"It's the Seinfeld of the internet. A website about nothing."--Geoff Flynn
We have been taught since the very early grades that the calendar begins with January, but for some of us, today, March 1, could be considered as New Year's Day. People are starting to get their coronavirus vaccinations, schools and businesses are slowly opening their doors once again, and for others, including me personally, it's getting back into the workplace. Yes, after an eight-month forced retirement, I have a new job, and it started today.
While being told not to take it personally when I was let go from my last job due to the Covid-19 pandemic, jobs and workplaces are personal, especially at a small business. Not only did I lose a steady paycheck and health insurance, but I was essentially forced to leave town--away from many friends I had made, and acquaintances and colleagues I may never see again. It's been rough.
Today begins a new chapter. It's like a line from the theme to the old TV show WKRP in Cincinnati, “town to town, up and down the dial.” For me, the new town is Bakersfield where I am now the news director at KUZZ radio. If you remember that old TV show, Andy Travis was hired as the new Program Director, and moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to a place where he didn't know anyone. I feel like I know what that fictitious character was going through.
WKRP was often described as a loony bin. KUZZ is far from that, and much more straight laced. The station is a country music legend—once owned by the late Buck Owens, and still run by his family. Owens, who was best known as co-host of the television show Hee Haw with Roy Clark, also had a hit song with The Streets of Bakersfield in 1973, but sent it to greater fame when he recorded it as a duet with Dwight Yoakam in 1988. Owens lived in Bakersfield from 1951 until is death in 2006.
Owens' nephew, Mel Owens, is the General Manager and my new boss. He told me during my interviews that there has always been different ways to do things—the right way, the wrong way, and the Owens way. I'm not exactly sure what that means just yet, but it sounds like it is going to be fun to figure out. It will also be new territory for me, both literally and figuratively.
KUZZ may be a country music giant, but the Owenses say news is important. One news director was there for decades. My predecessor apparently retired, but he had been there for awhile. It's a small department, made smaller because of the pandemic. My job, other than delivering the news to the listeners in the morning, is to make sure that stories are covered, but also presented in a way that music listeners appreciate, not the news-talk junkies I'm accustomed to.
The new job provides some great amenities and interesting challenges. There is live programming almost all day and night (overnights feature a nationally syndicated show) and the equipment is much more state of the art than what I have been used to. However, I'll also be a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond, with a major newspapers and three television stations in the market. I learned today, though, that that can be a good thing. Law enforcement, public health, and other agencies are used to dealing with the media, and can sometimes make access a lot easier.
Change isn't easy for anyone, especially when it comes out of necessity. A new door has opened for me, and while I take my first step through it, I still can't help but turn around and look behind me. I have spent almost the last 20 years living in Marysville, and the last seven working in Grass Valley. Leaving is really tough. I'd like to thank my previous employers, radio listeners and Marysville baseball fans in particular for the many memories that have been made for me. I will miss you all so much.