Work-life balance – many aren’t sure if it even exists. Personally, I still struggle to find it. Throughout my career working in radio, both behind the scenes and as a DJ and radio personality, I have always had to compromise parts of my life in order to be successful in this demanding industry. Moving from city to city, gaining weight, working long hours and dealing with high pressure situations were just a few of the challenges I had to overcome in order to thrive as a woman in media. For years, I struggled to find that balance I so desperately needed as a single mother. For the majority of my career, I was frantically trying to manage my career without compromising my responsibilities as a mother. I constantly was running around with my son on my hip and it took a toll on our family life, even though it was just the two of us.
Working in radio had always been a dream of mine. I attended Emerson College, one of the top institutions for broadcast and radio and got my start in radio doing an entertainment report in Boston thanks to Stephen Hill. In the early parts of my career, I was in programming, assisting with the music rotation, content and marketing. I moved a lot during the first few years to cities like Detroit, Chicago, Philly, Los Angeles and Boston. I have been in New York for 11 years, where I currently host the midday slot at Power 105.1. As I traveled across the United States and continued to seek better opportunities for myself, I was also trying to be everything to everyone, especially my son. Since I had him at a young age, our relationship morphed into that of a brother and sister more so than mother and son. We depended on each other deeply. He was my roadie and although you love your children and enjoy spending time with them, I definitely spent a lot more time with him than most parents. But it was the way that I kept my life balanced
I’ll be very honest in saying that, like in many industries, when you start out in radio money is not rolling in. People assume that because of the high visibility we get for being on the radio, our checks are some astronomical thing, but it’s really difficult. Due to this reality, I couldn’t afford a sitter and thus most of the time my son would come with me to do my 6pm-10pm shift at the station. It was crazy! Can you imagine juggling a high-strung radio show and a high-strung child? Picture this: You have 20 seconds until a talk break and your kid does something to take your attention away from your show. Disastrous and risky. I can remember scolding him or coaching him through homework in between my talk breaks or during commercial breaks running to the kitchen to heat up dinner in the microwave. I’ve always kept it professional on air, however. No one would have imagined what was happening behind the scenes. There was rarely ever a drama-free day, even if I managed to get a sitter. I had a nightly mix with my DJ and I would have to excuse myself to go to a quiet area to calm down any situation the sitter couldn’t handle. We had a nightly ritual of saying our prayers together, so again I had to excuse myself at his bedtime (8:30 pm) since he insisted this was the only way he could “have a good night’s sleep.”
Most employees look forward to the weekend, but those weren’t easy either. Being in the media is more than a blessing and the more personable you are, the better. Your ability to develop and leverage relationships is what helps your brand and visibility. I needed to be more of a social butterfly, and 95 percent of the time I just couldn’t get away. So I may have missed some opportunities or could have done more, but at the time, my priority was being a good mother to my son. I think the most difficult thing about working in media is that you travel to where the job is, and where my job was, my family wasn’t. I just didn’t trust anyone with my baby and having no support system makes everything a lot more challenging. I think back on how things would be if I had a family member or husband to help take the load off of me. I probably would be a lot further. I don’t regret the way things have happened, although I could’ve been a little more selfish.
After years of this hassle and stress, I finally caved. I needed a break — not just for me, but for my career as well. Now that my son has grown into a man, I have more time to focus on my career, my relationships and myself. It’s my time now. As women, we often don’t realize the sacrifices that we will have to make when we become mothers and wives. However, I believe that it is all possible. True balance will never be achieved. Life isn’t designed that way, but we do have the power to make it work for us and to have it all: the house, love, career and children. All it takes is a decision and a very understanding boss.
Cherry Martinez is a expert in radio broadcasting, a New York DJ and media personality as well as the host of Power 105.1’s midday show from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram to get the latest #CherryJuice.