A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is – full of surprises. – Isaac Bashevis Singer*
My career in radio was a fast-track: starting as a rookie Account Executive in January 1997, promoted to General Sales Manager in 1999 and on to Station Manager, 2005.
I learned a lot about the element of surprise, especially in programming, it’s intentional. However, the ultimate element of surprise remains my exit story.
In 2005, I was General Sales Manager of the #1 billing, heritage news talk station, 740-AM KRMG. Our veteran morning show host, John Erling signed-off after a 29 year on-air career with the Tulsa station.
It was a major change for John Erling, our listeners and advertisers, the on-air staff and my sales team. A lot of work went into the execution of that change. For most people, July 28, 2005 was shocking, a big surprise.
The Format Change
Now, imagine a 19 year old male listener of Rock 102.3 (KRTQ-FM) – an active rock format. See him slide behind the wheel, half awake as he starts his car; watch the look on his face as his pre-set radio blasts Amy Grant singing her rendition of “El Shaddai”. Yes, the phone lines lit up, “What the…?”
For the first time in his life he was “listening to” a contemporary Christian music radio station. A bit confused, he rubs the sleep out of his eyes and double checks the radio dial; sure enough the digital display shows: 102.3 FM.
He scratches his head, wondering what’s happened to his station. Such was the experience of a few listeners in 2005 right around Thanksgiving. Surprise.
The Story Continues
Now, picture a young mother loading her kids into her minivan; it’s time to drop them off at school. As a loyal listener of KKCM she loves the new contemporary Christian music station 102.3-FM (KKCM). (Yes, this is the station that replaced the young active rocker’s favorite station KRTQ.)
Today, she looks at her car radio with that confused look; the radio shows 102.3 FM but she finds herself listening to a “breaking news” report about a murder last night…not Amy Grant.
KKCM-FM has been flipped to News Talk 102.3 KRMG-FM. Surprise.
What about the Boy Scouts?
Do you remember the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared?
A scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.
Although I think I understand what Robert Baden-Powell meant, I wonder if its realistic: never taken by surprise.
“Surprised” is pretty normal these days … maybe since the beginning of time?
Life with surprises would lack
- feelings of wonder, especially at something unexpected
- unexpected gifts
- tricking someone into do something
Surprise brings life to life.
The Story is Filled with Surprise
In Oklahoma City many were surprised when a Denver businessman bought OPUBCO after 100 years of “family control” and local ownership.
The Journal Record reports this transaction as an “End of an era…”
Denver petroleum businessman Philip Anschutz will buy OPUBCO and all of its assets, including The Oklahoman newspaper, NewsOK.com, the corporate tower in northwest Oklahoma City, hotels and other real estate interests, company officials said in a story published by the newspaper Thursday. The Gaylord and Dickinson families have controlled OPUBCO for more than 100 years.
Newspaper columnist, Joan Gilmore started her career in the early 1950’s with the newspaper…
To say I’m speechless would be an understatement. Never, ever, did I think the Oklahoma Publishing Co. would be sold – to anyone.
Speechless is pretty normal today, too.
How to Handle the Speechless Moments
The number of people who are surprised by downsizing and layoffs is historic.
It seems Issac Singer got it right when he wrote, “A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is – full of surprises.”
Here are five suggestions for managing the surprises of the Story.
1. Stay Attentive
Paying attention to the Story can help us pick up on the clues. The ability to make sense of the story – even after the fact – is supportive to our ability to move forward
2. Be Adaptable
Flexibility supports growth, especially when facing sudden change
3. Stay Anchored
Life can be stormy; avoid panic by exercising faith and cultivating confidence
4. Seek Connections
Solid relationships are valuable, all the more when taken by surprise; we really do need each other
5. Cultivate Openness
Receptivity to the NEW possibilities is big; asking “What now…?” instead of “Now what!?” helps us write the next chapter
What is the “surprise” in your Story?
How did you or are you responding to the surprise?
Please comment below.
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*Isaac Bashevis Singer. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved September 16, 2011, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/i/isaacbashe117212.html