Updated: Mar 4
August 2020, just the latest in a series of radio station firings for me. It's happened tons of times. There's no rhyme or reason to it...In fact most of the time it's completely UN-reasonable. But I'm a big boy and more often than not, I dust myself off, get something better, and proceed to do what I do. Provide escape and entertainment for people. What a blessing!!
On that August day, as I answered well-wishers and considered what I was going to do THIS TIME, I received a call I wasn't expecting, from John Nance, who runs an audio and video streaming company in suburban Chicago called Stepnorth. John and I had worked together on the original blueprint for US 41 several years previously, and he had left the audio up on the internet during the years I was under contract, and prohibited from working in internet radio. He let me know that people were finding the station AND listening to it. His message was "come home." I could revisit my original plan for a locally based internet radio station with 100% complete creative control. It was intriguing, but I had to eat. My options were limited. Covid was raging, and most businesses were laying off personnel.
So, I started sniffing around and asking people whose opinions I valued. I made some adjustments to the music and the presentation. I checked on the price of promotional materials, contacted my friends in the record business, and finally decided to give it a whirl. US 41 debuted Monday, March 1st, 2021, playing 20,000 songs in a row commercial-free! The audience grew slowly but steadily, as did the advertising base, but US 41 really began to take off when I struck a partnership with Danielle Gates and her organization Businesses Supporting Communities, who produces live events like Taco Fest, WINK Taste of the Town and Tribute Band Festival. Danielle and I had worked together many times previously when I was in "regular" radio, and I always admired her "get it done" attitude. She too was struggling trying to produce shows through Covid, so we arranged a partnership in which I book and promote her events, and she offers promotional support to US 41. It's a really great arrangement, made only stronger by the recent addition of Karlee Bobzien who has really taken over day to day operations of our events. We have plans to expand into Charlotte and Collier Counties in 2022, and I'm excited about bringing more great shows to Southwest Florida.
One year in. I'm really glad I made the decision to take on this project. I don't call it a job, it's WAY too much fun. Being able to create a platform for our local musicians, help out advertisers and charities that don't have the budget to do traditional radio advertising, and present something that isn't the "same ol' same ol'"...and have people like it, has been very affirming for me personally. And the satisfaction I get when an artist tells me hearing their song on US 41 brought them to tears, makes every 16 hour day, every all-nighter well worth it. Thank you!
And I want to thank some folks too...John Nance for giving me the opportunity. Danielle Gates for her faith in my vision for our shows. Steven George Brown at SGB Guitars for signing on as our first advertiser and hanging on for the full ride. Thank you sir!! Barry Lyons from Rent-A-Label for his friendship, and all the great artists and records he's turned me onto this past year. There is great new music being produced every day, and we're playing it! Voice-Over Pros Sean O Shea JT McKenzie and "Fast" Eddie Coyle. And my photographer Deb Owen, who I've worked with at all my radio stops in Southwest Florida. I appreciate all you do for US 41!!
My daughter Madi for putting up with my obsessive nature and my crazy schedule, and for being my #1 supporter. And finally, the real inspiration for US 41, my late sister Maryellen "Mel" Farrell, who made me watch The Beatles & Stones on Ed Sullivan. Who allowed me to tag along when she went to see "A Hard Days Night" with all her teenage friends, and I was only six. Who shared her 45 rpm collection with me. The Beatles, Stones, The Kinks, Dusty Springfield, Supremes, The Four Seasons. We loved them all. Later it was Southern Rock & Reggae, while I bored her with my Prog Rock albums and exhilarated her with The Ramones and The Pretenders. Her tastes are all over this radio station, and from a business standpoint, some might find it silly to base a radio station's programming on the musical favorites of a child from the Woodstock generation, but, the soul, the spirit is there that will continue to help US 41 prosper and grow!!
Hope to see everyone out at Lucky Screw Friday for our 1st Birthday Party. First 50 people get a US 41 Birthday tank top (neon blue) and a pair of tickets to Saturday's Mardi Gras Festival in Centennial Park. I'd love to thank you personally.