This afternoon my radio station – NewsRadio 630 WLAP in Lexington – announced its new afternoon show host. I auditioned for the job. When they announced the name, it wasn’t mine. And as not getting jobs goes, auditioning for a radios show in the city you live in on a radio station you work for (even part-time) is a pretty public way to do it.
Here’s the thing, when Josh (the station program director and a guy I consider a good friend) told me I wasn’t getting the job, my immediate response was, “Oh thank God.” OK, maybe those weren’t my exact words, but my exact words were in the “Oh thank God” family. I was, and am, completely good with not getting the job. Maybe any potential disappointment was dampened by the fact that I got the news from Josh while we were sitting at a bar (I knew last Wednesday). After all, all bad news is more palatable when you’re sitting there with a good beer and a different sport on each of the five high definition televisions in front of you. But the truth is, whatever I said in the “Oh thank God” family I meant it.
A little history. I have never auditioned for a radio job in my life. I have had two sort of radio jobs, and I fell ass backwards into both of them. I was asked by the NKU sports information staff to do their radio broadcasts my last year in college. They had heard me do games on student TV and liked it. I guess I sort Leland Conway did it. His co-host was going on vacation and he needed somebody to sit in, so he asked me. I said yes and we had a blast and things went well. A few weeks later I get a call from Aaron (who was the WLAP program director at the time) who said, “Leland wants to stop doing Sunday Morning Sports Talk. (Friend) says you can do a sports show. Can you?” I had no idea if I could do a sports show, but I’d always wanted to try so I said yes. The rest is non-Hall of Fame radio history.
So when Leland left WLAP for Richmond, Va., I asked if they would consider me for the show. The conversation was good. We set up my audition dates and off we went. About halfway through the first day of my audition though, I was faced with a troubling thought. I didn’t love it. Not that I didn’t like it. I did. It was fun and I thought it went well (and I thank everybody for their kind words and support. I meant a lot to me). I loved the interaction with the listeners. But I didn’t LOVE it. And trust me, if you are going to talk about something for three hours a day every day for the rest of your working life, you better LOVE it. Maybe 10 years ago, I’d have loved a show that had a major political focus, but now? Not so much. I honestly thought about withdrawing my name after the second audition day. I didn’t withdraw my name. I just didn’t get the job, but I did think about it (I have witnesses! I swear!).
The name the station did announce was Matt Walsh – and no, not the Matt Walsh who played basketball at Florida, which is a good thing. I hated that guy. Matt’s a radio veteran from Delaware. I listened to both of his audition days, and to be honest, listening to him made it easier to not withdraw my name and still not worry about accidentally getting the job. The guy was great. I loved the show, and I think you will too. I got beat for the job by a guy who was much better at it. He starts at NewsRadio 630 WLAP and wlap.com at 3 pm on June 11. Be near a radio – or at least iheartradio -- and give him a listen. I really think you won’t be disappointed.
And in the end, I get the best of both worlds. I have a “real” job that I do love. I get to work with some of the greatest athletes I have ever been around; athletes who inspire me every day, who play with tremendous joy and who appreciate the opportunity to compete and do their best. I work for Special Olympics. Plus I get to continue to spend Sunday Mornings talking sports with Larry Vaught, Stan Norfleet and the good people of Central Kentucky on First State Financial Sunday Morning Sports Talk (9 am-Noon on NewsRadio 630 WLAP and wlap.com), which I enjoy immensely. Plus, while I didn’t get the Afternoon Show gig, I do pick up one of Leland’s old jobs (he had like 47 or something). I get to go back to regular play-by-play duties for the first time since NKU, covering WLAP’s high school schedule, which I am tremendously excited about.
So help me welcome Matt Walsh to Lexington and to the WLAP family. Be listening from 3-6 start June 11. You will not regret it.