If you are a regular reader of Siouxland Magazine and have seen my previous articles, you are well aware I am a big fan of genuine conversations. There are so many tremendous viewpoints represented in this publication. I try my absolute best to mirror those authentic chats with listeners on the radio every weekday starting at 5 a.m. Some of those conversations are 100% fueled by caffeine and curiosity.
When you dive into the way-back machine, and the outcome is 1995, radio broadcasting had a distinctly different feel to it. Bombastic shock jock personalities like Howard Stern, Mancow, and Bubba the Love Sponge were making waves with outrageous gimmicks and R-rated material. Hey, it was fun. If I ever decided to clean out the storage room in my basement, I’m sure I’ll come across many greatest hits cd’s from those radio stars. If you are under the age of 20, CDs are just like digital streams that you can throw like a frisbee. Don’t get me started on cassettes.
When I shared my desire to work in radio with my co-workers at the horse racetrack I worked with way back then, they openly mocked my dream and told me I was way too quiet to ever become a shock jock. They were right.
The best conversations on the radio and in life happen when you LISTEN and share the vulnerable moments in life. The big, boisterous individual usually gets the early attention in a room, but how exhausting can that be? The best convos at a mixer (that’s a 2019 term) happen when there is some give-and-take in the mutually pleasant dialogue.
One of my favorite on-air moments was far from some outrageous prank like was seen in the movie “Private Parts.” It was a Wednesday morning and surrounded a pre-planned interview with a volunteer from a charity walk…a segment that would never appear on a Stern broadcast. Her name was Trisha, and she shared with me before the live interview, she was scared to death to go on the radio, but the committee she was on said she would do great sharing their mission and goals. That day I was amazed by her compassion and storytelling. She talked about her love for her daughter, how proud she was of her overcoming struggles with her challenges, and how important it is to be part of the solution and simply join the walk on a spring Saturday morning. At the end of the segment, she was teary-eyed, and I would remember that moment when my oldest had his own challenges with autism. Hopefully, some listener that day shared in her drive and compassion as well. It was an inspiring moment on the KSUX airwaves. It was also rooted in fear and vulnerability to share her heart openly on-air. Not an easy task.
It takes more courage to be vulnerable than it does to be a bombastic and outrageous voice on the radio.
If only I could find all those co-workers at the horse track in 1995.
By Tony Michaels
Tenderhearted radio dude on KSUX / Author of the book “Tacos and Beer Atmosphere.”