The first time I met Tim Parochka was during college. He was refereeing one of my intramural basketball games.
With about six minutes to go in the second half, I stole the ball from an unsuspecting point guard and raced the other way to go in for a dunk. As I took my last dribble and elevated, a member of the opposing team caught me from behind and reached for the ball, in the process hacking my arm and taking the ball away.
The next second passed, and no whistle came.
Instead, the opposing player took the ball and retreated the other way.
“What the fuck, Tim!” I yelled halfway across the gym, but he luckily didn’t hear me, or else I surely would have been slapped with a technical foul, and a lecture from one of the intramural managers regarding my profane language.
That was five years ago. A lot has changed since then. Some things have bounced my way, and other parts of my life haven’t gone to plan.
Such is life.
The same can be said for my friend Tim Parochka, who like me has spent his time post-graduation trying to become a somebody.
We sat down recently on a chilly April morning to discuss his career in radio broadcasting and podcasts. Like everyone I’ve ever interviewed, there’s a story behind what drives to Tim to be successful in a such a cutthroat industry.
“I don’t remember, Tim,” I say as my teeth chatter next to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “What did you go to school for?”
“I originally went to school without an idea of what I wanted to do,” Tim admits, crossing his fingers as his story is about to unfold. “I went for a sociology degree because I was good at it, but I didn’t know what I was doing because it was a bunch of bull.”
“And then I switched degrees halfway through college and graduated as a mass communications major with an emphasis in radio broadcasting.”
“What got you into radio?” I ask.
“I always had a passion for it when I was younger. I used to listen to KFAN in the car, to guys like PA and Dubay, The Common Man, Dan Barreiro. That’s what started it, and then when I was looking at colleges, I learned St. Cloud State had a great radio program, so I dived right in.”
After graduating from St. Cloud State in 2014, Tim took a job as a sales associate at Town Square Media, a local radio station in St. Cloud. The salary and hours were awful, but Tim saw this as an opportunity.
He quickly approached his bosses about giving him a slot to do his own radio show so he could begin building a brand.
On three different occasions, they refused, even though Tim was willing to host the show for free.
Still, Tim’s dogged determination would shine through.
“I went to a radio station in Pelican Rapids and interviewed,” he says, going on to explain how even though he had no interest in the job after learning what it entailed, he still went back to Town Square with a new proposal.
“I told them [Town Square], I’m going to take this job in Pelican Rapids if I don’t get the radio show that I want, and am willing to do, for free,” Tim recalls.
A day later, Tim was given a Saturday morning slot to host his own radio show.
This gave him the opportunity to explore his passion:
Over time, Tim built up enough contacts and sent out enough emails, and soon famous athletes, broadcasters, and radio personalities from around the country were calling in to his radio show to be interviewed.
Names like Paul Allen, Kevin Harlan, Ernie Johnson, Torii Hunter, and Chuck Knoblauch were all guests on his 9-10 A.M. slot each week.
“I just went after it,” Tim says of what prompted him to seek out interviews with such popular names.
“Young people are looked at like they don’t know what they’re doing,” Tim says.
His sentiment reminds me of a lesson I learned from a buddy last year: just because someone is OLDER than you doesn’t meant you should assume that they KNOW more than you.
Creative differences and a lack of shared passion for Tim’s goals ultimately left him looking to move on from Town Square Media. Tim scanned the internet and filled out dozens of applications, until eventually he found a company that would send him on an entirely different adventure.
“I got a job offer at Sirius XM to be a producer for their PGA Tour radio show,” he shares.
Tim immediately wanted the job, even though doing so meant he had to move out to Washington, D.C.
He accepted the offer, and consequently the new adversities that would soon hit.
“I took it as the same challenge I had with Town Square Media. I had to prove myself and earn my stripes,” he says.
“D.C. is an expensive place. How did you make it work financially?” I ask.
“I had money saved up because that was part of my plan when I was in St. Cloud,” Tim says. “Back then I officiated basketball games on Saturdays and Sundays during the winter. I was working seven days a week from January-March so I could eventually save and get out there [Washington, D.C.].”
Those days weren’t always pretty, but they set the tone for how Tim wanted to live his life.
“In order to create this goal of mine to work for a bigger company and make something happen, I needed a plan so I could eventually move out to a Washington, D.C., a California, a New York, or wherever,” he says.
Tim flew out to D.C. before his new job started. It was supposed to be a quick trip to figure out his living situation, but it turned into a more arduous affair.
“Once I got to the airport, I walked from Ronald Reagan Airport to an apartment in Washington, D.C. because I wasn’t familiar with Uber or Lyft. Then I walked from that apartment to Maryland to look at an apartment there.”
That second trek brought him to Hyattsville, a city of 18,000 people that is only a twenty-minute drive from D.C.
After feeling satisfied with the apartment, Tim signed a lease, but his day was still not done. He then had to get back across town to Sirius XM, meet his fellow employees, and then walk an additional seventeen miles back to the airport.
It was all part of a whirlwind day that was necessary for Tim to feel comfortable about his big move.
A short time later, Tim was living in D.C. working part-time for Sirius XM and delivering sandwiches for Jimmy John’s, all to make ends meet and allow him to pursue his dream.
Tim eventually got promoted and became full-time at Sirius, but once again, this time in July of 2019, Tim was on the move.
He accepted an offer to come back to Minnesota and begin working for iHeart Radio.
“I’m now a podcast producer, very similar to what I did at Sirius,” Tim says, only this time he is able to work from home.
He produces various podcasts for four different guys: Hank Haney, Shane Bacon, Max Homa, and Geoff Shackelford, all of whom are big media personalities in the golfing industry.
Tim loves his job, but his goal is to one day have his own show heard by thousands, if not millions of people.
That’s why he started his own sports podcast, The Minnesota Tim Podcast, a name Hank Haney gave him back when the two were in D.C. because Tim loved to rave about the great state of Minnesota.
With MN Tim, the goal of the podcast is to interview people and deliver opinions in a timely manner; not eat up someone’s whole Saturday afternoon with a lengthy podcast.
As Tim explains, “I don’t want too long of a podcast. Let’s face it, I’m not Joe Rogan. I don’t feel like people are going to listen to me for two hours,” but that doesn’t mean Tim can’t dream big.
“You gotta make a play,” Tim says of why he decided to create a podcast. “You have to build an infrastructure, a team, contacts, and then eventually take a leap and make something happen for yourself.”
His long-term plan won’t come together tomorrow, but Tim hopes that eventually his hard work will begin to pay off.
In five years Tim ideally has taken his podcast to the next level, at which point he can begin to pitch companies like iHeart and Sirius for a spot with their massive platforms.
For now though, Tim is happy.
“All my family is here. I love my job. I love being home. It’s cold during the winter, but I’ll survive. I just love Minnesota,” he says.
With a brisk wind smacking against our faces, Tim and I give each other the corona-inspired people’s elbow and then say goodbye.
We’ve both come a long way since I cursed him out during intramural basketball, the hope being that we still have so much further to go. QS
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