Monday, September 05, 2016

Some Labor Day Thoughts and Songs for Those Who Labor In the Greatest Business in the World: Radio

Labor Day honors the contributions workers have made to better our lives.

It became a US federal holiday in 1894 – though 30 states already officially celebrated Labor Day.  In Canada, Labour Day (also celebrated on the first Monday of September) has been a holiday since the 1880s.

While we celebrate in song many occupations, radio jobs tend to be maligned - especially by those who apply rather limited evaluative criteria (read about that here).

But even for those of us who still find this the most exciting and rewarding career we could imagine - and are still amazed that we get to do this every day - the grind the industry extracts on us can take its toll.

Fortunately singers and song writers have left us inspiration to encourage us when the going gets challenging.

You no doubt have songs that personally inspire you; feel free to add them to this list by commenting.

Here are a few from the country format that remind us of why we continue to do what we do.

Your Impact on Others:

“What a difference you’ve made in my life. What a difference you’ve made in my life. You’re my sunshine day and night. Oh what a difference you’ve made in my life.”

"What A Difference You've Made In My Life"
Written by Archie Paul Jordan, © Universal Music Publishing Group.

In the hundreds of focus groups I’ve done through the years, talent is the subject that listeners most want to talk about.  

I’ve seen listeners express real appreciation for talent who remembered their names or the names of their children. 

I’ve seen them recall the impact of meeting a talent in person – perhaps years ago though they share in detail this cherished memory as if it happened last month.

And I’ve seen listeners tear up while recalling something a talent has said that touched them personally.  

As talent we have opportunities to ‘make a difference’ with every mic break.  Don’t waste a single one.

Your Work Ethic Matters

“Hey, I’m not bragging or complainin’, I’m just talking to myself man-to-man, this mental fat I’m chewin’ didn’t take a lotta doing’, But I take a lot of pride in what I am.”

I Take A Lot of Pride in What I Am
Written by Merle Haggard; © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

It’s easy to blow off a break or two (or not put your heart into a piece of copy you have to write, or to fall back on something safe rather than suggest something out of the box to a client, or to not want to do an air check session with your talent).

And sometimes it takes a conversation with yourself to bring about what you know needs to happen. Perhaps it's a personal pep talk or maybe reminding yourself that you have knowledge/ideas/creativity/talent that's worth sharing. 

Of course going ‘half in’ doesn't cut it.

Full throttle, wide open
You get tired, you don’t show it,
Dig a little deeper when you think you can’t dig no more
That’s the only way I know

"The Only Way I Know"
Written by Ben Hayslip, David Lee Murphy • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Lots of people around you will quit at "good enough." But not you; you know the benefits of digging deep.

The bottom line is that pride in your work is what will separate you from the rest of the pack.

“I Feel Like I Know Him/Her”

If you want to know the real me, just turn the page in my dirt road diary.
It’s right there for you to see, every kiss, every beer, every cotton field memory.

"Dirt Road Diary"
Written by Luke Bryan, Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Ask listeners about talent they most connect with and you’ll usually hear something about being real, being an open book, etc. 

But what they’re really saying is that the relationship they have with you the talent is the same type of relationship they have with their best friends. 

That’s powerful.

Follow Your Dreams

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance....
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone

"I Hope You Dance"
Written by Tia Sillers, Mark Sanders • © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone you care about is encouragement and support as they follow their dreams. 

Just like you did.

Take a Risk

I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

"The Dance"
Written by Tony Arata; Copyright ©  Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

The performing arts are a risky business to begin with and today’s environment has only amplified that risk. 

Still, the risk-reward is something performers willingly sign up for knowing that there's a cost to bringing happiness/insight/entertainment with the world. 

Don't Forget to Enjoy the Ride

If you're coming with me you need nerves of steel
'Cause I take corners on two wheels
It's a never-ending circus ride
The faint of heart need not apply

"Mi Vida Loca"
Written by Jess Leary, Pam Tillis • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Sure, other careers may pay more handsomely, have more security, etc., etc.  But probably none of your non-industry friends have met Garth, been on Luke Bryan’s bus, or had a drink with Blake Shelton. 

Unless they were your guest.

Why It’s All Worth It

The wealthiest person is a pauper at times
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind.

"Satisfied Mind"
Written by Jack Rhodes, Red Hays; Copyright (c) BMG Rights Management US, LLC, Carlin America Inc.

If it was about the money, we’d have done something else. But performers play by a different set of rules.  Sure, it’s about the applause, but it’s more about knowing that YOU made people feel something. 

Parting Thoughts

I laid in bed that night and thought about the day
And how my life is like a roller coaster ride
The ups and downs and crazy turns along the way
It’ll throw you off if you don’t hold on tight…
I love this crazy, tragic,
Sometimes almost magic,
Awful beautiful life.

"Awful Beautiful Life"
Written by Darrly Worley, Harley Allen; Copyright (c) Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Ten Ten Music Group Inc. 

Happy Labor/Labour Day!


Jessica Ettinger - TODAY Show Radio said...

Awesome post, Mom, as I work at NBC on this Labor Day morning at TODAY..steps from where you first mentored me in the medium at the age of 22. Happy Labor Day!

Mike O'Malley said...

Thanks for the read, Jessica. You're having an awesome career on multiple platforms and you're proof every day of the rewards from hard work + talent!