May 9, 1990. That was the day I first turned on the microphone at 98.1 KHAK in downtown Cedar Rapids. Many days it seems like only yesterday, but as my days at the station quickly come to a close, I know that couldn't be further from the truth.

I told everyone at the station at the beginning of November that I'd be retiring on February 29. January 19 was the morning I joined Brain and Courtlin to make the news known to you.

Even though January 19 to February 29 isn't much time, it didn't seem that way then. That's most definitely not the case now. For me, this week will be filled with reflection.

When I was a kid and wasn't playing wiffle ball, and announcing what was happening simultaneously, you would've often found me talking over the intros of my parents' 33 1/3 records on their home stereo. I don't know how I didn't wear out those records and, yes, they were country. For all but nine months of my career, I've played country music.

My childhood dream was to become Jack Buck's replacement as the radio voice of the St. Louis Cardinals. I spent countless hours in my bedroom listening to the man who's in four different halls of fame (Baseball, Football, Radio, and Missouri Sports). I still remember how crushed I was when he passed away in 2002.

The one problem with all of the above is I was a very shy kid. Helen Aanensen, one of my high school teachers, told me I should get into speech. Radio News Broadcasting is what I needed to do, I remember her telling me. I'm glad I listened.

After working at five different stations over a short time, I was lucky enough to be hired at KHAK in the spring of 1990 by Tim Closson. He would later become a member of the Country Radio Hall of Fame.

When Closson moved on to a larger market, he was replaced by Tim Roberts. He too moved on to a larger market and is now in the Country Radio Hall of Fame.

Jeff Winfield then took over. He left the station to become Director of Programming for another radio company. That was in the fall of 2002. I've been trying to hold KHAK to the standards of those three great men, whom I'm proud to still call my friends, ever since.

When Closson hired me in 1990, I was a part-timer for a couple of months before taking over the full-time 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. slot. I later spent several years working from 7 to midnight before becoming the director of commercial production. I had that job when I took over as Program Director in October of 2002.

During all my years here, one thing has been a constant. I've been able to talk to you for two, four, or five hours every day. We've shared a lot during that time.

Together we've seen the rise of Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Luke Combs, and so many more.

Unfortunately, most of the things that stick in my head from my time on the air are for bad reasons. I was on the air the morning the Alfred R. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in Oklahoma City and when the Space Shuttle Columbia blew up on reentry into the atmosphere. I had to report the death of Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry in a helicopter crash. The hardest was announcing the bodies of missing Evansdale children Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins had been found.

Through the years, we've gone through a lot of things together. When Julie and I lost our dog Cooper in 2016, you supported us as we tried to find him. You poured your heart out to us again two years ago when our dog Casey passed away unexpectedly.

We fought through the floods of 1993, 2008, and 2016 together. The August 10, 2020 derecho. We came back from all of them stronger. The strength and perseverance of the people who live here are amazing.

There's been so much good, too. We've enjoyed incredible concerts together. We've teamed up to help kids during our annual Children's Miracle Network Radiothons and to brighten the day for veterans with Valentines for Vets. We've heard you holler at us on stages and in parades. We've known each other for years. We've become friends.

That last part is what makes this week difficult for me. I'm not just leaving a job, I'll miss friends inside and outside the walls of the station. For years, KHAK used the slogan "a part of your life." To all of you, I'm so glad you've been part of mine for nearly 34 years. Thank you for everything. I'm not going to say goodbye, because while I'm leaving the radio, I'm not leaving Cedar Rapids. I'll see you around town. God bless.

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Gallery Credit: Courtlin

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