BRIDGES: BURNT 


The following is a fictitious interview between New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon and former radio talk show host Drew Garabo. Any resemblance to reality is no coincidence.

Drew Garabo: Tonight we're going to talk to Corey Dillon. This dude came from a torturous situation in Cincinnati, where all anyone could talk about was his "bad" attitude. After being traded to New England, everyone acted like he was going to be a locker-room cancer, but all he's done is put up career numbers and lead the Patriots back to the Super Bowl. Corey, thanks for joining us tonight and for helping my favorite football team turn into a dynasty.

Corey Dillon: No problem, dog. Thanks for having me on your show, Drew. Let me say hey to Melanie as well. That girl has got it going on. No, Tuddle … I'm not going to give you a shout-out. Stop whining so much.

DG: I have to be really honest with you; your story is such a personal inspiration to me.

CD: How so?

DG: Well, for those listeners who don't know, Corey was a huge asset to the Bengals, but the team surrounded him with no one, and it was anything but a winning situation. Instead of just putting up with it, Corey let it be known he wanted to play for a winner. Cincinnati chose to take that as a personal affront, and benched Corey and let him earn millions without playing. When the Patriots came calling, they got him for a measly second-round draft pick. Of course, Corey ended up having a huge season and is a big reason the Pats were in the Super Bowl.

Anyway, the reason his bio is so interesting to me is because I spent a few years with a radio organization that didn't know what to do with me and didn't have enough faith in my abilities. I knew I could rise to the top if given the chance, but all I got was beat down. I was the night dude. Fourth-string. That's not so bad when you're following Stern, Philips and the red-hot Monsters. But when your parent corporation decides Stern is suddenly indecent and dumps him, and then, instead of getting some other morning show, they reschedule the Monsters and derail their momentum …

CD: Yeah, I'm feeling you. Continue.

DG: Thanks. I will. I thought that because I put up decent but inconsistent numbers and continued to grow independently that, when the midday time slot opened, someone would at least talk to me about it. After all, I'd been on for seven years and, despite unrealistic expectations of near-perfection causing producers to depart, I played team ball when needed.

CD: And?

DG: And not only did they not talk to me about the time slot, they didn't even talk to me about why I wasn't being considered!

CD: Really? That sounds a lot like what happened to me when …

DG: Yeah, sure. Anyway, back to my situation: before all this happened, a former intern alleged that I physically assaulted him with a quesadilla. Rather than laugh this off, the big cheese (ahem) called me to the carpet and let me know that if anything negative ever happened again, my ass was hers. Instead of standing up for what I thought was right, I became a doormat. When they brought that fake-ass AM dude over to the radio station that I had loved for so long, I knew I couldn't take much more. Although I decided to listen and give him a chance to prove to me that he knew what being on Real Radio was all about, I take comfort in the fact that so many people agree with me that it was a failure. But that didn't make it any more palatable, and my attitude reflected it. Unbeknownst to anyone listening, I was already putting up with a board operator with superstar dreams and marginal talent. Management wouldn't do anything about it, saying that I had already used up all my "I want a new producer" chips. Plus, I had a brilliant female co-host who was being paid part-time at a rate less than most 7-Eleven workers, but this other kid got full-time pay and benefits and still complained about it. So not only did I feel bad about my situation, I felt horrible about hers. Plus, some concerns were raised about my harsh nature with certain callers, and an agreement was made that I was not to engage in any such dealings in the name of ratings. Everything started to get to me, but I had to be a "team player" and put a smile on my face every night.

CD: So, what happened?

DG: Gee, I haven't read that question in about 1,200 e-mails! Seriously, about the e-mail thing for a minute, one of the main reasons I'm even thinking about returning to the airwaves is because of so many people who said I was a friend they never met. But, back to me and my story: I was called in for a meeting on MLK Day and told the station was "going in a different direction at night." That's it. I don't blame them for letting me go, to be perfectly honest with you. After sucking it up and working a month without a contract, one for the exact amount I was paid last year was presented to me, after some unsightly groveling and pleading.

CD: You signed it?

DG: Of course! Though I knew there were other interested parties, I had a steady paycheck and provided for my family. Sure, it sucked missing them and The O.C. at night, but Real Radio was all I knew. Granted, the station I fell in love with was no longer, and there was no chance of upward mobility in sight, but I hoped deep inside that one day I could restore the radio station to its former mighty perch.

CD: Aren't you being a tad melodramatic?

DG: Yeah, but you have to realize that I spent about a third of my life at that station. To see and hear it turn into what it has become still hurts me even though I'm not there any longer.

CD: Well, is there a New England out there for you, like there was for me?

DG: Well, getting back to me, there is some interest that could turn into something huge. Even if it doesn't, I know that my talents took me farther than a lot of people even get to dream about. The knowledge that I touched more lives out there than the antiquated Arbitron diaries could register warms my soul and makes me want to keep doing it. That is the main reason I wanted to have you on the show, to tell you that you have shown me the value of resilience, that if you believe in yourself you can get your ass out of a detrimental situation.

CD: Uh, yeah, whatever. (Click.)

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