In the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death and his upcoming public memorial, many people are paying homage to his famous love letter to his greatest professional passion. As his retirement neared, Bryant released a poem entitled “Dear Basketball,” in which he expressed his love, affection, and deepest feelings for the game and all that it had brought him. It later went on to become a short film for which Kobe won an Academy Award.
Prior to the start of the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman read his tribute to Kobe in the form of a self-written poem entitled “Dear Football,” and others around the nation have been doing something similar.
As a Kobe Bryant fan who has also gotten so much out of his own profession, I wanted to do the same.
I hate you.
You are an insidious industry filled with despicable people of loathsome character and little to no talent. The rot gut garbage you allow to fill your airwaves is beyond embarrassing and is beneath you in the most contemptible ways.
Radio remains the most intimate form of medium. It allows a person or team to speak directly to up to millions of people at once, while making it seem as though we are speaking to each and every one of them individually. It allows for the speaker to utilize what we call “theater of the mind,” to create visual images through mere words, tone, and inflection. When done well (which it very rarely is) it creates a bond between anonymous speaker and unknown listener that almost feels like an actual friendship. People joke regularly about having social media “friends,” because most of them are merely numbers. With radio, many of us actually believe we have a friendship with a person we have never seen nor even actually communicated with, for we feel as though we have actually communicated with one another.
And yet, you, radio, invite and even encourage ignorant, untalented, unscrupulous vermin with no understanding of facts, storytelling, presentation, comedic timing, or creativity to clog up your airwaves. You should be ashamed of yourself.
By extension, you have allowed equally reprehensible cretins to populate your hallways in the form of the Star Wars bar scene.
Walk into almost any radio station and you feel as though you have instantly been transported to the planet Tatooine and through the doors of Chalmun’s Cantina. A place, as Obi Wan described it, that is a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.” It’s impossible to not hear in your head the Cantina Band belting out “mad about me,” as you look around at the sales, office, and management staff assembled and see that the creatures in the Mos Eisley Cantina are far more attractive than those staring back at you in the radio halls.
The truth of the matter is, radio, that it has gotten so bad that I don’t even listen to you any longer. Similar to having a friend who keeps returning to their abuser, there comes a time when watching the suffering is too much to bear. That time came long ago. I couldn’t name you three other shows or people in any of the towns we’re heard in, and God knows I almost never dare to explore what you’re doing in other cities, lest my wife’s vacation be ruined by my endless rants and cranial discharges of pure disdain.
Don’t get me wrong; I know you didn’t do this. Like with almost everything it’s the people who have ruined you. But did you have to make it so easy? Did you have to be so accessible to the lowest forms of life and actually offer them a platform to create inane and intellectually obscene features like “what color is my booger today?”
Some say I am being ungrateful; that I should be thanking you for providing the wonderful life that I lead through your very platform. Others argue that the gratitude should come in appreciating the very thing that upsets me; the fact that you have allowed so many losers to populate the airwaves has made it relatively easy for us to stand out and thrive for more than two decades, some say. They are wrong. For it is not you, radio, that has given me such a great life, it is our audience and the teams I have chosen to surround myself with who have helped make a connection like almost no other in the industry. That is not your doing; to suggest so would be thanking you for merely existing. What a low, low bar we have reached.
So, in closing, radio, I say “Go the Hell.” Thank God you remain, even in the age of technology, one of the singularly most provably reliable ways to reach and move people. Thus, the industry thrives at a time we were told long ago it would have long disappeared. Those of us who do you well will continue to enjoy the fruits of our labors, but the herd is thinning on the regular and your farm team is non-existent. Get with it, radio; your lame is showing.