Channel Your Anxiety

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on April 14, 20202

Like everyone else in the industry, I’m starting to feel like the walls are closing in and I’m getting a little anxious. The first thing we all need to keep in mind is that we are ALL going through the same thing. Everyone is feeling like this right now and it’s most likely going to be that way for a while. As broadcasters, managers and talent we often don’t want to admit that we are human. We are the kind of people who think we are strong and invincible. That’s not always a bad thing, but right now, you have to be able to step back and remember you are human and it’s okay to be concerned.

That’s why it’s critical to do everything you can to stay productive and as creative as you possibly can to insure good mental health. It’s not enough to just do your shift or schedule your logs (if you are still lucky enough to be employed right now). You’ve got to put together a healthy schedule of creativity and gratitude to insure you stay positive and stay on track.

As someone who has struggled through unemployment before I can assure you that it’s going to be alright. What I do know for sure is that your world will move faster if you constantly challenge yourself to go above and beyond and stay creative. It’s easy for us all to get caught up in the drama, and the news and binge watching television and drinking away our boredom. And hey, a little bit of that right now is okay. But you can’t succumb to laziness and boredom because that will definitely double your depression and anxiety and make you feel like it’s never going to end.

In a recent conversation with my colleague Rich Pangilinan (DJ Riddler), we were discussing the current state of the industry and what radio stations across the country are doing while everyone is on lockdown and trying to figure out what’s next. As we talked through current examples of things that were going on, it became clear that it might be necessary to reevaluate what we as an industry should be doing. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of companies are doing everything they can to help with the tools and skeleton crews they have available. But I think we’re capable of more as an industry, especially talent, to really take it to the next level.

While some stations are still setting appointments for giveaways and offering free music downloads, club DJ’s, lounge singers and artists who don’t have half the reach of radio are doing virtual fund raisers to feed the hungry and take care of those working on the front line. A lot of industry managers and executives are bogged down right now with financial decisions, employment decisions, safety decisions, etc. But we can’t forget that our biggest ambassadors and influencers are our talent and creative leaders. That means that we as an industry need to keep that in mind when considering the difficult cuts that have to be made. At the same time talent needs to make sure they are going above and beyond for their brands as well as their companies and be grateful for still being employed.

Sure, you’re promoting “take out” for your local restaurants and COVID-19 updates on your websites and news stations, but as talent, what are you really doing to help your community and its economy stay alive. Even out of work talent, you still have influence and reach on your socials. You have your own platforms. Channel your anxiety and use it for good. It’s not enough to rally the staff on a Zoom meeting so you can say we’re all in this together. What is the purpose for this amazing opportunity to have you all on at the same time? How can you take that listener experience and find a way to give back to your community?

And the talking head Insta live thing where you’re just like “day 22 broadcasting from home, tonight we’re gonna play your favorite bla bla bla…” You’re wasting your listeners time and your time. Take it to the next level.

Some of the most gratifying things I’ve done while being unemployed involved volunteering and charity work. Pay it forward whether you are working or not. Find your local community partners and arrange Instagram live charity drives that are engaging and creative. For those still working, ratings are going to be completely inconsistent right now, so use your traditional signal as well. Find your celebrity friends to help, but truth be told, if you’ve made a connection with your audience, you are just as likable among your audience as they are. Find a teacher or school that you can do virtual lessons with or read to during the school day. Help make their jobs easier right now while they are fighting for the attention of their students who are bored with home schooling.

Be a community hero! There are a lot of people all over the country whose kids’ graduations and proms are being cancelled. That’s devastating for both parents and students–I’m seeing it all over social media. They’ve lost something they will never get back. Be the first to host a virtual graduation ceremony for your listeners, or a virtual prom. This is an opportunity to also help local businesses stay on the radar and provide some financial relief if you do it right. Partner with local restaurants to provide special discounts for “night of” delivery service for virtual dinner before prom or graduation. Partner with local boutiques or jewelers or dress shops and flower shops to offer specials for virtual ceremonies at home. These are ways to give the kids something to remember and ways to help small businesses stay on the radar while the economy is on hold. There are so many ways to be creative. Call in a celebrity for a virtual graduation speech, or a band for prom. If talk shows and late night TV can do it, you can too.

What I’m saying is the best way to stay sane during this crazy time and make a real connection is to channel your anxiety and push the envelope of creativity and give back as much as you can. You’ll be filled with gratitude, accomplishment and probably create some of the most innovative campaigns or ideas that will help grow the industry (and financial opportunities) moving forward. Yes, we’re all in this together, but taking the lead on innovation right now will keep you top of mind with your colleagues and more importantly your listeners and community leaders.