DREAM CHARTS


by Randy Reynolds

On July 1, 1982, I start growing a beard as a symbol of the new, more determined, more ambitious, reinvented me. On that same day I sit at the flimsy table I use for a desk in the radio station in a converted laundry building in West Monroe, Louisiana, and write something on my calendar 92 times, once for each day from July 1, 1982 to September 30, 1982.

I write I. W. B. G. M. O. T. S. B. T. D: 9/30/82. ....
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The initials stand for I Will Be General Manager Of This Station By This Date: 9/30/82.
I don’t do anything to undermine Gary, the current General Manager. In fact, I work harder than ever to make him look good. He asks me what’s up with the beard and why am I wearing a suit to work every day and I say I just feel like it’s time for a change. He asks about the three months of strange entries on my calendar. I tell him it’s my new mantra. Knowing how weird deejays are, he doesn’t probe any further.

There’s a higher authority in this radio station: Roger, the owner. I hear him say more than once that deejays are like the tire-changers he employs at his tire store—by which I assume he’s saying we’re the bottom rung of the social scale—people without safety nets, the kind of people who need occasional salary advances to pay the doctor, people who quit at the most inconvenient times for him and move on down the road to get slightly higher-paying jobs.

Though I’ve had better jobs in the past, I’m down on my luck in 1982 when I write I. W. B. G. M. O. T. S. B. T. D:  9/30/82 on 92 consecutive blocks on my calendar.

My wife reads about dream charts and starts keeping one. While I'm writing I. W. B. G. M. O. T. S. B. T. D:  9/30/82, she's cutting things out of catalogs and magazines and pasting them to a piece of poster board. She cuts out a picture of a new brick house she'd like to have, one that's way too upscale for us, with skylight, fancy doors, swimming pool, oak trees in the yard--the works. She also finds a picture of a car--a gaudy, silver luxury car and glues that onto the dream chart, too.

"What the...?" I exlaim the first time I see her chart.

"You've got to be able to see it in your mind," she says. "I'm putting this in the bedroom, so the first thing every morning and the last thing every night, this is what we'll see. Once it gets real in our minds, it will happen." I know better than all this, but I've got to humor mama, so the poster with the childish cut-outs goes up in our bedroom. And a few days later, she adds a dark blue van for me. And a black muscle-car for our daughter who's about to get her driver's license.

Roger almost fires me one morning that summer because my Question-Of-The-Morning on the Randy Reynolds Show rankles him. My question is: “Should secretaries make coffee for their boss?” He calls me into his office after the show and pounds his rickety desk, which is held together by a piece of rusted tin nailed across the front. “Of course secretaries should make the coffee!" he shouts. "And I don’t want any more of this crazy women’s lib stuff on my station. Understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

Two of Roger’s favorite sayings are, “Don’t worry about the mule going blind, just keep loading the wagon” and “The sun don’t shine on the same dog’s ass all the time.”

In the summer of 1982, I just keep loading the wagon. And by the time 9/30/82 rolls around, I’m the dog the sun is shining on: Gary has moved on down the line and Roger has appointed me General Manager.

I work the salespeople too hard and I have all these crazy ideas about writing down goals and making dream charts and accounting for all their time during the day, so they quit. Roger decides he'll do the selling himself, but it becomes so frustrating that he goes out and tries to give away 100 free spots, no strings attached, and the prospect turns him down. He comes back in and tells me to hire some new salesmen, pronto, it doesn’t matter who, just so we can get some warm bodies on the street.

He's desperate. “Hell, tell your wife to come in on her lunch break and make some phone calls for us. I’ll pay her twenty percent commission if she sells anything. Just for now. Till we find some good salespeople.”

There’s a television show called The Jeffersons, a sitcom about the adventures of George and Louise Jefferson becoming successful and “Movin’ on up….to the East Side…” We feel like George and Weezy for a time there…after Sherry comes to work for me, because shy, sweet Sherry who makes pitiful dream charts and dreams big dreams can handle clients like no one else. Before Roger sells out and the new owners fire us, Sherry is selling $100,000 of ads per month. We buy our first new house on July 25, 1985. It has oak trees in the yard, fancy doors, skylights in the roof, the works; even the bricks are the same combination of colors as the house on her dream chart.  We go to a car dealership on that same day and Sherry sees the fancy silver car of her dream chart on the showroom floor. "That's it! That's my car!" she squeals. We buy it without a test drive. A week later, we buy that black muscle-car for daughter Kerri. And a few weeks after that, we go out and buy the dark blue van that was on the dream chart. We pay sticker price. Who has time to comparison shop or haggle? The radio station is all-consuming. We dedicate ourselves to it and it succeeds beyond everyone’s wildest imagination.

There are articles about us in national publications (Radio and Records; Sound Management.)

Roger sells the station for an enormous profit. New owners come in and figure they can save a lot of money by not paying commission on Sherry’s sales. So, on her birthday, 1988, they fire us both.

But that's okay. We know three important things goal-setting now: Be specific. Picture it in your mind. Work hard.  So we know we'll take this rollercoaster to the top again, and we do.

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