Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

26 February 2013

I didn't watch WKRP but I do remember when broadcasting was fun

From the upcoming March Brant Advocate:

I’ve been broadcasting in one form or another for nearing 20 years and if there’s one thing that I know.... it’s that everyone in this industry tells stories about WKRP like they worked there. "Remember when Johnny Fever locked me in the bathroom stall?"  Enough already.  You never worked with Howard Hesseman! I may actually be the only radio guy over 30 who didn't watch the “blessed” show. Although I do understand the allure, because the era of broadcast it depicts was a time of renegade hijinks radio that have been largely sucked dry but tight formatting and bland radio ga ga. But I do have my own broadcasting “good ole days” growing up as a smart-mouthed kid growing up in Brantford with more guts than sense.

The politically correct Christian side of me might qualify it as “destiny” … but I always say that I fell ass-backwards into broadcasting. It all started one drunken high school evening, as many stories do, while watching one of my favorite shows on Rogers Cable called "Barbershop Talk".  It was bizarre and charming and delightful local TV.  Al Cooper ( who is still an actual barber) on a barbershop set hosting local ne'er do wells in barber chairs, shooting the breeze about daily  jibber jabber.  I HAD to get in on this action. I called the show that night and said, “Hey Al... I do impressions. Wanna hear them?” Clearly an offer too enticing to pass up, he agreed as I rattled off my standard routine of Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon and George Bush... the first one.  Al liked it and I became a regular on the show as a "High School Comedian." Why did they call me that? Cus that's what I told them I was.  I once even played Barney Fife in an Andy Griffith Show remake episode. Surreal.

After that, they gave me my own half hour comedy talk-show called "The Dave Carrol Show". My first episode broke copyright laws because I thought that the ingredients of Frontenac eggnog were funny to read. As it turns out, this is a frustrating thing for a high school punk to do to a station manager. I walked around in my underwear in the old Eatons Mall, frolicking in the fountain for the camera until being removed. I even convinced my friend to be in a segment called “Craft Minute with Phil” where he sat in his boxer shorts spreadeagle (a near wardrobe malfunction) while making a popsicle stick raft.  One day I was at the Brantford Smoke hockey game, and a man came up to me with a bleeding EYE having shut a car door on his own face.  Peering through the stream of blood he excitedly yelled, "Hey! You're Dave Carrol! Wow!  Do you have a kleenex?”

I knew I needed to be on radio too.  My friend, now a well known motivational speaker, being part-native had scored himself an hour of airtime on CKRZ late on a Sunday Night.  He told me I could co-host where he’d spin 90’s hip hop and I’d bring my arsenault of characters for fake interviews... but I’d have to pretend to be native.  Please forgive my high school self for saying yes.  Ya see... the girls all listened and laughed.

I went to Niagara College to learned the trade for real. By that I mean disciplining myself to make it through newscasts while having a pressed ham on the glass in front of me. I realized the secret celebrity world broadcasting let you into the day covered an event where I peed at a urinal beside Polka King Walt Ostenack... and had my camera guy catch Eddie Shack in mid-fall down a winding staircase.

Out of college, I got to host a coast-to-coast, all-night television call in show on CTSTV. It was TV that doesn’t really exist in the real world.  2.5 hours LIVE commercial free. Along with my brother, we fielded questions like, "How do I make myrrh so I can bathe in it like Queen Esther?" My friend Sam was our call-screener (or "The Screenenator" as our luminous flaming graphic showed) and routinely put the most colorful calls to the top of our list. On my brother's final show I crammed a Boston Cream Donut into his face. Bet that hadn’t been done on CTS before... or since.

I got to help start CFWC, Brantford’s Christian radio station from the ground up. I was the first live voice on the air. That meant doing 8 jobs for the salary of one high school Blockbuster employee. But it was a blast. I sang my own intro to my morning show, which was followed by my newscast, which faded into the ads written and voiced by me. I would routinely have character conversations with myself on the air, often as Mr. Gus Mcgillicutty who was a janitor from the deep south who just loved to go "sweepin de gym". It was wildcat, freestyle... fun radio.

Broadcasting been my vocation for almost 15 years. It’s afforded this creative wingnut the space to speak into “the air” and more importantly into people’s lives.  But it used to be more fun... and more effective too. At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, shortsightedness and tightened economic restrictions have turned something that long had the "COOL" factor into... often not.

I don't think it has to stay that way. There ARE ways to make money and still give room for personality, exploration and fun. Mediums will change, as will cultures of communication. Not even WKRP is sacred. That day is gone. But it would behoove broadcasters to think back to WHY they listened to the radio in their bedroom as a kid as we creature the future.

21 February 2013

We're A plot... not THE plot

 Hugh Grant played a fascinating character named Will Freeman in the terrific movie About a Boy. Will was independently wealthy and tried to live on his own "island" with himself as the primary character in his own plot. 

The thing is, a person's life is like a TV show. I was the star of The Will Show. And The Will Show wasn't an ensemble drama. Guests came and went, but I was the regular. It came down to me and me alone. If Marcus' mum couldn't manage her own show... if her ratings were falling, it was sad, but that was her problem. Ultimately, the whole single-mum plot line was a bit complicated for me.
Will Freeman in About a Boy

In the movie, Marcus, an impish little guy somehow weasels his way into Will's life and wrecks his whole paradigm and destroys his living philosophy.  But ain't that always the way?

I liked Will's character in some ways, because he at least knew his own story.  Many of us don't.  It was a very lonely and unengaging story his character was living in what he assumed was "plot"... but at least he was self aware enough to know what role his character was playing. The problem was that they wouldn't have made a movie about Will without Marcus. It was BARELY a subplot in the grand scheme... let alone plot. There was no...conflict. And it's puzzlingly a life that many aspire to. 

"The important thing in island living is to be your own activities director. I find the key is to think of a day as units of time...each unit consisting of no more than 30 minutes. Taking a bath: One unit. Watching Countdown One unit. Web-based research Two units. Exercising: Three units. It's amazing how the day fills up. I often wonder, to be absolutely honest...if I'd ever really have time for a job. How do people cram them in?"
Will Freeman in About a Boy 

It led to... nothing for Will. 

Have you ever been challenged to tell your story?
Define your "character" and write a "treatment" for it?
Articulate your "plot"?

My brother and I recently tasked ourselves with telling our story in an audition tape for Canada's upcoming Amazing Race.  We debated back and forth a bit about what "The Dave and Rick" story is... and came up with this:

We had a nibble... or two... or three... from the producers, but ultimately didn't make it onto the show. BUT... we DID get into the process which has been very exciting! It reminded me of the importance of being able to TELL a good story with our lives by actually LIVING a good story. Spin only goes so far without meat on the bones.

But WE aren't THE story.  We're A plot... not THE plot. Dave and Rick Carrol aren't THE story.  There are producers, and advertisers, and casting agents... all with their own stories and a task to put together one cohesive show with a plot... and conflict and characters.  So we researched their vision for "the plot" tried to tell the story that would jive with their needs. Kinda like how we need to look at God's big picture, discover our calling... and be pleased to be offered what we have to play... A role.

Today is a bit of a bummer for me because of the disappointment having had a tease of a chance of being on this amazing show with my brother... but I AM not THE plot.  I'm a subplot in THE plot.  And God's plans didn't include this race... this time. We'll try again next year. But for now it means that my character gets to learn and grow in others ways... and it likely means continuing to strengthen my relationship with my brother like we wanted to do in the first place.

"I've wondered if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don't want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgment. We don't want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn't remarkable, then we don't have to do any of that... we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants"
Don Miller

4 February 2013

My wife has been married to five men

 This is my article in the current February edition of The Brant Advocate

“My wife has been married to five men... every one of them has been me.”  

That's what Lewis B. Smedes wrote as an older man in 1983's "Controlling the Unpredictable-The Power of Promising" and it's a VITAL concept to remember when building a lasting, meaningful marriage. When my wife Krissy and I heard this line recently, we shut off the TV, sat on the couch together and began to identify how many people we've been together. We'll be celebrating our 15th Anniversary in August and I think I’ve been about 3 distinct people since we met and fell in love in high school.  

  • Unsettled, rebellious loose-lipped, anti-establishment Dave
  • Dogmatic 20's intense, frustrated at my own youth, stumbling fighting through figuring out what it means to live as a Christian, husband and father Dave
  • Today Dave... who I likely won't fully be able to perspectively identify until Dave #4 comes along

Each of those Dave's have come with their own "Being-Dave" challenges and their own "Being in a relationship with Dave" challenges.  As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to a young married couple,

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”

Marriage covenants are, ironically, covenants.  I write this article 8,500ft above sea level in the mountains of Colorado the day after seeing my little sister married on a Rocky Mountain vista.  My brother officiated the ceremony and reminded us that our costly journey of assembly was apropos due to the costly nature of covenant.  We’re largely unfamiliar with the concept of covenant.  But it’s a binding, chosen, agreement between God and man. That’s serious business.  And because not only does God KNOW we’re going to change as we age, but  it’s Him who woo’s us forward into growth...  the idea of “new Dave’s” within marriage IS part of the scripted scenario.  In fact wouldn’t it be boring without it?

Before we got married I gave my wife an engraved bracelet with the words, "I choose to love you" on it. At the time it even seemed to me to be less than romantic... but it did seem right. Through variables xyz, culture seems to want to dilute many of the DEEP life-truths that reside in marriage.  Sometimes when I hear science-types bemoaning the disappearance of rainforest because of the species, potential-medicine and undiscovered value that  is simply disappearing because of lazy strategy... I feel the same about marriage. One of the most destructive post-modern concepts we've been conned into believing is that the feeling of romantic love is foundational.  PROMISE is the soil in which the flower grows.

Stanley Hauerwas,  Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School has a profound statement that compliments the idea that we're constantly changing.  He says that, 

"You always marry the wrong person." 

 In fact he calls it Hauerwas’s Law. In further writings he extrapolates:

“It is as important to note, of course that the reverse of the law is also true: namely, that you also always marry the right person. The point of the law is to suggest the inadequacy of the current assumption that the success or failure of a marriage can be determined by marrying the “right person.” Even if you have married the “right person,” there is no guarantee that he or she will remain such, for people have a disturbing tendency to change.”

This is why the promise MUST be the foundation. The term "Kindred Spirits" sometimes makes me gag a little as it's often used in a very Seinfeldian "Shmoopy" context. An older friend of mine says that over the course of marriage, spirits will go in and out of feeling like kindred spirits.  I don’t know about you... but it's kind of a relief to hear someone who's been through more "people" than me affirm the amount of change that DOES happen and the subsequent feelings that change as well.  We love, not because we are married, but because it’s how we are to live.  In choosing love however, we may learn what such love is like within the context of marriage.

Chosen love even in the non-clicky seasons actually ALLOWS for the freedom to click again.

“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.”  
– Anne Morriss Concire Leadership Institute.

I want to have a legendary marriage. It's on my very short bucket list. I don't care about seeing Europe. The amount of money I acquire is of minimal value to me. But having a legendary marriage that people tells stories about is of the UTMOST importance to me. And that requires analytical/philosophical thinking combined with acting on those principles. But it all starts with THE PROMISE of "Together Forever". It's not a fleeting concept or a misty dream.  It's a choice.

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