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Michael Gruber was an early adopter of My Ticket Confession. He was the first ever commentor on this site, and from time to time he would drop us a line with information or answers to questions. Nothing too inside or proprietary, just stuff that listeners might want to know.
Turns out, he had a few other things on his mind.
If you follow this site closely, you may already have seen what follows. Michael penned some comments to the last post expanding on his decision to move on -- but he also took the opportunity to unburden himself of some observations on station operation and treatment of the JV.
Every once in awhile someone will say something on the air that will give us a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. We make educated guesses based on the very rare drawing back of the curtain. Speaking only for myself, I delight in overinterpreting and jumping to conclusions based on the occasional odd inflection and unexpected pause. Keeps the site interesting, even when I'm wrong.
I daresay we have never heard anything like some of Michael's observations from anyone who worked there, although hints of some of what follows will sometimes leak onto the airwaves.
They don't require any further comment from me. They speak eloquently for themselves.
I should add that I sought and received Michael's permission to rerun his thoughts as a featured post. I have edited them very slightly for length. His comments (and the comments to which they respond) appear in full in the previous post, if you want to check them out in context.
Michael first expands on his decision to leave The Ticket:
"In an ideal world, of course I'd rather stay at the Ticket and play drops until my hands fell off. But despite the awesomeness of the job, it's not a career no matter how hard I tried to make it one. And being a career board-op without a degree just doesn't lead to many opportunities to move up, or even expand current responsibilities. I was stuck, basically.
. . . .
"June 3 would have been my tenth anniversary with the station. In that time I have gotten to do so many fun things and meet so many awesome people, I could probably write a book. I'm fully aware that the majority of that goes away in a few months once the aftershocks of my departure totally end. If no one knows who the hell the I am after that, I'll manage to survive. I've gotten more than I could ever dream out of the "local celebrity" lifestyle.
". . . . I plan on going for a business degree, but that may change. Regardless, I know that I want to LEARN and try to better myself. Especially the last few years, my focus on life has become way too narrow. All I worried about was the Ticket, baseball, Pepper Theft, and hanging out (drinking) with friends. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I can be more than that. Seeing all the things my parents have done is intimidating at times, but it's a great blueprint for how I want to live the rest of my life. If I can achieve even a small percentage of what they've accomplished, I'd be damn proud. There's more to life than the Ticket, and I want to experience as much of that part as possible now that I'm moving on. I'm 26, so I hopefully have another 75ish years to live. The Ticket will have taken up a tenth of that time, but what a wonderful time it was.
"And I'll say it again...the decision to leave the Ticket and go back to college was mine, and mine alone. Maybe I'll regret it, but I doubt it. I'd hit the glass ceiling at the Ticket, and I have just enough inner drive to not be happy with the status quo.
"Hopefully that explains my decision a little better. I'm not bitter in any way, though I am disappointed with the way some things were, especially the disaster that was/is the move to Victory. But in the grand scheme of things, it's just a blip on the radar. My experience at the Ticket was the best time of my life, and hopefully I made some small dent in the history of it."
In response to a commenter making the intriguing suggestion that Michael purchase The Ticket, Grubes starts to warm up, echoing some thoughts expressed frequently on this site:
"I would love so much to buy the station and let everybody earn the money they deserve while working with the best equipment available. It's a shame such an amazing and unique station is run with a cookie cutter, anti-spending, "make the quarter/month's budget" mentality by those geniuses in Atlanta. I'm convinced the station could be even more successful if treated properly. But, alas..."
In response to the suggestion that perhaps the clumsy move to Victory played a role in his decision to leave, he writes:
"I will allow that the move probably helped "push" me a little bit...But only in terms of leaving in time for the summer semester rather than the fall semester. Like I said, my leaving was inevitable. The timetable just got pushed up by a few months. :)"
As far as his own potential at The Little One was concerned, he mused:
"I think a yuk monkey role would have been absolutely awesome if that opportunity arose, but realistically I don't feel I speak well enough to do that or am clever enough to do the kind of bits yuk moneys do. I feel like I become decent at throwing in a one liner from time to time, but I tended to stammer and stumble over words beyond that.
"I considered seeking producer roles when they came up, but I just couldn't reconcile leaving the board for a minimal pay raise and a supposedly better role. If I was going to be part of a show, the best role for me by far was board-op. Playing drops for BaD Radio and the Hardline was perfect for my skill set, mentality, sense of humor, etc.
"That's why the idea of management tended to float around in my head. As a P1, I know how I'd like things to be, and I feel like I got along with everybody in all departments well enough that I could be pretty good at that.
"But in the end, I'd pretty much maxed out what I could really do at the station without a degree. Hurts to leave, and I shed many a tear in the weeks leading up to my departure, but I'm excited to see what the future holds...Even if I'm not famous anymore! Haha."
Did you catch that "the idea of management tended to float around in my head"?
Well, look out, management. A floating thing sunk the Titanic:
"Really, if I had my way, I would just let the shows police themselves. I know that's an awful way to go about being program director of a station, but seriously...The "newest" show on the station is Norm and he's been doing it since 2000. Every show has been #1 basically for as long as I can remember.
"It's silly to micromanage how many freaking times Norm does a Twitter segment in a week, or when a certain bit like porn birthdays is "played out". There's enough internet savvy P1's to let us...er, them, know when a bit is played out.
"The other way to know something is played out? When the guys on the show stop laughing at it. Working at the Ticket really sharpens your view on how funny things are because there's such an insane number of funny and creative people working during the week and on weekends. Most guys have a pretty good barometer on when to cut bait on a bit. No need to intervene.
"So while there technically wouldn't be a whole lot I'd do on the programming side other than leave the shows alone, I would spend more of my time on trying to make the work environment as positive as possible. Everyone should be treated like they matter...just because you're a board-op or intern doesn't mean you're less of a human or matter less to the station. Unfortunately, there tends to be such a classification of people by their jobs that it can wear on the self esteem for those that aren't in a more prominent position. It's tough as hell to move up at the station because jobs hardly ever come open. People do what they can to stick around as long as possible, so why treat them poorly in addition to that?
"The Ticket is a fast-paced station. Everything is live, and no matter how well something is (or isn't) planned, nothing is guaranteed to go perfectly. Whoever makes a mistake is going to feel bad already. What's wrong with just pulling someone aside and discussing what happened in an even tone? Knowing that a rip session is on the way makes you even more likely to make a mistake and that much slower on the trigger. Just human nature. I'd rather someone make a mistake in the name of entertainment than hold back and create "bleh" radio. That can be found elsewhere.
"I know that's a very Utopian way of viewing things, but as someone who was lucky enough to go from outsider to insider and now back to outsider, I think my ideas would essentially maximize productivity and by extension, ratings."
And, he adds modestly:
I think so, too. My thanks to Michael for writing and for allowing me to re-post his thoughts.
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