Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Honesty

So when I'm in the car by myself, I'm pretty much a two-station kind of guy. I flip back and forth between two radio stations. If both stations are on commercial, I might try a third or just go for a CD but that doesn't happen very often.

My default station is 97.1 The Fan: Sports Radio. I like sports. I'm not a crazy sports fan who has the uniform and can't miss a game and gets his week/month/year ruined when his team loses. I don't know every latest headline from every major sport. I don't have strong opinions on sports-related controversies. I'm not that guy. But I do like sports radio.

I like sports radio for several reasons: First, it's talk radio. Don't get me wrong, I love music, and I'm only half-ashamed to admit that it pretty much made my night when Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" came on the radio last night. Music makes me feel good. But talk radio...I really like. I think maybe because it feels a little more useful. I like that. The station I flip to when 97.1 is on commercial is the local NPR station, which is kind of nerdy, but I'm kind of a nerd, so that works out. But I digress...

Sports radio is fun because typically the radio personalities are funny. A lot of the time it's two guys who make fun of each other and make fun of other people together and get really upset about really unimportant things. It's kind of like listening to these two college friends of mine, Brett and Tim, bicker with each other.

The one drawback of sports radio is that it can get old and annoying. When people who have really strong opinions just rant on and on and exaggerate about how bad something is, that's not fun. Sometimes it seems like the personalities are just that: a personality and not a real person. It has the ability to feel very fake.

However, yesterday, when I turned to 97.1 I heard something very different, and it was very refreshing.

Chris Spielman is a former OSU linebacker, and a great one. A two-time All-American, Chris went on to have a very successful pro career, mostly with the Detroit Lions. When his wife, Stefanie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 Chris took a year off from the NFL to be with her and his family. Since then, Chris and Stefanie have both done so much to raise awareness, support, and funding for cancer research.

Sadly, after a long battle with cancer Stefanie died last week. Yesterday was Chris' first day back on the job after her death, and I happened to be in the car to catch the very beginning of his show.

Chris took a few moments to honestly address his thoughts, feelings, and speak to his listeners about his own life. He acknowledged a sense of not-knowing what it would be like to do this show, especially this first show since his wife's death. He thanked his listeners for their support. Also, he asked that his listeners not go easy on him. A big part of sports radio is jawing at each other, listeners calling in and disagreeing with the hosts. And Chris didn't want that to change. Something about this statement just stuck out to me.

I liked how Chris acknowledged the relationship he has with his listeners. It's something I've never thought about before. Even though Chris has never met most of his listeners, he values the relationship he has with them.

I also liked how Chris took time to be honest and speak some truth out of his life. I'm not sure anyone would have blamed him if he just took a minute to thank his listeners for their support and that's it. But it was more than that.

As I continue to ramble I sense a lack of a sharp point to this post, so let me wrap this up. In a world where most of us are used to putting on masks and hiding the truth, where honesty is really difficult, it was especially refreshing to get it in a place where it's not expected. Thanks for sharing Chris.

And a question to pose, for those who like to think: Why is honesty so hard? Why is it hard to let people see and know the truth about us?