Thu. Apr 25th, 2019

Bouncing Back After Losing It All by Mark Zinno

When I got the offer, I literally almost cried. It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt complete once again.

Any on-air talent in the radio industry who has lost a job for any reason knows this feeling. They know what it’s like to be given a second chance at doing something you love. You are so grateful. You are thankful because the period of time that you spent without being behind the microphone can be some of the most grueling, mentally challenging and desperate times you experience. Your mind challenges you daily to stay sharp and focused. At the same time it is your worst enemy, causing doubt, trepidation and even tears as you try to figure out what’s next. Having gone through this experience, I realized the challenges to surviving this void are many.

When I was fired, I couldn’t believe it. I knew that I had made mistakes and poor decisions, but I didn’t think they would cost me my job. The day I was officially let go, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I know there is a certain “fakeness” to the whole ordeal. I’m not saying that management was fake to me, but we were all trying to get through an awkward situation with as little acrimony as possible. Everyone shook hands and we parted ways. I left that building knowing that I may never get the chance to do this again – and I had no one to blame but myself.

I walked back into my house dejected and sad. I had possibly blown a great opportunity. I was so disappointed in myself that I took the station I used to work for off my presets and refused to listen to it. I was like a teenager being dumped for the first time. I was mad. More at myself than anything, but I was mad.

I knew sitting around feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to help, so I started to reach out to all the people I knew in the industry who could help and let them know that I was a “free agent” … sort of … damn non-compete clauses. Anyway, I knew that I had to just start putting myself in front of as many people as possible. I knew that I had talent and that would stand out, but it just required someone who would listen, and more importantly, had a need! Talent is great, but if there isn’t an opening, you won’t get a job!

A little more each day I tried to make a contact, send out my demo, call someone else to see if they could help. This drives you crazy in a sense, because as many of us know, this effort yields very little. It is disheartening. You start to lose faith and you question whether another opportunity is ever going to come.

To make matters worse, I have a wife and family to worry about. It’s not any easier to get fired when you’re single, but it’s easier from a responsibility standpoint. Most of us could live on tuna and ramen noodles if we had to do so. My three kids can’t and my wife won’t! There is a sense of disappointment that you can’t deal with when you let your family down. It’s awful. That’s the only way to describe it.  Hopefully, they are supportive and encouraging. I have my wife to thank for doing that immensely.

When you get overwhelmed with emotion in this process, you need an outlet. Friends in the industry who know what you’re going through and can help you deal with it. As I said, your own mind is your worst enemy. I routinely had to pick up the phone and talk myself down off the ledge and get myself back to normal because those questions about your future can consume you. I am thankful for those friends in the industry who were there for me when I needed them most.

With every meeting and phone call about prospective employment, you get more and more excited. You feel like this is finally going to be it. Furthermore, you are anxious about “what’s taking so long?” You have to remember that most things in our industry move at glacier speed. You forget this repeatedly. You get to a point where all you want to do is get back to work, hosting a show, and having a purpose again. And the closer you get to it actually happening, the worse it is because that anxiety starts to multiply. Once again, it consumes you.

When I got the offer from David Dickey to join his radio company, I literally almost cried. It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt complete once again. You look back on the time that you were in that void and you realize that you never want to be there again. That you will do everything in your power to make sure that you don’t end up there again. You also gain a new appreciation and respect for the job you have and the opportunity you have been given. Yes, you earned it, but second chances aren’t always easy to earn. People have to take a chance on you. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be given a second chance.

Mark Zinno is an Atlanta sports radio personality, soon to be heard on 1230 The Fan 2. He also hosts the Hazard Ground podcast. He can be reached on Twitter @MarkZinno or by email by clicking here.

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