I just got out of a quarterly company meeting. I enjoy these meetings, as it brings everyone together from all departments, including the three radio stations I do traffic for. Not only does our General Manager go over accomplishments and ratings from the previous year, plus go over goals for 2014, he also recognizes, or in better terms, gives a “shout-out” to outstanding employees who have gone beyond the call of duty in their positions.
No, I did not get a shout out; but that is so not what this is about. I already know that I am outstanding, and here’s why.
Flashback to early 2013. I was with another company, performing basically the same job as a traffic reporter, but in the midst of a hostile environment. The company I was at was so deep in debt that most of us hadn’t had pay increases in over seven years. This, of course, only added to the negativity that seemed to permeate the environment.
I did my job well, but to say that I wasn’t sucked into the vortex of such negativity would be a lie. I worked in a traffic studio with a few other employees, and at times it felt like the walls were closing in. There were some toxic, annoying individuals there, but they could easily have said the same thing about me. My tolerance of people that rubbed me the wrong way was wearing thinner by the day. I would call people out on their lack of consideration (of mainly screaming out their traffic reports, going out over my air), defend myself against any injustices thrown my way, and challenge authority when I felt I was well within my rights.
It’s not that I wasn’t grateful to be in the profession I was in. Broadcasting had proven to be a lucrative career for me for the past thirteen years. But I was growing stagnant, with no opportunity for growth. The monotony and toxicity of the people and my surroundings was causing me to either lash out or cloak up.
Not only that, but there seemed to be such a lack of communication between departments; no meetings were ever held, and most times management kept to themselves.
One afternoon I got a message from someone at another radio station across town that there was an opening for a traffic reporter at their cluster of stations. How could I have not heard about this earlier? Apparently a handful of people at that radio station had already thrown their hats into the ring, and when I went for my interview with the Program Director I found out that he had received over 500 résumés and demos (of on-air traffic reports).
My ace in the hole was that the Program Director not only was already familiar with my on-air work from all my years in radio, he loved my sound and style. Of course there were other people involved in the hiring process, but when it came right down to it, I was exactly what they were all looking for.
Not only did I become the traffic reporter for all three stations, I landed a spot on the morning show on one of those stations — KIFM — my favorite station even before moving to San Diego back in 1994.
They set me up in my own little studio for my traffic reports — my own studio. No more having to share a studio with toxic, inconsiderate and loud people. I didn’t just work in the Traffic Dept — I was the Traffic Department. Yes, I would have my work cut out for me, being sole reporter and producer, but I was excited about the challenge and new opportunity.
The fact that I would be making more money — not a huge amount, but significant — was the delicious icing on the cake.
The employees at my new place greeted me with open arms. They saw something in me that I had forgotten I possessed. One female DJ poked her head in my studio a couple weeks after my hiring and said, “Can I just tell you how amazing you sound on our stations?” When she left, I started to weep a bit, out of pure joy.
It’s been almost a year since I came aboard here. I love the people — many have become good friends — the environment, the solid sense of camaraderie, the fun, the numerous meetings and open communication. Of course there have been a few conflicts here and there, but they are soon extinguished.
I am not trashing my former employer; I am grateful for all the years I was able to talk on the radio for a living with that company. But there comes a time when it’s best for all involved to make your exit, and if you can do it with grace, all the better.
I am grateful everyday for the opportunity that all but fell into my lap when I needed it the most. I still get to talk on the radio — heard all across San Diego County — but I am also heard within the company. It is amazing to have so many co-workers respect what I do, and for me to be so intrigued by and respectful of their places within the workplace.
Coincidentally, the General Manager just came in the studio looking for the Program Director, as I was wrapping this up. I took the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed the meeting, what I was writing about and how appreciative I am. His smile lit up the room, and he told me how outstanding and appreciated I am.
If there is a takeaway for anyone reading this, I guess it would be to not lose hope; keep your feelers out there, do some prep work, and know that you are deserving of a career and work environment that makes you happy. Go find what makes you outstanding.
If you’re already ensconced in a career that you love, with people that you can call family, you know what I am talking about. Appreciate it and never take it for granted.
If you are only dreaming of such a fortunate situation, decide exactly what you want to do, start taking steps and never take your eye off the prize.
Let me know how it goes.