Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why Am I So Drawn to The Ticket?

I live in the D/FW area, where we have been blessed/cursed to have had an all-sports station known as The Ticket for 17 years running, which is an eon in radio terms. I avoided listening for the first few years, but got sucked in several years ago when there was no sports talk alternative. There are some other choices now, but like I said, I'm sucked in.

I've listened to sports-talk stations in this and other cities, and none of them compares. There's some undefinable something about this one station that has not been replicated anywhere. For me, it's The Ticket or nothing else.  I'm not alone, either. In the local ratings, The Ticket's numbers leave the competing stations in the dust.

The problem, of course, is that The Ticket, like soda or chocolate, is good for an occasional taste, but is quite addictive.

I've often tried to figure out why I am so drawn to this one station. and I have finally figured it out. It's no secret that this station's unique set of on-air personalities comes across as guys you'd like to know, talking about guy stuff: sports, movies, the assets of female celebrities, even a little bit of politics. Overly controversial issues are avoided. It's guy talk, like you'd engage in in a bar after work.

A big part of the allure is the fact that you think you know the guys. They may very well be putting on an act, but they make it sound like you're in on the conversation. This is not an earth-shaking revelation to anyone who's listened.

But here is what is a new revelation, at least to me: I'm at my best as a man when I have other men in my life. Not just guys hanging out, but men who will speak truth to me, build me up, guide me, and let me do the same for them. Men are made for that kind of community.

The problem is, The Ticket is just enough like that to be a sort of replacement for genuine male influence in my life. Maybe "replacement" isn't the word. Perhaps "counterfeit" is better. When I let the radio personalities fill that place in my life, it's a way of staying safe. I'm keeping them at a safe distance. I don't have to answer their questions, and I don't have to hear their troubles.

I have noticed that I'm at my best when I am part of a men's group at church, or if I have been camping with some men, or even when I coach baseball for a couple of months, and have several of the dads helping out. That's when I function best as a husband, father, and friend. And like candy, the faux fellowship I get from spending too much time listening to The Ticket tastes good at first, but ultimately is unsatisfying.

A lot of people will tell you that The Ticket should be avoided because they sometimes get a little off-color.  But the problem isn't what The Ticket is. The problem is what The Ticket isn't. It isn't a good substitute for the kind of friendships that men need.

How about you? Do you have genuine friendships with people in your life? Do you invite them in? Or do you, like me, tend to keep them in at a safe distance?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To be honest, my problem has always been the opposite. I'm very open and freely share my problems with others. Don't pull punches in my assessment of anything and happy to call a spade a spade (i.e. confront others). Sad thing is that I noticed about 4.5 years ago that it was always (95%+) one-sided and that was a devastating revelation. Since then, I have begun to withdraw myself and say what is the point. Hope you have better men in your circle...

rj