by Todd Beezley
Does this sound familiar?
"This (job assignment/class/experience, etc.) is a total waste of my time. I'm never going to be able to use any of this (fill in the blank) in the real world anyway, so why bother?"
During my formative college radio days, back when Todd Beezley was merely an "apprentice whiner," I could divine that handful of interests destined to benefit my future life with the foresight of Nostradamus and the certitude of a Sunday School teacher. In short, like many of you at age twenty-two, I knew it all. (laugh fx)
Take, for example, my Spanish language studies at the University of Missouri. Logic eventually convinced me two billion Hispanics worldwide spoke the tongue better than I ever would. So, with some regret, I forfeited a teaching career and switched majors to Broadcast Journalism, certain my four years of high school and college language studies were a lost cause, until I had banked my first million bucks behind the mike and could afford annual siestas on the Acapulco beach (or until I banked $2.50 and could afford a trip to the local taco palace). I would never again hear tripping from my lips those magical words, "Hola, que tal?"
Here it is, 1997. And yes, friends, this gringo is writing commercials for our Tejano AM station, Viva 1580, in Spanish. Sure, I still keep a pocket "diccionario" inches away to bolster my time-withered vocabulary. But six months after surviving the AM format switch, I have now written two (count them, two) Spanish spots with zero grammatical errors. All previous efforts were met by our master translator/Program Director with good-natured patience and plenty of red pencil corrections. But the point becomes clear. There was a good reason for those four years of romance language. And to me, Spanish sounds sweeter every day.
Example number two?
Newspapers. In college I detested anything linked to print journalism. My broadcast instructors, many of whom served valiantly in the print-radio wars of prior decades, had indoctrinated me well! Radio and TV were essential for fast facts. Newspapers were essential for...fast food coupons.
However, that spoilsport Dean of ours required all broadcast students to serve a one-semester probation as inmate/reporters for the University's local daily paper. "Ugh! I'm never gonna use this stupid...."
Three months past graduation, after I had lost my first full-time radio job managing a new Tennessee daytimer, surprise...this radio refugee landed a six-month emergency stint as county bureau chief of the Jackson Sun. No, I had not undergone any major change of heart. Newspaper work was still not my first love. Eating was my first love. And this limited duration job, working behind enemy lines, kept me fed until another broadcast opportunity could signal itself.
Today, I make extra part-time dollars writing copy for print-oriented ad agencies. A recent effort for a suburban real estate developer took home honorable mention in a national competition. My ad copy frequently graces the pages of the Chicago Tribune. And every now and then, an article I submit gets printed in periodicals like Radio And Production.
The moral of our story? One's core beliefs might never be shaken by the years' twists and turns. But maturity has a way of rewriting life's trailing paragraphs and inverting our pet pyramids. Change is good. It means we're still alive. And life has a purpose. So let's don't gripe, moan, or complain when we can't understand why we're going through what we're going through. As one wiser than I once sang, "It's never for nothin...."