On my birthday in 1992 I was part of a massive downsizing - which means I was fired - with almost forty other people from a Denver radio station. A dozen of us went to a nearby establishment to cheer ourselves up and to talk about our next moves. I distinctly remember telling people, “I won’t be doing radio again.”
A little over four months later I accepted an invitation to host the morning show on what was then called Majic 100 in Denver. I was thirty-one years old.
Today, January 25, 2013, marks my twentieth anniversary hosting the show.
That means I’ve spent about forty percent of my life at this radio station, getting up at 4:15 each weekday morning to inform and (I hope) entertain. In the broadcast industry you’re usually lucky to stay in the same place for two years, so I’ve essentially lived nine lives at 100.3 in Denver.
To put it in perspective: during a book signing this past December I met a mom and daughter who talked about how they’d listened to me since the girl was in preschool; in May she’ll become a college graduate.
On that first show I tried a feature called The Mindbender, and it seemed to go over pretty well. Today it’s an iconic part of the Denver radio landscape; entire generations have been raised on it, and two Mindbender books have become bestsellers. With the wink of an eye I call it “the most popular radio contest in the world,” but I honestly think it might be.
The first team I worked with consisted of Nancy Richards in the news room (I still make her husband’s enchilada recipe) and Lee Ann Nye as the producer. Lee Ann, in fact, was the person who recommended me for the job. I owe her so much, and I’m happy that we’re still in touch today.
The radio station has had seven different owners in those twenty years, and four different locations. I’ve had (I think) ten program directors, more than ten general managers, and well over a hundred sales associates who have come and gone. On the show I’ve worked with (to name just a few) Dave Ward, Rockin' Ron Harrell, Matt the producer, Chuck Clark, Jo Myers, Ray Zoller, Greg Moody, Kris McLaughlin, Gregg Cassidy, Milo, Josh, Allison, Maggie, Tizzy, Emily, and more than two dozen other producers, news people, and traffic reporters.
I give special thanks to people like Little Jen, who gave her all - and her unique laugh - to the show for seven years; to Jeremy, who has been such a dedicated and talented team member for eight years; and to my friend and “work wife” Jane, who has been a blast to team with for almost fourteen of those years. I’ve been very, very lucky.
Mostly I want to thank the countless listeners through the years. We’ve laughed together over the most ridiculous things - my belly button falling out, the talking bird, tossing rodents, the unfortunate fire hydrant that I took out with my truck - and together experienced more than our share of sad moments: Oklahoma City, Columbine, Sept 11th, the Aurora shootings. We’ve been together for all of them.
Listeners have been there with me during some intense highs and lows in my personal life, from The Girl in The Green MX6 to the death of my father. When I started in January of ’93 my son was twelve. Today he’s 32, and the executive director of my non-profit foundation. I couldn’t be more proud of him.
And listeners have called, written, emailed, and spoken to me in person at hundreds of events. More than five thousand people have come through the studio during Live Audience Friday shows. Thousands have purchased my various books, from the Galahad series of young adult books to the Mindbender volumes. Again, I’m so thankful.
I don’t actually recall that first show twenty years ago, and sadly there’s no tape of it. But the funny thing is, I still clearly recall the afternoon four months before that, when I sat outside on a restaurant patio with a dozen or so of my co-workers after we’d been sourly dismissed from a fun radio station. I still remember telling people that I would become a full-time writer, and would never again get behind a radio microphone. I think we all toasted to that thought.
And now I have to look back and shake my head. Hosting the morning show at Mix 100 in Denver (along with its various other names over the years) has been such a crucial and fulfilling part of my life that I can’t imagine what my world would’ve been like without it, and without all of you who’ve been involved.
I’ll say it again: I’m a lucky guy. Thank you for allowing me into your home, your car, your office, and your family, for so long. I’ve truly enjoyed the ride.