The Themes of Life

It’s time you raised the bar.

Every enduring story in human history is about the themes of life: Love, loss, courage, betrayal, transcendence, redemption…

Every story that touches your own heart has the power to touch millions of others.

Yet I rarely hear these types of stories on radio stations.

When I hear stories at all, they tend to be crass, self-serving, designed to shock, titillate, and generally, make me laugh.

There’s nothing wrong with laughter, but very few radio talents are accomplished comedians. I’ve known exactly one in over 30 years in our business.

And you’re avoiding the very themes most likely to resonate on a deeply emotional level with those that listen to you.

Why? Why is this so hard?

Let me ask you a question. Do you watch only South Park or Family Guy on TV? Or do you also watch Grey’s Anatomy, LOST, and Private Practice — series that deal with the themes of life?

Why do I keep writing about this?

Because I believe it’s important on so many levels, and I believe that if you’re taking the time to read these words, you’ve already proven you’re capable of so much more than you are producing.

It is impossible to live this life and not suffer loss, to know grief so searing that it threatens to leave you broken forever. Yet, we endure. And most of us find a way to open our hearts once again to love, and to the inevitability of loss and inexpressable pain again. Such is the power of deep connection with another living soul.

Someone listening to you today just lost a beloved pet, and may have had to make the decision to end that life as a mercy. Don’t try to tell me this isn’t real grief.

Someone listening to you today just lost a parent, a best friend, a spouse, or God forbid, a child.

And you have been invited into their hearts today.

How can you not know this, and knowing this, not reach out to hold them?

Someone listening to you today opened their hearts to love last night, that sense of euphoria and sheer, breathless, unbounded joy that is so intoxicating when it’s fresh.

How can you not know this, and knowing this, not share in their excitement and hope.

Every day millions of people wake up with lives that are shattered, having lost most, or all of their reason for striving, yet they persist. How much courage does that take, to get up and keep moving, day after day, in the face of so much discouragement and rejection? Single parents doing their best just to survive, to hide their fear and anxiety from little faces looking up in trust.

Someone listening to you today is right on the edge, focusing fiercely with every fiber in her body, trying to hold things together, right here, right now in this moment, so tenuous is her personal psyche after so much battering and loss

How can you not know this, and knowing this, not reach out to encourage and support?

Which parent among us hasn’t suffered with our children when they are betrayed by those they thought were best friends or lovers, when their hearts are cavalierly stomped on and their brightest hopes and dreams dashed?

Someone listening to you today is consumed by worry for their children.

How can you not know this, and knowing this, not reach out to commiserate, to express empathy and hope for better days ahead?

And who doesn’t have a personal experience with grace, undeserved forgiveness, and the unearned gift of cleansing redemption? Another chance to love better, to live stronger, to open our eyes to see a better version of ourselves…

These stories are part of who you are.

They are part of who each listener is.

And ignoring them is limiting your relationships with those who already like you to a series of shallow jokes and inane babble that is forgotten the minute you stop speaking.

Take the risk.

Push yourself.

Resist the seduction of the easy and light, the glitzy lure of the serial chat room interaction, all those impersonal, often staged, encounters that every other radio station offers.

Go deeper.

Share the stories you are drawn to, the stories you don’t quite know how to tell, the stories that may choke you in mid-sentence and have tears rolling down your cheeks until your nose is leaking, stories that may reveal hidden parts of your heart, that may leave you breathless and vulnerable and transformed.

For in these stories you will find something that eludes most of us now, a human connection that transcends the medium and the market, and becomes the hope on which all our lives are anchored.

Once you achieve that, ratings will be the last thing on your mind.

And while it may be called the same name for internal bookkeeping puposes, your job will be different, for you will be reporting to a higher power than your PD or GM at that point.

You will be responsible for tens of thousands of lives, and those lives will be there every day, hungry for your affirmation, encouragement and hope, smiles and tears.

Give them what they need.

Give them all you can.

This is your purpose. This is why you are here, now, with the very gifts so many need.

Anything less seems more than just squandering a talent.

It’s ignoring your calling when you can be the difference one life must have today.