Another Mental Health Hero

I’m not usually asked why Batman – as in my favorite superhero – but IF I were the answer would be simple. We relate.

Except for his infinite wealth, good looks and peak physical and mental prowess, we relate.

See, Batman at least has PTSD. Batman and Psychology: A Dark And Stormy Night is a must-read for any Batman fan, especially those, like me, who appreciate the world of psychology.

A guy who dresses up as a bat clearly has issues. 

Let’s rewind though.

My dad loved the cheesy, campy Batman (internet required POW!) series from the 60s. I always enjoyed when the Caped Crusader showed up in episodes of Scooby Doo. My dad also took me to see 1989’s cinematic rebirth of Batman with Michael Keaton (and the ones that followed, with alternating actors, tight leather, nipples and Arnold). The thing that crystallized my worship of the Dark Knight was the seminal and iconic Batman: The Animated Series.

Batman TAS used the same audacious Danny Elfman music from the movies, it offered a pristine and timeless setting, and the voice acting, by Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and more, was enthralling. There’s nothing to dislike about the series, except how it got fused into other animated DC properties in later seasons.

Then, mostly because of the reviled Batman and Robin, the character’s popularity went dormant for nearly a decade. I wasn’t a comic book reader either, and I’d been mostly focused on my radio career during the Dark Knight’s dismal years anyway.

In classic VerbosEric fashion, this is dragging, so let’s move…

Batman Begins happened in 2005, and after I saw it I rushed home and immediately clumsily pecked out a Myspace blog post about it!

The Knight’s Tale, The Patriot and Brokeback Mountain star was cast as the sequel’s Joker, and I hungered for every morsel of proto-Internet gossip I could read leading up to 2008’s The Dark Knight.

After it, and the midnight showing I was at THREE hours early for, I went to work. I needed to be on the air at 6am anyway, so why not get in around 4(!) and pound out a several thousand word primitive Think Piece about the movie I’d just been mesmerized by. It was mostly extolling how remarkable Heath Ledger’s performance was and how it was really a Joker movie more than a Batman one. I’m disappointed I never kept the piece; if for nothing more than to see how my writing has advanced in ten years. Uhh, I think it’s better!

Bruce Wayne’s parents were the impetus behind the creation of Batman. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was the same for my veneration for the character. And in some ways it (the character and what I was about to embark on) it magnified a dark shroud of depression I was about to encounter.

There’d been sensational Batman stories, arcs and graphic novels since Frank Miller’s transformative Year One run.

I caught up on almost all of them, quickly.

Most of them, thanks to Miller’s work, were bleak and grim. I relished that. Too much. Through some unusual literary osmosis, I adopted a lot of the traits I was reading about. After all, I knew I was bipolar at this point. And I knew the depression part of the disorder hit me like one of Batman’s fists. So hey, why not brood like Batman too!

Like I said, I felt like I could relate to Bruce Wayne/Batman. He was smart, successful, and poor (because of his night gig) at relationships and relatively speaking, so was I. It was mostly though, because he was two different people. Arrogant playboy and selfless vigilante for his city. Me, outgoing on air personality, but really an introvert who was borderline misanthropic. Still am, but I just manage it better. Get off the planet, you’re a dick! Just kidding. Some of you are though, for real!

In short, Batman resided in dark places physically and emotionally, and because of my own mental frailty at the time, I allowed the character I glorified to bring me down into the darkness too. You merely adopted the dark…

2005 was a the year I (enlighteningly) got a diagnosis. After all this Batman captivation, I began to think about suicide.

I’m still here though! And if you’ve followed my thoughts or journey, you know I’m presently in a good place. My outlook and mood are bright and hopeful like Superman’s Metropolis, rather than Batman’s dour depressing Gotham.

Your internal mouth is now asking if you there’s another point to this post. Yes! Yes, there is.

Moon Knight!

Usually I vividly recall how, why and even when, my infatuation with a superhero or villain began.

With this character, I think I just saw some cool art and read that he had similarities to Bruce Wayne/Batman and I was superficially and instantly interested. Actually read the comics?! Pffffft. Ridiculous. Slick desktop theme art and Wikipedia were enough for me!

Hold your Moonie hipster angst though. Since I’ve had Marvel Unlimited – a massive back catalog – I’ve done the required and enjoyable Moon Knight reading.

Then, just last week, there was Moon Knight news! Rewind three weeks, a vendor at Toledo’s Fantasticon suggested some MK titles to check out. And I think I found them just over the weekend.

They were written by Jeff Lemire, whose run on Green Arrow I was fond of.

And holy mental health woes Batman! Lemire made mental illness THE zeitgeist of his run with the character.

The first collected edition is called Lunatic. You know, in these discussions, I loathe the use of that word, for stigmatic reasons. A description of Lunatic from the Amazon link you just went past: Marc Spector (a.k.a. Moon Knight/Jake Lockley/Steven Grant) has been fighting criminals and keeping New York City safe for years… or has he? When he wakes up in an insane asylum with no powers and a lifetime’s worth of medical records, his whole identity (indentities) are called into question. Something is wrong, but is that something Marc Spector himself?

That’s DID. Disassociative Identity Disorder, or what it used to be, Multiple Personality Disorder.

It’s kind of a tacky callback to a practice of decades ago, but the end of the comics have Lemire answering Moon Missives. Even the name is alliteratively trite. Once I saw these…

mk2mk 1

I knew I had to put this on your mental health radar. Right besides, Batman and me.

Madness Is Like Gravity…

“Madness is like gravity. All it takes is a little push.”

Madness in this case is depression. As I say, the not-so-fun half of my Bipolar II.

The little push was a fun, friend-making, successful week doing some substitute cohosting on 96.3 WDVD in Detroit for a week.

ERIC! THIS SEEMS COUNTERINTUITIVE. HOW CAN SUCH A THING HAVE WROUGHT DEPRESSION?!

Glad you asked. Let me explain the enimga. But first, some of my customary verbosity.

A long time ago when I had something called a J-O-B I often questioned my ability to manage my stress. I doubted whether I had acceptable coping mechanisms in place to deal with seemingly endless emails and something always being needed, or some unfinished work left behind. When you’re immersed in it – especially when it’s something you’re passionate about – it’s hard to have an accurate innate perspective of oneself. Besides, I wanted to justify my voice in the chorus of those questioning a younger generation whose coping abilities are often (wrongly, or rightly) doubted.

In hindsight I believe my professional survival skills were mostly, good enough. Or, a passing grade at least. In reality, I probably HAD bitten off more than I could chew. However, I began to lose track of what defined success. The professional target always seemed to be moving. In this case, getting farther and farther away through no fault of my own. I think for the most part when the hazy cloud of stress would subside, I was proud and thankful for what I achieved, and the relationships I built. I still am.

I’m not the first to say it, but I ALWAYS try to say it when the opportunity presents itself…

This is not curable, but it is treatable. 

I was so wrapped up in the exhilaration of last week’s accomplishments, I didn’t see the inevitable emotional let-down on the horizon.

I went from having a mostly full, and very, very early day where I felt I was part of something high functioning and much grander than myself to…not having that. Outside of the sluggishness of the holidays, I’ve stayed professionally and socially busy enough to fend off any devilish boredom that could’ve wreaked havoc on my mood.

A basin of alcohol over the weekend, and an eBay rampage and I was skidding toward something I’ve managed to avoid amid my unemployment; an extended depressive episode.

My depression was pushed. I had to forcefully punch back!

The remedy? Again, as I always say, do the opposite of the depression is telling you/me to do. No getting buzzed or drunk for a bit. But even more potently than that, get back into the routine I was successfully functioning in prior to 3:26am wake ups. Also, make a coffee date with a dear friend. Ahhhh, now the inertia is rattled! No problem getting to the gym, picking out a new recipe for the evening, slicing through Kroger for the ingredients, catching up on some websites I literally slept through for two of three days, and finishing up with some minor professional tasks.

It’s just a day, but the first blow has been triumphantly landed on a foe that had slayed me too many times.

This was treacherous. Had I not continued to build and refine my mental muscles, it would’ve been simple to slip down a very dark road; one I cannot travel as I try to retain my professional bearings.

 

 

THLINKS 3.9.18

A Joker movie, strongly based on the seminal The Killing Joke, has enormous potential. Just keep anyone who’s touched a DC/WB movie so far, far away from it.

On why the Oscars are tumbling, tumbling away.

RDJ has a lot of balls in the air. Including more Sherlock Holmes. Good, cuz BC let me down in the last season of Sherlock.

One of the more inspiring profiles I’ve read in some time. Started his own site, worked in the NBA, enamored with advanced data, Jewish.

It could be the end of Toys R Us.

Is MoviePass tracking you? I still haven’t gotten it.

Yes, that’s a Chinese space station plummeting towards you.

Slamming Star Wars for not further diversifying…while a woman is overseeing ALL things under the umbrella.

THLINKS 3.8.18

Trump’s tariff nonsense trying to give back to American steel companies what they never should’ve lost but for their own hubris.

Happy Jessica Jones day! All about her ratty jeans.

Is the show out today, not Netflix’s usual Friday release day, because of International Women’s Day.

Yes, Alexa is laughing at you. Yes, Amazon knows about it.

Like a podcast version of techy Black Mirror shit. The part about deep fakes starting a nuclear war uhhhhhh.

Coke with alcohol, made by Coke.

Some of Best Buy’s Geek Squad is working for the FBI.

A song by Rudimental is the best Macklemore song since Same Love. It features Macklemore and Jess Glynne.

I think it’s best for Lebron to stay in Cleveland with another 1+1 deal. But the billboard wars have moved to LA.

THLINKS 3.7.18

Pooh swoops in to save the business-day for Christopher Robin. Why!?

YES. More and better superhero video games PLEASE.

The teaser-iest teaser ever for Luke Cage Season 2, which I HOPE is cut down from 13 episodes.

The most dangerous animals in America. Don’t forget about hippos!

Thousands of words on Star Wars: Rebels.

Forget inclusion riders. HIRE. THE. BEST. PEOPLE. Regardless of race, sexuality, etc.

School shooters attempting to outdo one another.

THLINKS 3.6.2018

What was before The Big Bang? Stephen Hawking says nothing. And if he says it, believe him.

Hypersonic weapons are coming. I’ve always wondered how long it would take Iron Man to get from place to place. Like Malibu, to the Middle East in the first movie.

I believe that Sam Hinkie is brilliant. I was also 100% behind The Process the Sixers undertook. In hindsight, I do think doing what he did wasn’t THAT difficult.

Why is there a movie about Christopher Robin? Wasn’t he an extremely troubled child? Is the movie his adult life as some kind of addict?

Hooray for Daredevil Season 3.

A Birthday For My Career

Having Q102 in my AOL profile in 1997 is almost solely responsible for where I am now.

I’ve been trying, and failing, at #500wordseveryday. I fear I may struggle to keep this under 1500 words. I’ll do my best to properly acknowledge this time in my career but also keep the story moving and interesting. Keep up. Here, we, go Joker GIF.

Jay Towers, Q102’s midday DJ and Music Director was doing some AOL profile searching in the fall of 1997. Mine noted my favorite radio station that I’d grown up listening to, 102.1. Q102. Because this was before anything streamed, I missed that station as I was away at Towson University for my C level freshman (and only) semester in the suburb of Baltimore.

#tbt from 2000. #radio #dj #00s #aughts

A post shared by Eric Chase (@chase_eric) on

Jay messaged me and thanked me for listening.

I decided to transfer to Temple University, home in Philly. Where I had transportation. As opposed to being affixed to campus.

Sorry, if that was a sudden pivot. I want to keep this moving.

I reached back out to Jay and told him I was going to school to be in radio, and in February of 1998 – back when dinosaurs and CDs roamed the earth – I began a faux internship at Q102!

I didn’t sign any papers nor did I need anything on school letterhead. I just began showing up to 2 Bala Plaza in Bala Cynwyd, PA – the media hub of the Philly region – and started putting away Jay’s CDs after the songs played, and got him lunch from the snack place on the first level. If that doesn’t make it MORE official than it was, nothing would! Suck it Temple broadcasting and comm advisors!

I also met the Program Director. The frightening and laconic morning host who I listened to for years, Glenn Kalina. He was tall and broodingly referred to me as Aaaaaaaaaric. Which was like eight A’s more than my legal name actually had.

I read trade magazines, ‘fired’ buttons on the control board, listened to Jay conduct music calls and business, watched the day to day operations of a radio station and learned more in a tiny period of time than I would have if I’d stayed all four years at Temple to get into radio.

I also pulled a CD out of the player seconds after it began playing – on the air. NBD right? It was in the middle of a station contest called 10 In A Row Or $10,000. Woops. “Technical glitch.” Catastrophe and internship termination averted!

Over the summer I was going to the station everyday, for about 4 or 5 hours to hang with Jay. You may find this shocking, but people liked me. Diego, the super famous stunt guy and AM cohost, Bartel, the cool guy that hosted all the clubs (remember him), and production and sales people all over the building welcomed me. I was Jay’s guy, and people knew and respected that. They liked him a lot.

Apparently, and to my surprise and even horror, Glenn liked me too. He hired me to be a board op slash producer. The 21 year old that almost caused a $10,000 mistake was IN. And, I think, probably making more then per hour, than I am now at Cumulus. I specifically recall  Jay saying he made sure to get me more than the least amount possible and Glenn was cool with that.

Fuck. It’s 500 words and we have 19-plus years and ALL of the full time jobs to get to.

Maximum warp to the spring of 1999.

Jay moved back to Detroit where he’d had a ton of success on 93.1 DRQ a pop/dance station. He told me to sit tight and he’ll try to bring me out.

The clock was ticking with Barry (my dad) who’d seen my 0.0 Fall ’98 grades thanks to going to the radio station everyday – not class – beginning in October of that year. “Six months, get something in radio, or back to school.”

We will skip the bizarre hotel sexacapades and radio debacle in Saginaw and get right to Detroit, June of 1999.

I was a part timer at 93.1 DRQ! Had I mentioned I never wanted to be ON THE AIR? I liked all the picking of songs and playlist scheduling that I learned from Jay at Q. I wanted to do that! And I did. But I also had to be on the air…and run the board for Jay’s very early morning show when it was on location – someplace usually warm and tropical – and for various other live events.

Tic Tak. What? Mark Allen DRQ night guy. He, who essentially created a decade of radio acolytes and rip off versions of himself. Myself included to a (successful?) degree. He taught me how to break rules, how to correctly engage an audience over the phone, how to titillate within in reason and how to pitch Creed – Higher up 7% so Scott Stapp sounds like a soprano. In short, Tak taught myself any others (Stick, Ol’ Dirty, Limpy, Big Bob + Mikey, etc) how to be emotionally compelling. And that in radio is how you became truly successful.

At times, Alex Tear, our Program Director hated it. To paraphrase, I don’t need a bunch of Tak’s running around here. I think most of us were able to balance what Tak was preaching while still making sure Alex kept us on the schedule. To this day Alex is still a valuable mentor of mine.

I was still part time. I had a load of DJ and club hosting gigs. I was probably making $60,000 or so a year, most of it under the table.

In September of 2002 both of the above ended. I made a salary of $25,000 and was full time! WPYO, Orlando’s Party Station 95.3 Party. Bartel was the PD, and he courageously hired his Philly brethren to cohost the morning show with Gloria Johnson. We called it the Party Playhouse. Best place I ever lived. It was not the best place I ever worked. A lot of that was my fault. Being a stubborn, indignant 22-23 year old was the impetus behind that. I did make a LIFELONG friend, who you may recall me mentioning before, DJ Jake!

Things were squirrely barely a year into being at PYO. Bartel left for Dallas and Gloria wanted to stab me. There was a cascade of potentially life altering poor social decisions. Then, I made possibly the most geographically questionable move in radio history. From Orlando to Saginaw, just as winter was settling in.

Best group of people I worked with. Worst place I ever lived. Why did it feel so much colder and snowier than down 75 in Detroit? Why was fashion and lifestyle like 5 years behind everywhere else?

This was the locale where my Bipolar, the depression and anxiety unveiled itself for all to endure.

August 2005 my best friend and WIOG Saginaw Program Director, Brent Carey, says we need to talk. And to see him as soon as I get home from my excursion back home to Philly.

Anxiety levels have gone hypernova.

He’s taking a job at WTWR, Tower 98-3 in Toledo (but in Monroe) with Cumulus. At the time they had a troubled reputation for a lot of edict driven – and very questionable – programming decisions. I drove to Monroe and thought NOPE.

Brent eventually convinced me it was the right move. It was! We beat the snot out of 92.5 KISS FM in about five months. Then in the tenth month or so, Brent got fired. We did things mostly our way and won. Much of corporate America doesn’t like that. After a face to face with the man in power, who’d come to Toledo and summoned me down from Monroe, on 9/11/2006 I was fired. Corporate ‘Merica!

This wasn’t awful. I’d been working, hard, and moving around often for seven years. Should I still be doing this!?

Jasmine and I moved home to Philly to find out.

Some of this is going to be familiar to some of you so I’ll hurry this up.

Applied for a job at B104 in Allentown. They were a veryveryveryveryveryveryveryvery unhip and unconventional top forty station. No way they’d hire someone with my format background and possibly raunchy aircheck tape. They’d pass it along to others in the Clear Channel chain of stations where I’d be a better fit.

They offered. I accepted.

I commuted one hour each day/way from Philly to Allentown from November 2006 to June 2007. A therapist I was seeing suggested ‘trying it out’ with a three month lease somewhere. It turned into a lease that ended in December of 2011.

Meantime, I was allowed and encouraged (with great autonomy) to transform B104 into a more modern station, achieve a dream goal of doing sports talk radio with the inexorably aggravating but gifted Bob Holder (and the tireless Eagle Jeff!) and make scores of lifetime friends and connections. From in-the-building coworkers like Mandy, Mike, Christine (heart emoji), and on and on, to industry friends like Joe Daddio, Julie Kubacki, and more.

Boredom had set in though. I like creating things, not necessarily the monotony of maintaining them.

BACK to Detroit, with much thanks to Jay (and Michael McCoy), to WDFN. It was the station that created sports talk radio in the Motor City. It had been ignored and mistreated, but I was given the chance to breathe love and passion back into it.

Not sixty days into my time back in Detroit, just after I’d delivered my vision for the station, like a quarter of the programming staff was fired. Sad face emoji.

That was the spark that set off the most depressing months of my life. So much so, that in June I discovered people had vacation days given to them by the company (I liked my job too much to use them before) and I needed them to vanish, for an entire week. No work, no phone, no email. “Eric, are you alive,” Kreger and Doug must’ve wondered.

Shit, coming up on 1500 words.

Mercifully, I was let go, along with many many others, in early December of 2012.

As I walking in the door to my Southfield apartment, before Diddy could even get in the air to greet me, Nathan is calling me inviting me to work at KISS FM in Toledo. Wut? How’d he even know I was let go? I barely knew.

Let me think about it. Radio did me dirty again, and I’m not sure if I can keep on in this relationship.

Well, Toledo.

All that stuff happened that you probably have followed (THANK YOU), and here we are. Yeah, same guy in Detroit nabbed me again. We are NOT going for the hat trick. I know not to go Kim Jung Un on bridges, but I also know which ones not to cross anymore either.

Just because I’m not currently working full time doesn’t mean I’m not still in radio!

Something I read from this radio consultancy blog over the summer has adjusted my perspective moving forward with my twenty-plus year career; treat your employment as a partnership! It doesn’t mean denigrate or dismiss your employer but absolutely be sure that they recognize your value. I have been successful, I have shared my knowledge and passion with scores of people wanting to be in the business, I even came to enjoy being on the air(!) and gotten decent at it on certain days with the right amount of coffee. I am fucking really good at what I do.  

Most importantly, I have made me, me! And I’m proud of who and what I’ve become and how I truly believe I have positively affected others who have been a part of my life. Especially the really patient people. I owe you all a drink. Water. Cuz it’s a lot of you!

AOL may be dead and gone, but without it, and Jay, I may be just finally exiting school debt working at a JOB. Fuck that!

Another couple people that MUST be acknowledged and I’m sure I’ll still have forgotten too many. PJ, Jeremy, Nickypooh, Puddin’, Geddes, Wodi, Matt Jewish, Steph, LC, Aaaaaaaaaron (both), Melburto, Bob Burke here, DJ Tommy Nappi, Howard Lesnick, Jon Lewis, Rich Lewis, Collllllllla, Nasty Nick Roddy, Grooves, TL and more and more. 

Oh, Cumulus Detroit has invited me to do some morning show fill in next week here. I will be competing AGAINST Jay LOL.

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