Friday, April 4, 2008

This big, metallic upside-down "U"!

Radio can, and probably always will be, a "vagabond" lifestyle. It's interesting...early in my career, I always looked at "market-jumping" as a kind of necessity. Certainly, if one wanted to earn more money, one sometimes had to pack up the Ryder truck. Or, if a person wanted to make a move in order to secure their first PD position, or their first Morning Show gig, they sometimes were forced to toss their belongings in a box (or several boxes, in my case) and hit the highway. As the years pass...and as I gaze at photos and souvenirs of various locales where I've dragged my wife kicking and screaming, I have a tendency to feel the opposite way. I'm a bit envious of the people who have managed to find their niche, make their mark, or be perfectly comfortable with what's in their bank account by staying in the same spot. (that's, of course, presupposing that they've managed to deflect the menacing sickle of the "Downsize Reaper".)

My wife and I continue to be, in a sense, "vagabonds". After spending 5 years in Pittsburgh, we opted to follow her career aspirations and head to St. Louis. (or at least the "Illinois" side of St. Louis) After being here for almost a year, I must admit that I'm struggling to figure out what it is exactly that I feel for this place.

We were living in the Washington, DC area (Annapolis, to be exact) and I was working for Sports Talk 980 when I was approached by the folks at KDKA in Pittsburgh. The Steel City is close to home in Ohio, so after much reflection we decided to trade in crabcakes at Mike's in Riva for pierogies in Pittsburgh. That took some adjustment. We loved Annapolis, and I'm sure my wife still holds it against me that I took her away from glorious Quiet Waters Park, afternoons spent on the City Dock, and the colonial, if not highly "touristy", feel of truly one of America's coolest cities. (I mean, where else can you find a street with the name "Duke of Gloucester"?)

But I grew to love Pittsburgh. It didn't take long to become attracted to its quirky geography, wacky provincialism, and European feel. I could do without the "Pittsburghese", ("yinz guys wanna go dahn Strip District 'n 'at and git a Primanti sandwich?") And as a Browns fan, I could certainly do without all that disgusting black-and-gold and all those Jack Lambert throwbacks.
But it began to fit like an old shoe. I hated its weather but loved its strange topography, and I especially enjoyed playing "tour guide" when people would come to visit. (and it has, in my opinion, one of the finest brewers in America, in Scott Smith at East End Brewing Company. Man, I miss that Big Hop!)

And now we're here. And I'm just......not feelin' it, ya know? It's a city with a storied history and a tremendous fan base. (Man, do these people LOVE their Cardinals!) But, there aren't any midshipman marching in during a Navy game on a Saturday afternoon. There's no little table to sit at to drink Fordham Brewing's "Oyster Stout" to go along with my mussels, while I stare at the boats out on the Chesapeake Bay. There aren't any rides on the incline to the top of Mount Washington in order to take pictures of the Golden Triangle. And there's no "Pierogies Plus", an old gas-station-turned-kitchen, staffed by people who emigrated from the Ukraine, Poland and all over eastern Europe (Julia Balik has been making pierogies for over 75 years!) who close up shop when all the pierogies they've made for the day are sold.

But about 13 miles from me is this big metallic arch. It's an architectural marvel, really, when you're standing next to it. And there's a big river. And there are lots of people wearing red. And there's a ton of Budweiser. And I'm sure there's more than that. But, for some reason, I'm.....just not feeling it. Maybe I need to go stand under the arch, look up, and stare at it for awhile. Maybe some oracle will provide me with Show-Me-State inspiration.

Now, if I can be less contemplative for a moment and a bit more thankful...for being able to be a part of Rochester, Minnesota's newest rock station, "Z-Rock 107-7"! (Thanks Brent and Jeff!) And, The Matt-Man is back in the Tar Heel State, a proud "voice" of "96-5 The Drive" in Fayetteville. (Thanks, Stoney!) And to show my thanks, I'm going to go search for a tasty, local St. Louis micro-brew. I hear Square One Brewery has an awesome pale ale! (there's another way to celebrate!?)


* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at

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