I am often surprised by the power of radio and how easy it is to be misperceived. A few months ago, I told a tongue in cheek story on my National Conversation radio show about Charlie Sykes, Milwaukee’s leading talk show host on 620 WTMJ.
In the story I mentioned Kool-Aid, John McCain, black people and I may have jokingly said that Sykes (whose show I called into for years, who invites me to be a guest panelist on his television show, whose executive producer basically plucked me out of obscurity) is a racist…
People responded and it wasn’t good. Even my own mom didn’t get the joke! “After all that good man, Charlie Sykes, has done for you, how could you call that man a racist? I thought I had raised you better than that.”
It took a few days before Charlie would talk to me (he was yanking my chain), but when he did finally speak, he winked at me and said, “Now you understand why sarcasm doesn’t work on the radio.”
Lesson learned… sort of.
Yesterday I spoke at Cardinal Stritch University, my alma mater. It was my first time on campus in a number of years. (For those of you who don’t know, I am a public speaker and my subject matter is fascinating and non-political).
After the session (which by the way, was fabulous), I spoke with a woman whose comments stunned me. She said, “I don’t want to offend you, but when I heard that you were our speaker today I didn’t want to come. I thought I would be bombarded with two hours of anger… but I was wrong, what I thought was anger on the radio is really passion! She went on to tell me how loving, passionate, handsome and brilliant I was (OK, I embellished a little…but not by much.).
I thanked her for her comments. I told her that her observations were not offensive because my mom tells me the same damn thing ALL THE TIME!
But as someone told me last night, “I think that’s called finding your voice.”