Home Featured Dear Radio: Saying “Goodbye” to My 20-Year Career

Dear Radio: Saying “Goodbye” to My 20-Year Career

by Kate McCallum
Dear Radio Kate McCallum

In April 2015, Adam and I had a big life changing moment. We both lost our jobs in broadcasting – on the same day. After the initial shock had passed, we had to make the decision as to whether or not we wanted to continue in broadcasting. Sadly, the answer was quickly realized. We both realized that the answer was no. There were many reasons that we both decided to turn our backs on our combined 30 years of radio experience and move on. The main thought that we both shared though was that we were putting way more into our career/company than we were getting back.

As soon as we said “no more radio”, we sat down and talked about everything that we wanted out of life. Little did we know that at the time the seeds for Full Time Canada were being planted. Before we could start planning anything, I still felt the need for closure. I had to say goodbye to a part of my life that I had loved for over two decades. At first, I wasn’t sure of how I was going to do this but then I finally decided that it would be easiest just to write a letter to Radio, to let it know how I felt and why I was done with it. It may seem to be a silly exercise, but it really did help get any negative energy out and help to clear my mind.

I didn’t write this to give a middle finger to the industry or those that let me go. I wrote it because I was truly sad to say goodbye. Unfortunately, the negatives outweighed the positives of what used to be a great industry and it was time to move on.

This is what I wrote down in the spring of 2015…

Dear Radio,

You said it was me and let me go because my salary was too big and the ratings weren’t there. But really, it was you.

Gerry Hamill Kate McCallum Dennis Travale Norfolk

Gerry Hamill & Kate McCallum with Norfolk County Mayor Dennis Travale

It’s taken me a while to write this. You dumped me on April 23, 2015. I was hurt and desperately trying to understand why you rejected me.

It took some time for me to see how you ate away at my life. I dedicated 20 years to you and in the end, you were actually making me sick. I no longer had any joy to get up in the morning to work for you. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t your listeners that made me sick. The listeners – along with the music- were the only joyous things I had left. No, it was when I made the mistake of wanting to make more money and be a manager. That was the step in the wrong direction for this relationship.

At first, when I was just 20 years old, this relationship was so sexy – so exciting! I had people coming up to me complimenting on my voice and how well I read the news or how I made someone laugh talking about my dog. But that sexiness wore off when you paid me less than minimum wage and paid my male colleagues more than me. When you told me that I would never be news director because I was a woman, it made me want it all the more. And when I got News Director, you punished me Radio. You paid me less than the former male News Directors. But I took it -like so many women still do. I am proud to say I was the first woman News Director in my small hometown.

Kate McCallum Goo Goo Dolls Meet & Greet

Meeting the Goo Goo Dolls

I did have fun Radio. Some of the memories make me smile. I remember waving in parades at fans, introducing rock bands on stage and meeting the Prime Minister of Canada. I have many memories of staying overnight at the station during big snowstorms and also trying to help listeners find lost dogs. I also have sad memories. Like 9-11. I was trying not to cry while talking about hundreds of people dying.

I couldn’t avoid what was happening to us over the years. You started cutting staff and you still treated women poorly – typically putting them second on morning shows, as co-hosts and not the show host. Sometimes you wouldn’t give women remote broadcasts for car dealerships. You barely pay staff enough money to live on, and even still women are making less than a lot of men in the same positions in radio.

Radio, I tried to make it work. I went into management and I worked hard. I was promised so much, as long as I was a slave to my phone. I worked all hours of the day. You were the last thing I thought about before I went to bed and the first thing I thought of when I woke up. I got up in the middle of the night for you and drove to the station because you were off the air. I would have done pretty well anything for you because I loved you so much. When I went into management I pretended to care about hockey while sitting around the table with the old boys club. I laughed at your blatant sexist jokes. I looked up to the women who were busting it to get a seat at that table. Then, I heard you make snickering comments behind their back.

Kate McCallum Nikki Sixx Motley Crue Canada Music Week

Meeting Motley Crue’s – Nikki Sixx at Canadian Music Week

Radio, I can usually no longer listen to you. You have started cheating on me, even more, this year. Where have the local announcers gone? Why am I listening to a recorded voice from British Columbia talk about the Maritimes town I live in? You aren’t fooling anyone. I am turning you off.

It’s unfortunate you are choosing money over talent because the talent is what brings in the money. You know this and choose to ignore it. So many talented people have been let go over the past couple of years. You have so many talented people who are still in the business that are doing 2-3 jobs and you are causing them to get sick. You’re causing them to have high blood pressure and stress and forcing them to walk on eggshells in the workplace because they’re constantly worried they might be next because no one feels safe.
Radio, you have some great people working for you, try to remember that. Treat them well. Stop slowly killing them. The job is supposed to be fun.

Radio, I thank you for dumping me. That’s right, I do! Thank you so much for kicking my ass to the curb.

I am no longer as sick as I was when I was with you. My high blood pressure is better. The armpits of my shirts are no longer soaked in sweat from nerves. I have a life again and I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I don’t regret being with you because you taught me an important lesson. I learned to be resilient.

So, here is what I am doing Radio. I am selling all of my stuff and I took all of my radio mugs and t-shirts and gave them away. I am going on a Canadian adventure. I’m going to work hard, play hard, and not worry anymore about you. We are completely through. I wish you nothing but the best and I hope that one day you will learn that you are not fooling your listeners.

Before I say goodbye for good – Radio, please treat women better. Seriously.

It was fun, but now, it’s time to say goodbye.

Sincerely,

Kate McCallum

 

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42 comments

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Amanda May 15, 2016 - 12:53 am

The listeners will miss your voice Kate but I am so proud of you for walking away from it and following a dream that will reward you so much more in the end! We met while you were doing radio and for that I will always be grateful that you came to this little island! You are a woman I am truly blessed to call friend and I can not wait to hear about all your adventures!

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ron yantho May 15, 2016 - 7:43 am

Excellent letter Kate, and so true. Enjoy your new journey, you deserve it.

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 5:32 pm

HI Ronnie! My first PD! You were so much fun to work with. Thank you for reading this and taking the time to comment.

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Becky May 15, 2016 - 8:56 am

This is wonderful! I am so disgusted that so many industries, radio especially, continue to be “old boys clubs” when there is absolutely no need for it. I am sad that radio treated you so badly and took advantage of your ambition. But I am overjoyed that you are now taking the opportunity to live the life you want, not the life you think you should live. There are so many amazing adventures waiting for you and I love that you are forging your own path with joy and excitement! Well done!

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Adam Doolittle May 16, 2016 - 5:33 pm

HI Becky, thanks for the kind words!

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Beth May 15, 2016 - 10:04 am

Talked in your sleep too. Have fun little sis! Canada is amazing – more people, who live here, need to know it. Happy trails.

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Mark Crompton May 15, 2016 - 11:28 am

Was in radio for 33 years moving from on air to sales. Retired at 56. Thought I would miss it more than I do. Kind of strange not having four call letters next to your name and identity. Talent for the most part is young and poorly paid even in the larger markets. What happened to working in small stations and making your way up to the larger operation after years of pollishing your skills. Retired after being sick about not making your budgets some months or quarters. Enjoy your life. Yes there is LIFE after radio.

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Charlie Brown May 16, 2016 - 10:39 am

I feel your pain Mark, However I went back on the air after being let go by Corus Radio in the big “sales people drop” of 2009. On the air is a blast, the politics is not! Oh well!

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 5:30 pm

Thank you for sharing your story Mark. I think we think there is no life after radio, because radio was our life for so long. Keep in touch and follow along with our adventure!

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trevor thompson May 15, 2016 - 1:09 pm

Kate fired me from my first radio job. I was right out of school. I took it personally for a long time, but not anymore. In fact, looking back, I probably would’ve done the same thing. If it hadn’t been for that single experience though, I never would’ve gotten to the point I am now. I experienced similar things Kate described above, not exact of course, but the parallels are there. I got out, and happy to do it. After about 6 months, I was back in. Radio 2.0 as it were. Now I work on my terms. Part-time hours, beer money pay. It’s really the best way to do it. No stress, all the upsides. IF it gets too stressful, I’ll hop right back out. There is life after radio!

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 5:28 pm

Hi Trevor! Every experience teaches us somthing. Thanks for writing to us, I am happy to read you are doing well!

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Nancy Travers May 15, 2016 - 6:53 pm

I began in radio in 1982. I am still in radio. In 1992, I became the first female program director for the group for which I worked. For the next five years, I took each station in the group (100,000 watt stations) to number one in each following spring book. In1996, I started a station from scratch. It beat out all other stations in the market within the first 3 months. I am a woman (I was a girl at the time) working with a male majority. I heard the sexist comments. But never considered any of them to be threatening or with ill intent. I never once felt that my being female held me back. I demonstrated my abilities and was rewarded based on them. If at any time did I feel that a male counterpart was more compensated than I, I am assured that I would have renegotiated my salary. Radio did not dictate my salary. My value and worth dictated my salary. By the same token, it is not radio who failed any of us. We are responsible for keeping up with the evolution of radio. By evolving with the medium, I have been able to continue with my passion.

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 5:26 pm

Thanks for sharing your impressive story Nancy. You certainly had a much more pleasant experience than I. I wish you nothing but continued success.

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Lolana May 17, 2016 - 12:18 am

Radio has failed me. As a listener. I want the local talent. I want to hear songs that aren’t the same ones over and over again. Radio fails communities by removing this live, minute-to-minute connection. It’s all fine and good to “evolve” into more distant, voice-track-driven, Internet-Not-Local platforms….but there is a direction terrestrial radio is evolving. Some of us miss it and do NOT blame the radio workers for not wanting to travel along that “evolutionary” path.

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Chris Lesage May 15, 2016 - 9:24 pm

Good for you Kate!! If I can make a request how about a podcast so we can hear all about the adventures.

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 5:23 pm

Hi Chris! How are you doing? A podcast! We have talked about that, it could be something we may do! However Adam may go on about the Blue Jays, which could result in my comments about how I think baseball should actually be played…….You know what, I think we should DO a podcast! Haha!

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'Stella Mar' May 16, 2016 - 1:10 am

Wow!! So very well said. I felt exactly the same way when I said goodbye almost 10 years ago. I still miss the sexiness, but I will never miss the rest. I watched as good, talented people were kicked to the curb, month after nonth, year after year. I still look on as friends who stayed make so little and work so much. I miss it, but then again, I don’t. Thank you for this wonderful letter.

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 5:20 pm

Hi Stella, Thank you for reading our blog, and I completely feel the same way. I miss it, but I don’t.

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Colin Rowley May 16, 2016 - 10:31 am

Kate, I have never heard your voice but I heard you loud and clear. I too, was left high and dry in 2002 when my commercial radio career which spanned nearly 20 years, came to anabrupt end. i couldn’t find new work in the industry I hated sometimes and often loved. I found working in radio sexy at times but the office politics is on a very high level at times. Thank you for a wonderful piece of writing and giving us a small insight into your radio world.

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Adam Doolittle May 16, 2016 - 5:19 pm

Hi Colin, Thank you for sharing and for reading our blog!

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Adam Doolittle May 16, 2016 - 8:50 pm

Hi Colin. Thank you for reading the blog and sharing your story.

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Charlene May 16, 2016 - 11:31 am

I’m doing the same thing!! Good Luck on your adventures!! Perhaps our path’s will cross. 🙂

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 5:16 pm

Charlene! All the best to you in your new adventure. Thanks for reading and keep in touch!

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Jackie May 16, 2016 - 11:44 am

Hi Kate! A terrific read. As someone who is leaving a 10-year career in radio this week to begin a brand new job in a different field, this really spoke to me. I think we have a lot in common and I can empathize with every piece of your letter. I wish you all the best!

Question: How do you deal with it when you get upset about not being on the air anymore? I need coping strategies because I have a feeling my final sign-off on Friday night will come with tears.

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 4:58 pm

Hi Jackie. Good luck with the new path you have chosen. In radio, we find the engagement with the listeners addictive. You will find that your art of conversation will come to good use in any career path and will serve you well and hopefully meet that need. If not, you could always start up a podcast as a hobby, I would listen to you! Thanks again for following our adventure!

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Panama Jack May 16, 2016 - 4:49 pm

My Radio career spanned 1968 to 1992, from a 250 watt AM in the sticks to GM of a Classic Rock FM and GSM of a major market FM I took from monthly billing $100k to $800k in less than a year. Same station fired me to screw me out of my bonus, then blackballed me to the industry. Nice guys and “it’s just business”. Backstabbers all.
I was once threatened with firing because as PD I hired a Woman as on-air talent back in 1974. I told the GM he would have to fire me first. He didn’t, she stayed.
One station where I was PD consistently bounced my & the jocks paychecks while the owners lived a luxury lifestyle. I told them they would need to knock that off and don’t issue paychecks if they’re not good. Next time they did it I walked off the air, played “Take this job & shove it” and took 3/4 of the air staff with me to a new station. These bozos installed the antenna on the tower upside down…you could hear it 100 miles away but not in the local market, I kid you not! Despite that, six months later, after I established that station and the ratings came back at #1 & they fired me.
And that was Radio 1.0. I’ve watched Radio 2.0 evolve with the iHearts and Cumulus’s and they’ve butchered their way to make Radio lose its base audience of 12-34. I no longer listen to terrestrial Radio because it has nothing to offer other than a lot of commercials and out-of-market or liner-driven talent.
You have the right attitude, and my advice to you, Kate for what it’s worth, as Boston put it, “Don’t look back”.

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Kate McCallum May 16, 2016 - 5:14 pm

Hi Panama Jack. (You make the best sunscreen! Haha)

Thank you so much for giving this a read and sharing your story. I have been overwhelmed by the response from people in Canada and the US. There is still a bunch of talented people on the radio that are working their guts out. I don’t listen like I used to, (i used to listen ALL THE TIME) but if I do listen to Canadian radio, I will turn on Crash& Mars in Edmonton, and I still love to listen to Kirk, Kerri-Wynne & Scott in PEI. While camping in Cape Cod, I loved to listen to their local station (but that was more for the music) haha. Anyways thank you again for writing and please continue to follow along on our adventure!

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sonny fox May 16, 2016 - 5:53 pm

Hey Kate,
I’ve been in radio for 48 years. I still do the voice imaging for Sirius XM’s Classic vinyl channel. Radio is pretty much run by idiots AKA consultants. I went to work at CHUM in 1970 and they made me use the name “Johnny Mitchel” because they had a jingle that hadn’t been used so I agreed. When I left in 1972 I planned and thanking everyone for listening and say goodbye but management told the engineer to cut my mic so I couldn’t say anything bad. I’ll never forget that. I went on to a show on KHJ in Los Angeles and develop the album rock format for FM in 1973 with Lee Abrams. Don’t let radio decide who you are. It’s a low brow version of show business and the people who call the shots are NOT the talent.
I wish you the best.
http://www.sonnyfox.com

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Adam Doolittle May 16, 2016 - 8:47 pm

Hi Sonny! Thank you for reading the blog and sharing your story with us.

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Jennifer Ferguson May 16, 2016 - 7:51 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your honest experience, Kate. It takes courage to do what you’re doing and I have a lot of respect for you and Adam. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures across Canada!! Enjoy the journey!

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Adam Doolittle May 16, 2016 - 8:48 pm

Thank you Jennifer!

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jim siberry May 16, 2016 - 11:40 pm

My radio career ended..or was ended..in 1991.25 years later i still miss the business….but I’m not sure I’d like to be a part of what passes for radio today.Good luck to you….and my dogs say “Hi”.

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PJ May 17, 2016 - 2:20 am

I worked in radio for 8 years until 2004 when I was with a networked station in country Victoria (Australia). I was being piped into 11 markets, automated from the hub (the only piece of local I could do !) – it’s impossible to know about other places you broadcast to unless you’ve lived there a substantial amount of time, and even then it’s not true radio.

You would get sent info from the markets (news clippings, etc) but useless in regards to weather except the Bureau Of Meterology website….and I remember being in one of the satellite markets before it went networked, and the massive satellite dish sitting in the carpark, everyone glaring at it, then about 6 staff (including on air) being booted – it was like a ghost town then, and I was the newbie from out of town doing breakfast – man did I feel guilty.

I got out of there just before that company got bought out, and they hubbed the hub (broadcasting everything bar breakfast from the Gold Coast in Queensland to my old hub in the country), so two levels of localism were gone except for local sweepers and ads.

The only joy I ever got was hosting a “Workday Wind Down” – it was a bit more relaxed and I could do interviews with celebs, but then got reduced to them being done once a week too.

It’ll never go back to the way it was unfortunately and there’s not many stations in Australia that are genuinely local anymore.

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Kate McCallum May 17, 2016 - 6:33 pm

Hi PJ, Love that you found my letter in Australia. Thank you for sharing your story. Keep following our adventure and keep in touch!

Kate

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Michael B May 20, 2016 - 10:00 am

Great letter Kate! I too gave a lot of heart and passion to a job I once loved in Radio. I think most of us gave it our ‘All’ because we enjoyed the job and not the low wages attributed to the amount of hours worked.
Like yourself, I have started a new passion. I have created an online radio station called PopCanRadio.ca which plays 100% Canadian music. I have mobile apps for Apple and Android. I welcome feedback and invite you to listen. Former radio friends welcome to offer suggestions and insight too. All the best on your journey Kate! I look forward to your future posts! Thanks again for sharing!

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Kate McCallum May 20, 2016 - 1:29 pm

Hi Michael,thank you so much for your kind words. We’ll definitely take some time to check out your site. Glad that you’re still finding an outlet for your past radio experience.

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Lisa C-B June 5, 2016 - 11:37 am

Very well written Kate! What struck me in your letter is how, when we start to lose our passion for our careers that we have poured our heart and soul into, it just becomes a job that is a means to pay the bills. There is little left to fulfill us and unfortunately, many of us are just now going through the motions. I am delighted that you and Adam have decided to make lemonade, out of the lemons you were dealt. I wish you all the best.

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Adam Doolittle June 7, 2016 - 12:20 am

HI Lisa! Thank you so much. It truly is working well, and we hope to encourage more people to do the same. Life is just too short! Thanks! Kate

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Emma July 6, 2016 - 1:00 pm

This is a completely antiquated view of radio and media as a whole – if you’re a straight white male the odds are high that you’ll be passed over for a job because you’re not representing a visible minority or helping to balance out a gender ratio.
I’ve been in radio for 16 years and have seen many instances of female managers and hosts being paid more for doing the same job, and men being passed over for remotes because the client prefers a female announcer. If you’ve failed at negotiating a reasonable salary you only have yourself to blame. Don’t be resentful towards your co-workers because they asked for what they wanted and got it.
At my last station the morning host, afternoon host, promotions director, program director and general manager were all women who had less experience and are less qualified than the men they replaced.
How’s that for equality?

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Kate McCallum July 6, 2016 - 4:01 pm

Hi Emma,

Thank you for reading the blog and sharing your experience. I worked for small companies. They didn’t have “Employment Equity Committees.” It was only later when the company I worked for grew big enough that they had to meet targets for Employment Equity, and even then they didn’t really have to. It’s not like they were penalized. I know, because I chaired the committee. My blog is my experience, and after it was written I received many other letters from women who were treated the same way. I have never been “resentful” of my co-workers, because even the pay they were getting was barely enough to put food on the table. I think that your experience is just as bizarre, as the most experienced person should get the job, no matter who they are. Have a great afternoon. ~ Kate

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Ellie September 27, 2017 - 2:56 pm

Hello Kate,
Glad I found your letter to radio! I didn’t know that so many who once worked in radio feel as I do. I was hoping to parlay my 30 plus years in radio to some other communications job, but they are all technical now, not human interfacing.

I’m in Texas and have had a very good career doing lots of formats. However, I have become bored with announcing music. I wish deregulation had not happened at all. In my opinion, it destroyed the growth of this communications medium. When I first started in 1982, I believed that this would be a lifelong career with many opportunities for advancement. I never really wanted to be in management so I didn’t go that path. Instead, years into my career, things changed. Technology made it possible to broadcast a single show from one city and simulcast all over the country. That’s how I lost my best job. Now, I don’t really know what to do. I do believe that keeping up with the technology would have been smart, but that may not have been enough to keep me employed in radio since the opportunities are far fewer and, though the stations who thrive do very well, radio is not a growth industry. I don’t want to move from my home town to settle into a new town only to be dismissed in six months. I will probably end up doing VO work since I have successfully done it before, just didn’t want to have to.

Good luck to you, whatever you’re doing now. I now know I’m right: life after radio usually doesn’t involve doing anything like radio.

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Kate McCallum September 30, 2017 - 9:37 am

Hi Ellie,

There are so many skills that we learn along the way, I am certain you will find something that will suit. Even if at first, you think you would be crazy to do it. I never dreamed of being a food tour guide, a resort guest services specialist and doing a 2 hour morning show in a town with less than 3 thousand people….but here I am! I wish you all the best! Kate

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