The Day After: How To Handle Tragedy On Your Show
April 12, 2016
With intent, I did not run this last week after the most recent terrorist attacks in Brussels and Iraq.
These things need a bit of space before they can become instructive.
Over 14 years later, the effect this will have on readers in America may still be strong. That's the point, really.
That's the way people in Brussels and Paris and Ankara and San Bernardino and those attending a soccer match in Iraq last week will feel for a long, long time.
Most radio morning shows on music stations are humor-based, and the whole reason for such a show becomes absurd after something like 9-11 or Paris.
Thankfully, tragedy on such a scale is rare, but as many of you know, I've worked for over a decade with clients in Paris. I have friends in Brussels. My sister lived in Turkey not that long ago, so perhaps I am more aware than most just how fragile "normal" seems.
Just as mass shootings happen almost weekly in America, bombings and terror attacks may become regular events throughout Europe.
I hope not. God, please, I hope not.
So how do you respond when the unthinkable happens in your community?
Because not responding, business as usual, is unthinkable and unfeeling when it happens near you.
This may help you. Watch: Jon Stewart 9/11 http://www.ericksonmedia.com/the-day-after/
Okay, I understand you have a four-hour show and Stewart has 30 minutes, and that this monologue took less than nine - but it can teach you so much.
Be authentic. Just because you're funny doesn't mean you don't feel. It's ok to cry.
"I wanted to tell you why I grieve...but why I don't despair."
Don't be afraid to use your gift of humor at the same time you're shedding your tears.
"Luckily, we can edit this."
Find a message of hope.
Even in the darkest of hours, especially in the darkest hours, hope is the most important message you can share.
"The view from my apartment ... was the World Trade Center. And now it's gone. And they attacked it, this symbol of American ingenuity and strength and ... labor and imagination and commerce, and it's gone!"
"But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that."
The only way to prepare for this day is to be even more vulnerable, even more honest on the air.
I want you to learn as much as you can by feeling as much as you can every day until it comes.
And when it comes, be human.
That's more than enough on that day.