How long will it take you to reach your dreams? Sometimes, it can happen faster than you’d think. Take action to move toward satisfaction.
I’d always wanted to be a radio broadcaster. I had a journalism degree and no experience in the media unless you count the college newspaper for which I had written some award-winning stories.
I started trying to interview for jobs at the big local radio stations in L.A., where I lived. Here’s a quick picture of how the radio business works: all the “markets” or metropolitan areas in the country have a rank. One starts at a station in a smaller market and, if one is good, one moves to a job at a station in a larger market on that ranking list. And if one is good there, one moves to a job at a station in a still larger market. One does not START in the #2 market in the country, Los Angeles!
The result? I couldn’t get work!
So I took an unpaid internship: Up at 4 a.m. every day, at the station by 5:30, writing sports stories for the morning news broadcasts, for no money. My first day on the job, the boss said, “Don’t have any illusions. You won’t be on the air here. You’re not union, for one thing, and this is a union station. Just write the sports.”
I was on the air in seven weeks.
How? I just figured out what the station needed! Every day from 6 until 10 a.m., the morning show had news on the hour and on the half-hour. The station wanted listeners to keep us on all morning, so we would air segments of a feature story every half-hour, promoting them regularly: “At 8 o’clock, we’ll have more about the psychological impact of the colors you have around you in your living and working spaces!”
It was challenging for the reporter in charge to come up with subjects five days every week that were rich enough to justify ten, two-minute segments. So I thought up topics and, after work every day, working from my office at the radio station, I’d call people and conduct telephone interviews, which I would then edit down into ten two-minute segments that always ended with, “This is Lenann McGookey reporting for K-West News!”
Imagine the program director’s surprise when I walked into his office with stacks of 10 tape cartridges, day after day, containing perfectly good feature stories – an interview with the first woman astronaut, intense questioning of the designer of a solar powered aircraft, and that bit about the psychological impact of the colors surrounding us are just a few examples – all ready to air. He didn’t like it that my name and my voice were there on every recording, but he couldn’t easily delete them, either.
As soon as these features went on the air, I started getting calls from other stations. After seven weeks in the internship, I was hired by KMPC, a radio station owned by Gene Autry, to be the news producer for the “Robert W. Morgan Show” every morning, as well as a full hour of news and features every morning from 5 till 6 a.m. (Great progress; I was getting paid—$10,000 a year—but had to be at the station at 3 a.m.!)
KMPC was great, but I wanted to be on the air regularly, not just a producer, so I took a second job, as afternoon drive time anchor at a station called KFOX in Redondo Beach ($5,000 a year – a small non-union station).
Not long after I began that job, I finished a newscast one evening and immediately received a call in the newsroom. The caller said, “Would you like to be in big-time radio?” I replied, “Is this the movies?” And he said, “No, I’m with KHJ, and we’d like to talk with you about an on-air position here.”
Seven months from the start of my broadcasting odyssey, I was on the air five days a week, four hours a day, no nights, no weekends, no holidays, and making $45,000 to just talk. Taking action leads to satisfaction.