HOFFMAN FILES Dreaming About Your Dream Job
By Rob Hoffman on December 21, 2017 at 5:29 AM
Back in 2014 when I decided to try my hand at blogging, I was actually attempting to fulfill a dream that I had as a much younger man. While most boys grow up dreaming of being great athletes or perhaps living a life of adventure, and attending wild parties with a beautiful woman on their arm, I imagined myself a great journalist, perhaps a sportswriter. or if I was lucky enough, a broadcaster. (Yes, of course I imagined myself with a beautiful woman on my arm as well. Since this was the early ’80s, it was probably Sheena Easton or Kathleen Turner. Oh, who am I kidding, Kathleen Turner was far too much woman for me. I mean look at her. The smokey voice, the womanly figure with all of the curves in just the right places. You could just tell that she would never, ever lose her looks either. I would have melted at hello. Damn you Kathleen Turner! Damn you to hell!) Now, through the magic of the internet, I was finally going to fulfill that dream, the dream of being a writer…unpaid.
Image result for Kathleen turner body heat getty images
I can feel my voice crack even now trying to imagine what I would say to this young “screen siren.” (Getty Images)
I would imagine that most individuals at one time or another have fantasized about a job that they believed would be ideal. We most likely begin to give the concept of the “dream job” serious consideration around the time that we are in high school. Those of us who have any aspirations at all begin to reflect upon our given skill set, evaluate the things that we are good at, and weigh them against the areas where we may be either physically or mentally lacking, and begin to consider what opportunities we can hope to expect to come our way. For instance, I was never going to be a long jumper, or a high jumper, or a sprinter, or even a power-walker, so to dream about achieving any kind of level of excellence in these areas that let’s face it, society has little use or regard for, would have been a tad ludicrous. As we have all become painfully aware, you can’t hide from your genetics. Ashkenazi Jews such as yours truly are condemned to go through life with “bodies by egg-salad.” We’re lucky that we are able to step on the glass at our weddings without getting hurt, much less worry about competing with Carl Lewis.
Fortunately, like most of us in high school, I had the wisdom and direction of that most wise and sage of all who work in the field of education, the guidance counselor. Their job of course is to lead a young scholar on the path towards success. My guidance counselor was a woman named Ms. Sims. She was a nice enough individual who always seemed to be eating the one or two times per year that I ventured into her office. I explained to her in 11th grade that I wanted to get into the field of broadcasting. Her initial response was to try to “guide” me to Nassau Community College. She seemed very determined to shepherd me in that direction, but after it became obvious that I wasn’t going to take the bait, she reluctantly laid out for me all of the colleges that featured broadcasting or communications as a major. (The verve and vigor in which she pitched Nassau Community College led me to believe she was getting a kickback or something.)
Image result for nassau community college youtube
NCC, or Nassau Community College, the place where dreams are made, for a few hundred dollars per credit. (You Tube)
Now I have nothing against NCC, in fact, as an adjunct at HVCC or Hudson Valley Community College, I completely understand and support the role of community colleges in our society. However, Nassau Community College was simply not where I envisioned myself as I attempted to carve out what I hoped was going to be a lengthy career in either print journalism or broadcasting.
In fact, while everybody might believe that it was the weather, or the massive Niagara Mohawk electric plant that literally stood ominously right outside my dorm window, or the nearby nuclear power plant, with its formidable cooling tower rising majestically above Lake Ontario as if to say, “If I leak, it’s the end of the lake,” that made me settle on SUNY Oswego, it was instead the tour I was given in the Fall of 1981 where I was shown the campus television and radio stations that convinced me right then and there that SUNY Oswego was where I was going to build my dream. Fast forward to February of my Freshman year, 1983, and one Zeta Chi Zeta “Smoker,” and several Tuesday night “Happy Hours” later, and a lot of the piss and vinegar that I had believed I was going to put into my formative years in broadcasting began to wane and eventually, brought my broadcasting aspirations to a sudden halt well before they even began to materialize.
Image may contain: house, sky, tree and outdoor
The Zeta house, where my broadcasting dreams, and a lot of my brain cells went to die. (Hoffman Collection)
How did I allow this to happen? I had wanted to become a sports broadcaster for a lengthy amount of time. When I was growing up on Long Island in the late 1970s, ESPN was only in its infancy, and was seen by many as kind of a joke. If you wanted quality sports highlights, you had to turn on the local news broadcast, and the “Sports’ Guy,” would show you the highlights. Of course you had to wait for all of the other news of the day to wrap up first. “Blah, blah, blah murder. Blah, blah, blah Watergate.” At least growing up on Long Island I didn’t have to sit through 10 minutes of high school sports first just to find out if the Jets won, (usually not) or see video of the Rangers or Knicks in their home white uniforms, since typically, home games of the Knicks and Rangers were unavailable to those in the Metropolitan area. I would wait for what seemed like an eternity for the sportscaster to come on, and when he began announcing the scores, and showing the highlights of whatever game he was discussing, I would think to myself, “Now that looks like a great job!”
While all of the six local stations featured men who went over the day’s highlights in sports, the one I revered most was CBS Channel Two’s Warner Wolf. Warner Wolf, with his endless enthusiasm, his played out jokes, and his famous catch-phrase, “Let’s go to the videotape!” was the guy I was dying to be. I knew if I could just get the chance, I could bring to the public at large my excitement about sports.
(Don’t even tell me that Warner Wolf is not enjoying his job.. What young sports fan wouldn’t dream of doing that for a living? You Tube)
I enjoyed working at both the radio and television stations at SUNY Oswego. I did sports reporting and announcing for the radio station, and I got to live out my dream of being Warner Wolf….sort of by doing the sports for the WTOP News. However, the more I heard my voice, the more I felt that it wasn’t really something that the American public wasn’t going to clamour for. I also allowed my Radio Production teacher, Professor Fritz Messere, (A founding brother of my fraternity no less) to get in my head when he explained to our class that if we were all lucky enough to get a job in radio, it was probably going to be at a radio station in Iowa (WPIG-AM) working for minimum wage, manning the overnight shifts, which meant cataloguing and putting in various “carts” into the machine for what would most likely be an automated station. While the job, as well as the pay both sounded dreadful, I never really got past the idea of “Iowa,” when I had decided that this was definitely not going to be a career path I could see myself pursuing.
I had always suspected that the odds of making it as a professional sportscaster were pretty remote. (Get it, remote?) I began to attempt to broaden the definition of what might constitute a “dream job.” I now wished to be a sportswriter. The job seemed to me about as glamorous as a high school aged boy could reasonably imagine. Who wouldn’t want to travel around with the Mets or the Yankees, go to work at Yankee or Shea Stadium, and get to speak to the great athletes that you looked up to. Who wouldn’t want to be paid to do the one thing you gladly did for free in all of your free time, talk about sports.
Image result for mike lupica getty images
The great Mike Lupica of the Daily News. When I was a teenager, as far as I was concerned, Lupica was the ideal that I fantasized about when I thought about having a career in journalism. What could be better than to have my own column in a preeminent New York City newspaper where I could write about sports every day, and have my readers lap up my thoughts, while also creating debate and dialogue in the greatest city in the world. Above, Lupica attempts to make a salient point to a noted morning talk-show host and alleged sexual harasser. (Getty Images)
I did make an attempt to get a job in journalism after graduation, but it just wasn’t in the cards. (Which is my semi-honest way of saying I wasn’t good enough.) However, the blogging sensation which swept the nation in the 2000 aught years did not escape my attention, and I eventually set up my own blogging site in 2010. Being the cautious man that I am, I commenced writing my blog in 2014, after all, what’s my rush? Besides, the world had gone almost 30 years without my missives since I had my own column in the Oswegonian, so what’s a few more years.
Once my blog was established, I sent it out to the Albany Times Union’s blogging editor for review. After some hemming and hawing, former blog editor Mike Huber inevitably was forced to recognize my “talent,” and allowed me to be published “virtually” on their blogging site. I remember telling Mike that it had always been my dream to be a writer, and he replied that it was his role in life to help make dreams come true. (Of course, if I had known that, I would have dared to dream a little larger than publishing over 4000 words per week for free, but I suppose that’s my problem.) Interestingly, when I got to know Mike a little bit, I learned that he actually always wanted to be a teacher, but ended up in world of print media. I had always wanted to be part of the media, but ended up as a teacher. We were like twin sons of different mothers. (For fans out there of ’70s “soft rock,” yes, “Twin Sons of Different Mothers” is the name of an album by Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg, so no, you haven’t lost your minds.)
Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, screen
The Times Union blog page, the place where dreams come true. Think of it as Kevin Costner’s baseball field in Field of Dreams, but instead of getting the ghosts of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, and Buck Weaver, you have me, David Kalish, and Rabbi Matt Cutler. A “Dream Team” of a different sort. For example, if you were trying to have a minyan you really couldn’t dream up a better cast. (Times Union)
Chances are, even if I had the talent to be a professional journalist, it wouldn’t have been a life I would have enjoyed. I like a certain amount of certainty. I like to know what I’m going to be doing for the day, as well as where I’m going to be resting my head when the day is done. A good journalist has to follow a story, and is never quite sure where that story may lead. I think I can say with a fairly strong sense of confidence that I ended up in the career I was meant to. History doesn’t change, and I always know how it’s going to end. I’ve taught World War Two a million times, and in the end, the Nazis always lose.
Is it simply a lack of talent that keeps us from pursuing our dreams, or is it fear? How many people who you encounter in your life are truly supportive of your goals? Doesn’t it seem like most people who you turn to for guidance or advice typically end up telling you that you probably should pursue a safer path. It’s hard not to tell people that they’re wasting their time when you know that they simply aren’t cut out for whatever career path they are determined to take. However, I’m sure that most successful people at one time or another were told to “give it up.” What if they had listened? The world would be bereft of a lot of the most talented people in our history.
I don’t regret my career choice because I believe it was the right one for me, and I would say that for the most part it’s worked out. What I regret is that I wasn’t the type of person who was more willing to take a few chances, and embrace uncertainty. Who knows? I could have made it as a broadcaster after all. Of course that would have meant spending a lot of late nights at the local automated radio station in Ottumwa, Iowa. Those carts don’t put themselves in after all.
Image result for les nessman you tube
Oh Les Nessman, to think I could have had your career. If only. (You Tube)