Listener Email: “Aaron, I’m Really Trying To Like You, But…”
While I usually keep my private messages, well, private, this one I had to share because I'm sure many people secretly wonder the same thing as Brynn, a listener from Missoula who writes:
Dear Aaron Traylor,
I'm really trying to like you, you seem like a good guy who is trying to support his community and make an honest living but I'm just hearing a lot of mixed messages on your show and I think it is your responsibility as a public figure to rally against forces of evil in our world like the image issues that plague young women? I've also noticed that during your show you seem to play that Big Sean song that essentially glorifies raping strippers a lot. I realize that you probably have little to do with this and its entirely an FCC thing but come on dude. This is just spoken from one person to another and I'm not trying to attack you. I'm a future teacher and I think that we have to be super careful about all of the messages we're sending youth via mass media because they are listening and internalizing everything we say and do! At the very least can the Big Sean song not be played anymore? And perhaps Jeremih? Come on the "it" in that song is literally a vagina! Alright that's my rant for the day! Take care!
Dear Devoted listener,
When I first started out in Top 40 radio I was very young and extremely impressionable. I'd party until the wee hours, objectify women and essentially live the lifestyle that this music promotes. I wanted to be like the stars on the radio! The lyrics then were just as gratuitous as the music today, and for a confused teenage kid trying to find his place in the world this lifestyle was all too intriguing to avoid. The pitch was an easy sale for me and my circle of friends: drinking "in da club", and not seeing anything wrong with a little "bump and grind" seemed all too fun at the time.
Growing up in this environment, I've literally lost friends. Many passed away from drug overdoses, committed suicide, some even raped. It occurred to me at an early age that if I continued to go down this slippery slope I'd end up just like them: Living a life of disrespecting women and abusing our own bodies. And then one month after bearing witness to a brutal rape at a club coupled with watching one of my dearest friends overdose on my couch from a cocktail drug he ingested I chose to make a difference within my surroundings.
Clearly I did not abandon my love for music, in fact I'm still very much surrounded by it. I'll forever be passionate about the way music moves people, yet I'm smarter with my choices in life and am now able to see this promoted lifestyle as a facade. Looking back, I just wish I had role models or someone in the scene that made a positive impact. Perhaps this might be the role in which I'm trying to take on? Why allow a host to continue to pressure today's youth to conform to this lifestyle when the music already does it well enough on it's own?
I've realized now what tools I've been blessed with. While attributes of a large fan base could be taken advantage of by some, I am cognizant of the potential I personally have to be able to communicate with listeners who may need all the guidance they can get. I've always felt that I was put in the trenches for a reason, and as a result must bloom where I'm planted. The music, which I really have no control of, will only get worse as future generations will continue to outdo their predecessors. That's why I attempt to offer positive messages in between the often negative clutter. I'm aware that it's a peculiar approach, and only time will tell if I succeed with this direction, but in the meantime it's the only platform I have to communicate. Then again, it might be the platform that needs this message the most?
In closing, I want to thank you for bringing up this concern as certainly you are not alone with this perception of me. I'm sure some peoples impression is that I'm trying to come across as a superhero or Good Samaritan, but may instead come off as counterfeit. Truth is, I'm simply attempting to be that one guy in a confused, disillusioned environment that people can look up to and approach when they need assistance in their life. Someone I wish I had around when I was much younger.