Individuals and institutions in the media are notoriously lame when it comes to reporting about themselves, so I must apologize in advance if this column seems a bit awkward, but here goes ...
After 4 1/2 amazing years, I'm leaving my post today as senior editor here at OnMilwaukee.com. In order to squelch any rumors before they start, let me state for the record that I did not get fired, I was not downsized and I did not leave in a huff because I was miffed about OnMilwaukee.com's lack of Springsteen coverage.
I'm merely stepping away in order to devote my full attention to the 5-year-old child in my life known as "The D-List" on 540 ESPN. That scrappy little midday radio show -- which I share with Channel 12 sports director Dan Needles, producer Matt Salmon and a crew of committed listeners from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday -- started out as a sidelight. It was the "break" in a day filled with reporting, writing and editing stories at the best daily Web site in the city.
Don't get me wrong -- working at OnMilwaukee.com is plenty of fun, too. How many other offices allow employees to sample custard, taste-test beer, ride shotgun with the vice unit while looking for hookers and johns, attend bartending college and visit Las Vegas, Summerfest and other locations in the name of "work."
I don't know of very many.
In the nearly five years since I left the Journal Sentinel, my co-workers at OnMilwaukee.com have gone above and beyond the call of duty in understanding and accommodating the unusual schedule necessitated by my second job. Publisher Andy Tarnoff and President Jeff Sherman, who rescued me from the baseball beat nearly five years ago, gave me the flexibility to pursue my fledgling radio career and I'll always be grateful to them for the opportunity.
Talking about sports on the radio isn't exactly like digging ditches, but it is harder than it looks. There are plenty of qualified professionals who would make huge sacrifices for the chance to host a three-hour show in the No. 35 radio market in the United States. I have been given that chance for the past couple years and I'm ready to take off the training wheels and see how far down that road I can pedal without careening into the aforementioned ditch (or a parked car).
When I left the Brewers beat at the Journal Sentinel to join the staff at OnMilwaukee.com in 2006, a lot of people inside and outside the media biz thought I was crazy. "You're leaving an amazing job. Do you know what the hell are you doing?" they asked.
I know I'm going to get some of the same queries and puzzled looks when I head to ESPN Milwaukee, particularly with so many talented journalists scrambling to find jobs in any form of media.
Why would I -- or anyone in their right mind -- give up a job where part of the duty is sitting in an office with a bunch of talented friends and listing the 100 hottest/coolest people we know?
The short answer is that the planets aligned. In recent weeks, a handful of my radio colleagues either shifted duties or exited altogether, prompting management to inquire about expanding my horizons. I'll be doing a number of tasks for Good Karma Broadcasting, including some writing and editing for ESPNMilwaukee.com, but my immediate focus will be to book guests, plan segments and see if we can grow The D-List into an indispensable part of life for sports-crazed men between the ages of 25 and 54 -- right up there (or down there) with beer, chicken wings and internet porn.
While I look forward to the new challenges of my expanded role with ESPN Milwaukee, I definitely will miss the juice that came with working on a site that has become an indispensable part of daily life in Milwaukee. And, I'm certain I'll miss my co-workers -- Andy, Jeff, Bobby Tanzilo, Julie Lawrence, Molly Snyder, Andrew Wagner, Nick Barth, Sid Bedi, Jason McDowell, Renee Lorenz, Michelle Bigelow, Kurt Beneker, Carolynn Buser, Caroline McDonald, Jenn Hintz, Shannon Bernstein, my former Journal Sentinel colleagues Tim Cuprisin and Damien Jaques and all of our freelancers, including sassy Sarah Foster, the amazing College Dave and, of course, Dave Begel, one of the great rabble-rousers of our time.
Moving forward, I hope to stay connected with OnMilwaukee.com via occasional blogs, special projects and possible partnerships between the site and the radio station. Given the robust traffic, promising sales forecasts and excellent branding/public awareness, I'm sure OnMilwaukee.com will continue to have a huge impact on its readers and advertising partners. I'm proud to have played a small part of the site's success and I'll do whatever I can to help the cause as I move from a co-worker to No. 1 fan.
In closing, I'd like to thank the other folks who help make OnMilwaukee.com special -- the readers. Thanks for validating my decision to change employers several years ago, thanks for support and, most of all, thanks for your honesty. In addition to serving as unpaid proofreaders and B.S. detectors, you helped keep me honest with a steady stream of surly, sometimes snarky Talkbacks, heartfelt messages and kind words on the street corner or in local watering holes.
I know I speak for my soon-to-be-former colleagues when I say that creating these stories wouldn't be as fun -- not to mention financially rewarding -- without your support.
Keep up the good work, gentle readers, and I know that the talented, passionate folks inhabiting the second floor at 1930 E. North Ave. will do the same.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.