For those who don't know, I volunteer some time at a community station called Fresh 92.7 where I'm the producer of a drive-time show. The station's content manager - the guy who's in charge of everything that goes to air, a sort of 2IC to the general manager - is a young maverick genius named Tom. In about a year and a half at the station, he's taken it from a very respectable alternative option in radio to a serious market player threatening to take away the profits of the big commercial stations. As such he is very, very busy. Finding time to meet with him is like finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Except the pot of gold doesn't make you terrified of "fucking it up" as Tom would put it.
A few weeks ago, the three of us the were involved in our show approached him to try and book a weekly aircheck - a time to listen back to the last show we did and analyse what went well and not-so-well. He told us to make a list of possible times and send it to him via email. So we went off and did just that. And then I sent him an email with the list of possibilities.
Almost a week went by before I realised I hadn't heard anything back. I should have realised that would happen - he hadn't responded to any of the emails I'd sent in the last few months. I still haven't figured out if it's because he's so busy he forgets to reply or because I'm so low down the pecking order at the station that he always has better things to do. That's not as unreasonable as it sounds, we've both agreed that I'm not a very good fit for the station. The station plays modern EDM music and I talk about how I wish I could see Dire Straits in concert.
I digress. I sent him another email and again, he didn't reply. It was getting important, because we were planning some interesting things to go to air soon and we needed his input. So what to do? I'd heard stories of people who had just bugged someone over and over and over again until the person caved. It was most famously done by Andy Dufresne in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, where he sent a letter to the council every week for a year to get funding for a library. They eventually sent him some tattered books to shut him up so, sensing weakness, he upped it to two letters a week until they snapped paid for the best prison library in the country. Then of course, there's this famous moment...
In a more realistic sense, I recently watched a speech by David S. Goyer, writer of the Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. He talked about being new on the scene, right out of screenwriter's school, and needing to look for an agent. He found a guy who was the youngest person to every reach the position he was in, and figured that anyone who could achieve that must be a hustler and should be representing him. So he called up the agents office. Naturally he got hold of a secretary who said the agent was busy and would get back to him. The next day Goyer called back to see if the agent could talk. He still couldn't so Goyer called back again the next day. And the next day. He repeated this process for 45 business days until on the 46th day, he rang the agency and on the first ring, someone picked up the phone and yelled "Who the fuck are you and why do you keep bothering my secretary?!" Unfazed, Goyer politely said "Hello, my name is David S Goyer. I'm a new screenwriter and I'm going places. I'd love it if you could take a look at something I've been working on recently." "Whatever kid," the agent replied. "Send it through, I'll give you some feedback in three weeks.
One week later, Goyer called back again to check on the agent's progress. Naturally he hadn't read it. So he called back the next day, and the next day, and then finally after three weeks, the agent picked up the phone again and said "Yeah I read it... It's pretty good. Would you like some work?" Later down the track, the agent revealed that he would have picked Goyer up anyway, even if the script was awful. He just admired the way Goyer went about it.
So I decided to take the relentless barrage approach. Starting last week, I sent Tom the same email every day. It had the same subject line and the message was just copied and pasted from the previous message in my "sent" folder. When this week pulled around and I still hadn't heard anything, I upped it to two emails a day. Then on Wednesday, I saw an email which contained two glorious sentences:
Tuesday afternoon is best for me. I'll send you all a calendar invite.
It worked! I messaged the other two members of the team and they cheered as well. I felt like I'd achieved something small, but significant.
Back in week 4, I began the process of seeing if I could get some sort of announcing job for a sports team. It kind of fizzled out for a bit, so this week I tried to reignite it. I never heard back from Jarrod Walsh, even after I sent him a direct invite on LinkedIn. So I figured for now that pathway was dormant. You may also remember that I sent a message on Facebook to my friend Joel from the station, who does the MC work for the Sydney Swans. He asked me when I'm in the radio station next, and then I never heard back from him after that. That's where I set my next target.
I figured that just hounding him on Facebook wouldn't be that effective this time, so what I did was waited for a time when I knew he'd be at Fresh. Friday morning between 9 & 12. I caught the bus into town and came to see him personally. It was the first time I'd been to the station any day outside Monday for months and since I hadn't been in this particular Monday (public holiday) there were people there that I felt like I barely recognised - Joel being one of them. Nevertheless, when he saw me he greeted me with the grand, warm, sly greeting he always has.
'Michael! Thanks for the opportunity!' he said with a grin.
'That okay, you deserve it. You're going places around here,' I replied with an equivalent grin. I followed him into the studio where he was broadcasting his show.
'To what to we owe the pleasure?' He asked, taking a seat.
'Well, I came to surprise you. I wanted to ask you about applying for announcing, MCing jobs. Where I could apply, what the best way to apply is, all that... I mean, do you need to have some profile already?'
'Well of course, that helps,' he replied. Joel burst into the national spotlight in the mid-2000s after appearing in the Australian version of Big Brother. He's one of a long list of C & D-list celebrities that I occasionally try and namedrop to no avail. I'll never forget the time I bumped into a friend from stand-up that I don't see often and he asked me what I'd been up to.
"I've been producing a breakfast show at Fresh 92.7. I'm working with Jay Bangers."
"Oh, you don't know him... He's a personality in South Australia. He's on TV with Cosi."
"You know... Cosi. He's been on Triple M and SAFM and he's got that show now South Aussie with Cosi."
"Nup, don't know him." There was an awkward pause. "So you're in radio huh? How'd you get into that?"
"Oh I did a course at the Australian Radio School with Sean Craig Murphy."
'You just need a really good resume and a showreel,' he said. He turned to his laptop and opened up what had to be the most professional-looking resume I'd ever seen. It had his name plastered in red over a grey margin, with a handsome photo at the top of him in a suit holding a microphone. Then of course underneath was all his MCing experience, a couple of pages full.
'Wow, that looks really good! I exclaimed. Do you think you could email that to me so I can use it as a guide?'
'And you mentioned a showreel. You haven't done any acting have you?'
'Well yes a bit, but that's a different kind of showreel.' He went back to his computer and opened up another file. A video opened up which showed a montage of him hosting events. Then the scene changed to a shot of Joel sitting behind one of the microphones at Fresh doing a talk break.
"A very good morning to you, and what a morning it is. Our might Adelaide Crows got up against the Bulldogs last night and- oh, hold on..." He stopped and turned to the camera. "Hi, I'm Joel Scalzi. You might remember me from something I did a while back let's revisit that for a moment." Cut to a shot of a much younger Joel:
"Big Brother, sometimes I've been going out to the kitchen late at night and... stealing Salada biscuits. It's less about the taste... and more about the thrill of getting caught. Tell me Big Brother, does this make me a bad housemate? Or just an adrenaline junkie? I did plan to shake things up while I was here," and his face cracked into a big cheeky grin. Modern-day Joel reappeared.
"But that was then. This is now." And the video went back to a montage of photos and videos from all his MCing jobs. He was wearing all sorts of outfits from team colours to suits to just wearing underwear and a scarfe. In most of the shots there was all sorts of branding visible behind him. Over the top was a soundtrack that I recognised as something in the charts at the moment. It was really engaging to watch and I had nothing like that to give. So that's what I have to do now. I'll film myself hosting my quiz nights to get the ball rolling, then I could add photos of performances I've done, stand-up and otherwise. Work on getting a few more little hosting jobs to get my experience up and I might have something worth showing.
'Thanks so much man, that really helps,' I said.
'No worries mate. I'll email that resume to you.'
'Thanks! I'll let you get back to doing your show.'
'Yeah, I'd probably better do that.'
I left feeling strangely buoyed, despite the fact that the goal posts had just been shifted almost out of view. It was probably to do with how willing Joel was to help. It was a bit of a risk to catch the bus into town and drop in on him while he was working. He could have just said "Look mate, I'm a bit busy now. Can you come back another time?" But he actually put his show on hold for a few minutes to help me out. I was thinking about it as I was walking out. I also thought about the email from Tom. They'd been a couple of really good wins. I decided on the spot to go for one more. I changed direction and headed upstairs to the office of Tarlia our events co-ordinator.
'Hey Tarlia, how are you?'
"I'm great! Busy as always, but I feel like I'm getting on top of it now.'
'That's such a good feeling isn't it?'
'Yes, you have no idea.'
'Well, I'm glad I came now then... Do you have room for an extra person on the Street Team?'
'Yeah actually I do.'
'Oh... That was easy.'
'Two people have just told me they're leaving. I'll be able to put you in at the end of April. I'll send you an email with all the T&Cs.'
'Alright, well... Thanks!'
Three for three ;)