Day 2 of the NYC announcement….which means that I’ve pretty much talked to every press person in Seattle and beyond. Crazy! The response has mostly been really positive, but its interesting overall how much the focus of what KEXP is doing steers towards what I am doing or who I am. It’s actually unfortunate when that happens since what KEXP is doing is so ground breaking[sic], true to its mission, and so centered on bringing great music to people. I get it though; personality is a bit more interesting. For the most part though, the people who really listen to the show and support the station “get” what KEXP has done, is doing, and will do in the future. It’s awesome and I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for the support Morning Faithful!
A few observations I’d like to share with you all that I really haven’t before because I’ve always shared pretty much everything with you and need to clear my head. The first is about being “known” or “fame” or whatever. I mean this in the least cocky way, but in my life I’ve gained more notoriety during the last few years and it has had a major impact on everything. I’m not totally at ease with the attention, but I’ve become more comfortable with all of it partially because of the good nature of most of the people who approach, call, or email me. But a few of the downfalls that come with being a public figure include having some people decide who you are, what you are about, and taking a lot of liberty with the facts. What you also don’t hear much about are the numerous stalkers and/or crazy people out there and the multiple times we’ve had to involve the police. We’ve even had to take legal action in a couple of situations. This was not enjoyable for me or my family…obviously. One time a person approached my son while he was walking around with my friend who was watching him. This person was scary, screaming my son’s name, and wearing a KEXP sticker on his forehead. This caused them to have to run into a nearby business to get away. Yes I know-WTF? I’m not sharing this so that people will feel sorry for me, but I think it helps people to know what kind of world you step into when you become this public figure.
I understand that this happens because I am myself on the air. I get that. I share my life. I share my world. I take a risk. I want people to know WHO is bringing them music. But no one signs up for that kind of attention. I’m sure you agree.
It’s also interesting to see people get down on me for other things. Luckily, most of what I hear is insanely great. I talk about my kid too much on the air, I play too much of this, too less[sic] of that…there are a million little things that I could add here. That being said, you have to program a show and not let those things get to you right? Some days this is easier said than done. All of our DJ’s[sic] face this and some may talk about it or not. You want to serve the public, yet some of the public doesn’t like what you’re serving. You have to remember to keep focused and know that you’re on the air for a reason. But think about why it would affect you. You do your job. You give it your best. Imagine 10 people comment to you that you did a great job, but one person tells you that you’re terrible and that you’ve done a terrible job. Which comment will you go home with in your head? It’s natural for some to be negative- I accept that, but people don’t realize that people in the public eye also have feelings. I do. I’m an emotional person. I’m working on it. In a perfect world, yes I would suck it up every time, but I’m only human. Again, 99% of the feedback is AWESOME.
I had a co-worker come by the other day and say that whenever anyone asks them if they know me, a lot of times they’ll also ask “he’s a dick right?” or say things like “he must be totally arrogant”. He responded that “No, actually he’s a good guy and one you could go have a beer with”. It’s true…and I love beer. I’m not saying that I don’t have my bad days. Anyone else who gets up totally early, (like at 3:45am) while raising a 3 year old knows first hand that your disposition isn’t always going to be the brightest. But for the most part I always aim to treat people with respect and kindness and if I really like them, they’ll also get a TON of sarcasm. Some people really don’t want for you to be a good person; they NEED for you to be a terrible person. I think that it might stem from the fact that I have one of the best jobs in the world or maybe it’s more that some people aren’t the happiest with their own life…or maybe just simply most assume that if a person is a public figure that they probably suck. I can’t blame them, it’s not like I don’t say “Who is that actor? He’s TERRIBLE, I hate that guy” or “Why on earth is this guy a newscaster? Look at his hair”. It’s as if they’re not really human. The difference is that I don’t take the time to communicate my opinion to them or write a blog about it. Technology allows us to say what we want, send what we want, and never really have to back it up with fact. I’m okay with the fact that it’s a way for people to vent. However, when it’s just not true or it’s directed at parts of my life that they know absolutely nothing about, that’s when I get frustrated. The benefit of the doubt will always go to the negative. How on earth could you assume the positive? That guy sucks!!!
What some people don’t know about me or what they choose to not want to know about me are a number of things. One is that I work hard. I always have. I work 12 hours a day pretty much no matter what. I’m not bragging or complaining. I like to work. I worked hard for KCMU without being paid at all and once I was paid, it wasn’t enough to live on. I’ve worked for the station for over 12 years now, most of which were spent on credit cards, loans, and a very patient wife. I like to multitask and try new things. If I don’t have many things going on at once, I go crazy. I have a record label that I’ve never made a dime on but I love it. It’s fun to work with bands and get music out there. I’ve even volunteered my time to help manage a band (The Blakes) through a time in their career when they needed help. I was criticized by some people for that. Yet the band did the right thing and signed to a great local label, went on to work with my friend who does manage them day to day and I never made a penny. It would have been okay if I had, according to all the rules I work under and agree to as set forth by the station. I’ve worked with a guy named Gary Gersh for years. At one point while being paid and at another point while not being paid as he was building his company. Why? Because Gary signed bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth and I’ve learned more from him in 6 or 7 years than I have with most people I’ve spent a larger amount of time with. He is one of the few pure and true people in the music business and he serves as a great example to learn by.
Be a good person. No matter what.
Another thing some people don’t know about me or assume is that if I do have the best job in the world, surely it must have been handed to me or “I’m lucky”. It is true that I am lucky. I’m lucky that a place like KEXP exists and I’m very proud of the fact that it exists partly because of my hard work which started with the station back in about 1995 as a volunteer, then as a part time DJ, then as a full time DJ, then as an actual employee, and then onto a leadership role where I helped come up with ideas such as the non-profit benefit shows at High Dive, the 500 club, the Kid’s Dance Party and then ensuring that those ideas were actualized. I think that some people just assume that I showed up one day, was given the shift, and that I get to go home as soon as the show is done at 10am. This is not true. Ask my wife. I’m bad at a LOT of things. I can’t cook, I can’t do math, I really never could speak a foreign language. But what I can do really well is a radio show which I get to program, as well as raise money for the station where I do this radio show because I love it here so much AND I believe in its mission and need to exist. In return, the station has supported me, as have the members.
As for spending time in NYC, I can’t wait. Not just because it’ll be nice to experience that part of the world. Not just because we can make the show even better through our ties with one of the few other stations that exist like ours, but also because the people here at KEXP believe in this partnership with WNYE and believe in the good that this decision will bring for those here in Seattle as well as for KEXP listeners everywhere.
I love Seattle. It will always be my home. Unfortunately, Seattle does not offer the best opportunities in the fashion industry. My wife is in the fashion industry. She has lived here since she was born. When I met her 10 years ago, she was moving to NYC. She changed her plans to move to NYC 10 years ago FOR ME. Not for the radio DJ that everyone knows now, but for me, John Richards…with a bad haircut, bad credit, a job that didn’t actually pay money, but a total and complete belief in what I was and what I was doing.
Believe in good people. No matter what.
She now gets to go over there and live part of her dream that she has put on hold for a decade. We’re not tied to there forever. We’re not leaving our hometown for good. She finally gets to live her dream and I will see my family less for chunks of time in order for that to happen because my base is here. Does that freak me out? Yes and no. I don’t want to leave KEXP, but more than anything on Earth I also don’t want to hold back the woman I love. I am very lucky that many factors have come together around the same time in order for me to say to my wife, “Now its my turn to let you realize your dreams and ambitions”. All of this can happen because the station and YOU believe in me, my work and the station’s vision and values. Will this anger people, sure; Why should I get to live my dream? Why should Tiffany get to live hers? That’s one of [the] things wrong with the world. We should all get to live our dream. BUT I firmly believe if you work as hard as you can at something that you really love (this includes relationships), that you will indeed get your dream. OR you can choose to sit on the sidelines and bitch about anyone who actually does go for it and in a way that they can honestly look at themselves in the mirror each night and agree that they’ve done their best.
I just want to finish this with a few last words (and now I feel like Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire” writing his late night manifesto). The fact that a guy who moved to Seattle from Spokane in 1993 and didn’t have a dime, a job, or any connections at all could someday help build a station like this and then have a show that has had some serious impact on the world is beyond a dream come true. Completely beyond.
I have a wife who supports me who is amazing beyond words. Our son is the coolest, most beautiful being on earth. I shared with all of you my experiences of his birth. I also shared with you the loss of both of my parents after long battles with cancer, as well as the loss of my Father in law who passed away in his sleep a few years ago. The Morning Faithful helped me get through it. Me…A DJ…on a radio station. You’ve helped me and I hope that I help you every morning with music and by being honest and myself. We’ve been through it together and we will continue to be there for each other here, there, and everywhere. The Morning Show and the Faithful will remain the same. It may be a difficult concept for some to get. I get it. Many of you get it and its all the more reason why I may be the luckiest person on earth.
By now most of you have probably stopped reading this or maybe you didn’t need to hear any of this because you already know all of it or maybe you just like listening to the music and don’t really need a manifesto sent to you. Any which way, it’s a healthy exercise to write and get out what’s on your mind. I felt I might as well send it out the people I love.
I swear I’m not crazy. Well, mostly.
I’m going home now. See you tomorrow.