It’s raining all over the Region.
It’s the middle of the night. Some of us since we were kids wake up when it’s storming out. It’s not that we’re scared. It’s more like we want to be awake when something really bad does happen.
I have to remind myself that I’m writing this blog not only for the three or four, but also for broadcasting students 50 years from now. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily frenzy and not take the time to tell you my story.
At WJOB, we are in the midst of a huge transition from radio to mobile video. I cannot predict what will be more important in six months, radio or video. Today, Friday, August 17, 2018, we begin the WJOB Network.
We start by broadcasting two high school football games in video and on the radio.
Hammond Gavit @ Calumet
Highland @ Hammond Morton
We plan to broadcast these games to WJOBNetwork.com, IHSAAtv.org, and, if they let us, to Facebook.com/wjob.1230. Streaming video is a fragmented market. And we’re as fragmented and frazzled as they come.
We’re sending out five-person teams to both sites. At Calumet, Jimmy Mullaney leads the production team and Ryan Walsh and Ken Croner announce. At Morton, Ben Cowart leads the production team and Sam Michel and Peter Krukowski announce. The big challenge is Internet. If there’s not enough of it, we can’t push out the streams to multiple locations. Also, at Calumet, we’re using my old Mac laptop. We’re worried that it will crash.
These are just some of the possible things that can go wrong. There are many more. For the first time, we are running video commercials in the broadcasts. Until now, we have simply run radio commercials for the audio and the video was just blank or a long view of the field or court. Now, we’re making video commercials for all of our sponsors. It’s taking forever and I’m not sure that we’ll get it done by 6pm tonight.
Debbie Wargo, Darya Maroz, Christina Figueroa and I went to sell to a client yesterday in Merrillville. After hearing all that we are doing with video, the client turned to me and said – “Boy, you’re working a lot these days, aren’t you?”
I didn’t know what to say to this. In a way, I’m working harder now than in a long time. But it doesn’t feel that way. For some reason, I feel as if we’re doing something important. And when you are underwritten by a mission that is larger than you are, time and toil seem to go faster and easier.
Yesterday, Alexis and I walked into Doc’s BBQ in Dyer, Indiana, for a quick date, which we haven’t had in weeks. This is contrary to our normal modus operandi. It was 25 years or so that my Dutch grandmother sat Alexis and me down at her kitchen table in Orlando, Florida. We had just had Jeanie, our first child together. Steve was 11 years old. Our growing family was sleeping. We worked all the time and had no money.
“Once a week, you and your husband have to have a date. Make it a priority and you will have a good marriage.”
This wasn’t the only advice that my late grandmother gave that night.
“And you, Alexis, must avail yourself to your husband.”
This is a bit of wisdom that I have come back to many times in our long journey together. Alexis reminds me that we have to have a date. I remind her, in return, that grandma said she must avail herself. It’s an ongoing give-and-take that started at a kitchen table in Orlando, Florida.
If you own the local media, one of the things that you have to get used to when you finally do go on that date is that sometimes you run into people that don’t like what you’re saying on the air. Or it’s something that other people are saying on your airwaves. You have to be prepared, when you walk into a restaurant, that someone there is either going to hate your guts because you’re you or is holding a grudge because of something said on your airwaves. It’s just a fact of life of being in media.
Do you get used to this ongoing possibility of confrontation? Not really. But it is validation that you’re doing your job. People in power are used to being in power. It bugs them to no end that there’s a unit out there that they can’t control and that sometimes on that unit says negative things about them. Some people in power have trouble accepting this.
We in the media tout this thing called the first amendment. Not only can we let people speak their minds, it’s our job. Without people speaking their minds, we’re nothing but fluff. We serve no purpose. Are we the fourth estate or not?
If the answer is “yes,” then once in a while you walk in a restaurant and a person leaves a full drink and walks out. The other people he was sitting with tell you that he’s angry with you for this thing or that said on your radio and mobile video stations. Oh well. Just trying to live out grandma’s directive and have a date with my wife.
My Radio Life, which the three or four of you and I share together – along with the broadcasting students 50 years hence – is not really My Radio Life these days. There’s just too much to do. I have made it that way. I take responsibility for this. In my ego-filled daze of let’s do good for the Region and let’s create something that will last, I may have bitten off just a little more than my little yellow teeth can chew.
Yesterday, I woke up at 4am and prepped to do my two morning shows. After that, my daughter and I went to work out. Yes, Jeanie is in town from New York City. This means that most mornings you can find me doing bench pushups and stomach crunches at the local gym. Then Jeanie mixes in jumping jacks and arm curls. Then we do it again, and again. Then we walk the stairmaster and stretch and “do some cardio.” By the time I’m done with my personal personal trainer, I want to puke on the floor and lay next to it.
After the workout, I went back to the studios for a sales meeting. It was a large company and the people coming in have become my friends. So the sales staff figured it was a good time to hit the expense account and buy lunch. It was Potbelly’s sandwiches. It was a good thing that we had lunch because my body was so beat up that I felt like I was going to pass out halfway through the presentation.
I didn’t give the presentation, by the way. The marketing interns, Christina and Darya, gave the presentation. WJOB station manager Debbie Wargo and I just sat there with the clients and watched. I might not say this to the interns, but I’ll say it to the three or four of you – they did a pretty good job with it.
An interesting thing did happen. One of the clients asked me a question directly. It woke me up from a passing dizzy spell. I sat up to answer, and since my body was still shaking from the workout, I somehow let out a fart that I’m not sure the clients heard or not. I was sitting on a hard wooden chair. Note to self – don’t do one of Jeanie’s iron man workouts before meeting with a client.
After this meeting, the four of us drove to Merrillville to meet with another possible client. When it came time to present, I looked at Darya and Christina and just said – “why don’t you two do it?” They answered the bell again. I don’t know if we’ll get either one of these two clients, but it’s not for lack of trying. It’s getting to the point that it might be better for Debbie and the two interns to go to these meetings without me.
Then it was back to the station. We are having technical issues in trying to stream video to our website and to the IHSAA website. This is a complicated process. Jimmy Mullaney was working on a technical hurdle all day. When I got back to the studio, we tackled it pretty hard and by 4:30 in the afternoon, we finally got it working. That’s a long day. I went home, picked up my wife, drove to Doc’s and walked in to a powerful local guy leaving a full drink just because I walked in the place. Oh well. Another day in radio.
I didn’t even get to what is happening on the national scene. It’s complete chaos surrounding President Donald Trump. Not that I’m complaining about this. As long as nobody gets hurt, it’s a Silent Snow, Secret Snow form of entertainment. I crave the action and the drama. President gives me something to talk about every morning. As a matter of fact, I miss a bunch of stuff that he’s doing and tweeting about because I’m trying to build a TV network. This is why I’m up in the middle of the night, not just to babble to you but to also catch up on Trump. So let me do it. 1624 words is enough.
The truth is, for me to be able to sit down and write something to the three or four of you, I have to be at least somewhat balanced. But there are so many things going on in My Radio Life that it's hard to find balance. It's basically three things:
I am not apologetic that I am white. It’s how I was born. My parents and my older relatives are pretty good people. We’re all white, at least as far as I know.
We have mated with non-white people. That has given the gene pool a darker tinge. The darker-tinged relatives, like the lilly whites, are good people.
It’s Saturday morning, 5:23am. A bunch of birds are hacking it out with chirps and tweets. I have no idea what they're so excited about.
In the morning, I ride my bike to WJOB and do a radio show.
The rest of the day, I try to build a TV network and an app.
In the evening, I have been partying like a rock star.