Being Kind Is Not A Sign Of Weakness
May 27, 2014
Acts of kindness are as important as good ratings, making budget, impacting music, increasing rotations, interpreting research, balancing between Mscore/call-out, marketing, tweaking the sound of the station, keeping a job, attempts at job advancement, sleeping, having a life, and double checking our daily "To Do" list.
You don't have to do anything monumental to be kind, just try not to forget the kid inside yourself who used to run around on the playground in grade school and couldn't understand why some of the older kids were not nice sometimes.
Keep It Simple
Being kind can range from simple things like opening a door from someone to complimenting a co-worker or employee on the smallest of things. I admit to having always had problems with this one, be kind even with those you do not like; in those instances go out of your way to take the high road with them. Regardless of how nasty, mean spirited, or selfish they may be, do not stoop to their level, be kind yet alert to their ways. Acts of kindness are about your approach to dealing with the rigors of the demanding worlds of radio and music.
These gigs we are fortunate to have in broadcasting and music are an insignificant fraternal speck on the collective backs of society. It amazes me how many of our paths cross at various stages of this business.
The kindness aspect dawned on me due to the recent untimely deaths of two contemporaries, Wes "Party" Johnson and KJ Holiday. The number one thing which stood out to me about both was how kind they were which led to this week's topic.
Wes Johnson The Gentle Giant
I can remember when Wes was a VP at Def Jam and him calling for a phone number for a mutual friend. I asked him how things were going and he said, "I am blessed Sammie, you know I have some other business interests these days. I went to Russell and Lyor and tried to quit because I did not think it was fair for them to pay me while I am doing all these other things. They would not let me leave; instead they gave me more money and told me to keep on keeping on. You can you believe it?"
Yes, I could believe it because he was one of the kindest people I had ever known. He never had an unkind word for anything or anyone. Even if I told him I did not think a particular song was all that, he would simply say, "You have to do what you think is best, I know if and when you think this song fits your station, you'll play it." Former Def Jam executive Jonnie Walker told me of a conversation she once had with Wes over a Def Jam song she was not playing at a station she was programming. When she finished with the reasons, he told her she needed to be working at Def Jam and that's how she got into the record business. Wes was just kind; he would periodically call our mutual friend to check on how things were going.
People Worked Hard Because KJ Holiday Was Nice
KJ Holiday was a knowledgeable programmer but more important, a kind hearted human being. He passed away as reported in All Access. (Net News, 5/25)
SVP/Urban Programming Doc Wynter expressed some things I still can't get off my mind, "He eclipsed everyone's expectations, but not mine. I believed that his kindness was what made people want to work hard for him. He always backed his people; he would frequently call me to recommend members of his staff for added responsibilities. When I would visit him in Detroit, he would insist on picking me up from the airport and we would usually talk about radio and relationships on the ride to the radio station. We would work until it was time to eat and then we would go get our favorite steak from a local entertainment venue. KJ would pay for dinner because that's the kind of guy he was.
"I once fought to get him a significant raise to keep another company from stealing him. When we went in to get the raise I had previously negotiated with his market manager, he asked for only a portion of it because he didn't want to make more money than his local boss. I shook my head when the words came out of his mouth in the meeting, but I couldn't be upset with him for long because he was being KJ."
Keep Things In Perspective
Don't let the characteristics of competitiveness, success and gamesmanship define you. It really is okay to be kind to others; it is not a sign of weakness, but rather a way to keep grounded and feel good about yourself. It helps to balance out your passion for life and your chosen career path.
I have always believed it is important to pass on to others the knowledge you have. Every intern or young personality I had who displayed the passion to want to learn, I made them promise to pass along the knowledge they gained to someone else as inquisitive as them. It was my way of being kind to those I hoped would go on and make a difference in radio.
By no means have I always been kind to those I knew to be devious, selfish, or plain mean. But I have learned everything and everyone eventually shows their true colors and are exposed for who and what they are Things really do have a way of working themselves out for the good guys.
The acts of kindness by Wes Johnson and KJ Holiday were just for being who they were ... nice human beings in the music and radio industries.