Taking to the Airwaves: The Story of My Career

On January 21, 1993 I was in a five-car automobile accident that injured seven people. Out of everyone injured, I was the most severely hurt. When it first happened I was in shock and didn't know the extent of my injuries. I was a passenger in the backseat and thought I should get out and try to help everyone. My background before my accident was in the medical field and I was working as a Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Technician for a local ambulance company in the L.A. area. As I tried to get out of the car I couldn't move and I remember feeling a pop in my chest. The hours that followed were a blur. I do remember the ambulance company that I worked for happened to be the first responders on the scene. I recognized them and they recognized me. When I arrived at the hospital I was out of it for a few weeks but I do remember the doctor saying that I would never walk again. I was diagnosed as a C6-C7 quadriplegic which required almost eight months in the hospital and rehabilitation centers.

Finding a New Career

I always had a love for music and after my accident I wanted to continue in that career. Unfortunately the instruments I played, keyboard and trumpet, required the fine finger control I had just lost. So I was searching for something to do to feel productive because I was always active doing something before my injury.

Paul at WonderCon

Six years later, a friend of mine who hosted a talk show at a radio station had me on as a guest. At the time I had decided to start an electronics business and he wanted me to share my story of being someone who is disabled and an entrepreneur. After the show I asked him, "How can I be on the radio like you?" He informed me that he developed his own show and paid for his own radio time. So I started to think, "I have the gift of gab, I can do this too." So from 2000 through 2005 I produced and hosted a show entitled "Meeting the Challenge" that focused on living with disabilities and how to meet that challenge every day. As you can imagine, doing a show, financing it yourself and getting sponsors was very time-consuming and challenging.

In 2006 I decided to go to broadcasting school to learn how to get paid for doing what I love to do. I enrolled at the Academy of Radio and TV Broadcasting in Huntington Beach, California. Before I enrolled, the administrator informed me that there was one part of the curriculum that I would not be able to complete due to my lack of finger mobility and the challenges I would have literally fitting into studios because of my wheelchair. These challenges could prevent me from passing the course. So I went home very discouraged and started to realize that this was not going to work for me.

A month later, a series of events led me to move about 15 miles from the school. I began to think that I should give it a shot, and if I failed at least I would know I gave it my best. The course was seven months long and after those seven months I graduated with one of the highest grade point averages ever in the school and made it to the academic wall of excellence. After graduation, the real work of job hunting began. After months of sending out résumés and audition tapes, I was getting nowhere. Just before I gave up, the placement director at the Academy called to let me know a local news station was looking for a news production assistant. Knowing I would not actually get the job, I decided that this interview would be a great learning opportunity.

Job Hunting

So I arrived at CBS Radio in Los Angeles and made my way to the reception area where I was greeted by the news director. He gave me an application to fill out and said he would be back in about 20 minutes to check in. I looked at the application & pencil, and wondered how in the world I was going to fill this out with no finger movement. Even though I have experimented with a writing splint, we all know how small those boxes are on applications. When my wife dropped me off at the interview, I told her to come back and get me afterward. But she wanted to stay in case I needed her, and I am so glad she did. I hopped on the elevator, went down to the parking structure, and asked her to please help me fill out this application. After she filled it out I rolled back up to the reception area. There the news director was standing, wondering what happened to me. I told him I had to go to the bathroom.

After the interview, I called my placement director and thanked her for letting me know about the job. I still didn't think I would get the position because it was between me and another person. To my surprise, I landed the job and my life was changed forever. After working there for a few months one of my former classmates told me about an opening at an NBC radio affiliate. I ended up getting that NBC job in addition to the CBS gig I had already. So I went from having no jobs to two jobs. I progressed at the NBC news radio affiliate station to the point that I reached management level and had to leave my CBS job.

Paul working at a festival

One of the challenges that I would face when I went to interview people on-location is me being so low in my chair. That's why I am so grateful for seat elevation technology. Being 6'6" when I'm elevated 8", I am almost at eye-level and that is super cool.

Success

Currently I am the Bureau chief and host of an ABC news radio affiliate in the San Bernardino/Riverside area. Over the years I've covered major events, interviewed many great individuals (from Dr. Maya Angelou to NFL Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis and many more), been a keynote speaker for the EEOC, Abilities Expo ambassador, M.C., spokesperson, brand ambassador, and event moderator. I have truly had the ride of my life. Never let fear of the unknown prevent you from doing great things.

About the Author

Paul Lane

Paul's website

Paul's ride is a

Most of the stories here on RideQuickie were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.


Date: 30/05/2017 7:00:00 AM


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