I often think about Dino. Whenever I hear Springsteen, Miles Davis, or think about the New Orleans Jazzfest (an event that Dino never missed), I think about what a great boss, great friend and great man Dino was.
So the holidays are upon us, and what better way to celebrate Thanksgiving then to take a moment to tell you about someone I am truly thankful to have had in my life.
My career started in radio. It was a small local station, and while it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing, I felt it put my foot in the door. I had dues to pay, so the sooner these positions got out of the way, the better.
Rather than bore you with the details of the work I’ll just let you know that it was the bottom rung. I worked overnights, weekends, and holidays. I learned little and moved on to the next rung. I’m not sure if it was a step
up or down.
My second gig was also in radio. It was a children¹s station that wound up being sold to a Spanish broadcasting group – and I was included in the sale since I needed a job and I knew how to run the equipment.
The job was miserable. I worked for a maniac that was constantly berating me and everyone else. It was just his way. To make matters worse, the station was located in a rat-infested, fire-code failing, hell hole located in the ghetto. I reported for duty by 5am. With my 30-minute commute I had to be up no later than 4am.
I was seriously beginning to worry that what I thought I always wanted to do for a living was not all it was cracked up to be. I was getting nowhere and I needed to take a step back.
At this juncture of my career I took a low level job at a private airport. The work was dirty and dangerous. After a summer and fall of night shifts and soul searching I decided to give the media thing one more shot.
I quickly found a production job at the Westwood One Radio Network. I was now in NYC making a salary with benefits. I had arrived.
What really made Westwood a special place for me was my boss, Dino Tortu. More than a mentor Dino became a great friend. He had confidence in his staff, and always made sure we had what we needed to get the job done. Above all else he treated us all with a level of respect that made it easy to show up for work everyday.
More importantly, Dino was a genuinely likeable and easy-going guy. In return he was respected and well-liked by everyone that had to work with him.
Sadly, Dino died a little over a year ago. He left behind a wife and two daughters. Losing Dino was one of the saddest moments of my life. He was one of the good guys and was taken from us way too young.
I am thankful that I had the chance to know him.
I had a lot crummy bosses before Dino…several more after. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to come across a Dino in your career travels too.