Growing up, I recall my father having news radio on in the garage when he was working on the cars or in the yard. He would also read the daily newspaper cover-to-cover with his usual exacting way of carefully folding the paper as he read, each fold so tight that you could cut yourself on it.
My mom always watched the morning and evening news. I remember thinking it was soooo boring, uninteresting and truthfully: depressing. How could they consume all of that information everyday. Wasn’t music much more enjoyable?
I remember the day so vividly as it altered my life and the lives of many others in very significant ways. This day was 9/11. After a long day at work, making sure my team got to their destinations safely and all were accounted for, I began my 40 minute drive home. This time, instead of turning on music, I went straight for news radio. After a morning of such disaster, how could I tune into anything else? How could I listen to music when the world seemed to be ending? Were there more bombs? None of us had dealt with something so unknown. At this time, I wanted information, constant and consistent.
Since that day, I have always listened to news radio on my commute (except of course when my daughter is in the car as she too cannot understand why I tune into news radio or TV.) While news is no longer a necessary means of immediacy for me like it was that day, I have found other benefits from listening. These benefits include comfort, relevance, and connections.
In this rapidly changing world, we live in, snippets of information keep me relatively informed of what is happening globally and locally. If I want, when I arrive at my destination I am able to do some further exploration of what I heard. At least now I know if the world is closer to its end this week or if we have a bit more time. Now that I know what is going on, I am able to feel more comfortable about my day to day decisions and experiences.
The news allows me to fit in and be relevant in any discussion with any group of people. I remember, back then, I was a young female executive in a sea of men so management meetings would often turn into sports commentating and Monday morning quarterbacking. I learned enough in my days as a statistician for varsity sports in high school, and of playing touch football as a kid that I could always keep up with the conversations no matter the sport. While I had the information, I did not have the passion. As a non-viewer of the last nights game, I had little excitement to add to the play-by-play. But now, listening to news radio and watching the morning news, I am armed and dangerous with stats, interesting observations on the key plays (as seen in the highlights) and a connection to the teams’ activities. Now, rather than exiting the meeting with the other females on the team due to my lack of knowledge, I am able to build rapport and develop friendships. I connect with the male members of the executive team in a new way now that I have grown knowledge of sports and my secret weapon:the news.
Years after my work in the corporate world, I was invited on a date to a Halloween party with my boyfriend and his clients. The night had every opportunity to be awkward. As with all new relationships, fellow party-goers were unaware that I was not just the latest babe (spoiler alert: we got married!). Besides, who wants to be on good behavior at their own Halloween party. When work chatter started, I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to fit in. All of a sudden, the group started talking about something I had just heard on my ride into work that morning. Suddenly, at the drop of a couple of buzz words and acronyms, I felt I belonged. The rest of the party and still today, I am very comfortable with the people I meet because I have the ability to connect with them at their level.
The Sunnyside: I don’t know everything, but I know just enough about different topics that I seem knowledgeable. It’s a great party trick! Shhh! Don’t give away my secret!
Curious about other reasons to listen to the radio. Check out my 2011 Huffington Post article about Life Lessons From The Radio.