A radio show is not a job. It is not even a lifestyle. It is a committed relationship.
Of course, I do have a life outside of radio. Not just my relationships but also writing books, telling stories and growing food; these are not flimsy pursuits. They are serious crafts that require constant, devoted practice over a long period of time if you want to grow in them.
But radio is more than a serious craft; it's both a higher calling and a commitment. A radio show is like a marriage.
It's part of every thought you process every day, and pretty much all day. Your audience is your constant companion. You are always thinking about what they care about, what worries them, what makes them laugh, what matters to them-and all of those things matter to you. Every useful thing, every tidbit of information, every humorous insight, every awareness gets stashed in a gigantic folder-not just in your brain's desktop but in your very SOUL. Every thing that happens to you will have some part in the delivery, will be some element of what you impart.
Certain "experts" have said that radio is "real life plus 10%", and while I don't think you can put a metric on it, there is some truth in the statement. Your word selections and delivery have to be supernaturally clear, fresh, concise and relevant make it past the microphone, the distance and the radio itself to the busy, multi-tasking listener. To make a real connection through all those wires-and distractions-requires sheaves of preparation, clear intent and utter emotional nakedness. It's the kind of emotional nakedness that you display to your closest friend at three in the morning and your romantic partner after physical connection-but even just a little more intense.
If you are not emotionally naked, your listeners will hear it. They know when you're lazily throwing words out, when you have not gathered and processed your thoughts, and when you don't really mean it. They know your fears, insincerities and mistakes better than you do. They often hear what you can't hear in yourself. This, like a marriage, is both terrifying and reassuring. Your listeners can hurt your feelings with the truth-but they also keep you at your best.
I read this quote once: "Appreciate the beauty and power of your radio show. You never know when it will end or if it may be your last,". And in that way, it's also like a promise to love and cherish. There is no way to enter into it with safety. There are no parachutes. There isn't even a prenup. When your radio gig dies (as all relationships do eventually) you will be devastated, ruined; you will have to pick yourself up and start all over again. There is no way to avoid this.
When you lose a radio show you lose income, purpose, connection, a place to practice your craft and, most grievously, your audience. You sign up for every new radio show knowing this. As Louis CK says about getting a puppy, a radio show is "a ticket to sorrow,". And still your soul makes its vows, your heart agrees that it's worth it, and your entire life becomes a service of your show.
"From this day forward..."