Is it possible that if you flood the country with guns that sooner or later a certain percentage of Americans are just gonna start shooting?
I ask this question as I prepare for another Monday morning radio show of shock and horror. Let's recount the recent misery:
the Baton Rouge cop kills black man
the Minnesota cop kills black man
black man kills several Dallas cops in a rampage
Crazed truck driver kills 88 people in Nice, France
Crazed gunman kills three cops in Baton Rouge
Coup killings in Turkey
Where does it stop? We are all hurting. I can feel it in the calls on the air. I can feel it in the Pokemon go people flooding Wicker Park just now (I did a Facebook video - where do all of these people come from?) Sometimes it's tough to turn on the microphone.
But forget radio for a moment. I wanna go back to my days as a Sociology undergrad at Berkeley. I walked around a good portion of the time thinking about human group behavior. And one of the things that I was most curious about was predicting human behavior as a group. I was once involved in a study in which we could film people in an elevator, and you could tell by how many people were in the elevator where they were gonna look. Remember, this was before cellphones. People couldn't just look down at their phones. Mostly they looked up, but only if there were two or more people in the elevator.
I also worked for a time in downtown Oakland at a place called the Institute for Labor and Mental Health. That's where I interviewed a relatively young woman, black, Oakland-bred, divorced... whose son had just been lost in gang violence the week before. About halfway through what became a counseling session, she broke down crying.
At one point, however, this woman stopped crying and said, calm as could be - "If you got that many guns around, a certain number of people is just gonna get killed."
That got me thinking then, more than 30 years ago, and every time I watch CNN or MSNBC about a mass shooting or a crazed gunman targeting cops... or all of the killings every weekend on the south side of Chicago and in Gary - maybe that woman was right, the one whose son was sitting in a house and some people burst in and started shooting. Her son, if I remember correctly, was like 14 and was actually at the house to play with a younger sibling of what was perhaps a gang member. An innocent bystander to violence... at least that's how I remember it.
If you accept that a percentage can be figured out about how many people are, for one reason or another, gonna pick up a gun or guns and start shooting people or a person... then you might even be able to calculate further how many of these people are innocent bystanders... or are part of the original dispute. It's something to think about and had I gone on to be a Sociology professor like I planned instead of pit trader and then a radio host, I might have the resources to try to figure this out.
Start with this - what is the percentage of adults in America who own a gun or have access to a gun? How many of these people own multiple guns? How many are handguns? How many have guns but don't hunt animals? How many are former military?
This last question is important in that the guy who allegedly killed the cops in Dallas and the guy who allegedly shot the cops in Baton Rouge today were both former military. That would be a further logryhthm to figure out - if you start with the premise that every American has relatively easy access to a gun or guns, how many former military members will pick them up and start shooting people, for whatever reason.
You might think that I'm being callous in a time of sadness and horror. True, this is a time of sadness and horror... but I just wonder why no one has analyzed all of the data of the past on how many shootings in America... and compared that to how many guns there are. You might even be able to say something like for every 50,000 guns, there's one mass shooting and 100 other shootings. Or something like that.
I'm sure someone out there is doing this research. And if they're not, it's probably because of political reasons. If you were able to show with statistics that for every 50,000 guns produced and distributed in America, you can expect X number of people shot and killed, then a lotta people would take that as a political, probably anti-gun, statement.
But I don't mean it like that. I just want to know for every 50,000 guns in America, how many people get shot? How's that for simplifying the research. You can call it the JED quotient for all I care. Right now it's a Sunday night and the three or four of you who read my blog are probably doing what I'm doing - you're sitting on your bed shaking your head.
What the hell is happening in America? How much bad news can we take?
But maybe that's the point - how much can we take? Or, rephrased, how much can we expect? Several times in the past couple of weeks I have had to come into the WJOB studios to take on sad, horrific killings. It has been bringing me down, as I'm guessing it has been doing to the three or four of you also.
But would it make it any easier if we were to have some expectation that every so often we're gonna wake up and there was another mass shooting in America? Or that so many people were killed overnight in Chicago?
Really, would it make it any easier to know that these murders were statistically going to occur at such and such rate... and that the rate was related to the number of guns?
I don't know. I just keep thinking of that woman from 30 years ago. Her son was over at a friend's house, a shooting broke out involving some older siblings, and her little (only) child was killed. Amidst her sniffling and sobbing, she had a moment of lucidity. She predicted the future... just as we might be able to do if we crunched the data enough.
It's Sunday morning and this isn't gonna sound like much, but I just figured out how to embed a Facebook video into this blog for the three or four of you. It took a while.
Yesterday I did four Facebook Live videos. The first one, above, is when I ran into my uncle Danny and my brother Brian at nephews Allan and Carter's baseball games. Al played one field and Carter on an adjacent one, so my baseball-crazy brother and uncle stood between the two fields and watched both games.
After that I rushed over to Van Til's grocery store in Hessville and did a quick like Facebook Live video with Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell. I took my daughter Jeanie's advice to keep the videos short, but with Earl we probably could have done a little bit more. After that, I drove over to BlueTop Drive-In on US 41 in Highland. The place started in 1939. WJOB's Big George was doing a live broadcast amongst the hot rods and muscle cars and that was kinda cool. I ate a chicken Philly there that was to die for. It's Sunday and I really don't feel like creating anything like a blog entry or a live video or any radio... but you never know. The Moon and Sixpence, you know, just got to paint. Just got to express.
It's Saturday morning and in the past week or so...
Shooting at Jewel after St. Thomas More fest in Munster
Talk about $851,000 taken by former Munster schools supes Pfister and Sopko
Black men killed by cops in Louisiana and Minnesota
Dallas cops killed by Army vet who said he wanted to kill white cops
Amidst all of this you have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump going at it big time. And three young Cedar Lake girls held on first-degree murder charges after botched home invasion.
What the hell's going on? On my front, I'm catching more and more momentum with the Facebook Live videos. It turns out that we can tell the story of My American, Radio Life a little easier in quick, live videos than we can in plodding through this blog. Oh well. It's a discovery process of how to tell the story. First it's photos. Then youtube videos. Live AM radio and now live FM radio too. There's this blog and in the past there was the newspaper column and my personal journals that have long been thrown into a dump and erased off of hard drives. There is a story unfolding and for now it doesn't necessarily unfold best to the three or four of you in this little-read blog.
It's unfolding on Facebook Live video. I'm not kidding.
We're getting tens of thousands of views of our videos. Yesterday, Geno did a live interview in the middle of the afternoon with George Thorogood, who's coming to the Festival of the Lakes soon. 3,000 views. On Thursday, daughter Jeanie who's in from New York City and I stopped by the new exercise equipment at Wicker Park, did a quick video. 3,000 views.
The though thing to accept in all of this is that no one wants to watch my morning radio show live. They'll listen to it on AM 1230 WJOB and 104.7 FM, and online on the Tune-In app. And they'll even listen to replays of the show when we play them at night and on weekends - Region Flashbacks.
But the three or four of you and the rest of the potential audience does not want:
1. Facebook Live video of a morning radio show
2. Podcast highlights of the morning or any other radio show on our station
It's like this. You might watch me walk down the hallway of the Lagunitas Brewing Company at 16th and Rockwell in south Chicago, and 750 of you have done since I did the Facebook Live last night. And you might watch Harlow do a scheduled interview with a big name like Chet Coppock, like he did this week and got a ton of views.
But you're not gonna watch my morning radio show on Facebook Live... or on any other video platform. We've been trying to get you to do this for five years. You may know the story. We originally streamed our shows on Livestream, then Ustream, then we built our own digital streaming system. That cost a ton of money, not just for the three servers and Wowza software and Wirecast and the rest... but for the internet. A couple grand a month for internet alone, not to mention installation cost.
The cold reality is that although we think northwest Indiana doesn't have its own television station so we must want our own video... and that we can provide that by repatriating our radio shows to do it... it just doesn't work that way. It turns out that northwest Indiana and the south suburbs do want local video.
But only if it's local video and not repatriated radio. Does that make any sense to the three or four of you?
The same holds true for audio. We have tried like hell to take slices from our radio shows and put them up on the internet as podcasts. And we get very little traction on these repatriated radio pieces. We know that we get a lot of people listening to our live radio... and we know from the numbers that we have a growing audience for live, local Facebook Video... but we just have not been able to recycle our radio into something else.
It's live radio. That's where it lives. In the air. If you try to turn it into something else, it dies.
So that's the lesson that took a long time to learn... that you can't recycle radio to the internet. You can kinda recycle radio back to radio in the form of replays... but even that's limited.
Other part of the lesson:
Do podcasts for podcast
Do video for video
It's 8:06 on the Saturday morning of the big Fourth of July weekend and I've been up for almost four hours. That's how it goes when you're a morning radio host. You wake up in the wee hours even on the weekend. Can't help it.
Yesterday, Jeff Strack, head of Strack & Van Til food marts, helped announce on the air with us that our WJOB studios will now be officially named the "Strack & Van Til Studios." This is a big step for WJOB. SVT has 25 grocery stores on the Indiana side and 10 or so more on the Illinois side and they're making a huge investment with us.