WILLIAMS: What I learned from a roller coaster of a week

Along with five of my colleagues, I was fired last Tuesday morning from 1460 KXnO and i’Heart Media.

We didn’t just get fired. We got canned! Didn’t see it coming from anywhere! No warning at all. 

Then we were re-hired on Thursday. I know … awkward! 

The details of everything in between are not relevant for this particular column. Perhaps I will include that in a book 20 years from now that none of you will buy. 

In all seriousness, as is the case with all of the positives and negatives that life offers, I attempted to use the last week as a time to reflect and learn to be a better man going forward. 

My biggest takeaway: Relationships are everything in life. The rest of the “stuff” out there is just noise. 

Along with some great leadership by awesome co-workers, this is the only reason we are all going back to work Tuesday on a signal that is five times larger than 1460 (106.3 FM). 

The relationships with our audience. 

The relationships with advertisers. 

That one giant relationship with our community. 

Pardon some “inside media” jargon but here I go, as I like to think this is larger look at society. 

This world is so different today than it was back in say, 2000. From how the stock market works to having less reliance on mail, to how we shop and the way that news travels.

Everything is global and most things are instant. 

In the ’90s, if you were a media personality and weren’t on the radio, television or a columnist in the paper, you weren’t a media personality. You couldn’t be.

Back then, connecting with your audience was next to impossible as social media didn’t exist. The only way gather feedback from the people watching (or listening) was a phone call or snail mail. 

Pro tip: The overwhelming majority of listeners to a talk radio show or readers of a website like this are simply lurkers. Most people never pick up that phone, regardless of how you make them feel. It’s just how human beings are wired, apparently.

Think about the insanity of the following: Back in the day, consistent readers of a newspaper felt like they knew their favorite columnist simply because of that little picture above the byline and the fact that these guys used a little bit of “voice” in their writing. 

That is insane to me!

These days, a guy “named” Ted Flint can create a cult-like following based on his love of the Cyclones and cheap whiskey on Twitter. 

For the last five years, Ross Peterson and I have given you 15 live hours a week where we really take time to connect with our audience. We talk about sports mainly but within those conversations, share our lives. The good (the birth of our kids), the bad (the death of relatives) and the embarrassing (accidentally taking a laxative for 14 months). Everything is fair game. 

Right or wrong, I have chosen to be very vulnerable during my time in this profession. Where I come from, authenticity is the key to any relationship working. I can tell when somebody is BSing me by the way they shake my hand. The same goes for the digital relationship I have with all of you. If I came on “Instant Reaction” Saturday after Iowa State was decimated by Texas Tech and said that the Cyclones played well, that isn’t authentic at all and therefore, why would you want to associate with me going forward? Why would you want to take time to “hang out” with a liar?

You wouldn’t.

The way we approach the world is different these days, and it’s for the better. That’s why last week’s big reversal went down. 

Relationships with our audience, advertisers and community. For that, I thank you. 

I like to think that we have been ahead of this revelation for 10 years here at Cyclone Fanatic. When our current ownership group took over in the summer of 2009, our goal was to create not only a much-needed Iowa State focused media outlet, but a brand. I wanted to take the already vibrant message board community and expand that and allow our audience to put real faces with those names. 

Since then, we have hosted hundreds of game watches, Cyclone themed parties, bus trips, bowl charters and charity fundraisers. 

Resulting from this, I have heard stories of lifelong friendships that were formed, which I too have experienced. 

My hope that when you log onto Cyclone Fanatic every day, you feel like you are a part of a community – because you are. 

The same goes for our sponsors and advertisers. They tell me this daily: The reason they stick around is because of the support and value they get from this very unique community. 

It’s incredible, and we saw the value of relationships and community via the 1460 KXnO drama over the last seven days.

We should all strive to take something positive from anything that life throws our way. 

I have always been a workaholic. I come by it naturally and if we’re being honest, don’t see that stopping anytime soon. But what I did learn in the last week is that while jobs and opportunities will come and go, relationships last forever

So I’d encourage you all today to pick up a pen and write a thank you note. Take somebody out for coffee. Give a co-worker a hug. When you’re at rock bottom, you learn who is with you through thick or thin. I learned that last week, and looking back, I am grateful that it happened. 

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