by Dennis Daniel
Never burn a bridge in this business. I repeat. NEVER BURN A BRIDGE IN THIS BUSINESS!!! Be careful what you say, how you say it, and to whom you say it. If you hate someone's guts, keep it to yourself. TRUST NO ONE! The worst thing you could ever do to yourself is make someone you work with, especially upper management, aware of your dislike (or other negatives) of them through anything other than direct channels. Mark my words: it will come back to haunt you.
I've written before about the idea that "communication is irreversible." Call someone a dick...then apologize. Guess what? He/she will still remember what you said. Gossip is the devil's radio. When you start badmouthing anyone (especially if they have any semblance of power), IT WILL GET BACK TO THEM. People, after all, are just people. Your coworkers who are also your "friends" have an agenda as much as you do. It's dog eat dog out there, and unless you have the key to the executive washroom, I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself.
I AM NOT OVERREACTING!
Like anything else I tell you about, I speak from experience. There's a fragility about this radio biz that I find extremely frightening sometimes. One false move, one misplaced opinion, and your whole career could be blown to bits. Ask anyone who's been fired from a radio job. It's a lot easier to get a new job when you're already working than it is when you've been canned.
Now, mind you, I'm not asking you to be completely inhuman. Hey...people talk. Gossip occurs. Rumors breed. It's almost impossible to not get caught up in the groundswell. All I'm saying is, don't be the arbitrator! Sit there and listen. Nod your head. Put your arm around your fellow comrades. Be a regular guy/girl. Walk a fine line, but don't tip over.
Take someone like me, for example. I feel pretty secure about my abilities, talents, and years in the business. There's nothing that comes across my desk that I can't handle. I'm professional and friendly. People know me and speak well of me and my work (as far as I know, anyway. I'm sure I have some enemies out there). It took a long time to get here. Now, let's just say I'm unhappy with something here at work. Maybe I don't like my GM or PD or certain jocks. Okay? I start to talk about it. I start shooting my mouth off. It's easy for us production people to do. We have these closed rooms, you know? Put the ON AIR light on and let 'er rip. I can talk to fellow employees, interns even. Suddenly, word gets around (it's bound to...BELIEVE IT) that Dennis said so and so and such and such. All of a sudden, I'm getting funny looks from my GM. My PD. I start to wonder, "Does he know?" "Who told them?" Then I realize that I can't trust anyone. I start to give my friends funny looks. "Was it him?" "Did she spill it?"
Now who in the hell wants to live like that?
After all the years and the hard work, I'm going to ruin my reputation and good name over some petty BS? Forget it! That's kid stuff, man. There are too many other subjects in life that are far more important to deal with.
Radio stations, for the most part, are small environments with about 20 to 30 people milling around. Keep that in perspective and act accordingly. This is the entertainment business. People are touchy. Egos abound. Opinions are rife with controversy. Pull up a lawn chair and watch the show. Enjoy it, even. Just don't jump on stage.
I have seen many careers destroyed by gossip and greed. I've seen people leave for other jobs, bad mouth their former place of business, lose their new job, and come crawling back to the place they badmouthed for work. I've seen people act cocky as hell about their abilities and talent. They brag and brag. Then, the ratings come in. Oops. Bye now. I've seen Assistant Production Directors act with jealousy because of their lesser position, and instead of improving their abilities so that they can send out excellent tapes to possible future employers, they sit and brood. They bitch and moan. They become a real freakin' drag to have around. They get fired!
Trust me when I tell you NO ONE IS UNEXPENDABLE. NO ONE. Not me. Not you. As good as we may be, we could be out on the street in a nanosecond. The best thing you can possibly do for yourself and your future is...your job. Don't badmouth in public. Don't steal anything. If there is somebody you work with that you can't stand, avoid them as much as possible. I doubt there's anyone out there reading this that wants to give hot wet puppy kisses to every single person they work with. (God, I sound like a schoolmarm with this subject, huh?)
Here's another tip for you: Avoid Love Relationships In The Workplace. I know, tough call. It happens all the time. ALL THE TIME. (Many of you reading this right now are involved in a hot and steamy relationship with a fellow employee. Ah Haa! Caught you! Wipe that smile off your face!) How often have you seen it work, though? Yes, it is difficult meeting people these days. Where do you go? A bar? Yeech. (Who knows what kind of cooties you'll catch!) Still, I've just never seen it work out. I had to live with a situation like this with two co-workers for over a year and let me tell you IT WAS HELLAYSHIS! Hugging, kissing, cuddling, cooing, touchy-feely. And good Christ, the little nicknames! (Not to mention my jealousy about it. Been married 7 years...honeymoon's over, you know? We don't Bill and Coo like we used to. More often we ask "Did you fart?") Don't dump where you work, okay? Try to avoid it. Once it goes bad, it makes coming to work a trip into hell.
When I come to work, I go into my little box with all the pretty lights, knobs and buttons and make funny noises for a living. And I'm grateful. It's all I need, really. I'm still amazed that I make a living at it. I really don't know what I would do if I ever lost it. That's why I'm so paranoid about burning bridges. I've seen so many people (some that were true friends) lose their jobs. Eventually, they get out of radio altogether. It's very sad to me. I know a lot of you may think I'm overreacting on this subject. Maybe for you and your experience, that's so. For me, I speak the truth.