• Eric Dahl

Tentpoles of Life

In the world of rich video content one of our catch phrases, or clichés, has become “Tentpole events.” These represent big viewer opportunities on our platforms like a new popular program, the World Series, the Super Bowl or any program that draws in a larger than usual viewership. It started me thinking that our lives are much the same. Not that we are trying to find a viewing audience, but that Tentpole events, Signposts or crossroads determine where we end up in life? Some of these involve the choices of our parents, where we live, where we go to school, our friends, teachers and family members and our own decisions. I see the Tentpoles that altered the direction of my life more in the people that loomed bigger than life and changed my path. Obvious ones are that my dad was a musician, so I became one due to his influence. I am very interested in art and sculpture because of my mother being an Art Teacher and dragging me to Art Museums over the years – where there were never enough Mummies to keep my attention. A number of high school teachers guided me like Mrs. Kite in her Speech class or Mr. Hamby in science. SEMO College instructors provided even more direction including Jerry Richardson my Jazz and Classical guitar instructor. My philosophy teacher was very eccentric and smoked a pipe in class while he reviewed our essays, but it made me think in new directions I never had. My guitar instructor at Belmont, Dr. John Pell, took my guitar composition to new levels. But, one of the college professors that had the most profound influence on me was Herb Taylor. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I can see it as my life has unfolded now. As mentioned in previous Blogs my original career path plan was to be a full-time performing musician. Factors like being homesick, Nashville being a bit larger than Fruitland and self-doubt about not being as qualified a musician played into my changing direction in my Freshmen year of college and returning to SEMO. My original plan was to pursue a career in Radio since I had been recording at home radio shows since I was a child. Before you could progress to the hands on Radio courses and work at KRCU, the college radio station, you had to complete “Introduction to Broadcasting” which later became Mass Communications. Herb Taylor was the Professor and he was like none that I had encountered before or ever did later in my collegiate life. Herb was fire with enthusiasm for all things media and he expected all of his students to be as well. He opened our minds to radio, TV, print and frequently played NPR radio for us in the dark. When I first left Belmont and returned to SEMO at first, I felt I was settling for less because I couldn’t compete with the better musicians. Taylor opened my eyes to the fact that with hard work and perseverance not only could I succeed but I could exceed my dreams. I went on to work at KRCU and loved the radio life, but after taking a television course I was bit by the images that I could meld with the audio. I remember watching old interviews of Herb Taylor interviewing the biggest stars of their time and I find it ironic that I am doing the same with music artists today in Nashville. I wish Herb was still around, so we could discuss these things and how Marshall McLuhan’s theories have proven true as he predicted. But maybe it’s enough to realize that he was a Tentpole in my life that led me down this path. And hopefully you and I can be Tentpole figures in other young peoples lives that seek the same path we have followed?

Thanks to Herb Taylor I chose the path I am on.