Friday night, 7pm. Theo's Restaurant. Highland, Ind. - Remember to take photos for the blog. That's what I tell myself as I walk in to Theo's with my Nikon D3200. It's pouring out, so as I brush off the rain I snap a photo of the gals at the hostess desk (above). Alexis and I eat dinner with her friend Yvette and husband Ted the longshoreman from California. Yvette's in town for the Bishop Noll class reunion. Her husband tells some pretty interesting stories about operating a crane at Long Beach harbor.
Friday night, 8:00pm - Bottoms Up Bar and Lounge, Lansing, Illinois. Husband Ted and I accompany our BNI grad wives to a get-together for reunion weekend. Alexis and Yvette roam around the room while Ted and I talk about the water shortage in California and how you sometimes have to be innovative in expelling waste as you're stuck in a crane control room 100 feet in the air. Yikes. One BNI grad's wearing a pretty cool Cheech and Chong tee-shirt and I take a picture of that. On the way to pull up the car for Alexis, I step in a six-inch deep puddle and my socks get wet.
Friday night, 9:00pm - St. Thomas More festival, Munster, Ind. I arrive at St. Thoms fest to work the Wheel. It's pouring like hell out still so there's a lot less people than would normally be there. I sell chips, oversee the placing of bets, pay out winnings, pull chips off the board. You gotta pay attention, which isn't all that easy with people coming up and wanting to talk. You gotta yell because the band's just a couple dozen feet away. Some of the people are there because I promoed it on the radio. One guy's missing from all the other years. Mike Dernulc, Hammond fireman. He died in the past year. He would have come if he didn't.
Saturday morning, 12:30am. - After my three-hour shift at The Wheel, I stop by to watch the band do a Black Eyed peas song. Then I walk home along Ridge Road in a drizzle, thinking that I walked along this same road late at night more than 40 years ago. Not that much has changed... same cracks in the sidewalk. I snap a photo of a paper mache dog in front of the Arts Center. That's changed. The Arts Center wasn't there when I was walking along Ridge Road late at night in the rain 40 years ago.
Saturday morning, 9am - Back at the radio station to meet Harold Snure to see if we could get a Barix STL to work. No go. Here's my advice to any radio operators thinking of using the Barix system to connect to a remote studio. Sure, the Barix is cheap. But you have to know a lotta knowledge about firewalls, connection speeds, VPNs, bit rates, gateways and static IPs to get them to work correctly. There are a lot better products out there that might cost more at first but might be cheaper in the long run.
Saturday afternoon, 1pm - Northwest Indiana Arts Center, Munster, Indiana. It was Christina Cortez's graduation party. Mike Puente of of public radio in Chicago was there. He's Christina's uncle and he and I wore the exact same Navy shirt and khaki pants color scheme - "Gotta be prepared for news to break at any time," Puente said. He got his first radio gig with us more than ten years ago now.
I told Puente about Thursday when I entered into a conference call with the CEO of a video streaming company that we might do business with. "Now don't get freaked out by this, but I do have my technical advisor. Her name's Christina Cortez and the party for her graduation is this weekend."
"Congratulations," said the CEO, "What college?"
"No," I interrupted. "Not college. HIGH SCHOOL. But please don't be put off by that. She's entirely competent."
And as the conference call progressed, Mr. CEO understood what I was talking about, as Christina asked about copyright infringements and ad placement and the floating price per gig of bandwidth and storage. She's been with me since she was 15. Quiet, unassuming and a complete whiz kid. Kinda like Angel Jimenez in that regard.
Saturday afternoon, 3pm - Munster, Indiana. Alex and Max Baker graduated from high school. One of the twins is headed to Ball State and one to Indiana. They've never really been apart so could be interesting. Their grandpa, Mr. Baker, told me the story of Baker's Bar, which was an institution in the Indiana Harbor section of East Chicago. It was by The Big House in the 40s and 50s, if you know what that piece of Americana was. Also, Kevin Pastrick of EC political fame was there with his three pretty amazing kids. On the way out I ran in to one of my high school coaches and favorite people in the world - Dave Knish. He no longer teaches and had a heart incident lately. Walks a zillion miles a day and says he listens to me and WJOB all day long. That's a good thought. His wife, the former Piatek, also. Knish congratulated Alexis and me on getting George Noory and "Coast to Coast" all night long.
"Why the heck are you up at that hour?" I asked.
"Can't sleep. Now I've got Coast to keep me company."
And Knish told my wife about scrambling to tune in an Iowa radio station to get "Coast to Coast" in past years. It also reminds me that I'm on a crash course with all night radio. My aunt Irene tells me she wakes up several times a night and gets at most five hours. It's a curse. You either got it or you don't. Like right now. It's 1:16 on Sunday morning and sleep's just a rumor right now. I also run into Norm Houser and wife Sherry, who say they listen all the time in the morning. Sherry likes the traffic, since she drives 40 minutes in the morning.
"And you listen because I'm so funny also, right?"
Saturday afternoon, 5 pm - Highland, Indiana. Samantha Salzeider graduated from Indiana University in marketing and she starts an internship with the Chicago Bears on Monday. I ran in to a woman who says the last time we spoke she told me to have someone call her medical office so they could advertise. This happens a lot. Someone tells me at a party or at a bar to have a salesperson call on their office. I forget almost every time. This time I texted station manager Debbie Wargo and producer Ryan so it'll be their responsibility to remember.
Saturday evening, 7 pm - Dave Gladish's party. My wife shares office space with attorney Gladish and every year he has a huge bash. Gladish comes on the air with me every other week to talk about interesting shit going that involves the law, so a lotta the people at the party listen to the show. Joan Buvala came up to me - "Jimmy Dedelow, don't you remember me? I was your neighbor." And you know and I know that I didn't remember her at first. I thought of all the places I lived and where this woman may have lived in relation to that. But nothing came up.
"You know, you and Joey Chruby running around the neighborhood causing trouble." Oh, that Joan Buvala. From across the street when I was a kid. Joey Chruby is probably the funniest and most mischievous person on the planet. We grew up next to each other and there wasn't a moment that he wasn't thinking about making trouble. If you think of Eddie Haskell, times it by infinit
4:21pm. It has been either snowing or raining or blowing cold air for eight months now. Sometimes all three at the same time. Another gray day with no sunshine and periodic rain. June gloom. Callers in a crappy mood with a penchant to complain, criticize and bellyache. Me too, I suppose. I was certainly not my best today. Gloomy. It's the end of June and not much going on. I didn't prep at all for the silence that can erupt if you have nothing to say. And I'm exhausted.
You do have to worry a little about burnout as a morning talk host. I talk on average for four hours every morning. Do my own news, weather, traffic... sometimes even the Sports. Although once in a while I engage Ryan to give scores and stuff. The key is to keep it fresh somehow all the time. That's not easy when you're burnt and on the edge of being able to push forward. When that happens, you need to back off for a couple of days. So barring any huge news event, that's certainly what I plan to do this weekend. Any morning host will know what I'm talking about.
4:17am. There's this lightning that keeps flashing across the bedroom and this thunder that rolls on top of itself for a good 15 seconds. I'm not sure what "rolling thunder" actually means. But if you're in radio and there's lightning and thunder and big rain, the first thing that flashes in your mind is if your tower's okay and your transmitter and your studio equipment and the cable and the phone lines and the power. You get the picture.
You wake up early worrying that you're not gonna be able to do the show this morning. It's a bit of an irrational line of thinking in that the odds are certainly in your favor that one way or another you will be able to blab for four hours. Still, when it storms like this you wake up early and cross your fingers.