Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Rational Selfishness" (Another Trachman Treasure)

Here is another Jay Trachman article (first published in his publication "One To One" on January 31, 2005) in my ongoing effort to be sure his memory and (still relevant and as fresh as this very minute!) philosophies remain alive, available on the web:

Honestly, why do you love this job so much? Don't tell me -- I've already been through it on my own; I know the appeal and the effects it has on us... Don't tell your parents either, they may never be impressed... Five years from now, when you're in a major market earning six figures, they'll say, "So -- if you had been a lawyer you would've been making that five years ago!" This time tell yourself...You love it because of the satisfactions it gives you. Having thousands of people listening to your words each day; enjoying your wit, your charm, your unique personality. Having an effect, at least occasionally, on their lives. Having acquaintances think of you as a "star" (they're more impressed than *you* are!) Getting paid for sitting on your behind and being clever.

On a deeper level, maybe you love the daily challenge of taking three or four hours of raw silence and filling it with entertainment and information, fashioning it into a work you can feel proud of. You like thinking of yourself as an "artist." And, perhaps you've even discovered -- as I did -- that you're safer when people can be with you in small doses. Spend a whole day with them, and they just might find out about the *real* you -- warts and all -- and reject you. In twenty-second bites, they seem to love you and want more. Maybe that's why "Rule 1" in Show Biz is: "Always leave 'em wanting more!"

Being a performer is freedom: freedom to be *you* for a living, instead of having to *work* for one. Intoxicating stuff, this radio business...

And yet, for all its appeal, our profession is a revolving door. You know people who've been DJs for awhile, then gone on to other things: some of them because they just couldn't cut it; some because as they matured they lost the inner need to perform in public; and some just got tired of all the bullshit many of us have to put up with in order to pursue our careers.

What makes the difference? Why do some of us stay for a lifetime, while others just pass through? Part of it must be talent -- the best of us eventually reach a point where we can make enough money at it to live comfortably. Some of us just never grow up; but that's not the whole story...

I think the critical difference is commitment. It not only allows us to put up with the daily disappointments and aggravation, being overworked and under-appreciated; it opens our eyes, soon or late, to the things we have to do for *ourselves* to be successful in radio.

Working as the Jock Doc (put) me in close touch with a lot of committed performers. After plunking down hard-earned money - often, their own -- for personal coaching, they listen, they learn, they cast aside old habits and perceptions, they make changes in their daily work, often with great difficulty and effort. Their spirit is frequently a joy to behold; I celebrate their successes.

Some of the characteristics I notice in committed radio professionals: they work to broaden their vision. Not all of them remain on the air forever; many people who joined this Family years ago are now PDs, sales managers, and yes, even general managers. They didn't get to such rarefied strata by "just doin' their job." One of the most noticeable differences between these people and your common "radio freak" is that they're interested in *everything*. They tend to enjoy learning, for its own sake. That makes them more interesting people; I think it also tends to make them more flexible.

Finally, I've noticed that most radio successes are hard-working people. We may start out doing this because it's easier than a "job," but we soon learn that doing our job well does take work, and plenty of it. We prep our shows, we keep our eyes open and collect things to talk about; we read, we do things. And we grow.

What it all comes down to is that this willingness to grow, to change, to advance, to become better tomorrow than we are today. It reflects -- as I see it -- not just a commitment to radio, but to ourselves. Rational selfishness, in the most positive sense of the word. A very healthy outlook, indeed.

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