Category: Columns

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It’s almost impossible for me to believe that it’s been 6 months since I last wrote an article on LinkedIn. I’ve posted quick notes here and there. But for the most part, I went dark over the last 6 months and so much has been happening. So please allow me to share.

You might recall that I took off for Singapore from late November until early January. The plan at that time was to relocate to the other side of the world to be with my partner of 8 years. I had pretty much given up on my career here in the United States. Not because I couldn’t find a job, there were plenty of options. But most of the options presented weren’t appealing to me at this stage of my career given my prior track record. So Singapore was the plan… until the unthinkable happened.

As I was preparing for my big move to Singapore, I had a conversation with an old mentor of mine by the name of John McMullen. So a little backstory… John gave me one of my first big breaks in broadcasting back in 2003 at a then little-known company called Sirius Satellite Radio. He saw something in this precocious, confident 25-year-old that had done little more than small-market radio sports and news anchoring. I packed up from Danbury, Connecticut (then market #198) and headed off to New York City to work at Sirius. That opportunity turned into a lot of great things over the next 15 years. It all started with Sirius. And it all started with John’s confidence in me.

So why did I tell you about that story involving the history of John and me? The reason is simple. Over the last 16 years, John was the only person from this industry that I have remained in constant contact with. Through good times and bad, we’ve always kept in touch. Good friends in the media are hard to come by. Many people pretend to be friends while often having little to offer from either a personal or professional standpoint. Many only find the time to chat with you when times are good while forgetting you when times get tough. John was always an ear to listen no matter what stage my career was at. How many people can you honestly say that about when it comes to your own media career? I guarantee you the number is limited to one hand.

“Good friends in the media are hard to come by. Many people pretend to be friends while often having little to offer from either a personal or professional standpoint. Many only find the time to chat with you when times are good while forgetting you when times get tough.”

So back to January. John and I started talking in the middle of the month. I had a concept for a news-talk radio program that I really wanted to try out. In a time where most news-talk is heavily focused on politics and partisan politics at that, I wanted to do something different. Yes, my talk show would have some political stories and opinions scattered throughout, but I also wanted a show that accurately reflected the conversations you were having with your friends on a daily basis. I wanted a show that reflected the chats you had with co-workers or family. Nobody spends an entire meal or meeting/get together with their friends chatting about one topic, let alone politics. So I wanted to test drive this idea for a daily talk show. John was willing to give me a platform and a studio to try it out. That’s how “Jason Page… One Week Only” came to be.

I drove from Richmond to Palm Springs, California during the first week of February to see how it felt to do the national news-talk show I had always dreamed of doing. I had no expectations for what it would turn into. Best case scenario? One day the show would be nationally syndicated. Worst case? I got a week of sun in Palm Springs and got to say goodbye to radio on my own terms. What was the end result? That is still to be determined. But I feel it has the potential to be something much bigger than I had ever hoped.

During the week of experimental talk-show hosting, I was able to fine tune things a bit in terms of my content. John McMullen was instrumental in this. While I’d spent the previous 14 years doing mostly sports-talk, this was a different animal. There was definitely a bit of a learning curve. But the biggest thing I took away from doing this week of experimental radio was this… I still had the passion and drive for being on the air every day and doing a talk show. This was both exciting and scary. It was exciting because that love was something I thought I had put to bed. It was scary for the same reason. And it also meant that I had to explain to my partner Chang (who lives in Singapore, where we own a home) that I wasn’t moving there as we had originally planned. I had to flush out this idea and see if this was something viable. While he wasn’t thrilled, he understood what I was going through and is supporting me in my decisions. I’m lucky to have him in my life.

“Jason Page… One Week Only”turned into a 6-week test run of me hosting daily news-talk shows for the digital operation known as iHub Radio. Each day brought its challenges as I continued to tweak my news-talk formatting. Some days felt better than others but the signs were there pointing towards this being something I could do with a high level of success. After sitting down with John and radio consultant/mastermind David G Hall, I felt as confident as ever that I had a shot to take this as far as I wanted to. Still, it was a big move to leave the comfort of sports-talk for a different format that may or may not ultimately embrace me. There was only one way to find out. I was moving to Palm Springs.

After much deliberation, I made the decision to move to Palm Springs to launch “The Intersection with Jason Page.” on iHub Radio via the TuneIn Radio app. While many will ask what I had to gain by launching a local talk show in Palm Springs (on a digital platform no less), there was a much bigger picture I was looking at. This was never a local play for me. This was about finding a place to get the reps doing a daily three-hour news-talk show in order to make myself a better host. Plain and simple. It was Spring Training for radio. I wanted to get my swing down to be ready for the big leagues. Now, I feel like I’ve hit my stride as a news-talk host and ready to take things to the next level. I’ll be sharing more about that in the days ahead. And while local radio wasn’t initially in the cards, I’m now working on a way to incorporate something for a local audience in Palm Springs. If I’m going to make this the base for my operation, then why not give some great local talk to the masses here?

While most news-talk shows generally focus on a limited number of topics (mostly circulating around politics), “The Intersection” usually has no less than 16 topics in the course of a three-hour show. Politics, current events, entertainment, and even a little sports can wind up in this show. I have opinions on everything. Don’t you? All these topics intersect in our daily lives. that’s why I gave this show the name it has. While we obviously want every demo to be listening, it is a show geared towards Millenials and Gen-Z’ers as much as anyone else. If you don’t like something we are talking about, hang around for 10 minutes, we’re likely to move on to something that does pertain to you. Will radio stations around the country gravitate towards a format like this? Time will tell. But I am willing to wait and find out.

“While most news-talk shows generally focus on a limited number of topics (mostly circulating around politics), “The Intersection” usually has no less than 16 topics in the course of a three-hour show.”

While the original goal was to eventually bring a radio product to the masses via syndication, I’ve started to go in a different direction with “The Intersection.” Yes, syndicating the show is still a goal, but it’s just one piece of a much larger puzzle. I’ve made the decision to create my own media brand with “The Intersection” at the center of that brand. The name of the company has already been decided and the wheels are in motion to bring that company to life over the next few weeks. This brand will soon become something I have long dreamed of… a means of controlling my destiny with creative freedom and control that is hard to come by in an industry that frowns upon such things. Others have done it. Why couldn’t I? It won’t be easy and there are lots of hurdles to still overcome. But the vision for success is there. I’m willing to put in the immense amounts of work necessary to turn this into a reality. I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

A daily radio show, video streaming of the show with listener and viewer interaction, a daily podcast and many other things are a part of this new brand. As I’ve said, further details on all of this will be coming in the days ahead. The radio show is already in its third month on the TuneIn Radio app. The rest of the pieces will be moving into place shortly. I can’t wait to share them with you. I want to thank all of you that have reached out with messages of support in recent months. Part of the reason I am still in this game is because of you and your words of encouragement. It means way more than you will ever know. This is a long-term play. I will keep you all updated on what is happening with this new brand (that is soon to be announced) and I hope you’ll support it as well as you’ve supported me.

That’s all for now. We’ll chat again soon.

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I am a victim of sexual assault.

Seeing those words on the screen of my laptop still causes my hands to tremble and it’s been over 30 years since my innocence was taken. It’s the height of irony that a person widely known for sharing virtually every aspect of his life on the radio has managed to keep this one secret buried so deep.

This might be the point where you ask me why I haven’t come forward sooner. It’s a question I heard the President of the United States ask over the last week with regard to a woman that has accused a Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her while the two were still in high school. But this isn’t a political opinion piece. The opinion shared by the President is one that I have heard echoed throughout the years whenever a prominent sexual abuse/assault case comes forward after being kept secret for such a long period of time.

Let me start at the beginning. Over 33 years ago I was molested by a person familiar to my family. I wasn’t restrained or held against my will. I wouldn’t even say that I was forced against my will. But I was coerced into performing a sexual act with a male much older than I was when I was just a boy who couldn’t possibly understand what I was doing. I was deceived. I didn’t know any better and I went along with this man’s devious plot. It only happened one time. But that one incident is an albatross that’s been around my neck for the last 30-plus years.

Over 20 years ago, I was engaged to a woman named Victoria. During a conversation one night, I broke down in tears while telling her of the abuse I suffered at the hands of a man familiar to my family. It was the first time I had told anyone what had happened to me over a decade earlier. There I was, sobbing like a little boy. I had been brought back to that day and that moment where this young man had violated me. In the days that followed, I would share my story with a select few people in my family. I chose to protect my parents from this awful experience. The way I viewed it, there was nothing they could do for me now. I was an adult and I was out on my own.

But it was more complicated than that. Many will ask why I am being vague in describing my abuser. Why have I gone the route of keeping him nameless? The reasoning on my end is simple. The number of lives that would be destroyed by this revelation is too large for me to bear. It isn’t just this man’s life that would be ruined. It would be the lives of his family and extended family. I wouldn’t be able to live with that consequences for the sake of outing this person that so badly damaged my life. Why should his family have to suffer for his selfishness? For as many times in my life as I have lacked the discipline to hold back, this is the one instance where I still have the ability to do so. A select few people know who my attacker is. I have asked them to keep my secret. Hopefully, they will honor that request.

Over the last decade, I thought of sharing my story publicly. I thought of outing my abuser. I thought of writing to him to tell him all the pain he had caused me throughout the course of my life because of one selfish decision he made so many years ago. But for all the times I considered coming forward with my experience, I ultimately opted for the choice of silence. Might I confront the man who did this to me at some point? Perhaps. There is no statute of limitations that restricts me from talking to the police tomorrow if I wanted to. But again, at what cost would that action come? Right now, just one life has been forever altered by this experience. Why have more that are so adversely burdened because of one person’s actions? Still, it is something I consider every now and then.

7 years ago I heard the story of Jerry Sandusky molesting boys in showers while a coach at Penn State University. It made me physically nauseous. I would go on the radio and discuss the story with my audience. And each time I shared the story, it was like recounting my own sexual assault to an audience of tens of thousands. The pain was unbearable. I remember breaking down in tears to my partner and telling him of the pain I was in. But what could I do? There never felt like a proper time to share this experience with anybody outside of a handful of people.

When people ask why somebody doesn’t come forward, it shows a lack of understanding towards those who have endured something so incomprehensible. How many people can even go to that dark place? And if you haven’t been in there, a proper perspective is impossible to come up with. Who would have believed me as a young boy if I had spoken up and said this person forced me to do something that I really didn’t want to do? As I started to get older, I wondered if perhaps I had wanted it to happen. Maybe it was my fault? Heck, I figured out that I was gay when I was 23, after years of dating women and even getting engaged to one. Maybe this experience I had as a child was just a part of my “sexual discovery”. So many potential rationalizations. Join them up with the reasons listed in the paragraphs before and it gave me so many reasons not to speak up.

So why speak out now? Again, the answer is simple. I either start unloading some of this experience in the present or risk self-destructing in the very near future. I can feel myself coming apart at the seams as the chorus of the #MeToo Movement grows louder each day. While that movement addresses sexual harassment and assault related to the workplace, I feel a kinship with those who have openly shared their experiences of sexual trauma at the hands of somebody in a position of power or authority. My assault didn’t come in the workplace. But it still came at the hands of somebody who should have known better. It came at the hands of somebody who took advantage of his position as somebody who was older than me.

Another reason I’m speaking out now is guilt. As we grow older, we expand upon the simplistic ways in which we process traumatic incidents in our lives. I certainly know that my thoughts crystalized a bit more as I processed what took place on that day so many years ago. I constantly came back to one thought that still haunts me now. Did my silence enable my abuser to do others, what he had done to me? What are the chances that I was the only boy who this man violated? Did he do it to others? I’ll probably never know.

I’m not here to allege that I was sexually assaulted as a young boy. I’m here to tell you that I was sexually assaulted as a young boy. It isn’t imagined. I’m not mistaken as to who perpetrated this crime upon me. While I don’t remember the exact day on the calendar (in terms of when this took place), I can walk you to the spot where it happened. I remember the violation that vividly. Its mark has been burned indelibly into my being. It will never disappear.

Let me finish with a message to the man who has caused me this great pain. If my accuser should happen to read this, I want him to know something. You took something from me that I will never be able to have back. You stole my innocence. Beyond that, you’ve stolen over 33 years of my life in some way, shape or form by forcing me to relive my trauma again and again. I hope that in telling this story I can start to reclaim some of what has been lost at your hands and actions. I am a survivor of sexual assault. My wounds run deep. Rather than question why I’ve chosen to remain silent for so long, instead ask yourself what is occurring in our society that forces one to stay silent for such an interminable period.

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On June 26th 2015, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling that essentially recognized same-sex couples as equal to heterosexual couples in the eyes of the law. No more DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). No more civil unions which essentially made gays equal but different in the eyes of our federal government. Equality had arrived for the gay community. But that ruling certainly didn’t end the struggle for the LGBT community in this country. However, if you’ve watched the first two debates of the Presidential race stretch run, you’d think we had equal rights with zero discriminatory issues for the last 100 years.

Two debates have been held over the last 8 days. In those two debates, not one issue has been raised that is relevant to the LGBTQ community and the struggles we still face in the year 2016. When the first debate passed and I saw a few murmurs of discontent among my friends in the community, I shrugged it off. “Calm down.” I thought to myself. “We have three presidential debates and one debate between the Vice-Presidential candidates.” With the VP debate held on Tuesday night in Virginia, I felt pretty confident that we’d see some sort of reference to the LGBT community. Especially given the stances taken by staunch social conservative Mike Pence. And while a little bit of religion was injected into the debate in the latter stages, with the topic of abortion being mentioned, yet again the LGBT issue was left untouched by debate moderator Elaine Quijano. With that said, I thought she controlled the conversation and handled the management of the candidates pretty well.

Ultimately, the fact that we are halfway through the debate schedule without a single mention of an LGBT issue is disconcerting. Meanwhile, we’ve heard about Miss Universe contestants, stamina of candidates and Rosie O’Donnell. Granted, only one of those issues was raised by a moderator. But in the case of the VP debate on Tuesday night, it’s inconceivable to me that you can go 90 minutes with Indiana Governor Mike Pence sitting just feet away from you, and not ask a single question regarding his stance on homosexuality or protections for those in the LGBT community. Keep in mind that both Pence and Senator Tim Kaine are just a heartbeat away from the Presidency come January. Doesn’t their views on LGBT issues matter? Doesn’t the views of the candidate they are running with matter? Apparently not enough to warrant a single question or mention in two debates.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has quite the track record when it comes to opposing the LGBT community. Start with the fact that he ran a conservative think tank that put out anti-gay articles. This is the same Mike Pence that was okay with using HIV/AIDS monies to fund conversion therapy. Yeah, the old conversion therapy advocate. “We’ll just push the gay out of you if we talk to you enough.” Frankly, an hour in a room alone with Mike Pence could be enough to wish me adapting a heterosexual life. Remember the Indiana Religious Liberty Bill? Yep. That’s loaded with anti-gay rhetoric too. Back in 2014, he tried to ban same-sex marriage. That didn’t go so well for him. Mike Pence on gays in the military? Nope. Not under his watch. Despite all of these “knowns” as it relates to a man that is one heartbeat away from being the leader of the free world, not a single question on Tuesday not was raised that would force him to address his stance on these issues.
So that leaves two debates for the moderators to raise the topics like those being confronted by the trans community in North Carolina. 21 states have some form of religious freedom acts which essentially embrace the idea of discriminating against the LGBT community under the guise of protecting religious expression. In case anybody forgot, June 12th, 2016 saw a massacre in Orlando that took the lives of those in the LGBT community along with those that support the community. This idea that seems to be embraced within the “debate moderator world” that LGBT issues aren’t important enough to be addressed is perplexing to me. That takes me to the next Presidential Debate in Nevada on Sunday night.

The moderators for the 2nd debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz. If anybody could understand the sensitivities involved with neglecting the topic of LGBT civil rights it would be the openly-gay Cooper. After first seeming to avoid gay topics after coming out (probably out of concern for being viewed as having bias on the issue), Cooper has become more comfortable in addressing LGBT concerns. Just look on YouTube for his interview with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi where he held her feet to the fire for her stance against gay-marriage. After the Orlando shootings, you would have thought Bondi was the biggest champion for LGBT rights. Cooper had no problem dragging her onto the carpet to face her past views. Will Cooper be the one to address the Rainbow elephant in the room on Sunday night? Maybe he leaves it to Raddatz to tackle. Either way, we’re just two debates away from voters having to decide whom to vote for. And for the LGBT community, the avoidance of LGBT-related questions hasn’t made their choice any clearer.

Listen to The Intersection Podcast with Jason Page. Available on iTunes and Google Play. You can also find Jason on Twitter @TheBackPage. You can also find the latest episodes HERE.