Getting better at goodbyes
The happiest accident of my professional career ended last week, and I've got a few things I'd like to say about all that.
In 1999, after I left a full-time job at ESPN.com to cover high-school sports for The Seattle Times, I was quoted in no less a publication than the New York Times, observing that “people in the Internet are looking for scores. They don't digest long articles.”
Yeah, that quote didn’t age well. Then again, neither have I.
When I left The Seattle Times in 2002 to take a job covering the SuperSonics for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the sports editor at my former employer had the contents of my desk emptied into a cardboard box that she dropped off at my apartment in West Seattle. A couple coins fell out of the bottom of that box when I picked it up.
In the nearly 20 years since then, I like to think I’ve gotten better about leaving jobs. That’s probably bound to happen, though, when you switch employers as often as I have. In the 24 years since I graduated college, I have worked for The Seattle Times, ESPN.com, The Seattle Times (again), the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Times (for a third time) and since April 2013 I have been a full-time employee at Bonneville Seattle, hosting a daily sports-talk show on 710 ESPN Seattle. That gig ended last week. Given that you’re here now, you may have heard something about it.
In the first edition of this newsletter, I talked in general terms about what I’m hoping to do in this space. I didn’t address my departure from the radio station, though. There were still a couple of things being finalized in my departure. That is settled now, and I do have a couple of things I’d like to say. But first, two disclaimers.
If you subscribed to this newsletter because you’re interested in my perspective on sports, please stop reading. You’ll have a new edition waiting in your in-box on Monday where I will be sticking to sports. Probably.
Don’t expect much in the way of hard feelings from me. I just don’t have any.
I have never stayed at a single job longer than the 8 and a half years I have been a full-time employee at Bonneville Seattle. No one is more surprised by this fact than me. I began working in radio because I wanted to see if I could develop a new skill and (best-case scenario) a side gig to augment my main job as a newspaper reporter. In 2012, I began working two days a week at 710 ESPN Seattle, largely because Mike Salk lobbied his boss to give me a shot. I’m still not sure what was more surprising: how much I enjoyed it or the fact that the managers and my co-workers liked the work I was doing. It has been the single happiest accident in my professional career. I have never laughed harder nor more consistently than I did working alongside Jim Moore, Dave Wyman and Jessamyn McIntyre in the afternoons.
A lot has happened to me over the past 8 years. I quit drinking. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. She went into remission. The cancer recurred, ultimately resulting in her death. They were there for all of it. So were you. I talked about all of these things on the air and found that sharing those life-changing events and the emotions that came with them made me feel better. It lightened a load that I was carrying, spreading the burden as others reached out and in many cases leaned in. I gained more than I gave in this transaction, of that I have no doubt.
This has been a really difficult year for everyone at our station. I don’t think anyone feels totally great about how things played out, and it’s no secret that there are some really hard feelings. While I’m not judging anyone who feels that way, I think it’s important to state plainly that I am not upset about the resolution. My contract was expiring at the end of September, and I indicated I was uncertain about what I would do next. While I was not part of the new lineup announced last week, it should be noted that a different role was offered to me. I declined. I don’t say that to try and save face or preserve my ego. I don’t want anyone to think the rug was yanked out from beneath me because it was not.
My job hosting a radio show in Seattle has been life-changing for me. I am a more confident person, a more transparent one and I believe I am a more authentic person. I’m incredibly grateful not just to Bonneville for the opportunity but to everyone who listened for the gift of their attention and often their support. Radio is often described as a one-way medium because the host can’t hear the listeners. The past 8 years have taught me that’s not entirely accurate, though. You may not hear the audience’s reaction, but you can feel it, you can see it in Tweets and texts and as a host you actually experience it. At least I did, and what I found was that the more honest and open I was – about anything – the stronger the connection became with the audience even when I was talking about heavy, difficult subjects like death and drinking. No. I felt better especially when talking about heavy, difficult subjects like death and drinking.
So thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for signing up to this newsletter, and while I’m not sure exactly where I’m headed, I am excited for the journey and utterly thrilled that so many of you have come along.
“See” you in your inbox on Monday morning!