Jim Harper isn’t saying much about his pending departure from WMGC-FM (105.1), other than that he’s retiring. He’s entitled to be circumspect, and heaven knows he’s entitled to retire: At 58, he’s been in radio for 45 years.
Aside from being a brilliant broadcaster — take a listen between now and Dec. 23, and note how he always finds the right funny line to bring a discussion back to where it started — he’s a smart and thoughtful guy. I called him this week to talk about his sidekick, Cyndy Canty, who will leave the station at the same time, and he brought up the notion of what he calls “an Economy of One.”
Most of us are used to being employees. You get a job, you get a steady paycheck, you get health insurance. If that job disappears, you look for one a lot like it. But these days, he says, it makes more sense for some people to “create their own world.”
Canty, for instance, might stitch together industrial films, an adjunct teaching position and some voice-overs — two or three gigs, adding up to a good living. “When I was 16, if you knew someone who had an in with the Big 3 and you could get a job on the line, you had it made,” Harper says. She would become an Economy of One, not dependent on a solitary source to pay her way.
For the benefit of her potential employers, his reference is glowing. “She embodies everything you’d want in a friend and co-worker,” he says. “She’s optimistic, non-judgmental, compassionate. The audience can tell that, and they respond to it.”
Canty’s new Website, which might still be a bit rough around the edges, is www.cynthiacanty.com. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for a fitting sign-off to this post, here’s Harper’s assessment of how difficult
it is to make radio seem easy:
“Sounding natural is the hardest thing in the world.”