Those were the famous lines uttered by Vice Admiral James Stockdale, H. Ross Perot’s Presidential running mate, during a Vice Presidential debate in 1992.
Let me see if I can answer those questions almost 30 years later.
I’m Ted Baker. Until a few days ago, I was Program Director at Finger Lakes News Radio and host of the Finger Lakes Morning News, weekdays from 5:30-9. I had been a radio broadcaster for over 43 years. I was born to be on the radio. As a child, instead of asking “are we there yet?” I read road signs and probably drove other occupants of our car crazy.
I grew up following New England sports and listening to some of the greatest sports announcers ever to put on headsets in the days when radio was still the primary means of following your favorite team. I decided I would be a radio sportscaster myself. I graduated high school in 1977 and left for Northeast Broadcasting School in Boston, where I would learn the basics of radio and television in one academic year.
Upon graduating NBS in May, 1978, the logical move was to return home to northern New Hampshire and hope to hook on with one of the two local radio stations. In August, 1978, there was an opening at WBRL for a disc jockey. The disc jockey who left just happened to be the person who did the station’s sports play-by-play. Fortune smiled on me for the first of many times in my career.
WBRL was an AM station. 1978 was the first year that more people listened to FM radio than to AM. I swear, it wasn’t my fault.
My career in radio took me to stations in New Hampshire, Texas, Massachusetts and Iowa. I was working at WHMP in Northampton, Mass. in 2001 when our station was acquired by one of the big corporate owners that were becoming all the rage in broadcasting. They had big plans for the station, but those plans did not include me. I was unemployed.
In late 2002, I saw an ad in a radio trade publication for an opening in Geneva, New York. Finger Lakes Radio Group President Alan Bishop called me and asked a strange question. “You’re from Berlin, New Hampshire?” What kind of test was this? “Um, yes.” “So am I,” he said. Alan was born in the same hospital I was, four months before me. We would have been high school classmates, had his family not moved to southern Maine when he was young. I knew the secret handshake. I was in!
I began as Program and News Director for what was then the Finger Lakes News Network in January, 2003. I thought a group of radio stations should have “radio” in their name, so I changed the name to Finger Lakes News Radio.
In 2006, Mike Rusinko departed as host of our morning show and I took over. For the next 15 years, I would wake up before 4AM and many nights, get to bed after 10, having done a sports broadcast. I picked up my free lance job doing Hobart and William Smith sports in 2005. I would never work anywhere else.
Then, I turned 60, then 61. It was getting a little harder to bounce back after a late night out covering a high school basketball game, then driving home on an eight degree night. Still, I was doing what I was meant do and where else would I go in an era when radio and TV stations are cutting staff?
Then, I got a message from Josh Durso. I had been doing the Debrief podcast with Josh for a couple of years. I did his podcast, he did my radio show and we showed ourselves to each other’s audiences. A little cross promotion. I had known Jim Sinicropi for years and admired what fingerlakes1.com was doing. At one time, Finger Lakes News Radio provided the news content for FingerLakes1.com. The message said, essentially, “we have plans to grow our operation and we think you’re a guy who can help make it happen.”
We had lunch. We discussed what I could bring to FingerLakes1.com, I talked to my wife and here I am.
My title is Content Creator. What does that mean? We’re not 100% sure yet, but it means I can do most of what I did on the radio and whatever else we can think of in the realms of writing, audio and video in the months to come. I love doing interviews, so if you were on my radio show, I’ll be reaching out to you.
The local media landscape is changing and fingerlakes1.com is poised to ride the next wave to success. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Thank you to everyone for your kind words these last few days about what we were able to do on the radio.
You ain’t seen nothing yet.