Imagine going to work, finding just the right job within the company, and staying with that company for fifty years. I know someone who is reaching that milestone this month.George is the morning announcer for a radio station in upstate New York near the village where I grew up. This April, George and his loyal listeners are celebrating his fiftieth anniversary.
I owe a lot to George. As a teenager, I’d listen to his program as I got ready for school every morning. Mom may have been the one to get us out of bed, but George’s morning program kept us on task to finish breakfast and meet the school bus.
When I decided to pursue broadcasting as a career, I visited him at the station occasionally. Those visits eventually led to the station manager hiring me as a part time announcer during my college years.
George started at the radio station in much the same way I did. He worked part time for a while before being offered a full time job. He played rock-and-roll records on the air in the afternoons, and then was promoted to middays where he switched over to country music in keeping with the station’s format back in the days before stations picked one type of music and stuck with it all day long.
Eventually, George moved into the coveted morning slot and that is where he stayed. He endured two changes in ownership, heart surgery, cancer treatments, and dozens of brutal northern New York winters.
He is a survivor, but more importantly, he is able to have his passion be his life’s work.
In my book Grown Up, Going Home, I interviewed George for one of the chapters. The book is about my experiences growing up in the 1970s in a rural upstate New York village. I felt as though George, while not living in my hometown, had come into nearly every house with a radio in it within its broadcast range. He told me "Every day is different. There's a great deal of satisfaction in knowing we'll have a different adventure every day. It is hometown radio, and it made me want to spend my whole life right here."
Some of those adventures about hometown radio include using a snowmobile to get to work on more than one stormy winter morning, trying so hard to hold back a laugh when a coworker would play a practical joke while live on the air, or handling the many calls from listeners who observed a deer in their backyard or lost a pet.
"People come up to me and say do you remember broadcasting my cat was missing several years ago?” he muses. “Maybe I don’t remember, but they do. The little things like that have made it all worthwhile.”
Over my thirty-plus years as a working professional, I have averaged about four years at a particular job before moving on to something I thought might be bigger or better. The longest I’ve stayed at any job was ten years, although I hope to at least match that number with the position I’m currently in. I admire the folks who have stayed on at one company and built satisfying careers in their professional journeys.
It’s remarkable that anyone would still be working at the same company for fifty years. While I can’t imagine what that would be like, I’d be the first one to tell you I would have done the same thing had the right job brought the same level of satisfaction that it has to George.
I congratulate George on this accomplishment. He has been a gentleman and a great role model. It has been a pleasure knowing him.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced.