Waterloo Region Record
By Luisa D’Amato
Eric Drozd, local radio talk show host, has wanted to be a police officer for as long as he can remember.
He got turned down the first time. But when you really want something, you keep trying.
On Friday, Drozd announced on his show on 570 News that he was leaving his career in AM radio to become a constable with Waterloo Regional Police.
It wasn’t an easy decision.
“I love radio,” Drozd told me after signing off for the final time.
He especially loves the feeling of being one person in front of a microphone and speaking to so many listeners — and yet for each listener it feels like a personal relationship. We listen to radio when we’re alone in our cars, or doing housework. Sometimes we talk back. It’s oddly intimate.
Drozd was born in Poland and came to Canada with his parents, who were seeking a better life for him. He arrived at the age of six in 1992, a few years after Soviet communism collapsed.
He didn’t speak a word of English when he started elementary school in Mississauga. But “I remember people being so helpful” as they tried to help him understand.
He dreamed of being a police officer, and studied sociology and criminology at University of Windsor. He applied for a police job, but was turned down and told he needed more life experience.
So he got work as a security guard, working the midnight-to-noon graveyard shift. To stay awake, he liked listening to the talk radio show “Coast to Coast AM” in which listeners share their experiences of the paranormal.
He loved the way callers were listened to with respect by the host, even those who believed that they had been abducted by aliens.
“I fell in love with radio,” he said, and he made his way to the journalism program at Conestoga College in Kitchener.
He started as a part-time reporter at 570 News, and quickly progressed.
For one exhausting year, he was both a full-time student and a full-time reporter. He did the early-morning show on the college’s radio station, took classes during the day, then worked a 5 to 11 p.m. shift at 570 News. And he was also commuting to and from Guelph.
After graduation, he stayed at 570 News full-time. He got his four-hour daily talk show three years ago. He quickly distinguished himself as a respectful, thoughtful host in the visceral, rough-and-tumble world of talk radio.
Despite the gruelling daily routine, Drozd would also take time to do his own research. He’d sit in quietly on an important meeting that was in the news, or read a lengthy document about a controversial subject.
“To me, it’s an unwritten part of the job,” he said. “I’d better know what I’m talking about.”
At 31, Drozd decided he had one last chance to try again for that police job.
This time he was successful. He starts training on Monday, and expects to hit the streets as a newly-minted officer in August.
He is thrilled about this new work, which will allow him to “answer people’s problems,” as he puts it.
As pleased as I am for him, I’m also sad he is gone from our local public discussion.
Today, as left-wing facts and right-wing facts swirl around our heads as if in some gigantic spin-dryer, we badly need people like Drozd. He appreciates every opinion, whether he agrees with it or not, and puts each argument in front of listeners so they can decide for themselves.
There’s something gentle and dignified in it. And also something that fosters healthy democracy.
“Radio is companionship,” Drozd told me. With him, it was all that, and so much more.
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