Thursday, April 26, 2007

New paths?

It has always been my opinion that it's never too late to start down a new path. The ability to reinvent ourselves and our lives is one of the wonderful traits that make us human. We are not ants born into a caste and doomed to a life of the same monotony until we are used up and discarded. With the ability to examine our own experiences, we have the ability to re-evaluate our position, goals, dreams, and paths to better enrich our own lives.

I may be at one of those points.

Since my junior year of high school, I have had the goal of becoming a music teacher. That's half of my life now. I took a year off between high school and college, and then enrolled at Wayne State University in the music department. Since then, I have been met with every road block, paperwork snafu, and egomaniacal faculty member intent on slowing or stopping my progress (see my blog of 9/15/06, "My Fight With Beaurocracy and The Man"). It has made the attainment of my degree and teaching certification daunting and frustrating, yet I persevere, know that it is what I want to do.

Lately, however, I have begun to wonder if I want all the bullshit involved in such a career anymore. Between the horror stories I hear from my friends on the field, the mounting restrictions placed on curriculum so that "no child is left behind", the overly-litigious atmosphere pervading society, over-sensitive parents who will demand a teacher's resignation based solely on 3rd hand accounts, administrations petrified of said parents and unwilling to ever stand in their teachers' corner, I'm wondering if I would ever even get to TEACH in today's school environment.

All of that, combined with the fact that with Michigan's educational system perpetually drowning in red ink, FURTHER budget cuts looming eminent, and the arts ALWAYS being the first thing to be cut, will there even be a job out there? The job market sucks in this state already and it's about to get a LOT worse in the educational field.

This has given me pause as of late, and the opportunity to examine other, possibly more practical options. At Blockbuster Video as 'Entertainment Specialist', the district manager, seeing how well I relate with customers and outgoing I am, made me a guinea pig a few months back. He gave me a clip-on microphone and told me to make announcements over the PA throughout the night, pushing the latest and greatest promotions, asking trivia, and the like. I took to it like a duck to water.

I'd go through the night, wandering the floor, making the occasional self-defaming joke about my geektitude, asking clever trivia, and such. Since I have started, I have had several customer come up to me suggesting that with my voice and wit, I would do well in radio. Now, I have often been told I have a face for radio, but a voice as well?

At first I dismissed the notion with a polite 'thank you', but the more comments I received and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense.

My dad has always been in broadcasting. He has always been a ham radio operator and got a bunch of technical training in the air force. He even ran a station with my mom in the early 70's in Clair, MI just before I was born. We had an enormous record collection, filled with everything from barbershop, jazz and classical, to old comedy records, pop, and yes, even some early disco. Most were promotional copies. While the radio days happened mostly before was born, my dad remained in broadcasting in one form or another until he retired this past January from a New Jersey PBS station.

A memory that had escaped me until just a few minutes ago involved a brief passion for it myself. When I was about 10, I got a tape recorder. I actually made a tape of myself, about 20 minutes long, of me as a radio host, doing the weather, news bites, and even including a few songs. Wish I knew what happened to that thing. This was mostly inspired by my radio hero at the time on WOBM, Captain Jack, who did a wonderful show during the graveyard shift, replete with comedy records, mock interviews, and fake commercials. George Carlin's bit on WINO (Wonderful Wino) had a lot to do with it as well.

So this curiosity isn't COMLETELY out of left field, it seems. The timing must be somewhat Karmic, as yesterday, a friend of mine posted a blog about her experiences at Specs Howard School of Broadcasting. After reading it I immediately e-mailed her to pick her brain about the subject. She gave me the contact info for one of her former professors, who is now a VP at Specs Howard, Dick Kernen. The guy is apparently a broadcast legend, but not knowing the biz myself, I hadn't heard of him. I dropped him an e-mail and am currently waiting to hear what his advice is as to my next step.

I'm not sure where this will go yet, if anywhere. I'm a bit nervous about getting excited about a new career path, especially after spending 14 fucking years in the pursuit of my current one. However, with a minimum of 2 years left thanks to my private lessons situation (again, see my blog of 9/15/06), I've had about all I can take. I can still teach marching bands in the fall and write drill, but it may be time for me to blaze a new career path.

I'm not ready to completely give up on the music ed. degree, but I need to start looking at something I can make progress at.

At this point, I'm curious. Optimistic, but just curious…

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