When I was accepted in the Radio & Television program at NAIT, there were only about 20 of us in the program. It was hard to get in; most of us had applied multiple times and had to upgrade or increase their volunteer hours in media to finally be accepted. I was one of the lucky ones. I made it in on my first application, got a summer job after my first semester and was hired full time before I graduated.
I’m also one of the few people that is, 10 years later, still working in radio or television. At least, I was still working up until a couple months ago when I was laid off. And I’d love to say it was my first time being laid off, but this is actually round number two.
Radio is a really crappy business. The hours are weird, the pay is bad, there’s no such thing as job security and the idea of a retirement plan is plain ridiculous. We were warned, back on our very first day of classes – if you can do anything else with your life, do it – and, after a decade in the business I know every warning was true.
So, why would I, twice burned, still want to be in radio? It’s simple. I love it.
The first thing people say to you after you’ve been laid off is, use this as an opportunity to follow your passion. I completely agree. But, I have a career that I love and I really can’t imagine doing anything else.
I love music. I love talking with people. I love learning new things. I love that my job continues to evolve with new technology. I love reading every newspaper to stay up to date on what’s happening in the world. I love researching, digging deeper in a story to learn more. I love that, in times of emergency, I can actually tell people things that help them or, at least, help their peace of mind. I love that what I do requires me to give back to my community.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think loving your job means that your job gets to treat you poorly. I’ve heard too many people in radio defend their awful pay checks by using the justification that they love their job. Well, I know a lot of lawyers, accountants or even welders that love their job and they own homes and support a family.
But the fact is, while I’m sure I could do another line of work and be really good at it, it’s just not radio. It’s like a bad relationship I just can’t get out of. Maybe one day I’ll kick the habit. But for now, I’m just going to keep working hard, trying to improve and doing what I love.