I’m sure if you are reading this you’ve been asked questions like “what’s your goal?” or “what do you ultimately want to do?”. Your answer probably ranges from the play-by-play voice of the New York Yankees to hosting SportsCenter or your own nationally syndicated radio show in a primetime slot. Point is, we’re trained to think of the ultimate goal as the top of the ladder achievement, getting to a certain place and looking back being able to say “I made it”.
My goal here is to encourage you to think differently. I want to encourage myself to think differently. Not that those goals you’ve set out for yourself aren’t a healthy benchmark. It’s certainly reasonable and proactive to have long-term goals of personal achievement, but maybe we should want more than just top-rung achievement out of this business.
Ask yourself something, what are you doing to make your mark and impact future generations of broadcasters? I think a lot of us don’t realize the impact we can have on others who are new to this industry or aspire to be in this industry.
Maybe it’s something that hasn’t crossed your mind yet or maybe you feel like you’ll be able to make that impact when you’ve really “made it”. But what does that actually mean? If you think about it, the idea of making it has a different meaning for everyone. It’s quite relative to your current situation. If you were to ask me, “have you made it?”, I would say no. Even though I host my own afternoon show in a top 20 market, work on the Orlando Magic radio crew, I’ve traveled the country with an FCS football team doing play by play, been a program director, co-host a fantasy football show on Sunday’s during the NFL season, and now write for this site as well, I’m still climbing. The work is not done. And some of you reading this have probably accomplished way more than what I’ve listed for myself.
Think about the guy or girl just trying to break in. The person who is still deciding what kind of schooling would be necessary to break into this business so that they didn’t have to sell insurance for a living. Think about the person who is in broadcast school right now fumbling over a fake Pizza Hut script because they’re trying to learn how to cut a spot. What about the person who’s driving down the highway thinking that this is what they want to do, but they have no clue where to even begin. To them, we’ve made it. And I guarantee that 99% of us were one or all of those people at one point in time.
I think back to when I did get the chance to break-in, I got my first internship with 740 The Game in 2010. That internship then became a part-time job, I couldn’t support myself off of basically minimum wage and part-time, so I was a full-time bartender at a local hotel to supplement my income until I could get to the point where I could say, “I made it”.
At that time, my goals shifted, my mindset became more along the line of, if I can just make a livable wage working in sports talk for a living, that is the dream. Waking up everyday and only worrying about the latest QB controversy, box score, or high-priced free-agent, that became the dream. If I could pay my bills, live a decent life and focus only on my sports talk career, I succeeded.
Now, thankfully, I do. And the goalposts moved for me again, like they do for many of us. This is the agony we put ourselves through, never taking the time to pat ourselves on the back and revel in all we’ve achieved.
My point in writing this is to create a moment where we start to think differently. Think of that person struggling through school, unsure if this is ever going to pan out. The person who just started at your company and is putting up banners and handing out merchandise around town just so they could get their foot in the door with a radio company.
Our goals should be bigger than what we can achieve on a personal level. Perhaps we’d be better off thinking about how we can elevate those who are still cutting their teeth in radio. I think we’ve all uttered the phrase or had the fear that radio is dying. If that’s even remotely true, then it’s the generation coming up right behind us that will help keep it alive and well. It’s that group that will run our board or co-host our shows when we’re old, gray, and slightly out of touch. It’s then up to us to make sure we cultivate that talent, take them under our wing, and make a mark on this business bigger than ourselves.
Bottom line, making it might have already happened for you to some degree, so what if you made it your mission to get somebody else to that point? In the end, wouldn’t that be more rewarding anyway? Our words, our actions, or our influence can have a great impact. Don’t undervalue the impact you can have on others around you and don’t dismiss those that seek your guidance. Go out of your way to not be a jerk.
If you want a good indication of the impact that can have, I kindly refer you to this Ryan Maguire piece.