Consider this a "Thank You" note, 30 years in the making.
A week ago, I ran into an old friend that I hadn't seen in 20 years. He worked with me during my first few years at WHEB (back in 1984!), and seeing him absolutely made my day.
Don Fanning made a difference in my life. And when I saw him and his wife Dee, and we started chatting about the past, it became clear: He had no idea how much he had done for me.
Don worked for AM-75 WHEB doing afternoons. I was a kid just out of college- doing anything and everything I could just to work there. I got a lot of "don't get your hopes up, kid" type stuff from folks that worked there. But not Don. Don was the guy who listened to tapes of mine when no one else would. He most certainly would downplay that today if asked- but it's true. He was the first "older" person to encourage me- and I have never forgotten.
My nickname for Don was "Sticks". Long before his radio career, Don was a drummer who had worked in the NBC band for the likes of Dean Martin. He had hundreds of stories to tell. And nobody tells a story like Don. Ask him about watching Buddy Rich play, and he'll tell you he was so blown away he fell out of his chair. Literally and figuratively. He still has the spark in his eye when he tells that story today- and I loved it.
As I told him how much what he did meant to me - I started to think about other folks that played such a crucial role in that time of my life. Folks that were just doing their job at the time, yet somehow encouraged me to work harder, and keep pushing - even when the odds were stacked against me, or us.
Everyone has people like that in their life.
But as I write this - I think the important realization that I had that day- was that I need to tell them. Hell, everybody should do it! Is there a higher compliment to pay someone than "you had a profound effect on me?"
My 30th anniversary at WHEB - will be coming up in May. And through those years, there have been many people that I've worked with that had a profound effect on my life. But if I think back to the beginning, the years when I was a scared 22 year old kid who wanted to work in radio more than anything, there were a few whose roles stand out. And this is my "Thank You" Note, 30 years in the making.
Chris Garrett. The Doctor of Rock. There is simply no nicer guy on the planet. To this day he is one of my best friends. Nobody has encouraged me so much, for so long as him. It was Chris who talked me into doing mornings. It was Chris who pushed, encouraged, consoled, critiqued, and helped me in every way. Chris is the guy you go into battle with. He's got your back, and you have his. I could never thank him enough. He - and his family- are family to me.
Russ Dumont. Russ walked into WUNH (when I was a Senior) and told me - "There's going to be a job opening tomorrow. Be at the station and ask to speak to Scott Hooper". Then he left. That's how it started. The next day, I was there and got the job. Russ has been a great friend, and mentor ever since.
Rob Knight. Rob was the owners son, who was also our GM. More importantly- never acted like it. Rob was the first management guy, I think, who took me seriously. He was also the first management guy who could take it when I busted his balls. I respected the hell of out him, then and now, and he taught me a lot.
Jim Rising. Jim was the first real program director who took me seriously. Jim was one of those guys who didn't dole out compliments unless they were deserved. He would push you. But there was no better feeling than him looking over at you and saying "Nice Job". When he did that, your day was made.
Jeff Left. Jeff gave me the best radio advice anyone has ever given me. "Put the "you" thats in the hallway- on the air". It was the scariest challenge I'd ever been given. But he was right...
Ken Neenan. Ken started as an engineer about the same time I did. He's always been a great sounding board. You have to earn Ken's respect, but once you have it - you have it for life. There is nothing he wouldn't do for you. I place more value on that than I could ever express. We've grown together through these 30 years, and I consider him a great friend. He's the only one from that time, that is still there today. His office is next door to mine, and I like that.
I don't know why I felt the need to put all this down here - but if you've read this far - maybe it's because I think everybody should do this. Maybe not write it here, but maybe.....tell them. After all- when someone affects your life like these people have affected mine, shouldn't they know how you feel?
Had I not run into Don Fanning, I don't know if he would have ever known.....
So, Thank you, "Sticks". Thank you for what you did all those years ago. It may have been small to you, but you made a difference in my life. I will be forever in your debt.
And thank you for making me realize.......it's important to tell those who are a part of your (or my) story...how much they meant to you.