It was the combination of pandemic isolation and the sound of cicadas that made me do it. I called a globe-trotting friend to whom I had not spoken since he and I dodged cicadas together in 2004.
I began with a question: “Quick! Where were you living 17 years ago?” He replied, “Can you give me a Zip code?”
It sure was fun catching up — and the success of that call led me to another, and another and another.
While it hasn’t been 17 years since I’d spoken to many friends, I must admit I wasn’t the best during the pandemic at calling people.
Fifteen months is a long time to be silent. Coming out of home isolation can be especially challenging for the introverts among us who gain energy from solitude and may have anxiety just thinking about returning to offices and in-person meetings.
Most of my calls have been returned by now, and it’s been highly rewarding. That’s why I’m telling you. Life is all about relationships; and while you may see what somebody is up to on social media or can find out some facts with an email, it’s not the same as a real conversation via phone or a face-to face get-together.
What has this got to do with radio?
People to lean on
We are all so busy at our stations that too many of us neglect personal and professional development and growth.
From a personal perspective, our friends ground us, they help us navigate the long winding road of life. If you’ve got pals who will tell you the truth — especially about yourself — admit your good fortune and take advantage of this resource that’s worth more than money. Living in your own echo chamber can lead to self-deception, loneliness and depression.
From a career perspective, it’s your network of former workmates, acquaintances, advisors and true radio friends who will be there — when you need professional guidance and assistance, when you are ready to grow your career in your next job.
Choosing the next career move in radio has always been challenging. Worse, terminations can be unexpected, swift and merciless. Gone are the days of long severance payouts. Even what we believe are solid contracts can be challenged, sometimes ending in reduced settlement payments.
Keep up your business relationships — not just with your peers at your station or office, but with consultants, vendors, concert/music promoters, and the people in other departments of your company. If you don’t, you can’t expect much when you’re in need. Relationships require active participation.
Career counselors will unanimously inform you that your network is the most important aspect of a successful job search.
As it happens, I’ve lost a number of friends in the last two years. There’s nothing like a few funerals to remind a person of their own mortality. It also dawned on me that I had not recently thanked people who have meant so much to me in my own career. Without being hired, mentored and remembered, I would not have gone far.
Over the years I’ve found that the folks who’ve had a positive impact on my life and career appreciate hearing from me. And there’s nothing like a personal phone call or an in-person visit to renew that connection.