Radio is work. Radio is love.
That’s a good place to start on this Sunday morning with the birds chirping and the fan whirring rhythmically in the corner.
Yesterday, a Saturday in late June, Alexis and I attended five pretty big events. At each, I had a short conversation with about 20 people. That means I had about 100 short conversations yesterday.
What does 100 short conversations in a day to do you?
It reminds me that Radio is work, Radio is love. I don’t know why that one of Tolstoy’s most famous quips comes to me on this sunny Sunday morning, but it does.
Let’s review – the reason that I write this blog for the three or four of you is to preserve what it was like to live a life of local radio. My Radio Life. I talk a lot about me, which is at first made you and I a little uncomfortable, but after a while we got used to it.
And why is it important that we preserve a life of local radio?
Because radio is turning into something that is not radio. I’m certain of it. I lived the death of pit trading, which hung around for 170 years and then died on my watch. Now I’m into radio. This is dying too. I am not afraid of its death. I will enjoy, and record, the beauty of the death of a grand old soul. We’ll do it together.
And to truly understand radio, you have to have some level of comfort with Tolstoy’s most famous quote:
One can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love.
Without an understanding of what this means, it will be difficult to understand the truth behind My Radio Life, because it is all based on work and love.
Yesterday is a pretty good example of Radio is work, Radio is love.
8am – Alexis and I attended yoga class at Lincoln Center in Highland. Ray Candelaria teaches it. We’re like Ray Candelaria yoga disciples. Ray is really my friend since high school, or so I thought, until I realized that he used to hang around the pool at Koscziuzko Park in East Chicago with Alexis as a kid. I am jealous of this. I didn’t get to admire my wife until I was 26. I am jealous of Ray and any other guy who got to admire her before I did.
Ray survived cancer and turned into a yoga fanatic. Now he’s turning Alexis and I into yogists. Today, we may even go to his hot yoga class at 1:30 on a beautiful afternoon.
10:30 – We left for Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago to join 40,000 others to retire Mark Buerhle’s jersey number. What a great ceremony. Frank Thomas talked. So did Jerry Reinsdorf and Beuerhle himself. If you’re a man of a certain age and a baseball player that you watched for years has his number retired, you tear up behind your cheeks. This happened several times, especially when Thomas spoke about how Buerhle never got flustered on the mound and when they played all 27 outs of Buerhle’s perfect game on the big screen. I wore sunglasses, so it wasn’t noticeable. But if any of the three or four of you has been a baseball fan since before you were born, then you sometimes cry just a little bit when something huge happens in baseball. You can’t explain the emotional attachment… but see the Tolstoy comment above and adjust it slightly:
One can live magnificently if one works enough to be able to watch a lot of baseball.
This line of thinking, I know, strays from the essence of Tolstoy’s comment. In the purest sense, work is work and should be done as an end in itself. You don’t work to be able to make money to do something else. Work is an end in itself, not a means to be able to go to baseball games. It’s a fine yet important distinction.
Anyways, the Sox game was a Purdue Northwest event. Chancellor Tom Keon and I talk regularly about what Purdue means to northwest Indiana and we banter about Big Ideas, which are always dangerous. Chancellor hosted the event with his wife Kimberley and a whole bunch of other folks in and around the PNW community, which Alexis and I are no doubt part of.
Alexis’s radio stations (notice how I put that) are on the campus of the PNW Commercialization Center. That’s probably the most visible connection to Purdue… but not nearly the strongest. Alexis went to school there while having children and running our family. And I’ve been hanging out on the campus since before I was born. It’s a deep connection to a university and one that I am proud of.
I’m also proud of my nephew Craig, by the way. There weren’t that many true baseball fans in the suite that Purdue rented for the game, but every last one who is a true baseball fan came up to talk about our nephew…. even a guy who works for the White Sox. Craig, as mentioned, got drafted by the Sox in the ninth round and is currently batting 458 in the Montana Rookie League at the White Sox affiliate in Great Falls.
Will Craig make it to the bigs? Who knows? But I can tell you this, every damn baseball fan from northwest Indiana is certainly hoping that he does.
We left the White Sox game in the fourth inning. Shields had already given up two home runs and the Sox were down 6-0. So much for continuing the good energy developed by the Buerhle celebration.
Then Alexis and I skidaddled back to the Calumet Region to attend four parties. Three were graduations – Kristen Chavez from Munster High, Eric Wood from Highland, and Megan Whelan from Bishop Noll Institute. Every one of these parties had a great feast and great kids graduating. I won’t go into all of the conversations and feasts at these parties, just know that both Alexis and I were hoarse by the time we got home around midnight.
At the Wood party, I ran into Karen Wood. I’ve known Karen for 40 years. Her brother Dennis and I as wayward youths used to do a lot of damage to ourselves and to the surrounding community. Sometimes Karen would hang out in the park across the street from my house and I would go over and talk to her. And once she was in the hospital and I went to see her. Karen is capable of a lot of things, and one of them is what Tolstoy is referring to – love.
I can tell you this – of all of the 100 short conversations that I had yesterday, the one I cherish most, by far, is talking and hugging and kissing Karen Wood. If I have to explain why, then you don’t understand Tolstoy’s comment and you may not ever.
…. So both love and work were part of the five events that we attended yesterday. Love leads the list in that I got to spend the whole day travelling around with the big love. Although I was a little bit frustrated that so many cool things were going on in one day, I did look forward to the day in that I got to have Alexis all to myself on the journey. With radio and school and law practice and children and family and doctor’s appointments and you name it, I don’t normally get my wife for the whole day. I did yesterday and Tolstoy would understand why this was so cool even if you don’t. As a matter of fact, at this juncture another Tolstoy quote is appropriate.
Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
In Tolstoy’s world, this gives the edge to love over work as the ultimate purpose and salvation, and I’ve got to agree with him. As much as I immerse myself in living a life of local radio, in working in radio, it is love that makes my eyes water. I feel it when I’m driving down the Dan Ryan from the Sox game and my wife’s telling me a story and I want to kiss her lips. It is love that I feel when I kiss the cheek of Karen Wood for a photo. It is love that I feel when I ask my daughter to help me figure out how to do an assignment for an online business course, and she shows me. It is love for a whole community that I feel when I get home at midnight and lay down and try to think of all of the people who came up to me and said something about WJOB. People describe how they listen on the way to work or how they like or dislike a certain caller or how they like a story that I told about something in my past… Others have complaints about the dead air that we experience from time to time or about the political views of a guest or caller. It’s all the same. It is radio. It is the Calumet Region. And it is love.
Of course, some of what we did yesterday was related to work, not just love. One certainly can live magnificently if one knows how to work…. And in my world, as the three or four of you have to understand by now, it’s a lot easier for me to live a life magnificently if radio is my work. It’s just how it is. Living magnificently through work is different for all of us. For me, it’s radio and radio alone. This may change over time, but for now I’ve got to quit writing this blog for the three or four of you so that I can drive down to the station on the campus of the Purdue Commercialization Center and fix a couple computers and review some invoices.
Work, radio, love, complaints, affection, exhaustion, love. That’s enough for a Sunday morning with the birds chirping and the fan whirring rhythmically in the corner. 1706 words should be enough.
It’s 3:57 on a Friday morning and the only way I can find the time to sit down and blog to the three or four of you about My Radio Life is to wake up an hour early and do it.
Yesterday I went a few doors down from the Purdue Commercialization Center where our WJOB studios are located and met a guy who was supposed to look like me and talk like me. His name’s Epo (pronounced Eppo). He’s a Puerto Rican guy from the Calumet section of East Chicago who used to work at US Gypsum. That’s where Epo met Ramon.
As the three or four of you know, I write this blog to record what it’s like to live a life of local radio. My theory is that in a few years there may not be any of us left. It will be good to remember what it was like.
But this, to use the parlance of the day, is not my first rodeo. I also lived a life of local trading that went away. Let me explain.
It’s Saturday morning. Last night, Alexis and I and daughter Jackie went to Centennial Park in Munster to watch Kashmir play a bunch of Led Zeppelin. You can look far and wide, but you will not find a better Led Zeppelin band… outside of Led Zeppelin.
Kashmir is the guitar player, Jimmy Page style. He even looks like Page, with the long hair and the skinny body and one-piece body suit. Kashmir does a great job of staying in character, even off the stage. The only local musician that I’ve seen approach Kashmir in terms of raw musical talent is Skafish back in the day, and, of course, Michael Jackson. After that, you’re into the bottom half of the top ten, if you’re lucky.