An Open Letter to Mark Denis, who left the planet years ago but whose spirit still lives.
Dear Mark (No, I know it's not your real name exactly):
I've been reminiscing a lot lately, as I move forward in radio I can't help but look back. And when I do, KFI always comes to mind. The family I made there is still my family, from my best friend David and his lovely family to Mark, Emiliano, Crozier, Phil, Jennifer, Tiffany D, Smilky, Roe (Rose Marie), Dot, Jeff, Vicky...so many still in my world, each having taught me a lesson. But most of all, I think of you.
I remember in the heady days of KFI, when Andrew and I were a big thing. The first gay couple in history blah ti blah. Lots of media attention. Lots of politics between us, Handel, Hendrie et al. A whirlwind really. Each day you'd come in to work to do traffic so we could always say "And now, let's go to Mark Dennis in the KFI traffic center..." The "traffic center" was an itty bitty room on the corner of the hall, where you turned to go down to KOST. There, in that little office with many computer monitors (before it was chic) you sat each day, having taken the train in to work. You always said hello. And every day you woke up and checked a small book you kept that had everybody's birthday that you ever worked with and you made any appropriate calls before venturing out. Every day.
But I didn't know that the day we spoke for more than a moment. That day, someone had told me of your history. Andrew and I, and me for the most part still, were/are not the most savvy about "real" radio people and their history since, well, we never were and I'm probably still not in most's eyes. But I digress.
I was told that you once had my boss David's corner office, that you were the Program Director of KFI, that you were on air for years, historic really. I knew you as Mark Denis is the KFI Traffic Center and like so many I would discover, your history was rich and vast.
I had the stupidity to ask you if it was weird, coming to work every day at KFI after having been the leader of it for so many years, being such an on air force. And then, you changed my life.
You turned to me in that hallway outside the air studio where the janitor was vacuuming yet again at 3:50, 10 minutes before our show, having all day to do it but NOOOOOOO he HAD to do it at 3:50 each day, so Andrew was in the studio fuming about it silently and I stepped out to avoid his oncoming vent (it would have been one sentence and biting and would have implied that I do something about it all, so...) Anyway...
You turned to me and you said, "A gig's a gig!" and then said "I get to come in to an environment I love, see people I like, earn a living and be with my family both real and extended...what's to complain?"
At that moment, I'm sure I laughed, we said goodbye and I went on to solve the janitor problem (which I'm sure thrilled David, because solving that meant I went to complain to him).
Now, years later, as I read bulletin boards saying how "desperate" I must be to be going to smaller stations, as I look at all kinds of ways in today's world to entertain people from pitching TV shows at Viacom to web streams, I can't help but feel..well, fine. I mean, in today's world, where stations and their staffs get laid waste in one day, as I do the final show of a friend in Los Angeles as their FM talk goes music...I can't help but think at least I'll be doing SOMETHING and that everything is a chance, it's what you make it.
In other words, a gig's a gig.
I don't know what's going to happen Monday when I go on a tiny station, compared to what I was on. On two of them. But I know that everyone has offered to help. Former coworkers have offered to do my news for FREE until I can pay them, to produce me, to help me in any way. My new family that formed at KGO. And I'm excited, yes, thrilled. I'll be working again, some place, some how. And good things will flow from that, as you so eloquently pointed out.
A gig's a gig. It's what you make it. As I sit here crying, remembering you, your life, your son who approached me in Las Vegas once, he in radio himself, to help me and tell me what a fan he, in fact was of MINE, not knowing his dad had forever changed me...as I think of all my friends in my radio and TV and print family I think I would add one thing to that...
A gig's a gig.
Family is forever. Form them when you can. And take with you what you can from them.
Mark Dennis or Marc Denis or however you spelled your stage name (hey, I can be Karel, you could be whomever you wish) I hope in the cosmic scheme of things if anything great happens once we pass when people think fondly of us, know each day a part of your spirit, of your optimism about life is with me.
Because as I think of life itself I'm forced to say, hey, a gig's a gig.
Follow Charles Karel Bouley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/therealkarel