By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

When I’m not writing about news on the Gazette, I’m talking about news on the local radio station.

As you probably heard last Friday, my radio partner, co-host, and friend Keith James has left The Ranch to move on to new career pastures. As you also probably heard last Friday was the small lump in my throat that formed during my last news break.

I’ve only been doing live radio for four months now. Like most of my work, I’ve sort of stumbled into this profession, a “right place at the right time” sort of thing that, over the last few decades, I’ve amassed enough “places” and “times” to build a rather eccentric career. I went to school for “Radio/Television/Film,” and after doing the “Television” and “Film” parts, it was time to check off the “Radio” box on my “Job Bingo” card.

In retrospect, ending up on a country radio music station has been a very quiet “in the making” for twelve years now. Since 2010, I’ve regularly worked two country award shows from my time living in Vegas. I’ve met and worked with just about everyone, and have made a number of colleagues and friends. I was invited back to the ACMs this year, just as I was settling into the early days of working the other side of the radio.

I could speak and press “Record” for brief segments, but I’ve never had to constantly be “On” before, being myself over the airways for who even knows how many people. Live. Uncensored. No rewind button.

I don’t think about it, honestly (though I suppose I am right now).

My experiences so far could have gone a variety of ways. I could have frozen up, or fallen all over my words, or been “crickets” level unfunny. I’m the news guy. News people aren’t supposed to crack wise in the meantime or be a regular voice on the show.

And yet, I ended up as the Robin Quivers role to Keith’s Howard Stern (though far more mindful of the FCC).

Keith took my role from what’s happening around town and quoting gas prices to the full co-host of the show. It was, admittedly, a gamble. I had no radio experience, but if Dick Clark Productions brought me back year after year, maybe I could apply that energy here on a regular basis.

Keith took the chance on me, giving me feedback, guiding me in my weak and rough spots. “That’s too newsy,” he’d say. “That’s probably why they hired me as the news guy,” was my common response, but he kept me from being too wordy on-air, and ensured I kept my tone light and upbeat even in reporting straight facts.

A lot of my early nerves went away. Sarcasm and jokes became usual lead ins for news. Walter Cronkite I definitely am not, but I don’t think that was ever intended to be my style. I’m an entertainer that ended up in news. And now I can do both.

These have been a remarkable few months. The non-morning person doing a morning show. And usually laughing like idiots over a lot of stuff that never made it to air. Keith is getting a new opportunity, and of course, there’s the natural want to wish well. It was a very short ride, and I will miss what took place every morning in that studio. And yes, I’ll miss Keith as well.

Jeremy will be joining me tomorrow. It’s going to be new and different for listeners as well as me, but he’s a nice guy, so it’s going to be okay. There’s still a lot to learn, but I had a solid mentor to help me steady myself for the initial ride. And now, I’ll just keep riding.

I had a good teacher.

Thanks, Keith.

As an aside, this opinion column reflects my personal thoughts, and not those of my employer.

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