There’s Room For You

I learned an important life lesson from Malcolm C. Dankner’s “Jazz and Standards” radio show. Here it is in a nutshell – if it really matters to you, there’s a way in.

There's Room For You - Change On Purpose - Tim McDonnell

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The first time I set foot in a radio station, it was like entering a shrine. I grew up listening to legendary AM personalities in Los Angeles and everything about their world and work fascinated me. My good friend Mal gets it. When we get together or talk on the phone, it’s a feeling we don’t have to explain to each other.

It’s a safe bet you have passions that create the same feeling in you.

When I met him several years ago, Mal was a guy with a burning passion and a lifetime collection of insights about jazz. It’s not as if he was short on accomplishments – he had already built a respected professional practice and raised a beautiful family. What’s different today is his weekly show that reaches THE biggest radio market in the United States. Granted, his station is a “small” one across Long Island Sound, but you can hear his voice, music and ideas on the very same radios that pick up New York powerhouses like WOR and WCBS. Factor in streaming on the internet and his reach is literally global.

All because he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

Even if jazz isn’t your personal flavor, it’s worth listening to his show just for the inspiration. He’s like that great neighbor who always knows what’s wrong with your car and how to fix it. If you want to know anything about the performance, construction or cultural context of an early jazz composition, Malcolm C. Dankner is your go-to guy.

By the end of his first back-announce, three important things are obvious:

  1. He’s doing this because he loves it – it feeds his soul
  2. He’s accessing decades of diligently assembled expertise on this subject
  3. He cares deeply about preserving this art form and making it accessible to others

Here’s how Mal’s “Jazz and Standards” show applies to everyone; it proves that YOUR ideas matter, whether anyone else validates them or not; it proves that there’s room for you no matter what you want to do and no matter when you want to do it.

Can one man’s radio show (or your idea) change the world?

I think so, and I have social proof. In books like The Butterfly Effect and The Boy Who Changed the World, author Andy Andrews proposes that every life matters and makes an imprint on the world – even on generations yet unborn. First, as a self-taught jazz authority, Mal is leading the way for anyone who craves any sort of an artistic outlet. Second, there’s no telling where the cultural seeds he’s planting might bear fruit generations from now by inspiring a new young composer or performer.

To play devil’s advocate for a moment, I do believe there’s a difference between being persistent and being delusional. If you’re four feet tall, you’re not likely to start for the Knicks or the Lakers with any amount of effort. We probably won’t see you in the lead with the New York City Ballet if you didn’t start very young with several rare genetic advantages. That does not mean, however, that sports or dance or any of an infinite number of other passions can’t be a hugely rewarding part of your life in some other form.

Has anyone ever said “no” to your dream? Take Mal’s way in:

  • He turned himself into an expert, one tune at a time
  • He looked for more than one entry point and kept knocking
  • He recognized that fulfillment might come in unexpected ways
  • He kept pursuing what he loved on his own, simply because he cared about it
  • He didn’t wait for perfect conditions
  • He took the opportunity at hand and perfected things as he went

If you happen to stop by Mal’s place on Tuesday afternoons, say hi for me.

Questions: When has refusing to take “no” for an answer helped you to realize one of your creative dreams? What passion would you start pursuing today if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Change On Purpose - Tim McDonnell - Malcolm C. Dankner - Tuesdays 1-4pm ET - WPKN 89.5 FM