Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Long Life Span of Kind Words and Dismissive Behavior

Last week I got the chance to say thank you in person to Willard Scott for a simple act of kindness and professional courtesy that he did more than 20 years ago.

It was 1987 and I was the new PD at WYNY in New York City. That night at midnight, we’d flipped the then NBC-owned AC station to Country. The following morning on the Today Show, Willard finished up his forecast by unexpectedly congratulating us on the flip and wishing us, as NBC brethren, much success.

It was unnecessary. It appeared genuine. We were thrilled and felt like we’d made a new friend.

The camera then cut to Bryant Gumbel who made a sour face while saying something dismissive about the format.

It was unnecessary. It appeared genuine. We were disappointed and felt talked down to.

This past Groundhog’s Day, Willard graciously listened while I recounted the story and offered my thanks. He even indulged me with a photo op.

After all these years I’ve never forgotten the polar responses from these two broadcasters and how it made my staff feel. If you’ve talked to listeners, you know they too can long remember how a talent has treated them and how that made them feel.

What impression will you and your talent leave today?

It could last for 20 years.

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