the making, which played out in unusual form over the past several weeks, the nationally syndicated Rover's Morning Glory radio show has finally hired a new producer. I know this because I was a finalist for the position, which ended up going to an internal candidate at iHeartMedia Cleveland.

And now that the show's decision has been made, I finally know my future: after three years away, I'll be moving back to Nashville in May. Barring something really unexpected happening, I'm coming home.

I have mixed feelings about this, since I made it to the final two of the process and would have loved the opportunity to work for the show. Rover is an outstanding host, with a program that is entertaining without being mean-spirited, dumbed-down, loaded with painfully fake laughs, or so dry that it's boring. In essence, it's better than 99%+ of the radio shows out there.

Landing the job would have meant moving to Cleveland, which would have been challenging since I only know a handful of people there. My sister-in-law's family lives in nearby Streetsboro, and my friend Scott works as a meteorologist at WJW-TV (FOX 8), but it would have been similar to my move to Columbus, having to start over again without much of a base from which to work. And it also would have meant being 150 miles further away from Nashville.

I applied for the job in November, part of the process of seeking employment that I've been going through since the end of my ill-fated run at Fight Club. I didn't have any expectations about the job since I didn't have any inside contacts with the show, and it was all but off my radar after I hadn't heard anything on it by the end of 2014.

But then, last month, I received an email from Duji, the executive producer of Rover's show, letting me know I was a finalist for the position. As you might imagine, that was an unexpected, but pleasant, surprise.

They had me do two phone interviews: one with Duji and Chris Tyler, the program director for WMMS (the show's flagship station in Cleveland), and the other with Rover himself. Both interviews went well, as they usually do for me. So I was pleased, knowing that even if I didn't get the job, I had presented myself as strongly as possible for the position.

I've known about Rover for years, going back to when CBS Radio put his show on some of the stations vacated by Howard Stern when he left for Sirius at the end of 2005. Eventually Rover ended up with Clear Channel, now known as iHeartMedia, which has syndicated his show into several markets.

One of those markets is Huntington, where in September 2013 WAMX dumped the terrible John Boy and Billy show in favor of Rover, concurrent with the station going classic rock as 106.3 the Brew. It was an across-the-board improvement.

I began listening to Rover's show on my short commute home from WSAZ after working overnights, and over time I became familiar with the show participants, an ensemble cast that includes some very distinct, if not bizarre, personalities. And when I say bizarre, I mean Jeffrey LaRocque. Any attempts I could make at describing him would be an undersell. He's a one of a kind and absolute radio gold, even if he might not always entirely understand why.

But it was on my weekly trips to the chiropractor where I was able to tune in for longer stretches, and I found that I really liked the show. I fell a bit out of the loop with it after leaving Huntington last May, as the show isn't cleared in Columbus at the present time. But when I learned I was in the running for its open producer position, I binge-listened online and did a large volume of research to put myself in as strong of a position as possible to be ready if selected.

Chris (the aforementioned PD) said during my interview that this process was somewhat like American Idol, and there was certainly an element of that with them paring down the contenders for the job bit by bit. Much of that happened behind the scenes, and I learned updates on how the competition was progressing by listening to Rover's show.

Most job hiring processes don't work like that, but then again radio is a unique business. I quickly figured out when I was being referenced on the show after I learned I was the only out-of-town finalist. It made for an unusual listening experience, to be sure.

On Tuesday, I had a dream that I didn't get the job. This might sound like an unimportant detail, but through the years my dreams have had an uncanny knack for coming true. And it's not even in a cause-and-effect kind of way, like fueling the type of irrationally high self-confidence that helps with chasing women, but also with things that have either already happened or which are outside of my control. My subconscious is usually on point.

So it didn't exactly blindside me today when Dieter (a co-host who fits within the show's framework exceptionally well) let it slip that they had decided on a woman to fill the open producer slot. Rover was being careful, using phrases like "that person", but all it took was one pronoun by Dieter for me to figure it out.

Rover certainly picked up on it, and it led to them openly discussing it in the next segment. I don't know the identity of the woman they decided on, but she beat me in the finals so I figure she must be good. I don't intend for that to come off as conceited, but I know my strengths. I had plans for the show, and it will be interesting to contrast them with what happens with the program in the coming months.

One thing that the decision did was avoid what could have been a complicated situation involving a radio war going on right now in Tampa. Bubba the Love Sponge (who I worked for from 2003-2006) is in full-out battle mode against Mike Calta. I've never met, talked with, or had any interaction whatsoever with Calta, but he's no fan of mine.

And here's the twist: the reason Rover had a producer vacancy on his show was because the man who had filled that role, Rob Garguilo, left in October to join Calta's program as a producer. I don't know what would have happened with that dynamic in play, but now I don't have to worry about it.

Despite not landing the gig, I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the process, and I'm honored that the show considered me for the position. Like I told Rover at the end of my interview with him, no matter what happened with the selection process, I think he has a great show and I'll be pulling for it to continue to find success in the ratings.

Also, it was vital for me to find out something definitive on the job ASAP, since my forthcoming move to Nashville involves a few things that will require some lead time, not the least of which is giving proper notice to the tenants in the house where I'll end up living. And now that I know, I can plan ahead for a return to the city that I'll always consider my hometown, regardless of where I'm residing.

This means I'll be near friends and family who I've only been able to see sporadically in recent years. It means I'll be able to spend time with my niece, Evelynn, and my nephew, Benjamin. It means I'll be able to get a dog. And, to be sure, all of that adds up to a very nice consolation prize.

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