As the end of the year approaches, it is normal to become a little retrospective. As I think back over the past year one thing that rises to the top of my consciousness is the question, “Are you ever going to retire?”
It’s true – I passed the normal retirement age several years ago. Most of my high school and college classmates have retired. I’m in several alumni groups and yet I still work part time. “Why?” I ask myself!
At the risk of sounding slightly off bubble, my first answer to myself is that work is an optional, not a mandatory pastime. I realize that I’m extremely fortunate in that instance. So many folks my age who are still working are doing so because they have to work to pay the bills. I must admit that when things get tough at work I think to myself; “This is my last rodeo!” But after the crunch is over, I look back and realize that deep down inside I enjoyed the challenge of the busy time.
Another factor is that being a part time three days a week worker makes it all tolerable. I have the opportunity to interact with my co-workers, some of whom have been friends for over 20 years. Yet I’m not tied down to a back breaking schedule that prevents me from doing the things that I want to. Also what I do at work is extremely varied; ranging from doing voice work to developing a process for collecting and auditing electronic records generated by the elections system used in our state. I am so lucky to be able to be a small part of an incredible team of dedicated folks who make sure this important civic function runs smoothly and accurately. Each year I learn more about the election process.
That same three day per week schedule leaves me plenty of time to pursue my first love, radio. On normal weeks, I go into the office at 8:15 on Tuesdays, Wednesday’s and Thursdays to see if something has come up; some research, programming or analysis of a question. It’s never the same, and, my friends, variety IS the spice of life. Usually by 11:15 each day, my work is done and I head out in search of adventure. I have an old broadcasting friend ten years older than me who prided himself on “having a 4-5 day work month.” Mine is almost that short, a 12-15 day work month! He has cut down to special events for the television station where he has worked for over 50 years. So maybe in ten years I will do the same.
The one thing that has been taking more and more of my time is radio! This is not a bad thing because as you probably are aware this is what I love to do. My current schedule is three live shows, one on WUSC-FM and two on my internet station Our Generation Radio. I record two more shows for other stations. All in all, my mostly oldies shows are currently syndicated on seven stations around the world. Some of my shows are played on more than one station. There is even one day of the week when two of my shows are playing on two different stations at the same time. Yup, I’m in competition with myself. Maybe I’m more “off bubble” than I think I am. If I ever start knocking that other guy who’s on the air the same time I am, then I will know that the bubble has drifted outside the lines on the tube that mark the level when it is correct.
The best thing about all these shows is that all but one are recorded in my home studio. I remember back in the day while walking to the station through 3 foot high snow drifts (yeah, right) how nice it would be to be able to do my show from home. Thanks to the internet, this is now a reality. On Saturday morning’s for example, I can sit in my easy chair after breakfast with a cup of coffee near one hand, a newspaper in the other and a cat in my lap listening to the DJ on the air in front of me, broadcasting from the UK. At fifteen minutes before air time. I move into the studio with my coffee and prepare the first few songs of the show and wait for the time to rock and roll. I believe this “at home” technology will help me extend my radio hobby well into my 70s.
I saw an article in the most recent AARP publication (yes, I’m a card carrying member) about Vinton Cerf, a “Father of the Internet” who at the age of 73 is not thinking too much about retiring. He has surveyed many of his peers and found that the more successful they are the more they are continuing to work in some fashion or another. For him it is the continued interaction with younger co-workers and advances in science that makes him feel alive and curious. That about sums it up for me: doing things you want to do for a long time equates to success for me. One of my former co-workers once described me as being happiest when I’m “flying across the sky at 500 miles per hour with my hair on fire!” You can’t do that if you are retired. So there! What’s next? Oh MY!