Friday morning, I received the greatest generic e-mail criticism of my entire radio career. The listener, who did not identify himself or herself, and whose name was not apparent from the e-mail address, wrote, “I was really offended by that thing you did on your show yesterday.”

That was the entire message.

Now, I do 20 hours of live radio every week, and I guarantee that — in our hypersensitive times — there’s always someone offended by something, even those things that would seem completely inoffensive to 99.9% of the audience.

The irony about Friday’s e-mail was its remarkable lack of specificity. Whoever you are, I have no idea what you didn’t like or why. It would have been just as baffling if you had written, “I really loved that thing you did on your show yesterday.” Okay, fine, thanks for the feedback.

I wonder if the e-mailer in question has ever done this with any other business:

  • To a restaurant owner, “I really didn’t like the taste of that thing I ate.”
  • To a road repair crew, “That street I drove on needs a lot of work.”
  • To an author, “I didn’t appreciate you using that punctuation.”
  • To an architect, “I don’t like that doorway in that building.”

The truth is, as almost any content provider in any medium can tell you (and probably most businesses in general), we tend to hear from people with negative comments a lot more often than those with positive comments. That doesn’t mean we’re not doing well, it’s just rare that someone sits down and types, “I enjoy your show, keep up the good work.” I’m not begging for more appreciation, just pointing out that people keep compliments to themselves, but critics never hold back.

There’s nothing I can do about that, but I don’t mind getting comments from people about my show (or this website) either way. That’s why I give out my e-mail address and read and reply to every single correspondence.

After telling this story on the air Friday afternoon, I received the following e-mail from Tom Diehl, who not only included his name on his message, but has a real sense of humor:


How could you NOT know what that thing was? You know, it was right after some commercials, when you were talking with what’s their name, before you talked with this guest about something or another. C’mon, you should remember. It was when everyone was driving home.

It reminds me of something a woman would say to her husband:

“What did I do?”
“You know what you did.”
“No, what?!?!? Tell me.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Just don’t you EVER do that again.”

Still scratching my head trying to figure out how your show could offend.

Thanks, Tom, both for the kind words, and for not using that phrase I can’t stand. You know the one I’m talking about.