Tuesday, June 06, 2006

DR. HOOK..1973 What's bettter than "The cover of the Rolling Stone?" WHAT ABOUT THE COVER OF "DIAMOND CITY", THE WEEKLY NEWSPAPER PUT OUT BY TIMES SHAMROCK NEWSPAPER GROUP. Editor Gene Padden, who I knew in another career life gave me a fantastic opportunity and interview. This was better than the cover of the Rolling Stone and yes, I picked up 5 copies for my mother. David Yonki. Radio Romeo By: Gene Padden 07/21/2005 Wilkes-Barre's Dave Yonki returns to local media, and oh, does he have a story to tell The proverbial jack of all trades, Dave Yonki had done it all in local media. A career that started as a print columnist took him through the '80s and '90s, where he ventured into the cutthroat world of radio sales.The man known to most simply as "Yonk" was as comfortable as a sponge in the middle of the shark tank we call our local radio market. But on September 24, 1999, things literally came to a screeching halt.Yonki was rear-ended in a car accident that left him with Inoperable Discogenic Disease of the Lumbar Spine with multiple herniated discs. The pain, which he compares to "having a charley horse, except from your neck to your toes," sidelined him from the competitive radio sales market, and he walks with the assistance of a cane. Heavily medicated, the happy-go-lucky yuckster that to this day is the most popular substitute teacher ever to set foot in Hanover Area High School, was not himself. "The Yonk" was more like a space cadet, as drug after ineffective drug had him in a 24-hour trance.It was bad enough The Yonk had to abandon his chosen career in radio for life as a call center trainer, but he was now as zombified as the very workers he trained.Once told the prognosis for full recovery was limited, Yonki tossed the meds. Chronic pain woke him in the middle of his nights, so to keep his mind healthy, he began writing.Then, as he says, he realized 32 Word documents had piled up on his desktop. They were fictional stories, and if he could find a common thread, then he could possibly write a book, and he did.Words had overcome his adversity, as he says, and he had published his first book "A Radio Story: We wish you well in your future endeavors." The book follows a lead character named Jake, who Yonki says is not him, but rather a conglomeration of many people he has known. Jake is a radio salesman with a weakness for women. An inherently flawed character that makes a mess out of his moral dilemmas, Jake somehow manages to keep his mediocre sales job amidst a love life that has all but killed him.The book is a hodgepodge of radio insight and outrageously funny romance. It's been well received, and you can find it for sale at Barnes & Noble, Gallery of Sound, Tudor Books, Price Chopper, and soon at Boscov's and Wegman's. Now working for Travelocity in Hanover Township, the 51-year-old Yonki stopped by diamond city for a sit-down chat. The Yonk isn't just a "short, dumpy guy" pimpin' books out of his convertible trunk (though he does admit that if it works for bands, it could work for him), he's one of the more recognizable faces around town, and he has many a story to tell .... That accident just sounds terrible. It was, and all the while I was at the call center, the doctors were prescribing medication. All kinds. To be honest with you, the type of medication ... I could have opened up a pharmacy if I sold every drug they gave me. It all made me feel very weird. It would ease the pain somewhat, but I wasn't Dave Yonki, I was someone who would stare out the window, looking at my car thinking, "Gee, should I move my car now or should I wait four hours and move it?" I was really not me. So you started writing? Yeah. Just short stories you know? And one day I woke up and I had 32 of them. It gave me an outlet. I just decided I would do something constructive with it. I just began writing stories. I did this one, I did one on the call center - that's a mystery novel, and people will definitely throw rocks at my house for that one. And the other book is called "rules of life." So who is Jake? I created a character who was a radio sales rep named Jake. He's not a big gun in terms of sales, but he's not on the bottom. He's a middle of the road guy who has all these moral dilemmas. He loves radio, but the radio he loved as a kid is no longer the radio that's around now. And, he loves women. He constantly gets himself into these messes. What happens is he tries to do the right thing for too many people. A lot of times he can do the right thing for one person, but this guy decides he wants to do the right thing for too many. It becomes a mess. And it's not you? No, it's not me. It's a conglomeration of people. There are musical references in there that can be part of me. Short, fat, dumpy guy, you know? That could be me. But that's about it. He's not this lady-killer, handsome guy, because how he wins women isn't through that. He wins women because he's relentlessly charming. And that's his fault. What happens to him? Well, I can't tell you what happens with this guy. I can say that he gets his in the end. There's a hint. How has the book been doing? Well it just came out. It's sold out of the Tudor in Clarks Summit three times, so that's good. The reaction has been very good. I've gotten a lot of voice mail messages at my house, which were unsolicited so that's nice. People in and out of the industry have read it and the people outside said it's a compelling story and they just couldn't put it down because it's so interesting, and the other thing is that the print is big and they like that. So, maybe people over 40 are reading (laughs). But I'm happy about that. How did you get it published? I believe in the story, and I wanted to get it done through a publisher that could do it on demand for me. Long story short, I got together some people who backed me, and we put it out ourselves. The first stage is to promote it locally, and the second stage is to send it out and ask these people if they'd like to take a flier on it. That's the method to my madness. I'm an old guy. I don't know how much time there is left. I'm 51.No kidding.Yeah, and another thing was as the book was being edited, there would be certain things that I would see on TV and go, "that's in my book!" Some show with John Stamos ... I just saw stuff on that show. So, I had to get it out. Why do you think you've had so much support for this?I just asked. Years ago, I'd be walking down the street with a very good-looking woman, and somebody would ask, "Why is she with you? You're this short little dumpy guy and she's real good-looking?" I just said, "I asked." The key to getting something from somebody is that you ask. Why dedicate the book to Tim Durkin? Tim Durkin was for many years, a sales manager. In 1997, he moved up to Shamrock Communications when the new era began.. Durkin became director of sales. Durkin was probably the most centered person in terms of radio, or any type of sales. He has a great trainer. You learned a lot from him. But also, he was a very kind person. If you had a really bad sales day, and he knew you were out there busting your rear end, he'd put his arm around you, walk you back to your office and say, "tomorrow's going to be a better day." All your bosses weren't as cool? There are others I've worked for in this market that if you came in with an order they'd ask why you didn't come back with all of their budget. You just wanted to go across the desk and scream at them because there's so much other media in this market. We don't operate in a vacuum. They need a whole marketing plan. And there would be sales managers that expected 100 percent of people's budgets. That's insane. Durkin always said this market is different than any other radio market in the country, mainly because we have 45 radio stations, if you count everything from here to Tunkhannock down to Bloomsburg to The Poconos. How does your wife feel about the book? It's pretty outrageous, romantically speaking. She thinks it's a good story. This is from somebody that's worked in libraries all of her life. If she told me it was horrible, I'd take her word for it. I trust her that much. I trust her intellect. She told me let it sit for a month then come back to it. So I did, and I noticed things. It was very good advice. When you complete a major product, you think it's perfect. But there's always something else you could do with it. The call center book is completed. I think it's great. But I know people are reading it and there are inconsistencies in it. What was more difficult: the call center or teaching? The call center was more difficult. You couldn't yell back at people. (laughs) What else would you like people to know? I want people to know that this is a funny, good story. It's worth their money. When you have something like an accident that makes you take a step back and ask why this happens to me, sometimes you have to look outside of what happened to you. In a way, it was a weird type of blessing. The only thing I can't do now is carry a pizza. Other than that, I'm OK. ©Electric City 2006


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