5:02pm on a Tuesday evening.
Tuesdays really are the biggest endurance test for me in radio. I talk from 5:30 to 10am and afterwards I can never figure out why I can't do anything really productive. After a while you just gotta give in to the lack of focus and take a long lunch and a nap.
That's what I did today after the show. Hung around for a couple hours fooling with the photos and notes below and ordering some equipment from BSW in Washington or Portland or wherever they are. We order pretty much from BSW and also Sweetwater, which is here in Indiana, across the state in Fort Wayne. They're both solid. Rick at BSW and Jason at Sweetwater now know our business up and down and with a simple phone call I can have someone on the other end who knows more about sound and transmitters and isocouplers and mic and line levels than I do. That's what you want.
Around 1pm I traversed Hammond to El Taco Real Restaurant on Hoffman. It's a real icon around here not only in terms of being the best and longest-running Mexican restaurant ... but also because my wife Alexis worked there in high school and after high school. And her mom worked there for a generation before that. Owner Ray Garcia Jr. sat with me as I downed a couple chicken garden tacos and whole beans and arroz and pico de gallo and that heated tomato salsa. It was as good as it gets for a lunch around here or anywhere, although if any of the three or four of you tried to kiss me right now, you'd wretch. My breath is that bad. Think of sleeping with a dead bird in your mouth times two.
Ray does a show on WJOB called "Eat." He and local chef Terry Zitch talk food and restaurants and wine with food and food with beer and service and onions and garlic and sautéing and even how to freeze leftovers. The show follows in the tradition of "Food for Thought" by Rich Diombala, who passed away a few years ago. There's one thing for sure about people in the Calumet Region - we love to eat and we love to talk about it.
One of the challenges these days, however, is that we're pretty much booked up and sold out in the mornings. In the past, we squeezed "Food for Thought" or "Eat" into slots that weren't sold and that worked out pretty good for many years in that, like my blog, there were only three or four of you out there taking in our content. Now there's more, and that means more people want to pay for our time and that's a good thing... until it squeezes out truly innovative programming. I suppose that's what happens on a Chicago or national level. Whatever pays pays. And whatever doesn't doesn't. Pays wins.
So I'm trying to maneuver Ray and Terry to talk food on podcasts. I'm finding that this is a tough sell, although there's a good dozen people who are associated with the station whom I think could really benefit from doing podcasts. Or shall we call them JEDcasts? We basically have two brands going these days - WJOB and JED.tv - and I really don't want to introduce any other terms. It's hard enough to brand one thing, let alone two, and if you add in a third then you might as well forget it.
Anyways, this morning, producer Ryan took the day off because last night was the NCAA championship game. If you're reading this years on down the line, it was the classic game in which Kris Jenkins hit a shot at the buzzer to give Villanova the national championship over a favored North Carolina team. What an experience. It was also opening night for the Cubs and Sox, who both played at 9:05 on the West coast. So Brandon Hull walked over from the dorms at Purdue this morning to pinch hit for Ryan, and recent Purdue grad Sam Michel did his normal stint as "video floor director."
Sam's got some real potential as a baseball analyst (nee "podcaster" or "JEDcaster")... and Brandon really knows the NBA, and as you know the NBA playoffs are coming up soon. After the show, at about 10:30 or so since the show was so freaking long, I sat down with Sam and Brandon and started the discussion about them doing podcasts, or more specifically "JEDcasts," which are about 5 to 12 minutes long on a topic of their choice.
Here's my sales job to these niche and younger talents - do the JEDcasts and we can
1. play them on the air on WJOB as part of our "Region Flashbacks" rotation. These play in the evening, weekends and holidays when we don't have live or network programming.
2. place these "JEDcasts" on JED.tv and WJOB1230.com and podbean.com and, soon, on iTunes.
3. place these "JEDcasts" on a special page for each of them that they can ultimately use to help them get a full-time gig somewhere.
I gave this same talk to Jordan Beasley and Miguel Flores and Barb Anguiano and Angel Jimenez and David the intern from Crown Point High School and a few other people.... and I'm really not sure I know where it's leading. I just know this: that I have a ton of talented people around me who want to do radio and they have a lot of entertaining and important things to say... but we only have so many live programming hours on WJOB. I'm getting the feeling that there's a trend here... talent, passion, focus, innovation... and that it's my direction to aggregate it and turn it into something. What that is, I'm not quite sure yet.
I do know that we've had some success by replaying portions of my and Ryan's show, or George's car show, or Preacher's old shows, or Harlow or Geno or Kubic or even portions of old close basketball games on WJOB. The biggest thing that people around here want out of WJOB is local programming. They often really don't care sometimes if it's live and immediate... or it's something from seven years ago. So anything that any of these young and/or niche talents come up with fill that bill for local listeners of WJOB.
But I sense that there's a deeper possibility... and I go back to Jean Shepherd for this. Remember that Jean Shepherd went to New York and to Hollwood and he basically told stories about his youth right here in Hammond, Indiana. Jean discovered that the rest of the country actually wanted to hear about the quirky "slobs" around here. It's that interesting of an area.
So what if I could aggregate enough "JEDcasts" from and and about this area to tell a cohesive story. It's a long shot, but as I told Sam and Brandon... and also Ray Garcia Jr. today... that even if we didn't make it big time with their JEDcasts, at least they'd be building a library of stuff that they could use elsewhere... like on a resume to get a job or on a website to promote a restaurant.
I'm rambling, I know, but this is how my mind works in coming up with new crap so I thought I'd just show the three or four of you the clutter I have to sift through in my own head to squeeze out a real idea. I get a good dozen or two ideas a week to sift through and the real challenge is to commit to the good ones.
What is a JEDcast anyways? And how does it differ from a podcast?
The two are the same in that you sit down and talk into a microphone and tape it and post it on the internet. It's different in that a JEDcast starts with local radio and that it's a certain length. We have found through doing our "Region flashbacks" that the perfect length for a talk segment is about 8-10 minutes. I don't why it's that way, but listen four a couple of hours to Region Flashbacks over a weekend and you get the feeling that you want to turn the channel if one of the recordings goes past ten minutes... And if it's way shorter than that, say three minutes, that's OK for one or two segments. But if you try to string together too many short segments, that staccato movement doesn't work either.
There's something to the mental rhythm of a segment about 8-10 minutes long. Which is about where we're at right now. What I've written so far has taken me 35 minutes to write thus far.... and it probably took you about 8-10 minutes to read. And that should be enough for now. I'll let the three or four of you know if anything ever comes of this "JEDcast" idea or if it's just another of the dozen or so ideas I have every week that start in my brain and wind up a few days later swirling around the toilet.