My friendship with RJ began before my first experience with ShockNet Radio, which came when Gene Rhoden asked me to be on the first episode of his show "High Instability". I wasn't very sure I wanted to do the show, but I went ahead, and in doing so, I figured out what Gene was trying to do with his program, so I willingly became a regular participant. This gave me more opportunities to interact with RJ and learn more about what he was trying to accomplish with ShockNet Radio. When RJ asked me to participate in "American Heathen", I decided I'd give it a try, and things kinda went crazy from there. I enjoyed being part of the show, a lot! And we had our devoted followers, small in number though they were. RJ asked me if I wanted to do a show entirely on my own, and I decided I wanted to act as DJ on a program totally devoted to blues music.
In working with RJ, it became clear that he has a very creative mind (with a healthy sense of humor), and it was both easy and fun to work with him as we began to work out the details of my vision of the show. Since I had little or no experience of my own, I willingly deferred to RJ on most of his suggestions, but he also respected my general hopes for the program that became "Hard Luck Chuck's Juke Joint". And as the show began, he patiently put up with my fumbling efforts to be a competent DJ, correcting my mistakes and offering me suggestions for improvements. He's a good teacher and things began to get easier. As the program comes to an end with the demise of ShockNet Radio, I can safely say I'm satisfied with what I was able to accomplish with my show, largely thanks to RJ's efforts.
An unexpected benefit was the people I met as a result of being associated with ShockNet Radio. My ShockNet colleagues are some amazing people from whom I've learned a lot. And some of our fans have become friends, despite having not yet met physically. Although it doesn't show up in the profit/loss column, the friendships I've made through ShockNet are pretty damned valuable to me!
Many people dislike RJ for his outspoken atheism. That's their loss, in my view. RJ actually is not at all what his outward appearance might suggest – folks should remember not to judge the book by its cover! He's really a very empathetic, kind person, who never misses a chance to help someone if he can. He'd do anything for his friends if they ask. And he's very patient with new acquaintances, regardless of their beliefs. He really supports the American Heathen slogan of "Freedom and Liberty for ALL!".
By what metric do you judge a person’s "success"? And how appropriate is it for you to judge someone else's success by your choice of a measure? I’ve known RJ long enough to see how much he's accomplished that wouldn't show up in what most people use to judge success – money, fame, and such. His accomplishments are on a human scale, one person at a time. Those of us who've spent enough time with him can see that. He doesn't have many friends, but we're committed friends because we see he's a wonderful human being. He'll be there if you need him – of that there can be no doubt. Yes, he has little patience for certain types of foolishness – for the most part, I share those intolerances with him. But he respects everyone's right to an opinion, no matter how silly or irrational.
ShockNet Radio was a dismal failure by the standards of those who admire the typically phony world of "big time" media. But if you consider what ShockNet Radio has accomplished, one person at a time, as I've seen it happen, then you realize ShockNet has been a huge success. RJ has stayed true to his vision and has touched many lives in a positive way with his efforts. I call that a significant achievement. And I don't give a shit what you think, if you can't see that.