by Tracy Johnson
Baseball restarts this week. Finally. That makes this the perfect time for a baseball lesson for radio personalities. Recently, a client told me a portion of the audience was outraged because of a message he posted on social media. The message wasn’t controversial. It was information from the state’s top medical official that explained why wearing a mask is important. The message was thoughtful. But here came the haters. Of course. My client was frustrated. It reminded me of the importance of being like Mr. October.
Reggie Jackson was one of the most quotable and colorful players in the history of baseball. He once described himself as “The Straw That Stirs The Drink.” Reggie was bold. He was colorful. And he was memorable.
Reggie’s hubris made him a lightning rod of controversy in his 20-year career. His flair for the dramatic made him a legend in New York City, making him a celebrity. He earned the nickname Mr. October, a reference to how well he performed in the World Series (played in October).
Jackson is a Hall of Famer. He was known for great success, hitting majestic home runs, including many at the most important, dramatic times possible. And he was known as one of baseball’s biggest failures. Reggie was one of the era’s leaders in striking out.
Jackson’s flair for the dramatic punctuated his considerable achievements. He hit three consecutive home runs in the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mr. October was born.
Jackson was a great major league player but was even more special because he understood that he was an entertainer.
At home, Yankee fans chanted, “Reg-gie, Reg-gie” when he came to bat.
But he was greeted by boos every time he stepped to the plate on the road.
And not just boos.
Opposing fans cursed at him. They threw things from the stands and hurled insults at him and his family.
Reggie got a reaction. He caused emotional responses.
He knew who he was. And he had the courage to be himself with no apologies. Sometimes his opinions didn’t go over well. He often rubbed his bosses (manager Billy Martin and owner George Steinbrenner) the wrong way. And the media had a love/hate relationship with Reggie.
Reggie didn’t care. Criticism comes with fame.
The 70s were a long time ago, so you may be wondering how famous he was. Reggie’s popularity went beyond baseball fans. There was even a Reggie candy bar.
It’s easy to go with the flow. Most broadcasters try to avoid controversy. Stations and personalities go out of their way to play it safe.
Then they prepare another average show for the next day.
It’s okay for DJs to avoid the spotlight. But it’s not okay for personalities.
Great personalities stand out. And that comes with criticism.
Do you want to be the best? Prepare for a few boos. Listeners will complain. That’s okay. Building a passionate fan base means taking a stand for something.
The alternative is to languish in the zone of mediocrity.
Reggie was asked how it felt to hear fans shower him with boos.
They don’t boo nobodies.
Stand up and be counted. Dare to be great. Be somebody. And do it boldly and with conviction.
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