Archive for December, 2011

Delayed Delight

December 30, 2011

Thursday December 29th, 2011 – Dubuque, IA/Rockford, IL

I don’t know why it took so long to achieve, but this is exactly how I pictured my life to be. I’m finally in the groove I thought I’d be in twenty years ago, and I see no reason for it to stop any time soon. If anything, I picture it getting even better. I’ve earned my stripes.

The show last night at Diamond Jo’s Casino in Dubuque was tremendous. That venue is a perfect example of the theatre type atmosphere I want to play on a regular basis. It has a monster sound system and a gigantic stage, and it was packed with a laugh ready crowd.

Nobody heckled, and they sat back and enjoyed the show. This is the way I have always thought comedy should be, but it’s been far from it. How many nights of hellish pain have I had to endure trying to fend off drunken idiots who constantly babbled through shows?

Not here. I was able to give them what was billed – a comedy show. And they enjoyed it all, start to finish. The hour went by lightning fast. I was able to dig in and take command, and they trusted me to have an ability to entertain them. This is a very important dynamic.

A lot of it has to do with how an audience is trained. If any venue does things correctly, they set the scene before every show as to what is expected. There are announcements up front to let people know that heckling is not tolerated and to turn cell phones off. That’s a crucial ingredient to a successful show, as is a competent host. That’s a big part of it too.

Comedy shows at Diamond Jo’s are hosted by a radio personality named Scott Thomas who goes by ‘Scotty T’ on the air. He’s been hosting comedy shows in Dubuque for years at various other venues, and does an excellent job. I’ve worked with him before, and he’s a fan of comedy so he doesn’t talk down to us or the crowd like a lot of radio wankers do.

Everything just fell into place, but I didn’t take one second of it for granted. I’ve seen it go the exact opposite way, and it’s not fun for anyone. This was a total gas for everybody involved, and I even sold a dozen CDs after the show. They were lining up to buy them.

They also put us up in top shelf accommodations at a place called The Hotel Julien. It’s at least six levels above the herpes infested kennels where most gigs end up stashing us to save five bucks a night. This gig was class all the way, and I couldn’t appreciate it more.

I’m sensing a trend that I really like. Last week it was great working at Donnie B’s, and now this. The rest of the week I’ll be at Zanies at The Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL which has been one of my favorite gigs for years. Nice venue. Nice people. Nice life. I don’t see why it can’t be like this every week, but at least for these two weeks it has been.

The radio show in Rockford has been going very well too. Jim McHugh is fun to work with, and we know each other so well there isn’t any transition of awkwardness period to get through like most radio partnership situations. We hit the ground running, and have a good rapport. For however long this lasts, I’m thoroughly enjoying my life day and night.

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Sharing The Wealth

December 29, 2011

Wednesday December 28th, 2011 – Rockford, IL/Dubuque, IA

All kinds of things are starting to cook exactly the way I want, and I’m excited. I love it all, and not concerned in the least it’s not ‘big time’. That myth has been shattered, so any pressure is completely off. Fun is fun, and that’s what I’m having. To me, that’s success.

The radio show today in Rockford was an absolute blast. The people at the station could not be any nicer to us, and we’re starting to feel right at home. We had a chance to bring a couple of other comedian friends on the air with us, and they got to shine for a while too.

Jim Wiggins is a wonderful guy who has been doing comedy forever. He billed himself for years as ‘The Last Hippie’, and actually lived in the Rockford area for a long time. He has been dealing with bladder cancer for the past few years, and it was great to be able to give him some air time to tell that story and also about him being on The Tonight Show.

Everyone in the Chicago comedy community loves Jim Wiggins. He’s supportive of all the new talents, and was extremely nice to me when I started years ago. He was in charge of a place called Dirty Nellie’s, and he was generous with handing out stage time before I was ready for it. All these years later, it felt good to be able to pay back his generosity.

We also had a chance to have Tim Slagle on with us. Tim and I are familiar with being on the air with each other because we were on with Jerry’s Kidders for several years, but the Rockford audience doesn’t know any of us. It was a chance to troll for some new fans.

I’ve never been afraid to share the spotlight on the air. I want others to feel comfortable and know they can say what they think and not have to be anything other than themselves. I don’t have to agree with everything they say, or any of it. I just want it to be interesting.

A lot of radio and television people aren’t like that. They can’t stand it when anyone is funnier than them, and they try to squelch it at all costs. I want exactly the opposite. I love it when someone gets on a roll, and it’s good for everyone. Johnny Carson lasted decades by letting others come on and have the spotlight. It’s not any secret, that formula works.

It was great fun to let Jim and Tim have their moment, and I try to let Jim McHugh get his licks in too. I just try to be the conductor, and pass out solos. I follow the same course as host of The Mothership Connection on WLIP in Kenosha on Sunday nights. It works.

After the radio show, Jim McHugh and I drove to Dubuque, IA to perform at Diamond Jo’s Casino. Wow, what a top notch facility that is. I knocked off a solid hour like it was nothing. There was a packed house, and they were there to laugh. This was a dream gig.

I love every minute of all of this, even though it’s not necessarily what most performers would consider the big time. The radio show was just as fun as if it were WLS in Chicago and the laughs sounded just as good in Dubuque as they would have in Las Vegas. I love what I’m doing, and the people around me seem to be loving it too. I don’t see a problem.

Hollywood Can Wait

December 29, 2011

Tuesday December 27th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

This is going to be a dream week. What a fun way to close out a tumultuous year. I’ll be doing all kinds of fun things with creative people, and to me that’s what life is about. The only thing that’s missing is big money, but I am getting paid something so I’m not upset.

If every week could be like this, I would be thrilled to the bone. This is what I‘ve spent my entire life chasing, and I’ve finally caught it! I feel like Wile E. Coyote after catching that pesky little Road Runner. After all that plotting, scheming and chasing, I hit pay dirt.

I want a chance to savor my victory. I don’t want to gloat, but lot of effort went into the process and it finally has a tangible payoff. Why not squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of everything, and that’s what I intend to do. Everything I dreamed about is now real.

When I started, my goal was to become a super solid headlining comedian and perform in quality venues. I also wanted to have an entertaining radio show, working with a lot of fun and creative people I like. That’s exactly what I’m doing all week, and I’m ecstatic.

My dreams never had a specific location attached to them, and I guess I always assumed all this would take place in California. Hollywood, baby! Right underneath that sign. Isn’t that where all official fantasy show business dreams have to take place to actually count?

Surely, any place else where good things may happen is a waste of time, right? If it isn’t complete and total world wide domination, how can anyone be satisfied? What a mistake, but far too many feel that way. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but reality only has room for a precious lucky few at that tippy top pinnacle of success. It’s an elite club.

The rest of us have to fight for what’s left, and that’s just how it is. Every kid who plays baseball dreams of hitting that home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in the last game of the World Series. Who has actually accomplished that? Bill Mazeroski in 1960 and Joe Carter in 1993. David Freese did it this year, but it was game six. That’s close, but not it.

Then, there’s EVERYONE ELSE who ever played the game. Are all those guys failures because they never hit a home run to win the last game of the World Series? That’s stupid to even consider, but all kinds of people in show business seem to think that if they don’t end up as the top box office draw in Hollywood for a decade they’ve wasted their lives.

This week I’m going to be hosting a two hour afternoon radio talk show with my friend Jim McHugh on WNTA in Rockford, IL. It’s not WABC in New York, but it’ll be a lot of fun and we won’t get any hassles from management. In my world, that’s a fantastic deal.

Also, I’ll be headlining a comedy show at Diamond Jo’s Casino in Dubuque, IA. That’s not Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas, but it’s a stellar venue that will be full of great laughers. I’ll also get to headline Zanies in St. Charles, IL at Pheasant Run Resort for the rest of the week, including New Year’s Eve. I’m going to savor every second. Hollywood can wait.

A Movie Deal

December 27, 2011

Monday December 26th, 2011 – New Lenox, IL/Kenosha, WI

December 26th is always one of my favorite days. Christmas is finally OVER, and life is back to whatever ‘normal’ is. Whatever that definition may be, life becomes much harder to plow through with the added pressure of being constantly reminded I’m supposed to be cheerful and festive. That pressure is gone now, and I can do it at my leisure. I like that.

It feels like a heavy pair of ankle weights have been taken off. I can dance around with a new sense of freedom, and renewed enthusiasm that a brand new year with a fresh start is only a week away. The rear view mirror is ripped off the hinge, and I’m looking ahead.

I’ve got lots of fun and exciting projects lining up for 2012, and today is the day to kick it all off and start planning everything. I need to be extra diligent about that, as if I’m not I’ll get overwhelmed as I have in the past and not finish anything. A battle plan is a must.

I’m going to have a full plate and then some, but it’s stacked with things I really enjoy. Exercise will be a priority, and I’m learning to love that and never thought I would. It will unfortunately take up a major chunk of time daily, but I have to invest in staying healthy.

The King of Uranus is also a priority. I am going to create that character as my alter ego and that will also require a lot of time and energy. I don’t mind, but I have to be careful to not let myself get lost in it and not produce results. Fun is fine, but income has to happen.

Where I sit now, standup comedy is my main source of income. I’m at my peak as far as production and ability goes, so that has to be the first order of business. That will pay bills for now, and hopefully be able to finance everything in the short run. The King of Uranus is a long term project, and the plan is to use one to lead to the other. It will be a transition.

I met with my film director friend Mark Gumbinger today to hack out a final battle plan for our recording project in January. He’s going to record my act in a studio environment with an invited audience and a three camera shoot. Our investment is minimal, and it’s an excellent opportunity to get a new current video to send out to bookers for future work.

Mark is an excellent director, and knows what he’s doing. I’m confident he will be able to at the very least give me a high quality chronicle of my act so far. A good video is rare these days, and I’m grateful to be able to finally have one. This is a worthwhile endeavor.

We discussed it in Mark’s car as we drove to New Lenox, IL where he was purchasing a 1989 Pontiac Firebird at a car lot. He likes old cars like I do, so I didn’t mind riding along and helping him get the car back to his house in Kenosha, WI. It was a chance to help him out and also help myself in the long run by having a quality video. This was worthwhile.

We went back to Mark’s house and watched about a dozen DVDs of other comedians to get an idea of what’s out there. We weren’t looking for comedy content, just how they did it technically. I’d never done that before, and I learned a lot. This is going to be a winner.

The Christmas Theory

December 27, 2011

Sunday December 25th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Another Christmas comes and goes. All that hype. All that decorating. Was it worth it? Are more people on our planet genuinely happier today than yesterday? Will there ever be peace on Earth, good will toward men? Or, is it Hell on Earth and men toward Goodwill?

I’m sure there must have been surveys done, but I wonder what the exact numbers boil down to as to how it shakes out just who likes the whole Christmas experience and who can’t stand it. I’ve met quite a few of both in my travels, and both camps are passionate.

Like many ideas, the concept of Christmas is a big winner in theory. So is communism, but a glitch usually comes along and wipes out all the positives. No matter what anyone’s religious beliefs may or may not be, on paper, Christmas has a wonderful ideal for us all.

In reality, it’s a huge pain in the ass for a large percentage of the population everywhere and it ends up being stressful and unfulfilling. I wish it weren’t that way, but it is. I know kids love it, but can’t there be a better way to celebrate and give gifts? Can’t we just lay it on the line and tell kids there’s a tradition once a year when people like to exchange gifts?

We won’t have to fabricate the all time whopper of whoppers about some mysteriously appearing fat man in a red and white fuzzy pimp suit who flies around in a giant sled with toys in it, randomly giving them to kids who eat all their vegetables throughout the year.

Tell the kids the truth from the start, and Christmas could still be a big winner. It would sure take a lot of the pressure off, and maybe relieve some of the tension of having to buy gifts for people we don’t really want to buy for. Let’s tweak the system and do it correctly from the start. Level with the kids up front, and then there won’t be disappointment later.

I know I would have been able to handle this concept without incident, and I really have to believe most other kids would too. We’re not stupid, just naïve and inexperienced. We believe what we’re told, because we haven’t been given a reason not to yet. The adults are in charge and have our trust, and then they choose to tell us a big lie and not back down.

Most of the goofy traditions we ‘celebrate’ now come from Pagan rituals anyway. It’s a watered down mix of a lot of things all thrown together, including the mythical need for a snow covered wonderland to make everything ‘holy’. That alone creates a lot of pressure.

I really don’t consider myself a Scrooge, even though the older I get I find myself hating and bashing every facet of what I think is an increasingly stupid yearly event. I may not be fond of the event itself, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like the theory of it all. I absolutely do.

Sharing, giving and thinking of others first is all something everyone should do anyway. It shouldn’t be narrowed down to one day late in the year. Life itself should be Christmas, and every day a new present not only to open, but to share with those we love. That’s how I want to live my life, and it‘s all I can handle to keep slugging. Today is just another day.

Marketing Motivation

December 25, 2011

Saturday December 24th, 2011 – Springfield, IL/Lincoln, IL

I’m still basking in the glow of the whole experience of working at Donnie B’s Comedy Club. Donnie was busy with other things at the end of the night, but when I got my check he had hand written a note on the envelope telling me I did a super job and will be back.

That’s totally fine with me. This is the kind of place I’d love to work anytime, even if it is in Springfield, IL. I never particularly liked the town itself, I always found it to be kind of run down and redneckish. The only reason I gave it a second thought at all was because of my friend Max. His wife’s family is from the Springfield area and he relocated there.

Max was doing the morning show at WYMG, and we had thought about trying to hook up and be a team. I was on the air with him for a few days, but after exploring the town it didn’t look promising. I wasn’t impressed with much, and thought I would have hated it.

I hadn’t discovered Donnie B’s at that time, I had only heard of it. Had I known how he runs his business, I may have had a different opinion. I’m glad I finally got to work there, and now I’ll get the best of both worlds. I can live where I do and visit there occasionally.

It really is all about marketing. Before I left the hotel, I checked the Weather Channel to see what to expect on my drive home. There are sponsorship logos on screen for the local reports that rotate regularly, and sure enough there was one with Donnie B’s logo on it in the mix. Not many comedy clubs would have the savvy to buy an ad there. It was shrewd.

Zanies in Chicago has always been well marketed too, and that’s why they have been in business since 1978 and have multiple locations that have also lasted. Rick Uchwat knew how important marketing and advertising was, and he made Zanies THE standup comedy name brand in the Chicago area. That’s exactly what Donnie B. is doing in Springfield.

Second City sure did it with improv comedy. I still get asked by people in the Chicago area who have no idea about what comedy is if I’ve ever ‘played Zanies or Second City’. Those are two names they’ve heard of, and they try to sound like they know something.

I don’t know much about many things, but I do know how important name recognition is in business and I know I need to have a lot more of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Dobie or Mr. Lucky or The King of Uranus. I just need a brand that generates a mass recognition.

That means I have to constantly promote myself to a customer base and make myself as easy to find as possible, whether it’s a booker for a show or someone who wants to buy a CD or another product – and by the way I could stand to have a lot more of those as well.

I’m not nearly as well marketed as I could be, and that’s my fault. I take full blame, but also know it’s very fixable. I know I have a good product, actually one of the best around. The problem is, not enough people know about it and think of me first when the need for a comedian comes up. I need to make myself a brand, even if it’s only in the Midwest.

This is a whole new skill set, and I’m going to master it. I’ve made a decision to make myself a master marketer just like I decided to become a master comedian when I started. I mistakenly thought that a good product alone would be enough to make me filthy rich.

SO wrong. I did achieve my objective of being a master comedian, but it didn’t get me the results I wanted. Not enough people know I’m a master, but that’s not the issue. They need to PERCEIVE me as being the best, and that means they not only have to know that I exist – they have to be familiar with my work. Some endorsements wouldn’t hurt either.

Also, a territory is important too. Zanies started in Chicago. They expanded eventually, but Chicago was their first territory. Donnie B. has Springfield, and I think he has a club in Bloomington, IL as well from what I hear. I need a territory where I’m THE comedian, or at least one of the top two or three names people think of when comedy is mentioned.

I still think staking out the square of Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, WI and Rockford, IL is a smart move. I’ve been working the area forever, and have a lot of media contacts and even some fans. I also have made a few enemies, and they’ll remain pains in the ass.

Still, I can continue to go around them like I’ve always been doing. They can’t stop me from achieving my goal, they’ll only make a few things inconvenient. They won’t be able to see my bigger picture anyway, so I don’t care. I’m going to dig in and stake my claim.

I want to be the name people think of for standup comedy in those four places, and have a home base to work whenever I want. There are literally several MILLION people in that squared area, and between clubs, theatres and private parties I can carve out a nice living.

I’ll still go to places like Donnie B’s and Wiseguys in Salt Lake City and any other club I happen to like, but I’ll go there because I want to. Big difference. There are far too many other old road dogs like me with solid acts but no name recognition anywhere. Not good.

I stopped for breakfast at ‘Daphne’s Diner’ in Lincoln, IL on my way home and had one of the most delicious omelets I’ve ever had in my life. It was beyond scrumptious. How a simple omelet could taste so good is beyond me, but it did. It was perfect in every way.

It was listed on the menu as a ‘Hawaiian Omelet’, which I hadn’t heard of before. It had ham, black olives, Swiss cheese and pineapple. I don’t know why it sounded so tasty, but it did so I ordered it. Wow. It was like a flavor volcano erupted in my mouth. Delicious!

The eggs were cooked perfectly. They were moist and fluffy, and not a scorch mark on them. Sometimes omelets can be dried out or burned at the ends. Whatever. Not this one. I couldn’t believe how good it looked on the plate, and it tasted even better. What a treat.

On the way out, I took a business card. I looked at it in the car, and it had a local phone number with no area code listed, nor did it even have the town or state listed. A website? Of course not. Daphne has a great product, but nobody can find it easily. Sound familiar?

Comedy Club Heaven

December 25, 2011

Friday December 23rd, 2011 – Springfield, IL

O Springfield, dear Springfield – where have ye been all my life? Wow, what a fantastic experience all the way around. I’d heard good things about Donnie B’s Comedy Club, but it wasn’t done justice. This is comedy club heaven, and I hope I can come back regularly.

Actually, Springfield had little to do with the experience. That just happens to be where the club is located. It could be done like this in any city in America, but unfortunately it’s not. The one reason it’s so great boils down to two words – Don Bassford, aka Donnie B.

That guy is a world class entrepreneur, and after seeing how he runs his business I have nothing but respect and admiration for how he handles himself. This was a total clinic on how a comedy club and a business in general should be run. He knows what he’s doing.

What was so great about it? Everything. The room itself was done perfectly. The sound and lights were excellent, and as strange as it sounds that’s not always the case. There are a lot of comedy clubs that don’t care, even though it absolutely affects the final product.

Not only were the sound and lights on point, there was an atmosphere created. There are candles on each table and large mural type paintings of comedians on the walls. It gets an audience in the mood for comedy as soon as they walk in the room. It establishes a vibe.

There’s upbeat theme music before the show starts, and a light show that would make a disco jealous. It’s a SHOW, and the energy was built perfectly. Then, Donnie B. hosts the shows himself. He welcomes the audience personally, and lays down the rules of what to expect and how to act. He makes it clear that heckling isn‘t accepted, but does it politely.

Then, he gives away birthday prizes and tells about what’s coming up in future weeks. I have to believe most comedians probably think he’s an egomaniac for doing that, but as a student of the entrepreneurial game I can see why he does it. Who else could promote any business better than the owner? He’ll have passion that some greenhorn newbie will not.

I thought he did a hell of a job getting the crowd warmed up for both shows. He’s not a comedian per se, but he’s a fantastic host. He’s a big guy with a big smile, and he cuts an imposing but likeable figure on stage. He wears a suit and tie, and sets the scene up front.

There was a sign on stage that had my name written in large letters, so people could tell who they were seeing. That’s smart business, so if they like a comic they can ask for him or her by name. I’m telling you, Donnie B. knows how to market. I was totally impressed.

All the details were covered. He puts the comics in a nice hotel just a few minutes from the club, and when I got there I was blown away to find a stack of posters with my picture on it promoting the shows. Why doesn’t every club do all these little details? I wish I had an answer, but I don’t. Top to bottom, this was one of the best experiences I’ve had since I’ve been a comedian. Both shows were red hot, and I had a blast. I hope I get asked back.

Dues Paid Off

December 25, 2011

Thursday December 22nd, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

I’ve got some work this week and I’m delighted to get it. Last night I was in Decatur, IL at a sports bar in what used to be a Holiday Inn Convention Center. That gig has trickled down through several booking agents over the years, but it’s usually not horrible and I’m glad it’s still going on. It’s always nice to pick up a few low pressure week night dollars.

I chose to drive home instead of staying over and having a long drive this morning. It’s exactly 225 miles door to door, and whatever thrill there might be in staying in hotels has long faded. Even though it’s a nice place, it was nicer to get on the road and start driving. The show was over by 9:30, so I was able to get home by 2am. I made the right choice.

Tomorrow night I’m in Springfield, IL at a club called Donnie B’s. I’ve never worked it but I’ve heard positive things. I also get a chance to see my friend Max, so no matter how the gig turns out I’ll be fine. I don’t anticipate any problems, and I also hear the owner has a club in Bloomington, IL. I wouldn’t mind working there either, to add to my club list.

This is a constant process in the comedy world, and I need to greatly improve my tactics and come up with a battle plan in 2012. I want to stay closer to home, and places like this are exactly the gigs I’m looking for to stay sharp. I’m not going to get rich, but that’s not the issue. The objective is to have enough places close by to maintain my comedy chops.

I’m a solid headliner now, and do especially well in the Midwest region. I would put my show up there with almost all headliners working the road, just because I’ve got so much experience. I’m right at the correct ripeness to be plucked for bigger things, but for now a chance to keep money coming in is important. I’ll give Donnie B. more than he pays for.

That’s not a problem, because my first few years on the road I was stealing money from the club owners then. I was green, inexperienced and absolutely horrible. Every performer is bad in the beginning, it’s part of the process. At first we steal money, then they manage to take it back over and over again forever after. Welcome to the world of show business.

I’m fine with where I am now though. I know I’ve paid my dues, and those dues did not come with any half off coupons or employee discounts. I paid full price and then some for all the experience I’ve got, but I’ve got it and I know when I step on a stage I can deliver.

That’s a very comforting feeling in the heat of battle. I see the ghastly look of unbridled sheer terror on the face of a newbie who has to go up and try to pry laughs out of a herd of drunken meatheads and I know exactly what they’re feeling. I’ve done it way too often for way too long, but that’s the only way to gain any real experience. Shortcuts do not exist.

Now I need to find a way to make all this experience pay off. If I’m going to be working the road, I want it to be worth my while. I’ll go to Springfield and tear those people a new one tomorrow. I know I can do the shows themselves, now it’s a matter of drawing people in to see them. I’m too deep into this to quit now. I want to stick it out and get my payoff.

Entrepreneurial Enlightenment

December 23, 2011

Wednesday December 21st, 2011 – Schaumburg, IL

Life really is about who a person knows, and one can never know too many people with whom positive win/win relationships can be developed over time. I’ve always been about that, and still am. I’ve got a larger list of contacts than most, but I’m still looking to grow.

Tonight I attended a session of the Chicago Entrepreneur’s Meetup Group, an entity my cousin Perry Plotkin suggested I explore. Perry is one of the few in my family orchard of misfit trees to have decided like me not to follow the freak show route to failure most of the rest of our relatives have chosen to take for generations. We’re the real life Munsters.

Perry is a very sharp guy and eager to break the chain, as was I and still am. He’s in his early 30s, and doing all he can to distance himself from our family tradition of becoming civil service workers and drifting off into obscurity without ever chasing any big dreams.

Sure it may be ‘safe’, but it’s surely not living. It’s existing, and Perry and I agree we’re not going to accept that kind of life like so many others in our family lineage did. Most of them are dead now, and we’re the only ones who remember how unhappy they all were.

That unhappiness trickled down into their children, and many of them chose to keep the tradition going. It’s difficult to fight a vibe that spreads so deeply through so many. I have to believe it’s a lot like a sports team. Once losing becomes tradition, the script is written.

On the other hand, winning is a tradition too. I’m sure there are families that outdo each other in success and achievements, and there has to be a breed out there where love is the driving force. With our dented clan of dented cans, love has always been painfully absent.

That’s just how it is, and Perry and I both know we’re not the only ones who have had a less than supportive upbringing. We also know we’re able to overcome it by making solid and positive choices over and over again until we’ve gotten ourselves out of that ugly rut. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s the right choice. It’s nice to have others like Perry who get it.

I enjoyed the program very much, and although it was a small meeting everyone had the similar mindset of wanting to become entrepreneurs to better not only their lives but lives of those around them. I sensed a healthy vibe in that room, and I’m glad I made the effort to attend. These are the kind of people I want in my life, even if they’re not entertainers.

I’ve chosen to spend most of my life around entertainment, whether it’s been comedy or radio or professional wrestling. There’s a whole other world out there of people who have never been the center of attention, and look at me with admiration for rolling the dice and taking the chance to do what I really wanted to do with my life. That IS an entrepreneur.

I guess I never really looked at myself in that way before. I’ve been doing that my entire life, but instead of opening restaurants or selling pants – I’ve been the product all along. It shouldn’t have taken me this long to figure it out, but I did tonight. I am an entrepreneur.

Three Wise Men

December 23, 2011

Tuesday December 20th, 2011 – Rockford, IL

I received an unexpected phone call today from Jim McHugh asking me to join him as a last minute fill in talk show host this afternoon on FM 100.5 WNTA in Rockford, IL. I’m always up for helping anyone out if I can, so I said yes. We’ve hosted before, and had fun.

Our mutual friend Jim Stone is the operations manager at Maverick Media, and this is a hectic time of year in radio and every other business as far as vacations go. They were in a pinch, and that happens from time to time. Stone contacted McHugh, and then I got a call.

I wish all operations managers in radio were as easy to deal with as Jim Stone. He’s not a ’radio guy’, and he treats people with respect. That makes it easy to say yes when favors get asked, and I can’t believe others don’t adopt that simple formula. It works every time.

Most other managers use fear as leverage. They threaten or at least imply consequences will occur if someone doesn’t drop what they’re doing and jump head first through a hoop to please the whim of those in power. It may be effective, but it doesn’t win any friends.

Radio is full of insecure, power hungry, maniac control freaks who like to show it off at every opportunity. I’ve always had a disdain for that attitude, and that’s probably why I’m not working hard at pursuing a full time radio career. It’s rare to find good guys in charge.

Kipper McGee was great to work with at WLS. Again, he’s a human being first, and has feelings and a heart. That’s SO refreshing in any kind of entertainment, unfortunately also quite rare. Most people in charge are completely oblivious to the fact others beneath them can be affected adversely and permanently with just one thoughtless decision. It stinks.

That’s why Kipper is no longer at WLS, and Jim Stone is in Rockford. Both those guys have people skills, and in my opinion should be working for top pay in top markets. They also know the business, and anyone who would hire either of them would get a bargain.

I also like John Perry who is the operations manager in Kenosha where I do my Sunday night Mothership Connection paranormal show. I’ve known John since our 93QFM days in Milwaukee. He did overnights and I was on the morning show, and we became friends. Over the years he’s thrown many opportunities my way, and I’m grateful for all of them.

Other than those three, I’d have to look long and hard for anyone in upper management of the radio business I’d even think about crossing a one way street to piss on if they had a brush fire blazing in their underwear. I wish I didn’t have to feel that way, but I do. It’s not a complicated business, or at least it shouldn’t be. Hire the talent, and let them work.

Kipper McGee, John Perry and Jim Stone all do that, and I’d walk through a brick wall naked for all three of those guys. Not that walking through a brick wall or showing off my pasty white buns would do anything to further life as we know it, but I’d still be willing to do it to show my support of good quality people I respect. Whenever they call, I‘m there.