5 Years Later, I Can Still Remember It As If It Were Yesterday [PHOTOS]
5 years.... man... where does the time go. The day that Michael Jackson died will be one that I will never forget, for many reasons.
I was working in Seattle as the Music Director for a Rhythmic AC station. MJ was a core artist for us, and was always one of the most requested artists on a weekly basis. We were all excited for the upcoming tour Michael was working on over in London, and just 4 days prior put the final pieces together to send a couple of listeners over to London for one of the shows. It was exciting times in the hallways.
The morning news cycle was dominated by the death of Farrah Fawcett. The morning show was doing bits about the female members of the show pretending to be Charlie's Angels. Pretty "typical" day in RadioLand, actually.
Just as I finally got to sit down behind my desk and start getting some of my daily workload done, the first reports started to roll in about Michael being sent to the hospital. The jocks covered it as they would any other artist, and I kept an eye on it while continuing my work.
Then the text came. A good friend and fellow radio person sent me "Dude... TMZ is reporting MJ is dead!"
Now... I'm one to always take anything that TMZ reports with a grain of salt. They are, after all, mainly a gossip site... and we're talking the death of one of the most iconic artists of all time. Needing to get back to work, but not wanting to lose this lead, I asked one of the interns to start checking all the major news outlet's websites looking for something that resembles hard evidence. After doing that, I slammed through my work so I could sit down with my boss and figure out what we were going to do if this were, in fact, true.
Confirmation came 10 minutes later. 10 minutes after that, our phone lines were flooded with listeners asking if it was true. Hearing the heartbreak on the other end of the line when I had to confirm the news was some of the hardest calls I've ever had to take in the studio.
Immediately, my boss and I jumped into high gear. Everything about the station changed in a matter of minutes to celebrate the life and legacy of the Iconic Michael Jackson.
That is, by far, the most memorable day in my Radio career. While I had the unfortunate position of informing a lot of people that their favorite artist was now dead, I also got to be there as a shoulder to cry on. I got to play their favorite Michael Jackson songs while we talked about the memories he helped them create. I got the chance to celebrate the life and legacy of the most iconic artist I've ever known.
For a couple of years leading up to that day, I wondered why I continued in this business of long hours and high stress. That day, I gained a moment of clarity that reminded me. I love what I do. Every day, I get to come in and make an impact on someone's day. I can play a song that makes them feel happy, I can sit and listen to them on the phone while they vent about whatever, I can give them a prize that helped them come out of a bad situation on top, I get to help people. Now... I don't get to help them like an Emergency Responder would be able to... but I get to something to make their day better.)
It took an Iconic artist to remind me why I wanted to do this in the first place. Isn't that what the good artists do though? Remind us about the good, and help us see through the bad to the amazing.
Michael, you are a legend. I will never forget the impact you had on my life.