#TobysTake: Sometimes, goodbye isn't goodbye...

I read something about life on a friend's Instagram the other day...

It said something to the effect that when a life that stays in one place for too long... a career which stays stagnant... stops being a career and becomes a chore... but a journey that continues to evolve, grow and change... is truly an adventure. 

Here is where the road divides... as an adventure continues. 

May I tell you about Doubledown? 

In the photo you see above, Doubledown, also known as James Howard, is standing to my right, your left, next to his amazing wife, Marcie. We were in Montevarchi, Tuscany... in Italy... for Klinger's wedding to his lovely bride Alysse. In May, 2018, I bounced out of the country for my first European getaway in my life... where I delivered a reading for Klinger's wedding... a wedding Doubledown officiated... a life event for one which became a life experience for those of us involved... and it's one of the most amazing memories of my life... one of many which involve Doubledown.

Side Note - I'm not supposed to call him "Doubledown." That was his on-air name back in the day, and, to me, that's his name. A boss of mine asked me to help "grow him into his new role" by calling him "James" which is his legal first name... but I told her that wasn't gonna happen. To me... he's Doubledown. Always was. Always will be. I'll respect that "James" thing... but once a jock... always a jock... and at his core... he's a jock first, manager and programmer second. 

So... DOUBLEDOWN.

My ride with Doubledown starts while he was in Tampa. A market we had both worked in at different times. He had this wild idea... to have me replace the "music monkey" on his radio station at the time... an idea which gave me the chance to work on a second iconic radio station in Tampa, Florida in a role which was new... experimental in many ways... and that trust formed a relationship which grew to a friendship, always tempered by our professional relationship, but one which was built on a mutual respect for talent, passion and excellence. 

Several years later, our relationship evolved again... as Doubledown and I actually had the chance to work - not from a distance - but in the same building - on the same immediate team - at the same time and in the same place. Having him here gave me a confidant... a priest... a therapist... a professional big brother and a trusted second opinion as I continued to do what I did and do... while he did what he does. Phone calls and texts became in-person chats and sessions I probably owe him some sort of fees for... but having him around... steps away... was just awesome.

Another evolution had Doubledown become my direct talent coach... giving me - and our team - weekly feedback, advice and growth as we launched into something new.... and our Wednesday talks have been some of the most instrumental of my career as I've continued to evolve... blazing a new trail toward a new destination for both of us, one of which would lead us to individual, and collective new heights. 

I'll miss those Wednesday talks. 

I still miss running out to a winery for a barrel tasting with you and your wife. Remember that? 

Ah... wine. 

I've had the opportunity in my life and career to work for some pretty iconic brands in some really amazing places. I've been blessed to work with truly epic people along the way... and in two cases, I've had the unique honor of serving with - and for - just two people... multiple times... in multiple places... in my iHeartRadio tour of duty. 

One of those two people... Is Doubledown. 

This weekend, he will begin the next chapter of his adventure in Chicago... doing what he does to inspire, provoke, push and challenge people to re-think what's possible... to stare at things and ask "why not..." while dreaming up new ways to bend and dent the universe of what we do in such a way that it changes the way things have always been done. While I'm bummed he won't be just down the hall as he has been for the last 10 years of my life... I know he won't be too far away... 

... and as I told him the other night, I know this won't be our "last rodeo" together. 

The ride continues as the road ahead divides... but the adventure... the greatest parts of that adventure... continue to be on the horizon. 

Doubledown... go do what you do. Our world is a better place... because you do. 

"Don't let that monkey do better than you..." 

Godspeed, my friend. 

-t. 

Davide Zanoni Photos. Used with permission. 

Toby Knapp

Toby Knapp

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