My wife is not always thrilled with what I choose to blog about. She’s not always happy when I talk about our lives in my day job as a radio host.
And despite the fact I do it anyway, I’m acutely aware the day is coming, sooner than I’d like, when I’m going to get blowback not just from my wife, but from my sons as well.
“But it’s my job,” I will say.
There’s a scene in Howard Stern‘s Private Parts where he has a mock conversation with God and confesses all the feelings he’s having after his wife’s miscarriage. While he’s sharing his feelings, he exposes her situation to the audience.
Later, when he comes home, they have it out.
How could you do that? Do you think that was funny? You think it’s funny to make jokes about our personal life like that?
What are you talking about? Alison, I love you. What are you talking about?
Howard, not everything is for your audience. I need a life that is ours, that belongs to us.
Come on, last night we were laughing about this. I just assumed you thought it was funny.
It was funny for us last night. Privately, for us.
Alison, if I don’t talk about you and me on the air…
Shut up. Shut up.
The audience isn’t gonna be there.
Shut up! Shut up!
I won’t make any money.
Shut up! You disgust me! I can’t even look at you, idiot!
Replace “wife” for “child,” “radio show” for “blog,” and you might see this sort of conversation happening around kitchen tables in a few years when our kids get older and react to the way we “sold them out” for the sake of page views.
At the Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans this weekend, the producer for NBC tv show Parenthood, Jason Katims, gave a keynote. As in the show, Katims’ son has Aspergers, and the breast cancer storyline was created after his own wife went through treatment for the disease.
Katims explains that writing the stories is, “cathartic as a writer, but also connects with people. So when I saw my wife go through breast cancer, I felt like it was a story to tell because it was so life altering.”
But he also admitted there will be times when he’ll be watching the show with his wife and a moment from their lives will be reenacted and she’ll turn to him and say “Really? That too?”
Look at the Gosselin twins. Was it disdain for their mother parading them around cameras (again) or just normal teenage surliness that turned a Today Show appearance reacting to a People Magazine article into one of the most awkward interviews ever?
Likely a little bit of both.
Kidd Kraddick was one of the best radio personalities in the business before he suddenly passed away last summer.
A week before he collapsed at a golf tournament, he had lunch with his daughter. Her life, from infancy through awkward tween and teen years, had been fodder for his radio program. Now she was 23, he was about to get remarried and he needed to try and build a bridge back to his daughter.
He apologized. He said he was sorry for talking about her personal life on the radio for all those years, for getting her into trouble with friends by revealing details on air that, to a teenager, had been mortifying. His formula for radio—keeping it real, letting listeners into his own life—had meant that everyone around him became material for his show. Any personal moment might be spun into a story for his listeners. Sometimes, in the pressure to fill four hours of air time, he couldn’t resist telling the stories, no matter the cost to those around him.
“That was the first time he had said, I’m sorry for subjecting you to all of this,’¯” Caroline says. ‘I was a little taken aback when he said it.’”
That article about Kraddick really sat me down. I’ve got my feet in both worlds. I’m a radio host and a blogger. My life is fodder 24/7. I’m exposing my kids and wife with stories on the radio every day, and then pictures and videos and articles on my websites. I’m hitting them twice.
Will there be a moment when I will need to apologize for commoditizing our lives for storylines at my work? Is that time already here?
I will likely have to apologize to my wife for the picture at the right. I love it, my wife isn’t a fan. Sorry, honey, you’re beautiful and so is the pic.
Unlike some, I don’t share everything on the radio and my blogs. What I write and talk about is mostly a humblebrag, a highlight reel of sorts with just the good times being shared. Still, there are times when I’ve exposed my family with ourtrageousness. In the fall of 2012 I wrote about having a favorite son and the story was picked up by publications (Internet, print, broadcast) literally around the world.
I will have to talk to Charlie about that and explain what it really was about and trust that his life experience has been filled with love and he doesn’t feel second rate.
I will have to apologize to my kids.
But the worst part is, despite the apologies that will be forthcoming, this is my life. This is what I do for a living. I get paid to share, and so I will keep sharing.
How do you handle your family’s reaction to what you write? Do you temper what you share? Do you defend it as your job? Have you had to apologize yet?