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Chuck Brinkman and My First Break

Little is accomplished in this life without the help of others. My career really began at 19 years old when I walked into the halls of 98.7 KLUV in Dallas.

In the spring of 1989 I had visited just about every radio station in the Dallas Fort Worth area looking for an internship. None of the offerings were paid and if you wanted to be considered for an internship you had to get school credit. The University of Texas at Arlington would not permit me with a 2.9 GPA to get credit. This is why I will never send them a dime as an alumni.

My girlfriend, now wife, Danae found a flyer posted that said KLUV was looking for an intern. I hated the idea and had not gone to KLUV because the format was "Oldies Music". She said I should go wherever I could get the gig. And so at her prodding I set up an interview with Program Director, Chuck Brinkman.

I arrived wearing a suit and tie and was ushered back for the interview. When I walked in the office there was a tall man with his tie loose and no jacket. He looked a bit disheveled. The office was a mess of tapes, cds, and papers with no sense of order. He said sit down and never asked me a question. He listed what would be expected and when I was needed. "Be here every afternoon and copy the traffic down from Young Country and bring it to me, and also watch the news wire for anything interesting and bring that to me. And you can start by going downstairs and seeing Ali - get me a Snapple and a Snickers." This was when I met Chuck.

I proceeded to advise him I was not getting school credit. He said, "Not a problem." I asked if the internship paid and he said, "No." To which I replied, "Not a problem." I was in the door and that's all I cared about.

This internship would be the stepping stone to everything else.

What I would learn from Chuck Brinkman, Mike Wade, and Debi Diaz would prepare me to lead. Mike taught me preparedness and to meet expectations. Debi taught me kindness within an office setting. Chuck would teach me much through his talent, his forgiveness, his disorganized chaos and his willingness to delegate.

First arriving at KLUV I had no idea who this man was to the industry. Brinkman was a popular talent in Pittsburgh at KQV. If you Google his name the accolades are endless. He is included in Pittsburgh's own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a popular TV and radio personality. He spent time with the Beatles, Paul Simon, Karen Carpenter and this list could go on forever. The photo below is Chuck on stage with The Beatles. He is in the grey jacket exiting to the left as you see John Lennon waling on.

Chuck had a wealth of stories about his time around such groups. None of these stories would I ever post on line.

I was working with a great class of people in the radio industry. Through greedy self centric general managers and odd salespeople, the programming team provided me the grounding principles for a growing and exciting career.

Chuck permitted me to work with consultants such as Bill Drake and Bob Hamilton. I learned about programming just by listening and executing their changes. Chuck let me produce spots, create promotions, air check overnight talent, work the board, report the traffic and news, go on sales meetings, write memos and countless other operations. Because he allowed me such access and I was building a wealth of understanding of how business works.

In my youth, I barked back a Chuck once when I disagreed. He was right and I was wrong. He laid out that if that was going to be my approach we would change how the relationship worked. I asked for forgiveness and he moved forward like it never happened.

Chuck imitated everyone in the office when he was talking about them. Something I still do today which keeps me entertained during the work day. He also had a nickname for everyone, but that creative talent I did not get.

Chuck gave me an opportunity to prove myself, not an extensive interview. I suspect if I had been more trouble than help, he would have sent me out the door quickly. I now like to give people a chance without the extensive interview depending on the role. I also like to give people the space to take on all they want and run with it.

Now in his 80s, Chuck is still a pillar of the Top 40 format. He loves radio. It is literally all he likes to talk about. He is now looking back on his adventure, as we all will one day. I can only hope I've helped someone achieve a little more in their career.

Thanks CLB3!

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