There's a lot of positives to the media biz....one of those being that you get a chance to change up the life experience from time to time. Explore new cities. Meet new people. Take on a new job. There's really not a lot of downside, provided you take a positive attitude with you.
Calgary presented some challenges for me...some worked out well and a few did not. But that's life. However, I really enjoyed my 16 months in Southern Alberta and I learned a lot.
The good stuff?
Too often I simply drove through Calgary on the way to Banff, so never really had a chance to absorb it fully or learn how it ticks. As is the case with any big city, it's the people that you meet that leave the biggest mark on you. Everyone was exceptionally welcoming and prepared to go the extra mile to make sure I loved the city. They couldn't do enough...and I can't thank you enough.
There's also the 'can do' attitude and swagger. Rather than question whether or not the city can do it, they forge ahead with bravado and gusto. Some would suggest that the city is cocky, but I see it as progressive in its thinking. The city is not timid about wanting to get things done- they just do it without endless debate...get it done. Once they've done it, they'll be the first one to proudly tell you that anything is possible if you believe in it.
Winter...yes...you get one.
But with constant warm Pacific air pulsating over the Rockies to break things up, it's pretty easy to take. Wasn't quite ready for the wind but that's the price you pay.
Location. Location. Location.
The ability to drive away for an afternoon 'mental break' to the Rockies was totally therapeutic. To have all those BIG city benefits yet be able to drive to Banff or Canmore for a nice dinner just can't be overstated. It's great.
The bad stuff?
The traffic volume is awful...AND don't get me started on how much I learned to hate Deerfoot Trail. Two independent world wide Quality of Life surveys love the city in many ways, but hated the traffic.
Also found it weird how obsessive the city is about its rivalry with Edmonton. Ya, there's the sports thing...and that's great. Nothing wrong with that. But having now lived in both cities, it's the City to the North that seems to know when to turn it OFF. Just found it far more petty in Calgary with no OFF switch. Couldn't quite get a handle on why, especially when you consider the overall outward confidence of the city.
Overall? Loved it.
Why leave? Really quite simple...three reasons.
Firstly, courtesy of yet another NHL lockout, my passion level started to drop dramatically. Thanks to the greed of many...my 'give a shit' meter dropped below zero. I've lost respect for many of the players and couldn't give a damn about the owners. Bad combination for one who covers sports for a living. I couldn't have imagined going into the Flames locker room in future with that type of feeling...trying to fake interest. Just not in my DNA.
Secondly, my wife worked damn hard to get relocated in Calgary but it just never materialized. So after 16 months I decided to pack it in and return to my family. I'm content wherever my family is...my number one priority.
Finally, after 23 years of broadcasting on-the-air, I just felt like it was time to hang up the microphone and head into a new phase of my media life. Better to make the decision and move on...before being told to move on. I've watched far too many colleagues get escorted out the door by security. Never wanted to end my career like that. So decided to ask for the release from my two year contract...plus end it with some class and satisfaction.
A SPECIAL thank you to Pat Steinberg, Hockey Hall of Famer Peter Maher and former slick NHL playmaker Mike Rogers for everything. Working with those guys on a daily basis during the Flames season kept it fun and challenging. The best times were on a Game Day in the Hot Stove Lounge. Loved it. Also enjoyed working with many talented folks at the Flames, Sportsnet 960, 660News, JACK fm and at LITE 95.
Because I love the broadcasting business so much, it was time to reinvent myself once again. I will be joining the Sales team at Newcap Radio in Edmonton starting on December 17th and I'm really looking forward to it. I have worked with about 85% of the staff there through the years at various other radio stations, so it's like putting on a warm, comfortable old sweater.
Finally...thanks to everyone in Calgary for everything...just wish I could have stayed longer because you made it so much fun! But forward march!