Dealing With Tragedy
June 16, 2016
My father, Dan Mason 1.0, has always described radio's strength as being "the power of the microphone." He's referring to the industry's unique ability to serve communities in a deeply personal way that is unmatched by our TV and streaming competitors.
This connection was front and center this week in the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy, where stations across the country proved the value that radio still has when we are truly committed to being our best.
And while much has been written about the platform that the industry has given listeners to grieve, for purposes of this personal development column, there is one question that I would pose to you.
Are you giving yourself time and space to process this tragedy?
In radio, as in life, it is easy during times of stress to be so focused on our commitments to others, that we can forget to make time to nurture and take care of ourselves.
I was programming at Amp Radio in Boston the day of the marathon bombing. The station was broadcasting only a mile from the finish line when the explosions took place.
Not knowing whether the attack could be part of a large scale terrorist attack on the city, the staff went into immediate crisis management mode. Are all of our street team members and employees safe? How do we get information out to the public? How long do we simulcast our sister news station's coverage? When is the appropriate time to go back to our programming? What do we say? How can we support the community? How do we support the victims?
Of course, this is the appropriate response as a broadcaster. However, it wasn't until after the second suspect had been apprehended 5 days later that I felt overcome with a wave of sadness and anger that I held down while asking "what should the station do next?"
I was so busy being a "broadcaster" that I forgot to be human.
And part of being human means feeling some really negative emotions that you aren't proud of. Fear, anger, rage and sadness are all normal in circumstances like we have witnessed.
In order to up your self-love game, you must give yourself permission to grieve and feel all of the bad stuff. It isn't a time to numb out with food, alcohol, social media, and the dozens of other vehicles we use to run from our feelings.
Feel the anger. Feel the hatred if that is what is there. Just don't act on any of it.
It might take days, weeks, or months, but the negativity will eventually lift. Then you can decide the next right action step for your life from a centered, grounded place.
As an eternal supporter of both the radio industry and living with purpose, it is my hope that your action steps include being a positive force of light in the community. Our world is bombarded with negative headlines throughout the day. As if the Orlando shootings weren't bad enough, we have to hear about the Stanford rape case, the Zika Virus, and the most negative election campaign in the history of our country.
Your listeners, now more than ever, need you to shine brightly. Your presence and positive energy has an ability to lift other people out of their chaotic behavior. For all of the tragedy that we have witnessed this week, we have also seen a brilliant reminder of how your positive energy can impact your community.
People often complain about how much negativity they see in the media. But the great thing is for anyone who is reading this column.... You are the media too.
You have a chance today to offer solutions rather than perpetuate the problem.
Remember that at the end of the day, no politician can "Make America Great Again." That responsibility falls on you and I. Not just as broadcasters, but as members of the human race. It is my hope that we take this passion for service that we have shown this week and carry it with us 365 days a year, not just when a tragedy requires it of us.
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