Thursday, August 28, 2008
I'll assume that these adjacent two statements (from a letter by Eddie Garcia, faithfully printed by Lefty at Fall River Blog) are somehow logically connected, because Eddie Garcia is a facile communicator whose work I often admire, but I must comment on the leap of faith required here.
First: Not all radio people have Type A personalities. (I do not, although I did slam some studio doors and it probably saved me.) Although it is currently fashionable -- and a marketable and common practice, alas -- to have outlandish and outrageous jerks mucking up the airwaves with irresponsible dross, there is a difference between "Borderline Personality Disorder" and "Type A Personality." One requires medication and patient counselling. The other requires a good swift kick in the ass.
Second: It's not an excuse in either case. Outlandish personalities may be entertaining, and the eager talkradio audience has been taught to accept -- and yes, "love" -- them as the order of the day (along with poor elocution and flawed reasoning).
But to consistently excuse and enable every violent and antisocial narcissist who sits behind a mic -- or calls a talk show -- does a great disservice to a community. I know the old saw: that it's "just entertainment."
But, really: what good is the circus if it's only clowns?
Everywhere that I worked in broadcasting, with one notable exception, any unpleasant incident or untimely accident was addressed properly, truthfully, and compassionately. Nobody was ever left flapping in the wind, neither the wrong nor the wronged. If you didn't have a modicum of common sense or a sense of personal responsibility, there was help. There was Human Resources, or the professional management I worked with. And failing any other means, your employee handbooks spelled out the proper procedures for harassment complaints or chain of command protocol, and what was expected of every staff member.
The local newspapers didn't carry smug stories about firings, or quotes out of context, or statements from barely-relevant witnesses. Stations did not talk about other stations, their programming, or their personalities. We couldn't even say other stations' call letters.
Wherever I worked, with the one obvious exception, we had enough pride in our own workplace and in ourselves to know that each of us was the "face of the station/magazine/network/show " wherever we were. It would be disrespectful to act inappropriately. And just plain crass to engage in gossip.
The old ways appeal to me, because a ship can't sail without a conscientious crew.
Sure, there were indiscreet nights in port, and shouting matches and raised fists and misunderstandings and grudges and harmful words.
And hearts that ached with apologetic wishes, sense returned and repairs were made.
Because, whether you are right and wronged, or wrong and righted, the rain falls on the bow as heavily as it falls on the stern.
And we're all sober when we're underway.
And we're Shipmates.