On the 4th of July in 2016, I met a new neighbor in my 'hood and instantly thought, 'we should create a talk show together.' Over cocktails and fireworks, a loose idea was born for I Am Your Neighbor. Tammy Azzarello and I crafted the concept of tracking down and chatting with people that live authentically, without trying to do so, as we feel that completely represents who we are. We realized that between the two of us, the only similarities we share are natural curiosity, loud mouths, and thick black books overflowing with acquaintances that would qualify for our Chicago-based show. We are your neighbors.
Having worked in radio as a producer and talk show host 20-some years ago in Chicago and Indianapolis, I know how to put a show together. I've tried over the years to do my own gig, partner with old co-hosts, and even sent a Stacy Snyder demo into the OWN network, hoping for my big break into television.
None of those things worked, but they all taught me loads of lessons.
- I don't need a job that pays me to be a talk show host. I can simply do it if I want to.
- I don't need credit after credit under my belt to be taken seriously. I love what I do and I will be taken into account by those whom I affect, byline or not.
- Every thing I've done up until now has led me here and this place will lead me to the next, such as:
- watching Oprah haul the 67 lbs of fat onstage in a wagon on The Oprah Winfrey Show
- getting fired from the only job I ever LOVED, LesBiGay Radio
- moving to Dallas to be close to family
- losing a baby boy mid-pregnancy and processing the grief with a lack of financial stewardship
- fleeing Dallas in an attempt to avoid becoming that which I despised
- actively choosing a life that matters to me instead of chasing the one I think others think I should live, which only resides in my jacked up brain
- trying and failing at getting my book published, Y'all are Gay? How I Made it Out of Texas Alive
- keeping track of, i.e. sometimes stalking, every friend that has ever means something to me in my life and not giving up till they tell me to back the freak off
Today I'm happy as a lark. I don't need anything from this show, I just want to do it and it matters to me: simple as that.
This is the introduction. Stay tuned for regularly updated shows, each featuring at least one Chicagoan living life to the fullest by doing what comes naturally, pursuing a passion that may or may not have relevance to any other human being!
Please let me know your thoughts on the show and ideas for upcoming shows. Offer to help if you're so inclined (do you know it took over 20 hours of video editing for me to come up with 5 minutes of airtime?). Follow my ParentUnplugged blog where I write when I cannot speak effectively one-on-one, subscribe to my YouTube channel and/or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
Whatever you do, do it because you love it, not because someone told you to do so, including me. Know that you are worthwhile just as you are. You don't need to fit into any mold, blend in with any group, or seek accolades from any society.
Be bold. Be strong. Believe in yourself. It's enough.