by Fred Deane
Dan Mason, Jr.’s journey from radio to Life-Coaching is quite enthralling. After nearly two decades of firmly establishing a highly successful radio career, Mason decided one day he had hit the end of his radio road, and it was time to pursue another passion of his, one he discovered later in life as a client/student of the art of Life-Coaching.
As daunting a challenge as a mid-life career change is for anyone, Dan didn’t pursue his newfound path without some natural reticence and apprehension. But it’s amazing how motivated one can get when personal and professional fulfillment lies in the balance, especially when you’ve experienced the dream yourself that truly became your own reality.
Given your family background in radio, at what age were you first introduced to the business side of the medium?
Radio has been in my blood since I was 12 years-old. That’s when I would spend my summer vacations going to work with my dad while my peers were out there chasing girls and going to the pool. Every day I would set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. and it was off to work at WPGC in Washington, where I interned for great people like Dr. Dave Ferguson and Albie Dee.
What was your trajectory in later years?
I continued my pursuit of radio in college and proceeded to have a pretty successful 18-year career. My first gig out of college was a PD/night guy at a small station in Augusta, ME. From there it was off to Cleveland, Miami, Sacramento, Boston and Tampa, holding down a variety of programming and on-air positions throughout that time period.
What positive experiences did you take away from the various positions you held, and how did they help nurture you as professional?
In hindsight, it was all about relationships. I had the privilege of working for amazing mentors early in my career who valued my creativity and gave me the freedom to create out-of-the-box content. I got to learn from great programmers like Greg Ausham and Kevin Metheny. I was also blessed to work under amazing GM’s like Jim Meltzer and John Geary. Those guys valued the art of radio and not just the science, and I really flourished personally and professionally working under them.
Of the stations/markets you engaged in during your career, were there any significant instances that stand out more than others and what made those experiences so special to you?
My favorite experiences were finding ways to win in what were considered impossible situations. WAKS in Cleveland started as a 3000-watt Class A signal that was never supposed to pull more than a 1 share. Our team there built that thing into a 3.5 share radio station and beat a 50,000-watt competitor before being moved onto the 96.5 signal. We had a great team and created radio anarchy on a daily basis.
I also loved my time in Sacramento, helping KDND rebound from the “Hold your wee for a Wii” incident and taking the station to #1 in the market, where we pretty much lived for three consecutive years.
In both of those instances, I was surrounded by amazing teams who were passionate and hyper-focused on creating great radio every day.
What made you decide to leave the industry you were such an integral part of for nearly two decades?
In 2015 I was beginning to burn out and in October of that year I made the decision to walk away from it. I felt that there was nothing left that I could contribute at that point. My experience in radio over my last two programming jobs was that the day of the Program Director (as I knew it) had gone away. I felt the Program Director role turned more into one of a Program Implementor. There was less creative autonomy in the product, and I was there mostly to follow orders. I just didn’t feel fulfilled anymore. It was a very personal decision that I made after feeling stagnant for four years. It was time for a change.
Did you contemplate just taking a break, or was a complete divorce from the industry the only option you entertained?
To me, the radio industry as a whole had lost its sense of purpose. I felt that it was all about valuing profits and servicing debt, over serving listeners and serving communities. So, I thought it was the right time to make a clean break.
I don’t mean to make a blanket statement on this issue. I still think there are some stations and air-talents in places that are serving their communities well, but it’s the exception now and not the rule. I just wanted to figure out what my purpose was and if I couldn’t make a difference in radio, how could I find another way to contribute in a meaningful way?
The day it really changed for me is when I saw an article about a job engagement survey that Gallup does every couple of years, and I looked at the national average and it stated that 2 in 3 people are disengaged from their jobs. It wasn’t just a radio thing, it was all job fields across all walks of life.
What was your next step upon your resignation from the business?
I always thought about what else I could do, and I was terrified to truly have that thought process because in my mind radio was all I ever knew. In April of 2015, I started working with a Life-Coach and he really helped me get clear minded and more focused on the things that truly mattered to me.
I proceeded to go down this personal growth path and really started to improve my life. I knew I wanted to leave the corporate grind and also realized I wasn’t alone. It’s an epidemic in the global workforce.
How life-changing of a moment was that for you?
It was pretty dramatic. As I was creating a new vision for my own life, I thought maybe I could teach the skills that I’m learning to other people and that’s where the idea for my company was born.
I dipped my toe in the water and started facilitating and teaching some classes and presenting to some personal development groups. Through this experience a couple of the people asked me if I would coach them one-on-one. Slowly but surely these people started making some big shifts in their lives and started to step into bringing their dreams to life and I was definitely having a positive effect on them. That’s when I really found clarity on my second act.
When did you open the doors to your new business?
Back to October of 2015, and 72 hours after I decided to leave radio for good I instantly purchased my domain name and started my business.
Any trepidations going into it?
I was terrified for sure. After all, when anyone decides to make a drastic career change it can be rather traumatic. I had identified myself my entire professional career with the radio industry and the respective roles I had served. You think to yourself, what am I doing? All I know is radio, what else can I be successful at? Well there are no assurances, but I had already made the personal commitment to pursue this venture. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Are there any similarities you find in your current line of work that mirror your experiences as a Program Director in radio?
Yes, I did discover something pretty interesting. I found that the same skillset I used in radio applies to my current business. It’s managing and interacting with people, making some collaborative critical decisions, creating content, and staying focused on your core goals case by case. Sometimes, coaching clients isn’t unlike coaching your high-profile air talent. You are there to encourage them and uplift them, but also help them see their blind spots.
I know you had a previous relationship with Elvis Duran in radio, but how did your current association with Elvis develop?
I first met Elvis while I was working at Y100 in Miami. He was one of the first ones in the industry to notice what I was doing. He was on vacation and found an article I had written for the Huffington Post. So out of nowhere, I get this random text from Elvis saying “What the hell is this? I didn’t even know this part of you existed.” He wanted to talk when he got back from his vacation.
He eventually wound up flying me to Santa Fe to speak at his company’s retreat. That’s really when my latest relationship with Elvis began. He was a huge supporter of what I was doing and shared some of my content and blogs on the air. Every time he would talk about me it would drive more clients and business my way.
Can you elaborate on your involvement with the Elvis Duran Podcast Network?
I debuted my podcast through his network in the Fall of last year and nobody really knew what to expect. Obviously, people like self-help content, but would it resonate with a top 40 audience? Elvis talked about it on the air one morning and we actually debuted #1 on Apple! Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
The original vision was to do one season of eight episodes, but the response has been so amazing that I’ve been cranking out new episodes every Tuesday. Some weeks I interview thought leaders about personal development. Other weeks I talk to everyday people who discovered their purpose. Other times I just share my stories and what I’ve learned on my journey over the last few years.
What were the biggest lessons you gleaned from the entire process of this transformation experience?
I believe the most important question anyone can ask is “What is my purpose?” To me, that’s the reason you get out of bed in the morning and the reason why anyone else should care. If you wake up each morning energized and excited for the day ahead, that’s amazing. You’re living your purpose. But if you feel uninspired and in need of finding your next level, it’s not too late to make a change.
If you pursue your purpose, it will without question be the scariest thing you do. But I believe that’s the point. To get to the next level in your career, relationships, or life in general, you will be required to leave your comfort zone, grow, and become more. But from my experience, the happiness, passion and fulfillment (the good stuff in life) is all on the other side of that fear.
Dan will be hosting a complimentary online training session on Tuesday, May 22nd called Your Next Chapter: How to Discover Your Life’s Purpose and Make it Your Paycheck.
All of the info can be found on this link: : https://www.crowdcast.io/e/your-next-chapter-how-to-2