As a longtime and committed journalist in Florida, WFSU’s program director for news Tom Flanigan has seen his share of political controversy but also plenty of uplifting news from everyday people.
He has a commitment to the truth, something he passes on to the up-and-coming journalists he mentors.
Tom doesn’t think he’s ever going to retire. It’s a sentiment that many share – traditional retirement isn’t for everybody.
We talk about the alternatives, as well as…
Why a healthy savings doesn’t guarantee a happy retirement
The impact of longer lifespans
Making sure there are no surprises with your retirement accounts
The rejuvenating power of lifelong learning
Mentioned in This Episode:
John Curry: Hi folks, John curry here, Welcome to another episode of John Curry’s Secure Retirement podcast. I've been looking forward to today because I'm sitting across the table from my friend Tom Flanigan. Many of you know Tom because of his work at WFU radio. I know Tom because I see him working at places like The Economic Club, Capital Tiger Bay. And sitting at the table Tom, we discovered and we met each other a long, long time ago back in your Centel telephone days. But, Tom, welcome.
Tom Flanigan: Well, thank you John. It's so great to meet with you here today.
John Curry: I would like for you to, instead of me trying to tell people what you do, please take a few minutes and just tell folks what it is you do at WFSU radio, and how did you get started there, and why you keep on doing it?
Tom Flanigan: Well, what happened was serendipity for sure, John, 2006 out of a job, impoverished, destitute, and not altogether happy with life. I stumbled across a reporter position at WFSU radio, and this picked up a career thread that I had started between 1973 and roughly, I guess 1987 when I had been full time in the broadcast business on the commercial side of the Radio Ledger. Then stepped away for several years to do corporate communications, as you mentioned back in the Centel days. I did public relations work for those guys, and then also a stint with Visit Florida. But having lost the Visit Florida job, finding myself at loose ends for approximately 18 months as far as a full time job was concerned. I stumbled upon a reporter's position at WFSU prior to the 2016 legislative session, went back in as a reporter, and then became the news director. And ultimately wound up with the position I have today, which is program director for news.
I'm not still really sure what it means, but a practical day-to-day basis, what it entails is to provide general oversight to the news department that we have on the radio side. Also, I work with the folks on TV and just like your podcast, we are now multi-platform. We are online on all of our news stories and other content that we provide. And I try to be an internal consultant for some of the, shall we say, less seasoned folks within the news department who may not remember that a guy named Hurley Rudd used to be a city commissioner here in Tallahassee or the fact that there was actually a governor before Charlie Crist in Florida. I try to help those folks out as much as I can.
John Curry: What you're telling me is you're taking advantage of your being a more senior in age and sharing that wisdom with people?
Tom Flanigan: Yeah, we all go down the same road, John. I am just maybe a couple of paces farther along than most.
John Curry: I understand that. As I'm getting more mature myself, I'm realizing that's the case. You made a comment earlier when we were having lunch, getting ready for this podcast about an advisory council. I found that to be intriguing, would you share with our listeners what's happening there?
Tom Flanigan: Sure. Because in public broadcasting, it is really critical that you connect to a wider audience than perhaps just your programming might warrant. And let me just elaborate on that for a second. You're going to have a natural audience depending on what kind of programming you put on the air or online. If you're really, really into current events, news of the day, all that sort of thing, you may gravitate towards WFSU radio because that's essentially all that we have on the air, both from NPR and also from our local kinds of sources that we provide like our news that we do here locally. But you also want to find out where else can we take this? And John, it's important to have a direct connection to the community beyond what you had said, running around shoving microphones up people's noses at all kinds of venues around town and local government meetings and that sort of thing.
A couple years ago, our management, who is David Mullins, our general manager, and Kim Kelling, my immediate boss, who's our content director, revisited the idea of bringing in a community advisory council, a group of people from all walks of life, all political backgrounds, all that sort of thing to at least give us as a station some additional community input as to where we need to go, what we need to be talking about, what sort of programming and other community involvement we can get into. We just had our meeting, as of today, which is the 19th of September, we got some good feedback on that.
John Curry: That's good. I thought it was fascinating because instead of just limiting what you're doing to what the, quote, natural market is, you expanded.
Tom Flanigan: And we try to find where new audiences are. And all, I think talk radio, whether it's WFLA and my good friend, Preston Scott who I have known for years or what we do on WFSU, we gravitate towards an older target demographic, if we want to use a real technical media term there, which is older folks, generally 35, 45, even 55 years and up. And that's wonderful, and it's great, but the problem is it's self-limiting. These folks have a tendency to, shall we say, exit the mortal coil at some point, and you need to bring in younger audiences. How do you do that without alienating your core older audience? That's the secret. And no one has really figured out that secret yet, but we're working on it. And we're going to try to get as close to cracking that code as we can.
John Curry: Yeah. I feel a parallel in what we're doing because we don't just talk about people's money for retirement, and that's why we came up with a secure retirement podcast and focusing in all different issues. I've interviewed physicians, I've interviewed, retirees, we talk about health issues, emotional issues. It's not just about your money, and it's the same thing with what you're doing. If you stick to just the one topic, it gets old too, but there's more than just that one topic. In our case, it's not just about how much money do you have in your IRA or your 401k or deferred comp or whatever retirement plan do got, what are you going to do with the money when you're ready to retire and how are you going to manage your health or are you emotionally prepared to retire?
I'm thinking of our interview just a week ago with a psychiatrist who spent a lot of time talking about ... It was Larry Kubiak, in fact, a psychologist, I guess, what are you going to do when you retire if you're not prepared emotionally? You may have all the money in the world, but if you're not ready to retire, what do you do? I'm seeing a corollary in the sense that for you is not just one topic, is not just the well-known people, if you will. What about the person that people don't know who they are, but they have a story to tell?
Tom Flanigan: Or people who, John, by the same token, and Larry could be actually a great guy. I've talked to him so much.
John Curry: He's a great guy.
Tom Flanigan: We have so many commonalities, it's crazy. But the psychology of retirement being something that we are kind of programmed to aspire to for all of our working lives. Oh, I can't wait till I get away from the day-to-day grind. My sweetie and I are going to fly off to Bermuda or Israel or someplace, and it's going to be great. And I have seen particularly from my days at the phone company when I did all the retirement parties, I took pictures of these people where in the middle of their retirement party with all of their coworkers and even their family gathered around and there's cake and balloons and party favors and all. You can almost see the realization hits them, tomorrow morning, all this goes away. My reason for being, the expression of my existence, which was this job and all of my networking connections, my friends, everything I have to live for is gone.
Often, those people would not last six months. I saw it over and over again. What you're doing here with the podcast and with your day-to-day consulting work with folks as they try to get a handle on, "Well, gee, how do I want these resources to work for me and my family and provide us with not only security, but maybe even a little bit of direction once we get out of the work a day world?" is so valuable, and I really applaud you and all your colleagues over here for that.
John Curry: Well, thank you for that. We take it very seriously that it's not just about your money. Now, you got to have money. let's be candid. If you don't plan and save properly, retirement won't be fun. But it's not just the money, it's the are you healthy? And we'll come back that in a moment because as one of my good friends says, you're looking pretty good for a guy your age. So we talk about what are you doing to maintain your health here in a minute. But let's go back to this advisory council from that. For anyone who's listening to this, if they have a topic that they think would be appropriate, is it okay for them to contact you so we have those topics? What's the procedure for that?
Tom Flanigan: Oh, my gosh, by all means, John. And thank you for the opportunity to get this word out. We're always looking for good stories, since we were little kids, daddy, tell me a story. And that desire holds true throughout our entire lives. If you are aware of something particularly, I put it in this category, good people doing good things. We need more of those kinds of stories today because we focus on all of the chaos here on the national political scene. Now, regardless of where you're coming from politically, it can be difficult. It can be heart wrenching, it can be frustrating, all those other things. But really, what takes place in Washington DC does not have an immediate and profound impact on most of us, really. We've concentrate therefore, and my newsroom on things that are going on kind of in our own backyard.
And we want to hear about people that are doing those positive things in their community, inspiring young lives or helping senior citizens get a better handle on what they're doing after retirement. Taking care of animals, whatever. And here's how you do that. You can go to wfsu.org, that's our website. And we do have a contact list down at the bottom of our homepage. And you can hit that, and the entire staff listing comes up. And just look for Tom Flanigan, you can click on my email. I think there's also a telephone number there. You can leave me a message. And I'm obsessive about this stuff, I'll get back to you for sure, I want to talk to you.
John Curry: There's no doubt about that. Tom does return phone calls. But also those who know me personally, who want to call me or my office, we can also get you in touch with Tom. Thank you for that. You talked about community, let's talk about Honor Flight for a moment. We were talking about that over lunch. I'm sure that you have interviewed people on your show talking about Honor Flight, and you've been involved from the standpoint of knowing what it is. Give me your perspective on Honor Flight, what it means to you and what your involvement has been?
Tom Flanigan: Well, the only great regret I have, John, is the fact that my dad, who served in World War Two, he did not land on Iwo Jima, but he was aboard of one of the huge tank size landing craft that were anchored right off the beach head there and offloading all of the war material and vehicles and troops and all that. And under unrelenting fire from Mount Suribachi, did not get an opportunity to take part in Honor Flight. He never got a chance, even though he was living in western Maryland and only 150 miles away from Washington, he did not get a chance to see the World War Two memorial in Washington. And that would've been so much fun to be on the Honor Flight with my dad. But I think as an ongoing tribute to these gentlemen, and in the vast majority of cases, it was men who served during World War two in Korea now heading into the Vietnam era and all, to show that, uh, they still have a reason to be proud.
And they are receiving in many cases for the first time, the honor to them, I think is just a remarkable thing. And I applaud this so much.
John Curry: It's amazing to hear the stories. I've had the privilege of being in all three of those lights. Two is a guardian for a veteran looking out for them for the day. And then another where I was helping Mark Kemp who is a local chairman of one of the [flight 00:14:08] with operations. And just hearing the stories and watching the interaction between the veterans with each other is just amazing. And I've had people say, "Well, why don't you do that? What's that got to do with your business or with retirement planning?" I said, "Are you kidding me? These are people, many of them were on that plane, late 80s, some of them are 90s still going strong." I'm thinking of my friend Charles now who had the honor of being with, I think Charlie now is 92, still going strong, retired professor, great guy. And my friend Harry Grant, Harry is either 89 or 90.
They're driven to keep doing things. They don't want to just sit in front of a television and do nothing. And what if we lived to be 95 or 100 years old? You want to be physically and mentally sharp. And to me, being around people involved with Honor Flight, I'm getting an opportunity to talk with people that you love and you care about because you have so many common interests. I was fortunate, I served in the Air Force, didn't have to do any battle. I worked on the airplanes, the B-52 bombers as a mechanic. But I feel like I did a small part, but I didn't do what these guys did. And they should be recognized and honored. And we're seeing more and more women by the way, on these flights too.
Tom Flanigan: That is true. I noticed the last group that went, there were more and more women. And we'll see that too because we had more gender equity, if not full equality in the services now for the past couple of generations. That's happening.
John Curry: That's true, true. You said something earlier that caught my attention, and I want to get you to share what you told me. When I asked you why do you do what you do? Tell our listeners what you told me.
Tom Flanigan: Why do I do what I do? Well, for two reasons. I am nosy, that's why probably growing up around adults, a small town in western Maryland. Not a lot of kids my own age in the neighborhood. I grew up with my mom and dad and their friends, and I always wanted to know what the grown-ups were doing. It was time to go to bed and mom would shuffle me off into my room, but it was only right down the hall from the living room and I'd sneak back in my jammies and peek around the corner and see what all the grownups were up to and listen to the gossip and try to ascertain just what they were talking about. But I'm also a gossip, so I would want to report that. And I didn't have anyone to report it to, so I had to sit on that.
And maybe that's it, all this repressed desire on my part to just blab to the world is why I got into the news business, John.
John Curry: That's why you got in, what keeps you there?
Tom Flanigan: Pretty much the same, it is fun. You were talking about the Advisory Council this morning, we have a member of the Leon County Commissioner who sits on our council. And this individual, I'm not mentioning names, I'm not mentioning gender. There will be no identification here, we must protect our sources. This is an old journalistic tradition as well as a point of ethics for us. But this individual took me aside and opened up an iPad and said, "Okay, here's a project that's going to be pitched to a particular intergovernmental agency over the next several days," first time I'd ever heard of it. But it was one of these, "Okay, you didn't hear it from me, but this is coming, be on the lookout for it."
And luckily, I know some people to ask about it. I can pull up the details on it, and I can do a story before anyone else can. And that to me is a major accomplishment. But in this era of fake news, let me hasten to add for the benefit of people who don't know how we do what we do. In the legitimate news media business, I am not going to take anyone's word for anything.
John Curry: You go to verify.
Tom Flanigan: We are going to check double and usually triple source any kind of information before it gets out on the air or online or on TV or anything else. We want to make sure we have the facts nailed down and we have confirmation before we move forward. Just because I know this stuff doesn't mean that you're going to hear about it. I have to go through the process of confirming, clarifying, making sure that when the information does get to you, it's solid.
John Curry: I appreciate you sharing that because more and more people that we talk with, they're more untrusting now than ever. They don't think they can trust politicians, the government in general, corporations. They feel like, who I can trust, who can I trust? And I love what Ronald Reagan always said, trust but verify. Trust, but verify. If you came to me and you said, I've got X amount of money in my IRA, I'm always like, "That's very nice, let's look at the statement. We're going to verify." And I'm not kidding you, daily, we'll have someone tell us emphatically, this is what I have, but you look at the statement, guess what? That's not what they have.
They have more or less or something totally different. It's the same thing for us, we want to verify because what we do, well, it's not life or death, it's about your money, and it's about making sure you have the money you need to have a good life later. It's pretty serious stuff. I share the same philosophy there. I don't have to be as detailed about some things as you do, other things I got to be more detailed because of the financial regulators that watch us to make sure we're doing it correctly.
Tom Flanigan: Yes. In your business, John, as you just elucidated, there are facts. There are incontrovertible, one plus one equals two. And no matter where you're coming from on the political or the emotional or any other spectrum, that is still going to hold water. And it's got to be a touchstone that you can rely on. Otherwise, how can you make decisions about people's financial future and how they're going to be able to get through life after retirement and all of that if you don't have all the facts from which to make these decisions?
John Curry: That's correct. And one of the things that harp on big time with our clients, what we called team Curry here is let's do our planning based on math and science. Don't do it based on what you think. We use some actuarial science here, how long are you going to live? Look at mortality tables. You probably are going to live 20 or 30 years in retirement. For some people, they'll live longer in retirement than they actually had in their career. What do you do now? I said, let's be scientific about this. Let's not just say, "Well, my dad died at age 70, I'm going to die at 70." What if you lived to be 100? We've got to do some planning.
Tom Flanigan: Yeah. What is that old disclaimer that we see in all of that, past performance is no indicator of future results?
John Curry: That's right, that's right. The attorneys and the regulators make you say that, but it's true, but it's true. I like to use the analogy, if you're driving down the road, do you want to use your big windshield in front of you or the small rear view mirror? I'd rather use the big windshield to look forward.
Tom Flanigan: But you'll never know where you've been.
John Curry: That is true, that's why the little mirror is smaller. You can look at where you've been, remember it, but don't get hung up on it. Look into the future. look at the future. Tell us what you like best about your work.
Tom Flanigan: I really enjoy the people that I work with. You talk about diversity, it covers not only racial diversity but also age background. If you believe in the Myers-Briggs' philosophy of the world, you have some folks who are intuitive, some who are just as hard-nosed when it comes to, I have to have everything laid out in front of me before I'll even have an opinion. And we have that kind of diversity throughout our organization. And I love working, especially with younger folks who come in as interns. They bring a freshness, a talk about a new approach. Sometimes a little unrealistic approach, and you have to say, "Well, let's sit down and have a chat about this before we take off in this direction or that."
But they also bring a refreshing difference to our operation because, no, this may be their very first legislative session they've ever covered. And to them, it's exciting, and it's new. And someone who's been around the block for maybe 30 of them, like I have, you think, "I've seen it all, the speaker is going to say this, the Senate president is going to move in this direction or whatever." Sometimes they may be more on the button than the more experienced folks are. And that's always interesting. It's fun to work together with folks who don't share your viewpoint, your perspective, your particular history. And I enjoy the heck out of that, I really do.
John Curry: I would guess that it keeps you feeling young too, doesn't it?
Tom Flanigan: Oh, it really does. And that's the other great thing about being in a university town like this, John, is that for the same reason that many people through this new initiative that's out there right now, the Choose Tallahassee thing where we're trying to bring in more retirees to this community, particularly should we say more affluent retirees. I know that's part of the chamber's deal and the real estate community and all. As they say, you can't do business with people who don't have any money. But by the same token, this is something that brings them to us, is the opportunity to be in a dynamic growing young community. We keep forgetting, we and Gainesville keep going back and forth as the youngest metropolitan areas in Florida year after year. That's changing slowly, but we're still younger than the average Florida City.
John Curry: It's exciting to. Everybody around me is, well, not even half my age. And it keeps me going, and I have people around to support what we do. They know far more about technology than I do, but that's great. We're a good match.
Tom Flanigan: Synergy.
John Curry: Good fit. That's right, that's right. Talk a little bit about, with the experience you have, we talked earlier, so I'm not speaking out of school here, but as a soon to be 69. You're at an age of when a lot of people would expect you and me, I'll be 66 in December to quote retire. Talk a little bit about why you're not ready to retire and likely probably won't retire from what I have seen about you, but talk about your perspective of what retirement is.
Tom Flanigan: Retirement is the unrestrained ability to do whatever the heck you want to do. That is the holy Grail, I'm sure in most people's minds, whether it's to travel the world, whether it's to, "Oh, I always wanted to mentor young people," and you jumped into a Big Brothers Big Sisters program or whatever it might happen to be. It might be a total reinvention. Good buddy of mine retired from the legendary channel 10, WPLG in Miami, Art Carlson, legendary anchor down there for many, many years. And great journalist, awards out the Ying Yang, what a guy. And nobody's doing right now, but when he retired after a little stint in Tallahassee working for a nonprofit advocacy group. He moved to North Georgia by the Tennessee border, and he got involved with a consortium of potters. And we're not talking medical marijuana here, we are talking pottery, wheel thrown pottery.
And this is what the mighty Mr. Art Carlson does right now, he sits at that wheel and he cranks out bowls and jugs and coffee cups, and just about everything day in and day out. And does magnificent work, and he is as happy as can be. That is retirement for him. He's probably working harder there than he ever did at channel 10, but is he a happy guy? And if I go to envision retirement, that's what I would do. I can't think of anything I enjoy doing more than what I'm doing right now. That kind of puts the Kibosh on this for me.
John Curry: Yes, I'm in the same boat. I love what I do, I don't want to retire. The day will come probably because of health issues. I told a class, if you get tired of me, you don't want to deal with me, I guess you've retired me. If enough people retire me, then I'm retired. But as long as they want to come in and meet, then I'm not retiring. But what I have been doing, and the people that I know that are happiest are doing something comparable, instead of , quote, retiring and then dying like you talked about your colleagues six months or a year later because they have no interest, start looking for interest today. Do those things today, travel, do something. I take more time off.
Last week, I didn't work Monday or Friday. I'm trying to do more weeks like that work three days, then maybe work every day for a while, then take two or three days off. And I find that if I can have a three or four-day weekend, I'm refreshed and ready to go. But the key is for people to find what's working for them. Now, for your friend, leaving the world he was in and just working with his hands was a way to go. I know people who retire, and they don't do any more work on their computer. I know people who don't even have a computer anymore. They'll just use their smartphone, but they'll work with their hands. They do other things, gardening, whatever that is fun.
Tom Flanigan: Or it can be something like, and this is another great advantage of this town, John, when you have something like the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the ALLI folks, because how many folks get to retirement age and think, "Oh, when I was back in college," or perhaps you didn't go to college at all, and this had been an aspiration somewhere in the back of your cranium. I always wanted to learn about philosophy, what the name of God can you do with that? But if you have that luxury of being able to take the time to study philosophy without having tests and quizzes and grade point averages hanging over your head, just for the sheer love of learning, how neat is that?
John Curry: Or art. I love going to different art museums. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure at the TCC foundation, that evening when they had the art show too, it was just fun to be there. Just looking around seeing stuff. Again, no test, no quiz, just enjoying, just enjoying. You made a comment earlier, again, while we were having lunch about the retirement advice your dad gave you. I would like you to share that because one of the things we try to teach people is the importance of saving, planning and not just hoping for retirement. Would you share what he shared with you?
Tom Flanigan: Oh, I'd be happy to John. And I'm sure dad's watching down right now and going, "Okay, now I get it right." My dad is small businessman in western Maryland, had a little store, totally under-capitalized. He never made much of anything out of it, but that was his life for a long time. But even though, he didn't have much-
John Curry: Excuse me, what kind of store? What did he do?
Tom Flanigan: It was a combination of school and office supply store in this little community of fewer than 6,000 people. But we had a small college, ultimately a university branch of the University of Maryland. You had students, and they always needed loose leaf paper, pens or whatever. And he also sold office furniture. Someone needs a file cabinet or a desk, they go and check out dad. He had some stuff there, or greeting cards. He got into the greeting card business too. But even though cash flow was not an overwhelming attribute of that enterprise, he advised always have a little something put away.
And with him, I know it was little, damn little. But it was still something. When he'd have business reversals, there was a little something stashed away that would get him through the bad times. And I kind of took that to heart. From the time I could work, I always had a bank account, and then later on, a retirement savings account. And I would usually opt for the 401k when that became available through the employer because in most instances where I was, boy, was I fortunate and still am. The employer would kick in, it's not exactly doubling your money, but it's still nice to have that additional that's coming in. When I had a job reversal, which I alluded to earlier in our discussion and lost a full time income for 18 months, we had to live off of that retirement savings plan, and it got us through.
Without it, I don't know what we would've done. We would've lost the house, the car, everything. And now, we're building back up again. If and when we do decide to retire, there will be something there. But I always made that there was something. And that was, I think the best advice, among the best pieces of advice my dad left me.
John Curry: And it's still great advice. I think it's more important today in the world we live in than ever before. You can look at what happened in 2008, the number of people who just lost their careers overnight, the mortgage business, mortgage lending, the realtors, it may just like overnight. And some people like to say they saw it coming, but most of them are bull, they didn't see it coming. It's great to look back on it and predict something that happened. But the people who had that reserve, took your dad's advice, had some savings, didn't spend everything. Didn't overbuy too big of a house or too expensive a car and overload themselves with payments they did just fine, and they're doing fine now. But the ones who really got in trouble, some of them are still hurting. I think that was great advice your dad gave you then, it's great advice today. I appreciate you sharing that.
Tom Flanigan: And also what you do, if I can give an applaud, your advocation, John, is this mantra that you keep preaching when it comes to financial diversity because when something goes down, something else is usually going up. And if you don't have all of your fiscal eggs in one basket, you're much more likely to withstand whatever the [vagarities 00:34:06] of fate throw at you. Then if everything's all in that 401 or, I don't know, all these people who buy gold and then you see the volatility in the precious metals market, you go, "Are you insane?"
John Curry: Well, people have different opinions. We have people who would argue with us about different things. I say, "Look, if that's working for you, by all means do it." But that doesn't mean just because you like it, it should be for everyone. I happen to love butter pecan ice cream, but that doesn't mean that you like butter pecan ice cream, you might want just plain old vanilla.
Tom Flanigan: And it doesn't mean that you have to sit there and eat butter pecan ice cream by the gallon every night.
John Curry: When I learned that I didn't have to eat it all at one time, that's when I started releasing weight and went from a high of 282 down to most of the time, about 223, 225. But I had a bad habit of thinking that just because it was in the freezer, Tom, I had to eat it.
Tom Flanigan: It's calling to you, John.
John Curry: John, I'm here, come get it. We got to close here in just a moment, but what are some of the things you'd like to make sure that people in our community know about Tom Flanigan, they can go to the website and read a little bit about you, but what are some of the things you'd like to end with and making sure they either know about you or WFSU? You got a blank canvas, anything you want to share.
Tom Flanigan: Oh, thank you, John. Oh, biggest thing would probably be if we could get more people involved in the community where they live. This is one of my, another great western Maryland term, Bugaboo, take that mom. That was one of her favorite phrases or aggravations, if you will. Because we do get so hung up on national politics or even state, "Oh, who's going to win the governor's race. Oh, my God." And we agonize and we fuss and fight and fume and get all upset about this stuff. Another very wise man, my acquaintance said, if you are totally focused on yourself, you will be very unhappy because you will never live up to your own expectations. You will always let yourself down.
Every time I'm feeling depressed, out of sorts, upset, I try to think of somebody else that maybe I can, if not help them at least interact with them in some way, shape, form or fashion just to get outside of myself or we can get outside of ourselves, especially in the community where you can make a difference, a tangible difference, whether it's mentoring a child, maybe it's volunteering at the animal shelter. Whatever you're interested in that is outside of you. Get involved in local political race, not national. Understand, not even statewide. A city or a county commissioner race, or join the league of women voters. Do something that is outside of that little 18 inch periphery that we call our personal space. And I think that's what makes me happy. And if I could just pass that along, I think there may be a few less really miserable people.
John Curry: I agree with you.
Tom Flanigan: If you do that.
John Curry: I keep that heart shaped pillow over there to remind me that 10 years ago, July 10th, 2008 because I had an open heart surgery. And I went through a period, when I'm honest about it, I was going through a period of depression. And I would sit around the house and kind of like whine and moan, poor little me, I could sense this downward spiral. But when I got plugged back into going into my rotary club, going to some of the, that's where I see you, Economic Club, Tiger Bay, Boy Scouts, especially with my son and grandsons. Then it wasn't about me, I didn't think about me. Then when I was sitting there, and it's the same thing with television. A few days ago, sitting and watching television was [inaudible 00:38:20] to be exact. And I was watching some of the news channels because I watch everything. I don't just pick one, I watch Fox, CNN, MSNBC. I go back and forth.
My friends think I'm crazy for that. I say, "Well, I want to hear what other people say." I don't want to hear the same thing over and over from the same people, I want diversity. But when I focus on my little problems, I felt like I got more boxed in and depressed during that period of time. I totally get what you're saying and I would encourage anybody and everybody listening to this, if you feel like you're not living life the way you want it, find one or two organizations that you care about to help. For me, it's Honor Flight, Boy Scouts and my rotary club because I think those are organizations that do a lot of good. And I don't want to just work all the time, I could. I could stay here 24 hours a day if I was just brought a bed, there's always something to do. But in your world, would you mind sharing with our audience some of the things that you do, how you're participating?
Tom Flanigan: Oh, one of the things that I do is to help my wife every way I can. Right now, I'm becoming close to being almost a full time caregiver on top of everything else because my wife who is now a double cancer survivor and pretty well incapacitated with arthritis, needs a great deal of care every day. And that is a focus, and I would do it anyway, but I get so much satisfaction from helping her. I really can't discount that as being an overall part of how I see myself in this big thing. But she's not so incapacitated that she doesn't say, "Look, I know you have to go to that meeting tonight. Anyway, before you go, could you rub my feet?" And, "Sure honey. We'll take care of that, and I'll see you in a couple hours."
And then I'll sneak back to the side room where I have a little studio. I'm also fortunate in that regard, I can remote produce a lot of the material that folks hear on the radio side of the world from the house. I don't have to be away from her any more than I absolutely have to. That is a focus right there that keeps me grounded. And then the rest, what we just talked about, John, is to find some other things you're interested in doing and that you feel connected to and get you outside of yourself. Take time for yourself. I'm not saying become a monk, become some type of a martyr that, "Oh, it's all for the world and nothing for me," because that isn't a good way to live either. That's not a good balance. But it's important that we kind of see where we fit into this larger picture. And I think that's what I'm all about.
John Curry: Well, those of us who know you understand that you have a lot of love for what you do in this community. And it's just been a joy sitting here across the table from you. I can't believe we talked, I'm looking at that clock, 41 minutes. It seems like this has been five minutes sitting here. And I wish we had the whole day, but I know you got things to do too. Tom, thank you so much.
Tom Flanigan: John, thank you for the opportunity to chat with you. It's been a joy.
John Curry: Let's do it again sometimes.
Tom Flanigan: Sounds good.
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