I sat in my truck one morning breathing frozen mist on the inside of the windshield as the heater blasted sub-zero air into my face. I was punching the buttons on the radio.
The guys on The Fox made a gross joke about women. I punched a button. The guys on KBPI made a gross joke about women. I punched a button. Somebody
on KOA remarked that "Women can't do math,".
already had a crappy weekend with my ex and was not feeling strong, so
the morning barrage of misogyny transported me to a hostile universe.
I punched over to KTCL. Sabrina said, "Hey, it's Sabrina, and man, is it cold,"
threw up my mittened hands. "THANK YOU!" I yelled in the ice-coated
cab of my truck, "It's cold. Thank you,"
Sabrina then told me that her
dog Ryker was under her chair, she had her feet up and her mug of
coffee was hot. She reminded me that, with the usual
luck, I would soon have a nice cup of something hot and not have to
drive anywhere for a while. Things were most likely going to be OK.
The universe was not an entirely hostile place anymore.
I was bored by the next three songs she played, but I didn't punch another
button. She had me. I wanted to be in that cozy world she was in,
where dogs and coffee made life good. More than that, I wanted to be
loyal. She had bailed me out and I wanted to return the favor by
staying with her. That was the first time I'd ever listened to radio like a listener, and I had been in the business for over ten years.
morning I finally got it. We each bring an entire microcosm with us
when we start a break. That's one magic of the beginning of a story. Jocks are sitting on one end of the mic, our brains churning over content
and delivery and added value, while on the other end the listener soaks up the thing
we're no longer conscious of: the organic magic that we bring just by
being present and being in context.
To share context, to let them know you are in the same place and time or
just listening to the same song or just being another actual human being on the planet with them, is the grounding and founding of a story. It's the
beginning. And if you are truly present and truly go to ground with
them, share a world with them, even make the world they're in a bit less
hostile, you have given them something very valuable, for free. Just
by being where they are, and by being you.
If you give them that, they'll be back.