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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Does my Job Matter in all of this?


Normally I would take great pains to edit a blog, ..but in light of recent circumstances, I am opting for more of a free flow format....and you already know if you've read anything I've ever written that I write like I speak. Hope you can follow my rambling. 

I don't know how long this "blog" will be. I feel like I'm full of words and sentences and stories to tell, but somehow they're all jumbled together because of the rapid pace of work and the world the past few days.

As you know I work in radio. Literally.  Morning host, Manager, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, etc.  I'm on the air in the morning, then it's paperwork, music and commercial logs to complete or mix, sometimes writing of commercials, then sending them out to for voicing,  taking readings on our transmitters, paying bills, the works. It all crosses one desk.

That one desk is usually the studio itself. I never work in my office.  For the past 3 days, as more and more information, speculation, and public posts about a virus scare in our nation and even locally went from dotting Facebook to dominating Facebook, somewhere in there the "information overload" button went off in my head. Yes, the morning host who has been up with listeners through overnight tornados and severe thunderstorms, ice storms, power outages, gas leaks on Main Street Ionia, lightning strikes at the station, transmitting our FM from a bucket truck in the back yard in late Spring when our antenna failed, and even snakes getting caught on the kitchen and engineering glue traps.........got nervous.  I got worried. Just like you. Information overload made me begin to wonder if "radio" had any relevance.  Every announcer  sooner or later wonders if the job really makes a difference in the world.  That question haunted me yesterday when compared to the world's more serious problem.

Our station has done food drives, began "Treasures for Troops" , we've done broadcasts from 9-1-1 dispatch, donated to school leadership projects, we've run fundraisers for the local Historical Society when heating their museum to only a safe level for the contents was all they could afford (back when fuel was $4.50 a gallon to drive, remember??)  We've had cancer fundraisers in the front yard, hosted After Hours events with the local Chamber, Re-produced a 1939 radio play 5 Christmases in a row, and had many Christmas Eve gatherings at our studios with wall to wall people.

Even after all that, the relevance of an "Announcer" in the bigger scheme of things sometimes is a question in my head, maybe in that of others with the same profession. It seems so insignificant and unimportant. I used to ask my Program Director Garry Osborn about things like that back when I'd go  from a busy morning show with lots of phone calls  to quieter phones and less interaction when school let out for the summer.  I thought it was something I was doing wrong and  that I wasn't making an impact anymore.  He explained the fact that habits change with seasons and events.  It's true.  The same applies today in this situation we all find ourselves in.


It seemed to me this week that doing my morning show and reciting  song titles, time checks, maybe a light joke, some history all meant nothing.    Combine that  with the fact that I had hit what you might call "information overload" the night before, I decided today that I would  not look at other people's posts and sites on the web,  and only post TO the station Facebook page, reading nothing from any local sites or anything from my "feed" to avoid a repeat performance of  last night's nerves over our nation's situation.  No more super-influx of bad news, scares, and worry.

Then, this morning while on the air and still wondering about my job's relevance to the world, I told listeners the story from above about wondering whether we, as announcers,  have a connection or if our jobs  make a difference in the world. I brought this up to my audience in a break on an "extended" morning show which ended up going to near noon.... and the messages started coming in from a truck driver, a resident of the Aland Islands (Finland)  A person at City Hall, a Lansing listener request, and...later on...an email asking that we make sure our audience knows  a local food pantry was, indeed, open and ready to help people despite the rumors to the contrary.   Those are some of the emails I remember from this busy day.

I also told listeners that I, too am concerned about the situation we all share,  and that I feel connected to them when they email or call instead of alone in a square windowless studio, and something magical DID happen with the telling.  Connections were made.  I wasn't looking for a pat on the back, I was explaining that my job as announcer and the role of "radio" sometimes seems rather frivolous in the real day-to-day world. I actually told the listeners about this feeling.  And...it felt good to say something I've wanted to say since this scare began,  but had felt it would be unprofessional of me.

Being hokey has never stopped me from being on the air.  Being very personal with my audience has never been a problem, I tell stories from my past all the time.  But, today, I wanted my listeners to know about the one thing that I have seen happen the past few days which has made a difference in my outlook on this scary time. It's simply this:   If you are able to DO something for someone else,  it's a feeling that helps overcome all the others of fear and uncertainty.   It can be something small. It can be almost anything, as long as you DO SOMETHING to help others.

In my case the songs I played that were requested was a "doing." Teaming with WION's "Steve the Voice Guy" to help my former High School's  radio station management who is far away to get a message on THEIR airwaves about food for families in a far away town  was a "doing." Finding out that at least one family got the message about the local food pantry being open, through WION which got them help at the pantry was a "doing."  It all felt good, and took me from how I felt the day before which was helpless, scared, lost, and very alone to CONNECTED.

I'm grateful as I write this for every listener ever connected to our radio station. The TEAM that makes this magic happen is connected to you, and we're grateful for your loyalty, laughs, comments, emails, your listening and your trust.

Thank you for letting ME feel better today by simply extending the morning show a few hours, sharing some music, and emails....and CONNECTING with you.  Our station may not be a big city one, but if we can make a difference here, and now...especially now...it's the reason we're here, it's the reason I'm here, and....it means that Radio (Big letter "R") and announcers working in it do indeed... make a difference.


-Carlyle

No republication or direct quoting without written permission. For your reading amusement only.