The Awkward, Non-Professional Life Of A Radio Host

Downtown, Calgary/AB, Canada

[twitter]I have worked in radio for nearly 25 years. Radio life is a little different than the usual office experience. I often describe it as being like a pre-teen girl for eternity. I listen to music, and talk on the phone. The majority of my career has been working a solo show. I’ve had co-hosts for a few years and worked on a morning show team for a bit, but most of my time has been in that little room talking into the microphone and goofing off – by myself.

I had a boss say to me once that radio jocks are “one step away from living in our mother’s basement.” Because I’ve always been in that little room by myself, I’d be the first to admit my social skills aren’t the best.

Today I am doing my radio show from a busy office tower in downtown Calgary. Banker’s Hall is the hub of the city with dozens of floors of worker bees buzzing in and out of the hive. The lines at Starbucks stretches for days. There are fancy cafeterias where you can buy pre-made salads, and everyone looks very proper in their suits, and fancy jewelry.

I was impressed, and felt highly underdressed. That’s the other thing about a career in radio – showers are optional. Jeans and a baseball hat are totally acceptable. Show up in a pair of pants and shirt with a collar and the questioning stares immediately pop up “Where’s the job interview?”

It’s a very lax environment, this radio career. I’m on the air for 4-5 hours and usually in the building for little more than an hour more than that. I do my show prep and research early in the morning before the kids wake up, or at night after everyone’s in bed. My ‘shift’ may appear short, but my workday is just as long as anyone else.

Still, with the short office time, I have a more freestyle approach to how I get the work done. I can drop my son off at 830 for school, and be there again at 330 to pick him up. That’s not what life is like for the downtown crowd. On my way into the city, I watched people drop their kids off at daycare at 7am and the roads were busier early in the morning that they are when I drive in 90 minutes later.

It’s an entirely different world these downtown career folk lead, and while it looks much more sociable, friendly, lively, and exciting, I’m guessing it’s also a little expensive. The parking. The transit. The lunches. The malls. The lunches.

I sat there and stared and wondered what life in these tower must be like. It’s the equivalent of living in quiet suburbia versus living in a bustling apartment block. While I think the busy, hectic downtown life would be fun, I’m fine with my laid back lifestyle. There’s a pang of envy, sure, and then I remember I’m wearing jeans on a Thursday and my boss is fine with it.

Image via Longo Miquelito

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  1. Chantal December 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Buzz,
    Thanks for doing great work today fundraising. Just wanted to add a comment. I work for a company in Bankers Hall. I am writing this from the comfort of my home office, where I am encouraged to work 3 days a week. My employer recognizes the environmental benefits of reduced cars on the roads, as well as my increased productivity as a happier worker. My children have at least 1 parent home every day when they leave for the bus, and when they get home. Often both of us are home. I buy nice “fancy” clothes for the days I do head into the office. I enjoy wearing them. Lunches are business meetings 80% of the time and therefore are expensed. My parking (horrendous rates!) is also expensed.

    The tower is not nearly as scary as it sounds!


  2. Buzz December 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Hey Chantal .. well the $45 I paid to park there today was scary! But you’re right, it does seem like a very great place to work, and I admit I’m a little jealous of everything but the $$. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Michael Kwan December 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Don’t get me started on freelance writing and the dot com lifestyle. What boss? What dress code? What commute? What expensed business lunch? 😉

  4. Chantal December 6, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    What’s that saying…either do what you love, or love what you do? I’m still not sure which one I am but….here’s to radio and freelancers and oil&gas and everyone making #yyc a lovely place to be.

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