My Epic Weekend In Pictures: A Negative was one of my best birthday gifts.

Normally we start my Epic Weekend In Pictures with Thursday or Friday of last week. This week, we will throw it back to when I was 12 years old. I refer to myself as a one percenter, not in finances, but in career happiness and luck. At 12 years old, I was listening to the late radio station WBCN-FM in Boston. My favorite bands like Pearl Jam were on the radio all the time, and this afternoon DJ named Mark Parenteau was hilarious on the air. The DJs all sounded so cool, you would have thought they were backstage hanging out with Pearl Jam all the time. I immediately knew, BAM. I wanted to someday be an afternoon radio guy. I then quickly started researching and learned that Program Directors help run behind the scenes of radio stations. Their Program Director Oedipus was always saying cool quotes in the newspapers. Boom. While I didn't know much about what either entailed, I knew that's what I wanted to do with my life.

Folks working in our radio industry know that success doesn't happen overnight, nor by accident. Even Ryan Seacrest's first job at a radio station was on their street team driving their vans to station appearances. My late Grammy always wanted me to be another version of Seacrest in the early 2000s when American Idol was on getting 40 million viewers a week. I told her while I had great respect for all he did, my main goal was to be the Program Director behind the scenes coaching the radio stars. I have always loved coaching. I'm more star struck when I meet coaches than athletes.

Everything I did growing up was to gain a successful radio career. I joined my college radio station at Bridgewater State University my very first day of school. By senior year I was working 40 hours a week while being a full time college student, paying off my tuition a couple months before I graduated. I knew radio careers weren't going to be financially lucrative, so I always strove to get the best value possible.

I then through Bridgewater State was able to get an internship at the late WBMX, now Mix 104.1 in Boston. I had so many amazing mentors there throughout the years it would take me a week to list all of them. Many of them are still amazing friends to me today. I started off as a van driver and then board operator producer, working every overnight shift and holiday you can imagine. Many in radio have this same story. I was able to work my way up to Morning show technical director, and helped launch a brand new morning show from 12th to 1st in 18 months. I was able to learn so much from some of the best in our industry, always trying to be a sponge. I was able to become Assistant Program Director at the late WTKK 96.9 station in Boston.

In radio, you have to be able to move to opportunity. I spent several months interviewing in 2013 to become Program Director here at WSUS + WHCY Max 106.3 In mid November, I had my first in person interview. Our Market President Chuck Benfer offered me the position, and I accepted. While leaving I casually asked "when is my first day by the way, after the holidays?" Chuck said to me "we would like you to start Monday." This was in 5 days! Uprooting my whole life, moving away from all of my family and friends in my 31 year Boston life. Time for a major change. When I got home and told my parents, we were at first sad. Monday, November 25th 2013 would be my first ever Birthday where I couldn't be with them on that day. We then quickly realized after that, Monday, November 25th 2013 was going to be my first ever day as Program Director and afternoon guy. 20 years later, my dream came around full circle. My birthday will always be my anniversary starting here in Sussex County, New Jersey.

We still joke to this day that my Birthday present that year was Steve Andrews and WSUS. LOL.

My birthday this year was intense at times. Over the last couple of months, I've been losing a ton of sleep worrying nonstop about whether or not I would be able to see my parents and sister. I already haven't seen them in 3 months, normally I see them every single month. The uncertainty was weighing over me, and Awesome Girlfriend Megan knew that. She helped me a few weeks ago find an online at home test kit, that guaranteed results within 48 hours. The Massachusetts rule is that if you're from Jersey visiting, you must quarantine for 14 days OR produce a negative test within 72 hours of you arriving. This meant I had little margin for error. I tested myself Monday morning, mailed it out overnight immediately and waited, and prayed.

Wednesday morning at 6:30 my Madre called me to wish me a happy birthday. I broke down and cried because I couldn't promise that I could come home and see them. By 10:30am, I got the email saying my results were ready. My heart and stomach all sank while I was opening the results and downloading. We had so much riding on this. When I saw the Negative result I was elated. I texted Meg the good news. I ran into our sister station NNJ's studio and hugged our morning guy Borasio. I called my Dad with tears of joy now telling him that yep, I'm coming home for my birthday and Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was much more low key than normal. We normally have 14 people, this year we had 7. We were able to keep the windows open with it being mild out which was a great lucky break for us. My parents and Uncle Dan still cooked two turkeys like a normal year. Some habits are tough to break I suppose, LOL. I had a great time relaxing my parents. Even though I was turning 39, Madre still put a 4th candle on my birthday ice cream cake to round me up. OUCH! This was also an interesting experiment, instead of blowing out candles I waved them out. That was an interesting change of pace for sure.

Black Friday I went to Patriots Place at Gillette Stadium. I bought The Dynasty book on the Patriots by author Jeff Benedict. I read over 100 pages of this 559 page book already and LOVE it. I eat, sleep and breathe the Patriots and have for many years, there were many behind the scene stories that even I didn't know. I highly recommend this book for the Patriot fan in your world. I can't even put the book down it's so riveting.

Getting to run at the Mansfield Bike Park was a thrill for me, my first time running outside in 4 years. The pinched nerve in my Caboose is still sore a few days later, but I'm sure my friends at Trinity Rehab in Sparta will be able to help my Caboose like they always do.

Getting to see my sister Suzanne's condo she just bought was great too. She and my Dad have worked very hard on it these past 6 weeks and were psyched to show me their progress.

I left Sunday morning at 8:07am. My first year here in Jersey coming back from Boston I left around 10am. It took me 7 hours to get back here to Jersey. I learned. If you are on the road before 9, you're in decent shape, if not, you're in trouble. I was able to make it to The Cottage in Franklin just in time for my Patriots. I was happy to see us get lucky and pull off that victory. Right before kick off my dear friend Vince Bell was excited to show me this primitive radio he brought over from South Africa over 25 years ago. We couldn't believe it still worked. He said "let's see if we can get 102.3 WSUS on it!" Surely enough, it worked!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my Epic Weekend In Pictures. Getting that Negative Covid test, allowing me to see my family for my birthday and Thanksgiving was seriously one of the best gifts I have ever received. I'm a very lucky guy. I hope you had a great weekend too. Time to start planning next weekend back in Jersey!