Every Friday night at the end of the show, I make sure to say it’s been an honor and a pleasure to be in this city, and a part of your day for one more week, and to thank you for being a part of my childhood dream.
It’s said every Friday night I’m on, but it’s meant everyday, and for the past year it’s been much more than that. It’s been a learning experience that no school could teach me. It’s a lesson in people.
I was born in Canton. I’ve lived in Northeast Ohio my entire life. Yet every single night I learn something new about Cleveland.
What is learned every night is about a city, it’s people, and the pride those people have for their city. It’s multiple generations of Clevelanders and people who have lived here their entire lives. And who often told negative things about their city by people who’ve never set foot here.
Yep, Cleveland has a reputation. We’re reminded of it every time one of our teams does well. Anytime something remotely positive in Cleveland sports happens, we’re constantly reminded of how it went wrong before, and how it will go wrong again.
Those stories are usually ran by people who want to latch on an emotional story. Something that is good for ratings. Maybe it’s a national pundit “Johnny Carson Theory”: anything that is embarrassing or painful to us in Cleveland is good for them. Never mind there are thousands of positives about Cleveland and Northeast Ohio both in basic history and even in sports. It just doesn’t seem to fit their agenda.
Cleveland of course is more than sports. It’s people. It’s a pride that people from here have to stick it out and see it through. It’s the ultimate hope story. Economic downturn, manufacturing job loss, rust-belt, jokes by tv and radio hosts, etc., you’ve been through all of that with a hope and a belief that someday it will be our turn for a break. Our turn for something special.
Which is why sports is so important to us here. Our teams are an extension of life. They are something that represents us. It’s a chance every season to show the world that we’re still here. That this is still a place we love, and it’s a place we’re proud of.
That passion is why this station exists. Politicians spin wheels and talk tough for our affection, but it’s our teams that have always given us a better shot at happiness than some guy in an expensive suit looking for a handout. Even when the chips are down in life, we still have our teams to look to. I may be from here, but it’s something I never realized until this year.
It’s why I hear so much happiness from callers after one of our teams win. While there hasn’t been a ton of hope lately, even the smallest step to something better is a leap forward to something better.
It’s why I hear so much anger and frustration from callers after one of our teams lose. Through it all, we haven’t given up on this city, and we’ll be damned if we sit back and let one of those who represent us try to do it.
Sports in Cleveland is a lesson in life. Players, coaches, owners will come and go, but we’ll always be here. I never can forget that lesson, it’s reaffirmed and re-taught to us every night.
13-months ago I was in a hotel room in Portland, Maine trembling and staring at the phone waiting for our boss to call. I remember where I was when the station’s number rang. I remember the snag in my father’s voice on the phone when I called him to tell him I got the job. I remember my grandfather telling me “you do good up in the big city” shortly before he passed away, and my uncle walking up to my boss and slapping him on the back like they were old friends while I signed my agreement on the church steps 15 minutes before my own wedding. I remember all of that every day I drive into downtown.
Every Friday, I say it: Love me or hate me, it’s and honor and a pleasure to be a part of your day and to have Northeast Ohio as my neighbors, friends, and family.
When I was 11-years old I listened to Cleveland sports radio while on my paper route and dreamed of getting to do what I do right now in this city.
Cleveland is a special place. It’s a city where dreams still come true. I’m proof.
Thank you for an incredible year.