In 1993 I got a radio show on WNNZ, a station that Al Giordano used to call "the media blowtorch" because it was the only station that could be heard in every city and town in the Pioneer Valley. My program was a fill-in show for one of their regular programs which was on hiatus for the summer. If by the end of the summer The Tommy Devine Show got better ratings than the program I filled in for then my show would become permanent.
That didn't happen become my ratings were too low, or so I was told, but rumors kept reaching me that then Springfield Mayor Robert Markel was urging WNNZ behind the scenes to take my program off the air. I never found out if that was true, but if Markel did complain I wouldn't blame him, considering the stuff I was saying about Springfield politics and his administration on the air.
In the funny way I have of "failing forward" in life, the cancellation of that show actually expanded my media career because Dan Yorke of WGGB-TV40 took me under his wing and made me one of his stable of fill-in hosts, so I ended up getting far more exposure on the more powerful medium of television. That never would've happened if I had stayed with WNNZ, which was Yorke's competitor because in addition to his TV show Yorke had a radio show on WHYN, where I also became a recurring figure on their show The Reporter's Roundtable with Kateri Walsh. Sometimes in life we think we're failing when really God is just clearing away the wreckage so that we can follow the path He intended for us.
Despite the ultimate failure of The Tommy Devine Show I had a lot of fun with that program. One of my best memories of that time is of something that happened before the show even started. That night Jay Libardi and I were stumbling out of the Pine Point Cafe with a bunch of friends at closing time and Jay climbed into the truck ahead of me because I was talking with some people. All of a sudden he shouted, "Hey Tom! Listen to this!" and he cranked the radio way up so that me and everyone else in the parking lot could hear.
It was an advertisement for the upcoming premiere of my show, with music in the background and everything, and it was such a thrill to hear it so unexpectedly for the first time under those circumstances. Everyone listened in perfect silence until the ad ended after sixty seconds. Then the whole parking lot erupted in cheers and clapping. I don't care if someday I appear before a million people with a thousand spotlights shining on me, I don't think I'll ever feel more like a star than I did that night before a dozen people in the parking lot of the Pine Point Cafe.
This video of rising stoner circuit star Trevor Hall reminds me of that night, only this being a new century, when Trevor heard himself on the radio for the first time a video camera was there.
Trevor is playing in Northampton next month and I hope he plays this tune.