Success is great, but I can always do better

November 7, 2009 

In 2010 I will begin my eighth year as host of a radio talk show. I spent most of my adult life as a reporter and I always thought it was the best job in the world. That was until I got my own talk show. Hosting a show with a big audience has been very rewarding. Of course I've made a lot of mistakes along the way. I still struggle each day to handle my show responsibly. It's not always easy, but I do try.

If I had to grade myself the past seven years, I'd give myself a C+. I believe I've done some good but, oh, I could have done so much better. Keep in mind I am not grading my hosting abilities based on ratings or revenue. In those categories I would get an A+. I have the number one talk show in Alaska, my ratings have never been higher and we continue to have a waiting list for advertisers.

But I believe a man's true measure of success is how much moral courage he shows. Taking the high road matters so much more than how much he earns.

In the past seven years I've earned a slew of fans but also at the same time a large number of folks who would probably equate me with Adolf Hitler. I think the majority love or hate me because of my conservative views. Conservatives tend to love conservatives and liberals tend to think of them as evil.

Take union boss Vince Beltrami. Like me, he also writes frequently for the Daily News. Vince has used several of his columns to write about me. He's made fun of my living conditions, my work ethic, described my writing as typical vitriolic blowhard messages of hate disguised as journalism. Vince once called me a narcissistic sycophant. I had to look that one up and let me tell you, it's not good.

I can't get mad at Vince. Some guy once tried to beat me up at a rally and Vince and his fellow union boss Larry Bell came to my rescue. Even if Vince thinks I am a narcissistic sycophant, he'll always have a special place in my heart for sticking up for me that day.

I played poker one night with Vince and a few other guys at Bob Lester's house. I took all their money and they haven't invited me back. I've convinced myself this is why Vince dislikes me, not because I'm a bad guy.

Even with all the critics, hosting a talk show the past 7 years has been great. But what I enjoy even more is writing my column for the Anchorage Daily News. I know I must drive editorial page editor Matt Zencey and executive editor Pat Dougherty nuts with some of the things I have written in the past two-and-a-half years. But to their credit, they have never once tried to water down one of my columns for being too conservative.

It's such a privilege to work as a talk show host and columnist. I hope I never take the opportunity to reach so many for granted. My prayer is I get better each year.

I think of former Daily News Editorial Page editor Michael Carey. He's such an amazing writer and is so persuasive. He's liberal so I don't agree with him often. But I respect his ability to make me think. I wonder if Carey was always such a good writer. Did he get better through the years? I hope he wasn't this good in his forties. It doesn't give me much of chance of reaching his level.

I think of national talk show host Dennis Prager. He's so wise. Not at all inflammatory. Prager must convince so many more than I of his point of view.

I hate it that I haven't made the most of the privileges I've been given. I will try harder and hopefully at the end of my life, when it is all said and done, I can look back and say, I gave it my best shot. Maybe I'll be able to give myself a B+.


Dan Fagan hosts a talk show on AM750, KFQD. You can reach him at faganreport@me.com.

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