This may be the most difficult article I have written. I wanted to make sure I am honest and authentic with all of you. At the time of penning this article, I am way past the deadline. I have written about 20 different versions in my head. I am currently experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions. It’s unusual for a guy who chats for a living to be at a loss for words. Here it goes.
On May 31st, I walked away from a 28-year career in radio.
For nearly three decades in Sioux City and Lincoln, I have opened the microphone and searched for something witty and insightful to share with listeners. Ok. The theme of my topics mostly centered around country music, embarrassing moments, and why the heck don’t we have a Runza restaurant somewhere in Siouxland? I mean, seriously, it’s amazing!
As you read this, I have already started my next full-time gig as a care provider for my oldest son, Trey. My thoughts on that life change could fill an entire magazine. My big takeaway and goal today is to be free to take risks and squeeze every ounce of joy out of our new paths into the unknown. For Trey. For me. For our family.
Many times, I feel like an outsider in this space. There are some superb contributors to Siouxland Magazine, and they all appear to have themselves figured out. I believe I am more of a work in progress. As I chart out a new chapter in my work life, I plan to lead with compassion and curiosity. During a break in the writing process, I took a trip to the grocery store, where three people referred to me in connection to the radio. I haven’t been anywhere in Siouxland for quite some time where my identity was NOT shared with the brand of a radio station. While I thought about that, a song came over the speakers while I was in the beer aisle. It was familiar to me, but not a tune I remember as a hit. The lyrics bolt out, “Got some new priorities in that schedule that you keep, and when you say time’s a-wastin’, now you know how right you are.” It was “Busy Man” by Billy Ray Cyrus. It came out early when I got my first radio promotion at work in 1998. It hit me that since then, I had put so much mental attention into building my name through spoken word for a station, it became my identity. Radio is easy and fun work which demands a lot of time investment: nights, weekends, on-call at 2 a.m. A popular station is an active one. That’s the recipe for success. You get out of it what you put into the process.
In the future, I hope to keep a creative spark alive in several passion projects I have thought about and not yet fully pursued. I will be busy, but in a different way. Along with my wing-man at the store, Trey.
I guess we are both searching for a new identity. One we will find together through love and hope.
We will be two busy men.
Tony “Michaels” Michalski is an author of “Tacos and Beer Atmosphere” and a former radio broadcaster. He is also the co-host of the podcast, Starting Conversations with Stacie and Tony, and is the new Account Executive for Siouxland Magazine.