“I Don’t Get Any Respect – Do You?”

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield was well known for that catchphrase. When he told jokes about how badly his life was going, he would follow them up with that line to summarise how he felt.

As a radio person, have you ever felt something similar?

Musicians, artists, comedians, actors, dentists, pilots, lawyers…they all gain respect from society. We hear that a 25-year-old actor has been offered a minor role on a TV show and watch as others “Ooh” and “Aah” over the achievement. And it IS an achievement…no doubt about that. However…

If a 25-year-old lands a weekend gig on the number three FM station in the market, the response is usually more muted (if it exists at all). 

So, why is this?

What is it about our profession that encourages a blase reaction?

Could it be that it’s not seen as a ‘real’ job? Possibly, but acting or singing are not ‘real’ jobs either, so that’s that argument out the window.

Here’s my theory:

People’s impressions of others exist in a hierarchal system based on their own abilities, ambitions and perceptions.

A top sportsperson is admired because we can’t ever see ourselves reaching those heights in that field. It’s the same with a musician or singer. They have talent that we don’t and we live vicariously through them. Actors possess a talent we can’t imitate.

What is it you do for a living?

You speak and play recorded music.

The majority of people you know can also speak and also know how to play recorded music.

So, in a sense, they see your job as attainable. They feel under-whelmed because the mystery of “how do they do it?” is absent.

It’s why you always hear:

“I’d be great on the radio…I love to talk”.

“You play music and talk for a living? How do I get that job?”.

“You’ve got a handy number…listening to music all day”.

Because they feel they can do what you do, the respect for what you do will be missing.

We all know that being successful on the radio takes natural talent (of course) and then years of training and perfecting. That’s never stops.

If you lack the talent, you will fail on air. This is obvious when people from other media attempt to host shows…most of the time they fall flat on their faces (with some exceptions).

However, here’s the positive.

Ever watch a football match on TV?

Notice the referee?

If you notice the ref too much, then that person is not performing their job well. A good referee will allow the game to flow. It’s about what they don’t do as much as what they actually do.

Go to the theatre and notice how the set is dressed. Without it, the play suffers. With it, the actors and script come to life. 

That’s how it is with you too.

The fact that the general public believes you have an easy job that they could effortlessly execute is actually a testament to how well you are performing.

They’re not supposed to know how you crafted your link or knew exactly when to hit the next element so that it would sound perfect, or the way you brought your tone down on a specific word for impact or slowed the pace halfway through your link…or any of the myriad skills you bring to your show every day.

In the same way, the theatregoers are not supposed to see the backstage pulleys and cables that keep the set in place.

“I’d love your job” is actually a compliment. 

That’s the ‘respect’.

“You have a handy gig” and “I’d be great on the radio” are compliments.

You are the invisible referee…without you, the game won’t flow properly.

It’s your skill and talent that complements the magic.

Oh and for the person who says “I’d be great on the radio, I could talk all day”. You’re the LAST person we’d need on air!!

It’s what you leave out, not what you put in that matters.


By Nails Mahoney