Thursday, February 18, 2021

Navigating Life's Career Turns, Updates

 One of my resolutions this year is to get back on the blog more. And now seems like the perfect time to do it. COVID-19 has certainly wreaked havoc on all our lives and has forced me to make some adjustments, just as it has everyone else. The first major adjustment was losing the 2020 baseball season. How disappointing that was. It really hit home for me when I realized I would not have another opportunity to compete for a championship as a broadcaster. To come within eight outs of a championship, as we did in 2019 and not get a chance to finish the job hurts. A lot. You always have that feeling after the last out of a season , you'll say, " We'll get them next year." You never expect that there won't be a next year. And then, minor league baseball undergoes a cataclysmic change in their system, with 40 minor league baseball teams going away, and whole leagues being shuttered. Talk about a gut punch. It has forced me to acknowledge that maybe this is the end of the line for me and baseball broadcasting. I hope not, but I will be 57 on my next birthday, and if Lowell doesn't come back, what are my options? I'm not ready to quit yet- I am thinking I have 10 years of games left in me, God willing. So we shall see. 


There have been some adjustments in hockey, too. COVID has affected my hockey broadcasting as well. Because of COVID-19 we have lost the ability to travel on the road with Merrimack to do games. We do games at home and that's it. I can't help but think forward to next October when hopefully we will be back to as close to a normal schedule as possible. Thankfully I feel a lot more secure about my hockey future. College hockey isn't going away, even though many athletic departments, including Merrimack's, are under a real financial strain because of things now. 


Because of these unsettling changes and the potential of career upheaval (particularly in baseball),it has forced me to think about other things, and other ways to earn money and enjoy life in the process. A Plan B if you will. This has led me to the exciting world of audiobook narration. I signed up for a 10 week online course called The Audiobook Adventure.  The course covers the business of audio narration from soup to nuts. I have completed the course and am ready to give this business a go. I have a home studio built, with all the necessary components. Now it's just a matter of getting this thing off the ground, getting in my studio, and recording. 


These crazy times have also given me the time to update my website and expand my brand. I have realized the importance of putting all my talents in play- sportscasting, which will always be my first love, but also podcasting , which I have fallen in love with. This business of podcasting is something I've always wanted to do. Yes, I am fairly new to it, but I am learning distinctions about how to do things better. I am literally teaching myself. But I am passionate about it and oh, so eager to learn. It allows me to sharpen my interviewing skills, while improving the performance aspect of my game. There have been a few bumps in the road as far as the learning curve, and I hope people will stay with me on this journey. I'm all in with this. Podcasting is an incredible experience. I'll be doing it for the rest of my life, for sure.


And then there's music. COVID has eliminated my ability to play in front of live audiences for a while. Another major blow. But that will come back. I'm certain of it. Thank God for social media like Facebook Live. I do shows on there occasionally and also expanded my music life on my website, adding some songs. My goal is for people to love to listen to my music as much as I love playing it. I'll be posting open mic dates out once we get clear of this COVID situation. Oh, and coming soon, I'll be releasing my new song " Broken Fields" out in to the world.  


And finally, there's Cameo.  A place where I can really give back and use my talents in a fun way. Let me start by giving props to the man who got me started with Cameo, my good friend Tom Calhoun, the public address voice of the St. Louis Blues. I worked with Tom in the Frontier League from 2008-2010. We stayed in touch (thanks Facebook) and I saw the success and fun Tom was having with it, and I really wanted a piece of the action. Long story short, he helped me to get hooked in with it. AND I LOVED IT, AND STILL DO. Cameo gives me a chance to do it all- play a little music, make my requesters the star of the game, and make people feel good. I can even make a little money at it. So, if you would like a customized video shoutout with a personalized twist in the absolute coolest way possible, please head over to my Cameo page and consider booking me. I promise you you won't regret it. I will make it worth your while. Five star ratings don't lie! 


So I've gone on a while with this post, but I had to make up for lost time. I'm looking forward to keeping this thing active and getting back to normal at some point in 2021. Thanks for stopping by. More to come later.


Cheers! 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Media Conversions

As we move on in to July, I have been adjusting to the new way of life, and part of that involves exploring possible ways to create income, as I touched on in my last post here. One of those areas is media conversions that I have talked about- my system of converting old media formats like VHS, cassette tapes and mini-discs  to newer formats like CD, DVD, and MP3 for your portable media players and computers.

I created a website and a domain to accomplish that objective, but after giving it some thought I decided against that approach in an effort to save money and cancelled the plan. So although the website is no longer active, I will use the space here on this blog to promote that activity and answer all questions about converting your media for you. Visiting my home page, at www.johnrleahy.com to learn about this will redirect you here.

I'll start by talking a little about prices- each video that gets converted will cost $20, while each audio unit (cassette or mini-disc) will cost $15 apiece.

The equipment I use is all set to go, it is a device which will work seamlessly with VHS and cassettes. Mini-discs will be captured through Audacity and exported to MP3.

Please feel free to reach out either by leaving me a message/comment on this blog or by E mailing me at jleahybroadcaster@gmail.com.

All updates on this will occur on this blog, so please check back for more!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

An Update

I thought this would be a good time to update things in the light of our changing world. One of my objectives with the newfound "down" time is to devote more time to the things that fell through the cracks , this blog being one of them. Reading being another one, I have read so much during this period of forced isolation. There is so much to catch up on.

The first item of note is that I am forced to take an unwanted sabbatical from my baseball broadcasting this summer. Minor league baseball will not happen in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time I did not broadcast baseball was in 2004, the year before I got into the business. 2004 was also the year I was involved in the NESN Announcer for an Inning competition as a prelude to the future. The emotions of all this are many, and varied. Sadness, anger, emptiness, in some aspects, relief- in that I can devote time to my family- but there will be a hole and a void in my life, no question about it. I also can't help but think of the disappointment of not being able to finish what we started last year- being so close to a championship on that September evening in Brooklyn- having a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 7th and not being able to hang on, despite having a chance to win it in the 9th. With the uncertainty of minor league baseball's future, I am hopeful that I will get a chance to do it all again- I wouldn't want my last memory to be that final out in Brooklyn.

My attention now turns to hockey in the 2020-21 season and the hopes that we can start the season on time. The uncertainty is unlike anything I've ever experienced in my lifetime. It is all a waiting game, that's all we can do at this point.

In the meantime, although I have a summer off now, it by no means I will be resting on my laurels. I am in an unfamiliar position now- having to look for work - something I haven't had to do in almost a decade. And I'm not even sure it will be sports related. I am taking an inventory of my skills and interests- I really want to try to avoid doing work I don't enjoy- I have paid my dues in that regard. When I left the mental health industry in the early part of 2005, I vowed I would never go back. I remember that burned out feeling and how sick I was- both mentally and physically. I want to work and I want to be happy in that work. So it's a challenge- the options may be limited because of COVID. I hope to get back to baseball if possible in 2021, so we'll see.

To that end, I've been working with a couple of ideas and hopefully adding to them. I have a podcast now, which has been great fun. I am still very green and a novice podcaster, but I am learning and hope to get better each week. The podcast can be found here. I am trying to take care of monetizing the podcast, but that has been slow going. I also am revisiting my media conversion  business, which involves taking old media and converting it to newer formats like DVD, CD, and MP3. To learn more about that, please contact me.

And most recently, I landed on Cameo. I am very excited about this because I can use this to showcase my talent-music- and make some money and have fun at the same time. The platform allows users to book people on there to provide custom shoutouts for special occasions- like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, holidays, anything at all. I am throwing this out there for anybody- if anyone wants a custom made video shoutout for any reason, please consider booking me on Cameo.  It is very inexpensive and I promise to make it fun for you, and you'd be helping this broadcaster earn a few dollars along the way!

They say everything happens for a reason. We are all struggling right now but I believe somehow someway better days lie ahead. I'm always grateful for my family and friends, and my faith which helps get me through. I truly hope to be back in a broadcast booth soon. I wish you all good health, happiness, and safety.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

LEAHY MEDIA CONVERSION SERVICE IS RE-OPENING!

I hope this note finds you all safe and well as we continue to navigate through the stormy waters known as COVID-19. There is so much uncertainty and anxiety in our world today, as we all know. In my own particular case, I am facing disruption to my normal routine of broadcasting sports, needless to say, which is my primary source of income throughout the year. My 2020 baseball season is in great peril and I am facing potentially my first summer off since 2004. Nothing has been formally decided yet, but should it happen,  this is not something I am looking forward to (I will touch on that in a separate post) - and I definitely am challenged by down time. With that being said, I am now forced to think outside the box and get creative on ways to generate income in the hopes that I can at least stay afloat until college hockey starts again (and again, there are no guarantees that the 2020-21 season will start on time in October).

I am looking for ideas to fill the void, and one of those ideas is to re-open my services of converting old media like VHS cassettes, audio cassettes, and mini-discs to more contemporary formats (DVD and CD). I have invested in the equipment that I believe will make me successful. In the past, I was forced to suspend the service due to the rigorous demands of my sports seasons, but now with the new time available I feel that I can re-dedicate myself to helping those that want to preserve their old audio and video collections.

The process involves transferring VHS tapes to DVD format, audio cassettes to CD and minidisc to MP3 format which would allow them to be burned to CD so that you can listen and watch on your computer and portable music players.

I'd like to invite anyone who is interested in transferring those memories to contact me. I have a brand new set of equipment waiting to be used. I've got the time to devote to it. This is one of hopefully several options that I will be setting up for myself. So if you have media you'd like to convert, please contact me at jleahybroadcaster@gmail.com. You can also find out more at www.johnrleahy.com.

Thank you and stay safe!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mark Dennehy- Thanks for the memories

I realized today that it has been a while- quite a long while- that this blog has seen any action. With all of the hustle and bustle, life's responsibilities, sometimes things get pushed in the background. While I am really interested in getting podcasting going and off the ground, I was also reminded about the value of blogs- and since I have a couple of blogs out there, it's time to get them going again.

With that being said, I'd like to devote this time to share my thoughts on the recent departure of our head coach of the Merrimack men's hockey team of 13 years, Mark Dennehy. To begin with some context- after eliminating the defending league champion UMass Lowell River Hawks the weekend before in two dogfights, on Saturday night, March 10, the Warriors lost a grueling series with Boston College, getting eliminated from the tournament- losing the second game in heartbreaking fashion, 4-3 in overtime. It ended a series which I felt Merrimack was the better team- the shots on goal for the series certainly indicated the discrepancy to which I felt Merrimack carried the play (70-35 for the two games). I remember the feeling I had when I signed off at Conte Forum that night- the emotions ran the gamut- heartbreak, sadness, maybe a little bit of anger, bewilderment, you get the picture. The end of a hockey season is tough- particularly if you fall short of the ultimate goal- winning a championship- and particularly when it ends suddenly and abruptly like ours did. That's the beauty and the pain of hockey- playoff hockey- sudden death means sudden death. When it ends, it ends immediately, and your season can end that way. 

Driving home from BC that night I tried to process what I had seen, and how proud I was of our team and how we fought. Remember, we're talking about playing the # 1 seed of the whole tournament- in their barn, and us being the 10 seed- in a place that has been a struggle to win at- not just us, but the whole of the league. We were the underdogs. No one gave us a chance. I reflected on how we battled and how our coaching staff led these guys into battle and how we damned near pulled it off. As Jace Hennig said in his letter to the coaching staff, the team was just one bounce away from having it go the other way. Just one bounce. 

I found out the next morning that Merrimack had made the decision to let Coach Dennehy go, along with assistant coach Bill Gilligan. Curtis Carr would be staying on for at least the interim. I was quite shocked and saddened to hear this news, to say the least.  I just remember feeling numb, very numb. I remember talking to Mike Machnik that day via phone. I also remember feeling very sad for Mark, his wife Heather, and their three daughters. Like many others, my first impulse was to ask "why?". 

We may never know the answers, and my objective here is not to be critical of my employers decision, especially since the facts are not known. My purpose here is to thank Mark and show my appreciation for his body of work. 

As I said in a Facebook post, I met Mark in the late summer of 2005, when we were both hired at Merrimack. His first game on the bench was my first game on the air. We went to Bowling Green, Ohio, that first night, and Mark won his first game as bench boss of the Warriors, 3-2, and then we went off to Michigan two days later and lost 9-2. The team flew out to the midwest, as college hockey teams always do. I drove out there and met the team there- the things you do to make a good first impression. 

As those early years continued onward, it was a real struggle on the ice. The team went 3-27-4 in Mark's second year, and he was under a lot of pressure. Mark had to basically convince the administration at Merrimack that Division 1 hockey was the right fit for the Warriors- he had to provide compelling evidence that they could stay where they were. I remember that Jack Parker also tried to compel Mark to leave Hockey East. But Mark stuck to his guns and never quit. He believed in this program and where he felt they could not only stay, but thrive. 

The team improved, and it hit a real high water mark in 2010- winning 25 games, going 25-10-4, going to the Hockey East Championship game at TD Garden, then making their way to the NCAA Regionals in Manchester, N.H., losing to Notre Dame, a future Hockey East opponent. 

We also got to work a game at Fenway Park- and Mark was kind enough to honor my ten year service at Merrimack with an authentic game jersey with my last name and the number 10 on the back- one of the most wonderful gifts I've ever received (Derek Petti thanks for sharing your number with me). 

Not to digress here, but I'll get back to Mark himself now. All you need to know about this man is all the support he is getting from the college hockey world and the impact he has had on everyone that has come into contact with him- players, coaches, broadcasters, officials- you name it, every single person I've seen has been overly supportive of Mark and how he handles himself. In my own personal case, where do I begin? I interviewed Mark prior to many of the games I've done at Merrimack, and he couldn't have been more classy and professional. He truly cared about you and your life. He wanted to get to know you. And it wasn't fake or phony. He made you feel like family. That's how he treated the whole experience at Merrimack. If something happened in your life that made you happy, Mark was genuinely happy. If things weren't going so hot he'd be concerned for you, and it was real. You could feel it. 

I know how the players felt about him. They would go through a wall for him. And I would too. Every single broadcast we did it was always my goal to have passion and energy , to make the broadcast something Mark could be proud of. He cared about every single detail of Merrimack hockey down to the studs, and we were a part of that. I wanted radio to be the last thing he'd ever have to worry about, and I think we achieved that goal.

To finish up, I know Mark will land on his feet. Good coaches do and good people do. He will wind up with another team and he will make them better. Their gain is our loss. Will it feel strange walking into Merrimack in October and not seeing him there? You better believe it will. He has left a major, indelible imprint on this school and this team. His legacy will forever be etched in the history of this program. Nothing will ever take away from that. 

I want to thank Mark again here, on this public forum, for everything. His patience, tolerance, friendship, and the skill with which he performed on a nightly basis. A piece of him will always be with us. I know it will be for me for sure.

Here is an interview I did with Mark in Providence, RI on 1-6-18. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed conducting it.

https://archive.org/details/MarkDennehyPreGame1618AtPC




Monday, December 22, 2014

Mitochondrial Disease

On Monday, December 22, I had a chance to sit down and interview my high school friend and classmate Mike Goldberg, who is suffering from mitochondrial disease. I sat down with Mike and had a heart to heart interview about his struggles.

If you'd like to listen to the chat we had, please navigate to https://archive.org/details/MichaelGoldbergMito12-22-14.

If you are having difficulty listening please select the FLASH option to listen. Thank you!

Thanks everyone and Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why sports is so fulfilling

I have been involved with sports a long time. Commentating it for 20 years and playing it long before that. It has been a joy to be a part of. They say that the key to happiness is doing the work you love, and being fulfilled at it. That feeling of getting to the top of the mountain and not having to say, " So this is success, is that all there is? " Sports will always have that ability to fulfill me. Why? The self -help author Anthony Robbins talks about the six human needs- the needs that every human being on the face of the earth has to feel truly fulfilled and happy, and sports meets each one. I'll go through them here, and hopefully at the end you'll see why it is so special.

The first need is the NEED FOR CERTAINTY.  We need a sense of certainty to feel that we can gain pleasure in our lives and avoid pain. We need to feel that we are in control of our lives and can do things that make us happy. How does being involved with sports create that feeling of certainty? Everything about what I do as a broadcaster creates pleasure for me.... the thrill of preparing,planning, and commentating on a game.... and the pain level is extremely low. What is the worst thing that could happen to me during a game? The game gets knocked off the air? I have the confidence to know how to fix anything that may go wrong. The pleasure/pain ratio is way favored towards the pleasure side. This can be thought of as a " Class 1 experience", it feels good, it is good for you, it is good for others and it serves the greater good. I am certain that the end of my day will leave me with a feeling of joy and happiness.

The second need is the need for UNCERTAINTY AND VARIETY.  If we become too certain, we become bored. Life gets to be too predictable. We all need surprises and challenges in our life to feel truly fulfilled. And how does sports fill that need? Every game is unique. Every game is different. No two games will ever finish the same way. You always will have the ability to see something you have never seen before. Upsets happen. David beats Goliath. Look at the NCAA basketball tournament, that is a perfect example. Sports creates that edge, that sense of excitement that keeps us on the edge of our seats. We constantly have that edge and surprise factor. Sports will ALWAYS fill this need.

The third need is the need for SIGNIFICANCE.  This involves the sense that we are unique and we have a special purpose or meaning for our lives. We all have the need to feel significance or that feeling of importance, or as Dale Carnegie calls it. " The craving to feel appreciated." I feel significant when I broadcast because I am helping people. People rely on me to be the eyes and ears for them when they listen on the radio. They rely on me to inform them what is going on. There are many options for them to follow the game but they choose to tune me in. That is something I take very seriously and that is also why I give 100% of myself on the air. That feeling of being needed gives me the feeling of significance.

The fourth need is the need for LOVE AND CONNECTION.  There is not a human being alive on this earth that does not need love and connection with other human beings. That feeling of bonding with people and creating special feelings of connection. From a fan's perspective, sports provides a wonderful social bonding experience, whether it be gathering at a pub to watch a game, or at a stadium. From my perspective, I have made many great friends in my years of broadcasting. And the best example I can give you is my job calling Merrimack College hockey. Working for Merrimack makes you feel like you have an extended family. We all get to know each other, we become interested in each other's lives, and we genuinely care about each other. This happens in baseball too, with long bus trips, where you get to sit and talk with the players and coaches and connect with them. If you are lucky enough to have a job where you feel like you're a part of a family, you'll always have this need met.

The fifth need is the need for GROWTH.  I will never know everything there is to know about broadcasting and being a broadcaster. There is always something to learn. Hey, I have learned a lot over my last ten years at Merrimack and I am still learning. For example, I learned how to run commercials during our games, something that is effortless now. And it is also helpful if you have a colleague who pushes you to be your best, as I do in Mike Machnik. And to me, growing is fun, It means I am expanding and getting better at my craft. And the knowledge that I still have more to learn, and always will, keeps me humble. Broadcasting will always fill this need because I always strive to get better.

The sixth and final need is the need for CONTRIBUTION. This need involves serving the greater good, as well as contributing to ourselves and our happiness. To me, the way I contribute most is by trying to make other people happy. If I go on the air and people listen to my broadcast and enjoy it, and if I can make them feel happy and that they enjoyed the game, then I have contributed to their happiness, and that gives me the greatest feelings of joy I could experience. And if I am at the microphone, then I know I will have that chance every day,and that gives me ultimate joy and feelings that I have contributed in a tangible way.

So I can say I am truly fulfilled. I hope that those that read this will consider applying the six human needs to their lives and/or jobs and feel the same way I do!