My life’s story has lead me directly into the hosts chair of Paid The Co$t Podcast. I’m a biracial man with a caucasian mother that grew up in Michigan and a Chicano father who grew up in south-central LA and was the first of the Gonzalez family to be born in America. Because my father was more absent in my life than not, I found “other” ways to become a man.
My mom worked hard to keep a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and clothes on my back. She worked like a horse pulling a full wagon every day. The side effect was that it gave me more time to discover what I thought being a man was.
Around 13 years old I started exploring (and experimenting) with my friends. Drugs, alcohol, girls, and trying to top each other’s ignorance, was our everyday mission. Eventually, the gang life started playing a bigger roll. Being hard became one of my main focuses but the idea of being a “baller” (someone who makes money through the streets By selling narcotics or other forms of black market money) is what really pushed me forward and became my idea of making it. Unfortunately, as many of these stories go, I started using the narcotics I was making money from and lost my way for years. Methamphetamine turned into my motivator and drive. I fell hard and was using everyday.
One night, I was laying on my bed surrounded with guns, in deep paranoia and a voice popped into my head. “It’s time to stop,” the voice said to me. Feeling a sense of urgency I picked up my phone and called my father. Even though we didn’t talk much I knew he would understand because of his own history with heroin. He answered the phone and I said, “I’m sick.” He told me he would call me back. When he did he told me to go to my aunts house. A day later I walked up her front steps and I fell asleep for the three days straight. My aunt nursed me back to life and I came back to Santa Cruz.
Fitness has been in my life for years. Walking with my headphones in and listening to music is one of my favorite things in the world to do. So, I started waking. 4 mile days would turn into 6. 6 would turn into 10 and eventually I would get to 15 and 19 mile walks!!! Those hours by myself in deep thought were some of the most amazing times in my life. The music started to get old though. My brother in law had mentioned these “podcasts” he would listen to on his way to work. Murder, mystery, joe Rogan, business, you name it there’s probably a podcast about it. The more I listened the more I learned.
One day, it just popped into my head. “I can do this.” I would day dream about interviewing people. Celebrities, big public figures, athletes. I would think about being in a studio with them, what it would look and feel like. I started thinking about my home town Santa Cruz and all the amazing people, that more often than not, get overlooked. I thought about how incredible it would be to put a spotlight on the central coast and the people that come from here.
I worked a couple jobs but working at a local big box store became my break. I was the car audio installer and worked my way up from part time to full time and eventually the lead installer. After 5 years I decided to leave and open my own car audio shop. After that I moved into the hospitality business. My wife and I owned and operated a motel for 5 years.
That experience was a nightmare but something that I loved was chatting with the guests that came in for our morning breakfast. I would talk to people from all over the country and the world. I got hear people’s experiences and what things were like where they live. Struggles of pain and the joy they’ve experienced. It helped me refine and define the way I approached people and how I interacted with them.
Being an active listener instead of waiting for my turn to respond. I made real connections with the guests and it felt good to see them the following year and hear all about the family or the new job or something that they saw that reminded them of me. I realized that people, no matter where they’ve been or where they live, how they look, act, think, love, or live, just want to be heard and feel like someone understands. It was quite I blessing to hear some of their stories. I always felt so honored when someone would say, “wow I can’t believe I’ve been talking for so long! I feel like I know you!” Well, just like everyone else, covid rocked the hospitality industry. Business was extremely slow and for the first time in years I had…. Time.
Things felt like they were shaping. I put together a list of people that I thought would be fun, talkative, and outgoing. People who had accomplishments in business, entrepreneurship, art, music, ect. After this was done, I started making calls and asking if they would be interested to share their story with me on a podcast. To my surprise, people where more than happy to come on! Now it was game time. I researched podcasting equipment and how to start a podcast. I had a studio built in my garage and then I started scheduling guests… it all felt so natural. Like I was exactly where I was supposed to be and all the experiences I had gone through prepared me to sit in the hosts chair.
I’ve interviewed all kinds of amazing people from surfers, artists, comedians, low rider car club presidents, to the chief of the Santa Cruz police department and city council members. Most of our lives are spent wondering why we go through the painful and joyful events in our lives. I’ve used all those situations to guide me through each and every interview. Every day I learn something new. Every time I press record I’m blown away by someone’s life story and how they’ve Paid The Co$t to live their dreams. We’re all made to believe that we’re different but from the hours of interviews I’ve done I realized…. Our stories are all made up of pain and joy. We’re all humans just trying to make it every day. We all just want someone to understand and maybe to teach someone that there’s an easier (or harder) way. I’m blessed to be the person to help tell these stories and bring our humanity back to the table. It’s time to bridge the gap and that’s what Paid The Co$t is all about. That’s what I’m all about and that’s why I was put here. To bring us back together. Please join us in healing our humanity, only on Paid The Co$t Podcast.