One of my first bosses in broadcasting was the owner, general manager, and head salesman of the company. He loved self-promotion. It seemed like Gary (not his actual name) engaged in it at every opportunity at least every day. I took this quality for granted, because the survival of the small-market radio station depended upon always keeping the station’s call-letters in the public’s mind. When it came to self promotion, Gary was a natural, a seasoned pro, and somewhat of a bore.
One of his favorite go-to sayings was, “Toot your own horn.” He touted it during staff meetings, he trumpeted it in the general office area, and reminded us deejays to toot our own horn during our air shifts.
On-air broadcasting is an ego-powered profession. I had a love/hate relationship with the self-promotion part of it. On the one hand, I chose radio as a way to “cure” my inborn shyness. On the other hand, bragging is thought of as a negative character trait. To toot my own horn felt uncomfortable, so I focused on promoting the radio station and its call-letters at every opportunity, even when I was off-duty. Gary had no problem with my focus on the station and didn’t worry that I was a bit reticent about self-promotion.
This basic philosophy regarding self-promotion and station promotion was present at other radio stations that employed me. Eventually, I became much more comfortable with the need to promote my music shows along with station promotion.
During the final years of my career, competition among Northeast Nebraska radio stations became heated. That meant station promotion became more important. County fair appearances, home and garden expos, business grand openings, and community events became venues for station and self-promotion. Careful planning about our presence at these events took place during staff meetings. Our on-air promotions touted our station’s presence at the events. We encouraged our audience to attend the events and to greet us personally when they did.
Now that I’m retired from that profession, there is less overt pressure from outsiders to toot my own horn. It has taken quite awhile to decompress from the pressure of having to toot my own horn. The practice has dwindled down to a minimum with my subdued presence on social media and, of course, this blog. When all is said and done, my temperament is still averse to bold self-promotion. I use it mainly because there is still a small part of my ego that loves the limelight.
The Blue Jay of Happiness agrees with drummer and joint frontman for Jimmy Fallon’s teevee band “The Roots”, Questlove aka Ahmir Khalib Thompson. “I really appreciate when people use their fame and their voice for more than just self-promotion; starting dialogue about a topic or an issue much bigger than themselves.”