It’s both fun and challenging to have two careers. And it certainly increases one’s opportunity to interact with interesting people. In my case it has allowed me to meet two individuals that have impacted history.
All the years I have spent on the radio have given me the excuse to interview countless TV idols, rock stars, actors, sports legends, politicians and even a Beatle.
The highlight of all of those encounters was the chance to spend time with Les Paul. While his Waukesha birthplace puts him in the native son category, this was a man who changed the course of all of music … all over the world.
Les Paul basically invented the solid body electric guitar, leading the way to the sound of virtually all the music we listen to. Not only that, but he was responsible for multi-track recording and overdubbing. He even invented that little thing that holds a harmonica around the neck of a guitar player. And he was one of the first human beings ever on television.
A number of years ago when Les had not been home to Wisconsin for about a decade, he made a couple of appearances in the area culminating in a live show. I was invited to emcee that concert, and I have to say I was kind of taking it for granted. When the organizers called me and asked if it was OK if I shared the stage with a radio team from Chicago, I thought, "Of course, why are you even asking me? It’s just a typical ‘Ladies and gentleman, please welcome …’"
That evening as I drove to the venue and saw TV trucks from every station, I guess I started to realize this was something really special. It got very special real quick when the 90 year old Les blew the crowd away. And then CRAZY SPECIAL the next day…
I was asked to interview Les for a couple hours in front of an HD film crew for a comprehensive narrative of his career. (Luckily, the camera was only on him … I was just facilitating). I walked away from the interview exhausted. While we touched upon his entire career and we hit it off, I just couldn’t put my finger on why that afternoon would stay with me my whole life. It hit me later: I was in the presence of true genius.
In August of 2009 I spoke at his funeral. Somehow, someway, as I stood in front of the crowd just before the military salute for the man who changed so much, a few words just popped in my head. I said, "I can’t imagine a world without music and I can’t imagine music without Les Paul."
My commercial real estate career has not only been rewarding but has allowed me, again, access to the kind of people that quite simply make a difference. Working for individuals who create businesses that help families and communities has been amazingly rewarding. I get to go along for the ride with a number of great organizations and witness both skylines changing and jobs created.
Back in the ‘90s when Alan H. Bud Selig became Commissioner of Major League Baseball and brought that prestigious office to Milwaukee, he needed an actual office for that office. I was honored and thrilled to assist in that search and negotiation. And while it was just a little farther from his usual lunch spot, that move to downtown Milwaukee began something we shouldn’t take for granted: the epicenter of baseball decisions right here in our area for the past couple decades.
And with the recent affirmation that Bud Selig’s retirement will actually occur, I am reminded that he is another person whose path I lucked into crossing that will go down in history.
Aside from longevity, think about what he has accomplished. Attendance and financial health have never been better for MLB. Interleague play, wild card playoffs (not to mention intense "play in" games) and revenue sharing have come under his watch.
Obviously, the criticism comes with the job, and the first thing you hear about is the steroid era. Aside from now having the strictest rules in any major sport you have to bear in mind that what couldn’t be done is done. The schism between the owners and the union was the issue that had to be tackled. Bud went at the cause, not just the symptoms. To implement revenue sharing from the owners and obtain drug testing from the union is an accomplishment that was unthinkable at one point.
Of course, the previous paragraph is a lightning rod for debate. I respect that. But I strongly declare that beyond any reasonable discussion is the absolute fact that there would be no major league baseball in Milwaukee without him. No Brewers. No Miller Park. No way.
Aside from the thrill of getting Bud’s autograph on a few leases, my biggest thrill was going along with him to a playoff game in Detroit in 2006. Aside from the plane ride and rubbing elbows with Tigers legend Al Kaline (my first glove was an Al Kaline – that’s how I knew who he was) at one point while watching the game I realized I was watching the game with the Commissioner, one of only 9 since the mid-1800s. By the way, I had no ticket stub so no proof that I was at that game. But I had an impactful memory that will last a lifetime.
I sometimes have a challenge having two jobs. But I have no doubt that it is worth it.
I have met people who have put their mark on history. The impact of the two men mentioned here is felt in numerous nations. I got to experience a sliver of their careers. We all get to claim them as being from our area. Forever.
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