Back when I first got into broadcasting as an intern traffic reporter at Airwatch Traffic, I encountered numerous other reporters who had been in the business for a while and were either burned out, or getting close to it. They would wax poetic about “the good old days,” and how things had changed so much, how Radio wasn’t fun anymore, etc. It was rather sad, as I was very new to the profession, and it was all I could do to contain my optimism and exuberance. I refused to let the negativity discourage me, and I found myself gravitating toward happier, more appreciative and encouraging people.
Of course the negative folks kept their eye on me, seeing me as a possible threat, to which I simply told myself, “If people see me as a threat, it’s probably because they should.” I was in my late 30’s; there wasn’t a lot of time to waste on insecurities and playing small so that others would feel better about themselves.
One woman named Merri was handicapped and had been wheelchair-bound her whole life. When I first met Merri, I thought, “How cool is it that this woman with a handicap is able to do radio work, and be quite good at it?”
But in a short time I found Merri to be one of the most negative souls at Airwatch; she would grumble and gripe about other people, try to manipulate others, and just be downright unpleasant at times. You would ask her how she was, and she would respond with a flippant “Eh!,” every time. Her redundancy and toxicity began to wear me down a bit, so I chose to simply keep her at arm’s length and have as little to do with her as possible. I later found out through another coworker that Merri was very hurt by this, as “Kelly used to be so bubbly, friendly, etc.” In my defense, I still was, just not with her.
Same thing with a woman named Pamela. “They can’t fire me; slaves have to be sold,” was her frequent mantra. She was suspicious of everyone, and a well-meaning “friend” once quoted Pamela as saying, “Kelly Danek — I’d like to buy her for what she’s worth, and sell her for what she thinks she’s worth!” I did nothing to provoke her, but apparently she was one of the above-mentioned people who apparently felt I was a threat. So be it; there were plenty of other people with better attitudes that I could associate with.
Both of these women were not particularly well-liked by most of the other people at Airwatch; they were merely tolerated, and because they still did their jobs well, their negativity never caused them any conflicts with management.
Over time I would encounter numerous other such radio personalities, and I still refused to get sucked up in their vortex of negativity. The funny thing is — and yes, I do find it funny — is that many of those types are either not working in Radio anymore (Merri and Pamela), or have been in, then out, then back in again, yet struggling all the way. Many who have returned have developed sort of a new lease on life, and their complaints are minimal. It took being kicked to the curb for them to realize how fortunate they are to be (back) in this business.
I was feeling somewhat jaded a little over four years ago while at another company, but an opportunity soon presented itself, and I was able fly over the cuckoo’s nest and land in a great place where the vibe is much more positive. I adopted my own mantra, “Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated,” and I have never looked back.
Sure, we all have bad days on the job, and sometimes we have our doubts that we are really where we need to be; but that gives us no right to rain on others’ parades, harsh other peoples’ mellows, etc. If we’re unhappy, it is up to us to make changes that might include taking better care of ourselves, seeking counseling, talking it out with management or looking deep within ourselves and asking some questions.
The only real negativity I have felt since getting into Broadcasting has been with jaded, toxic employees. Once I remove myself from their aura, and steer clear of their poisonous attitudes, I’m good — and very grateful.