The down­side of be­ing part of the me­dia

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

I have worked in me­dia my en­tire ca­reer, and the beauty of that choice is the abil­ity to share my ex­pe­ri­ences and be fa­mil­iar with my au­di­ence. When a lis­tener comes up to me and says they feel like I am one of their friends be­cause they have heard about my life on air, I let them know they are cor­rect and it’s okay for us to feel close in the mo­ment. How­ever, there is a down­side to be­ing part of me­dia and it’s the abil­ity for peo­ple to feel com­fort­able with me.

I was at an ap­pear­ance the other day at a lo­cal gro­cery store and a man walked up to me and asked if I was Melissa Carter. I said yes, and de­spite con­firm­ing his sus­pi­cion he still ap­peared con­fused. Here it comes, I thought, since I rec­og­nize that ex­pres­sion. It usu­ally means some­thing in­sult­ing is on the way, and the per­son’s com­fort with me has dis­solved any fil­ter she or he may have with an­other stranger. “I thought you were gray,” he said. I smiled and said, “Nope, just blonde.” He con­tin­ued his ar­gu­ment that my hair was the wrong color, say­ing that pic­tures of me look gray. I wasn’t sure what to say and just smiled, and af­ter a few awk­ward sec­onds I fi­nally thanked him for stop­ping by. The hint fi­nally worked and he shook my hand and went shop­ping.

It hap­pens all the time. Mostly when peo­ple let me know that they ei­ther don’t lis­ten to my par­tic­u­lar ra­dio sta­tion or don’t lis­ten to ra­dio at all when they meet me. Se­ri­ously, do you even re­al­ize how in­sult­ing this is? It is the equiv­a­lent of my telling a Coke em­ployee that I pre­fer Pepsi, or an ac­coun­tant that I re­ally pre­fer do­ing my own taxes. Re­gard­less if th­ese facts are true, you sim­ply don’t say it to the per­son. It is rude, and there are plenty of rude peo­ple to those of us who work in ra­dio or tele­vi­sion.

There was a time I was at an ap­pear­ance with my en­tire morn­ing show team and as one lis­tener went down the line to shake all our hands she stopped in front of me, re­fus- ing to take mine. Lean­ing in, she whis­pered, “I’m not gay,” and walked away. Oh yes, I for­got gay peo­ple only shake other gay peo­ple’s hands.

I have been guilty of pass­ing judg­ment on those far more fa­mous than my­self. For some rea­son I have felt com­pletely in the right an­a­lyz­ing a celebrity’s life and made choices in what I watch and lis­ten to based on it. The dif­fer­ence is I would never say the neg­a­tive things I think to their face. Of course if I ever met one of th­ese celebri­ties I likely wouldn’t say any­thing at all be­cause I would be awestruck.

I love my job, and my fa­vorite part of the job is talk­ing with lis­ten­ers. Those odd mo­ments with cer­tain loosed-tongued folks don’t ruin my af­fec­tion for them, but when they do hap­pen I am fas­ci­nated at th­ese in­di­vid­u­als’ need to be can­did. It brings to mind age-old ad­vice from youth:

When you have noth­ing nice – or flat­ter­ing – to say, please, please don’t say any­thing at all.

Melissa Carter is one of the Morn­ing Show hosts on B98.5. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. She is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and one of the few in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter@Melis­saCarter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.