Gossip ... Keep It To Yourself
May 3, 2016
Gossip can be a form of branding and in an election year, Donald Trump is proving how well it can work when dealing with the masses to create an image. A lot of what he says has sprung from myth and gossip. Although in all fairness, he is not the first politician or the only one to use this tactic; he's been the most effective this go around.
Let's not forget President Lyndon Johnson's nuclear mushroom cloud television commercial which implied his opponent Barry Goldwater would be the cause for the demise of mankind. Then there was the George H. Bush's Willie Horton campaign commercial that made African-American men look like criminals at birth waiting for the next victim. But politics is not what this is about, I need to get back on topic ... gossip.
If repeated enough, this kind of branding and behavior can be used for good or bad, unfortunately most of the time nothing good comes from the practice.
Gossip Can Stir Things Up
This is an excerpt from a poem titled "My Name Is Gossip"
The more I am quoted the more I am believed. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody's friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it's never the same.
I ran across this poem while programming a station that shall remain nameless. At the time I thought it would squash rumors being spread among my air staff. Having always been a night person, I was at the station after midnight wrapping up a few things and decided to run off some copies to hand out at the next day's jock meeting. The copier I normally used was out of toner so I unlocked the sales office, used the copier, locked up, and left.
When I got to the station in the morning, the sales people were having a meeting, kind of odd considering their usual meet took place the previous day. When the meeting ended, I asked the sales manager what was up. He told me his entire sale team was up in arms accusing each other of spreading gossip. My intelligent response was "Huh." His reply, "Yeah, someone left a gossip poem on a desk in sales; it's assumed it was an accusation and everyone has been at each other's throat all morning
As he left to answer a page, it dawned on me what had happened, after making copies of the gossip piece during the night, I accidentally left a copy at the desk I used to make a call from. There was no way I could confess. However, something good did come out it, the sales folks became a lot closer after the incident.
He said ... She said ... I heard...
This sort of thing can kill morale inside any station or workplace. Too many worry about what other people are doing or saying. Hearsay is gossip; unless you can read minds or overhear a complete conversation, you have no idea what is real or not. My advice: Worry about you and your work performance. Some co-workers will say things purposely to discourage or keep you down; don't fall for it. Then there are the innocent pawns who repeat things not knowing the verbal volley ball they are passing could cause innuendo and damage reputations.
I was working at Country station WUSN in Chicago and one night I got curious during the second hour of my 6-10p air shift. We were doing this "secret combination vault" thing for a ton of cash. Between songs I was screwing around with the vault and the damned thing opened! It made all this noise with sirens, bells, whistles, and flashing lights! I didn't know what to do because I remembered being told turning on the mic would not mute the noise; so going on the air was not possible, listeners would have known the vault was open thanks to a ton of recorded promos with previous winners. It was crazy; I had to segue into commercial breaks for over an hour. With no luck getting hold of the engineers, I finally broke down and called my PD and friend, Lee Logan. He answered his phone, heard the commotion, and laughed so hard he could hardly stop. The first thing he said: "I guess you didn't read the memo about fooling around with the vault."
It Could Have Been Ugly ...What If
Lee never told anyone at the station what I did, but what if he had, all sorts of gossip could have spread about me. Things like; "Sam tried to rig our money contest," "I heard Sam tried to let a friend of his win the money in our contest," or "Did you hear, Sam has a gambling problem and tried to get the money out of our secret vault contest and Lee caught him."
Other than taking a ribbing from Lee, I survived and have thoroughly read all memos ever since.
You can't control what others say, but you can control what comes out of your mouth. There are those who will always talk about what they don't know or what they have heard, but it is not necessary to become a part of the problem and perpetuate unsubstantiated incidents as fact. The implications of such loose gossip could go nowhere or set off a chain reaction of consequences with potential damaging effects inside the workplace.