“Things Could Have Been Different”: An Interview with Zach Goldberg

“When I was younger I wanted to be three things,” says Zach Goldberg, 32 year-old former intern for Sirius Radio. “A Jedi Knight, although I think it was really a Sith Lord because I loved Darth Vader, a gangster, and a rockstar. I guess I always loved the idea of standing out in a crowd.”

Though he hasn’t fulfilled his early Sci-fi dreams yet, Zach’s story is one of a struggle for financial security and life satisfaction. Coming from a liberal east coast background, Zach recalls an early exposure to entertainment as a potentially life-changing experience that brought him closer to his dreams of working in radio.

“My parents were pretty liberal,” he says. “They would let me listen to any type of music or watch any type of movie without too much censorship.”

Zach’s parents’ open-mindedness allowed him the opportunity to dabble in a variety of media. For the future radio student, this offered freedom to discover his passion for the airwaves.

“I always loved listening to talk radio,” he admits. “I felt like I’d be great at it… Talking and entertaining are two things I do on a daily basis. They’re just a part of who I am.”

Though he attended college on two separate occasions, Zach ultimately chose to pursue a 5 month certification program at CSB School of Broadcasting where he learned a variety of industry skills and finished at the top of his class.

“I learned everything from working a radio station control room and television studio to writing everything from news cuts to scripts for television shows…” he remembers. “I worked side by side with college grads, and I was teaching them.”

Despite Zach’s improved knowledge of the industry from classroom lectures and demonstrations, he feels that one crucial part of his education was definitely lacking: preparation for the job market.

“ [My school] absolutely misrepresented the state of the radio industry,” he says. “They tell you they have career assistance, but they don’t tell you that there are no jobs.”

This crucial component to job security and success was missing from the equation. Hoping to make it in his new field, Zach took every opportunity that came his way—including a enviable internship position for Sirius Radio.

“Without my internship at Sirius Radio, there would have been no way any station would have even looked at my resume,” Zach says. “I feel the radio industry, and probably every other industry, requires experience as well as education.”

Despite meeting a slew of celebrities, from the cast of MTV’s hit show Jackass to Nikki Sixx, Newt Gingrich, and former mayor Ed Kotch, Zach remembers the time as less glitz, and more behind-the-scenes labor.

“It is not glamorous work,” he admits. “There were go-for calls, long hours of editing, and making ‘best of’ shows for people like Richard Simmons.”

As he was truly passionate about his craft, Zach recalls the time with nostalgia.

“It was the best time of my life,” he says. “I was going to NYC every day, feeling important. I was working side by side with the who’s who of the radio industry, and I was actually doing what I set out to do. I was very hopeful. I was working hard to show the people at Sirius that I was hungry for the opportunity. Unfortunately, they never offered me a job.”

Thankfully, Zach’s hard work at Sirius Radio eventually paid off, as he was offered the position of Board Op/ Producer for WCTC radio, a local AM station that broadcasted to the Central New Jersey area. But, as with any tough industry, it was hard for Zach to pay the bills and continue to do what he loved.

“At the time, I thought it may have been a stepping stone job,” he says. “They gave low pay and low hours because that was all they had to offer. The other employees were already there for over a year, but everyone got paid the same 10 dollars per hour.”

Based on the status of the job market, Zach could see why there was little money to be found in the radio industry.

“I’m sure they would have given me a full-time gig if it was available,” he says. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to give it any more time than I did. My financial situation was getting out of control. I had to get a job to pay my bills.”

Due to his financial situation and being unable to afford the cost of living, Zach left the field he was passionate about for a more predictable source of income, as the manager of a wine store.

“I am trying to improve my situation,” he admits. “Things could have been different. I messed up my life because I never developed as a student. Maybe one day I can get involved in a type of work that would meet both my needs for creativity and a comfortable lifestyle.”

Learning from his own life story, Zach’s philosophy is simple.

“Time waits for no one,” he says. “Follow your dreams, but try to realize your dreams a lot sooner than I did. Don’t make the same mistakes…”

For more articles and related posts by Sara Kosmyna.

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One Comment

  1. John
    Posted September 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Things do not always turn out how you wish they could, but I admire Zach’s optimistic outlook. I know for a fact that radio is a very tough industry to earn a living in. I’ve often considered a career in radio, it just never worked out. Who knows though, with the infamous Howard Stern sure to be retiring in the near future there could be an opening for Zach.

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