Early in 2016 I wrote the article below on my LinkedIn profile. I was inspired by the action of a colleague and reactions from people not just here in Atlanta but from all across the world. Too often, we as individuals lose focus on why we do something, especially a career. We work day and night, put in lots of time and hard work, but go home frustrated, full of questions as to ‘why am I doing this?’. Yet we still get up and repeat the process over and over again. I am a big believer that if you’re not happy doing something, unless there are circumstances that actually prevent you from improving your situation, you should change your situation.
It’s important when things get tough, when you’re hustling and it doesn’t seem like there’s a payoff, to take a second and reset. Get back to that moment of inspiration and build on that,
I hope you enjoy my moment of inspiration from last year and feel free to share yours too!
Originally posted 3/25/16
(pls forgive the grammar as it was a stream of thought rather than a well planned piece.)
It’s kind of weird for me to even think about it, but last year I technically changed careers and got out of radio after 25+ years. I moved on from something I loved with all my heart. Yes I still work for the same company and every now and then when I ‘get the bug’ I am humbled that I can email CMG format leader and B98.5FM PD Chris Eagan and ask to do a shift, and despite his better judgement he says yes. I have always believed that while those of us who ‘get into radio’ while we may do it for other reasons at first (supposed fame, money..whatever) it sucks you in. You eat, live and breathe it…..I truly think there is something wrong w/ each and every one of us. 🙂 We love working gigs, doing shifts….hoping for a snow storm so we can sleep at the station….it truly is a sickness. Yes the hours are long, the money is ok and sometimes the BS gets to you but you still love it, with everything you have. I remember one time I was at the top of the Empire State Building and it hit me. Looking out over Manhattan, LI, Jersey and beyond…realizing the ESB had like a dozen stations broadcasting from it….I was looking out at what radio does. Radio has the potential of being a part of everything I could see….the radio is on while kids do their home work…..while you’re driving down the LIE blasting your favorite song on BLI….the radio is on in the cab, romantic music for the couple having dinner…on and on and on, radio is part of everything…tv can’t do it, neither can paper but radio can. As a DJ you are part of people’s lives good times and bad. Most of the time you don’t know how, but you are. Occasionally you find out. As a night jock on LI, it stood out as I met listeners and a few years back during a snow storm here in Atlanta I experienced it when I got to do a few hours on WSB….I talked to listeners and heard their stories while they were stuck in their cars on the side of the road, or the power was out at their house…some were scared, sad or lonely and we were their friend, security blanket…their constant.
So, fast forward to this week…..If you’ve paid attention at all to the news in the past few days, sadly a lot of celebs have passed away…it’s been really crazy. One person that passed away was #PhifeDawg from A Tribe Called Quest. Without getting too deep for those of you who don’t know TCQ is a hip-hop group that was a pioneer for the genre and inspired groups that you know today. So when Phife passed (which began to be confirmed early Wednesday AM), Mark Arum who is not only a talk host for our station News 95-5 and AM 750 WSB but also a traffic reporter for WSB-TV and who for him TCQ was influential in his life decided to sorta do a tribute to Phife on-air (which you can see here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRu… ) It was somewhat subtle (lol) but at the end of the day it was his and anchor Fred Blankenship’s way of paying tribute to an individual and a group that meant so much to them.
After the AM show ended, Mark went to bed because he also does a radio show 10p-Midnight. While he slept, WSB-TV put together the ‘tributes’ Mark did into a 1 minute clip and tweeted it out. By the time he woke up, Billboard Magazine, Rolling Stone, E! and somewhere along 500+ other organizations picked it up and ran with it. By the time he hit the air at 10p, Michael Rapoport tweeted it and him, as did Taraji P Henson, Chuck D. and hundreds of others. This AM, the number rose to 900+ media organizations reporting on it and tonight Questlove tweeted it and him.
All of the press was awesome and Mark was definitely viral, trending on FBook and Twitter….but for me as I read the comments…the almost 600 comments on the YouTube video, the comments in the articles, on our web properties and even the comments by the celebrities. The comments were more than ‘that’s awesome’. What Mark did wasn’t scripted, it wasn’t planned…it was from his heart out of a feeling of loss and it was genuine. The reaction came from the heart too, the people who connected with that video felt the same way as Mark, and for a moment they all connected. They forgot about the pain of their loss and relived their sophomore year in college hearing ‘Can I kick it?’, or the feeling of driving down the LIE blasting ‘Scenario’ while it played on Hot97. Breaking out ‘Low End Theory’ on cassette tape on the way to school. Whatever that moment was, Mark reminded them of that and the joy that moment had for them.
Yeah this all happened on TV, but to me this is why I did radio, why I fell in love with it. Sometimes in radio today its harder to do…to create that connection….but we do it…Spotify cant…XM cant…Pandora cant. Ultimately, Mark created that connection with hundreds if not thousands of viewers and readers and listeners. That’s the pay off. That’s what makes those who are in this business get up everyday…it’s why we do it.