The last time I wrote one of these articles back in February, it was about death. Figuring it doesn’t get more personal or introspective than that, it seemed “Get Off My Lawn” had reached the end of the road. Wrong. What about life? How did you get to where you are now? And, if you could go back and change one thing, what would that be?
In 2008 we moved to Victoria- the place I was born and, other than Castlegar, the only place I consider home. My wife was a draftsperson for Thrifty Foods and I landed a job at a McDonald’s, hoping it would be a short term thing while I pestered the local rock station for a gig. Mrs. Rock Doctor had a decent job, and we were happy to be on the Island. Most of her family was in Campbell River and most of my family in the BC Interior.
As we drove off the ferry early one Spring morning I honestly felt the magic, as if the island was saying to us “welcome home, this is where you belong.” In the months before we left, we had an apartment across the street from Beacon Hill Park where I remember feeding the ducks with my Nana. My friend Holger Petersen introduced me via email to Rob Edwards, a local teacher who, as a member of The Victoria Blues Society, invited me to join the board of directors. Plus, my best friend Pat lives in Victoria.
Life was hard too. I was settling my second divorce and had to work two jobs; at that McDonald’s and a Chevron station just down the street, to make my child support payments and try to help pay our bills. I also paid regular visits to Mark Addams, the Program Director at 100.3 The Q, the local rock station- that’s where I wanted to be, and also where I made huge mistake #1.
While pestering Mark for an on-air gig, it was noted that I have extensive experience as a commercial writer- if I dare say so, I’m pretty damn good at it too. But I wanted to be a DJ, that’s my first love. When I was asked “how do you feel about writing?” I said I’d rather be on the air. Had I answered instead “Sounds like fun”, I’d still be working there and life would be very different.
We loved life in Victoria, but office politics at my wife’s workplace made it hard for her to continue. I was also doing freelance writing for CKQR in Castlegar where I had worked several times. In an email to the GM one day I said “Ha, ha- if you like my work so much maybe you should hire me” to which he replied “let me get back to you”. He did, a couple of days later, offering me Creative Director- part time at first, to work into full time. At this point my lust for a radio career clouded my judgement and when I discussed it with Cherryle, she said “go for it”.
We hit Castlegar in November of 2009. That creative director’s job never went full time, I had to supplement my income by working at McDonald’s, and Cherryle was unable to find a full time job. August of 2010, I find her at the computer looking at drafting jobs in Lloydminster. I said (you can quote me) “I’m not moving back to that shithole again.” She said relax, I’m just looking. Within a week she had a job offer, so I pursued and landed a job with Newcap Broadcasting’s Northeastern Hub, a group of 7 small market stations, so off to Alberta we went.
It hasn’t been all bad. I met some cool people along the way, and it was from the program director in Castlegar in 2010 that I got the name “John The Rock Doctor”. Before I got permanently laid off the summer of 2016, I wrote some of my best work. I also developed my skills as a producer, writing and creating several rock specials and long running programs. The only radio action I get today is doing 2 weekly shows, airing Mondays and Tuesdays for www.uniteddj.com which I’ve been doing for just over a couple of years. My day job? You guessed it- McDonald’s.
If I could return to 2009, I would have taken that writing job at The Q. Who knows? Maybe I could’ve talked them into letting me do a blues show, or do the occasional relief air shift. Now I’ll never know. I shouldn’t have taken that radio job in Castlegar, I should have said to my wife “if you really hate your job, start looking for a better one.” She’s quite talented at what she does and I think… well that doesn’t matter now, does it?
You have to recognize your chances when they come along and have the balls to seize those opportunities. We were living in a truly magic place and I blew it to chase a dream that would lead nowhere. Yes I have my moments of happiness but I gave up the magic, threw it away. The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence- try watering the grass under your feet and see what happens. That’s what I should’ve done in Victoria.