I have actually taken a couple of writing courses. It was in the mid-1980s. I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to become a writer or a trader.
Here’s the thing. The two activities aren’t all that different. In one, you stand in a pit with hundreds of people and yell for dollars. In the other, you sit at a desk and pound letters into a computer.
In one, you have a chance of making a bunch of money in a short time. In the other, there’s a good chance you’ll be sitting in your basement in your underwear several years after you started.
Okay. Writing and trading aren’t all that similar. They come together in that for a good period of my life I couldn’t choose which one I wanted to do. So I wrote and wrote and traded and traded. And then came a couple of kids. Then I lost all of our money and my wife had to put the kids in a wagon and wheel our dirty clothes to the Laundromat.
Then a hail storm came. An Allstate agent showed up at the door with a $3,000 check. Instead of fixing the dents in the roof, I drove down to the Board of Trade and put the money in my trading account. And, as Robert Frost would say, “that has made all of the difference.”
It’s 3:15 on a Friday morning, and life moves so fast as local radio guy that the early morning hours are provide the only time for us to get together. In the past couple of days, I have:
Of course, there’s more. I only record the happenings because, as you the three or four of you might remember, our purpose here is to put down for historical purposes what it’s like to live a life of local radio. Radio is dying or, at best, transforming. It won’t be like it is now in a few years. A radio guy, if he does exist, will not have this closeness to and total immersion with the local community.
I joke with Alexis that if something happens to her, I’ll just take a page from Queen Elizabeth and get betrothed to WJOB. She, in her hidden Lucille Ball mentality, retorts –
“Oh yeah, you’ll get remarried all right. And she’ll be at my funeral.”
There is a silent snow, secret snow feel to having a wife who won’t show her vaudeville sense of humor to anyone else but me. It’s a show every night. I’m not kidding. She tells me about her day, does imitations of people, goes on comedy rants, and then cooks me enchiladas. I am a happy man. I do not want to get married to WJOB.
I’m taking off from the show this morning. Ostensibly it’s so I can start studying for my graduate-level Accounting final on Monday. I’m a lot worried about this. It’s not so much that I have to obtain a good grade so that I can get a job. And I pretty much have already sucked what knowledge I need for my business out of my Accounting book, which sits quietly on the couch as I type to the three or four of you –
Accounting: What the Numbers Mean
It sounds so majestic. It’s not. It’s just contribution margin and overhead application rates waiting for me to comprehend them. Neither of these will help with my business. But I slog on anyways. There’s an answer somewhere in getting an MBA. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something that will help me come up with a plan to sustain WJOB and to implement that plan. Without some guidance, I get the feeling that in five years I’ll be doing just what I’m doing now, which is trying to figure out how I’m gonna pay for everything that’s associated with the upcoming Christmas.
I’m also taking off from doing the show because I have to let some of the younger talent develop itself. Sam Michel, the 25-year-old sports guy from Highland, will do the show for me this morning. He and Ryan Walsh and I traded off announcing the women’s and men’s games last night at PNW. Ryan is the producer for the morning show, the best in the Chicago area. Sam may one day meet his goal, which is to be the play-by-play guy for the St. Louis Cardinals. Neither of these guys gets to develop their wares with me barking orders every morning and every game. I’ve got to step aside and, as Cat Stevens would say, let the children play.
Although it’s not like I’m gonna laze around the house all day, which I would love to do. I have a lunch date in which I’ll try to sell a sponsorship to a rather large sponsor. This is how it works best. I meet with someone who’s thinking about coming on board. We get to know each other. I show them the numbers. They’re surprised as hell that we have grown so much in the past couple of years. They agree to sponsor WJOB on all of our platforms… and, get this, more and more they’re agreeing to sponsor me as a brand.
I’m not kidding. If you really think about it, there’s not that many personalities in the Calumet Region of Indiana and Illnois just to the south of downtown Chicago. There’s just not. We don’t have our own media – we get all of it from Chicago. And we don’t really have our own big government, which, as we have seen at the national level, can produce brands also. We get our big government from Indianapolis, which is three hours away.
That doesn’t leave us with that many personalities in the Calumet Region who can hawk products and services. So what WJOB station manager Debbie Wargo has been doing in the past few weeks is to present to potential sponsors a couple of standard radio and streaming video packages in which they get so many spots and so many mentions. They might even sponsor something like weather, sports, business, and so forth.
And then Debbie is throwing in a “JED package.” This is when the advertiser basically sponsors all of the stuff I do. Now I know what the three or four of you are thinking –
Really? A “JED package”
That’s what I said. Who the hell is gonna want to sponsor me on:
But I guess that when you throw it all into the cauldron, you come up with – no, don’t say it – a brand. As it was explained to us by one advertiser.
“JED’s his own brand. I’ll take the JED package.”
Now this presents an interesting dilemma. For a long time, ever since my wife and I purchased WJOB in 2004, I’ve gone with the assumption that the best way to sell advertising is to do it under the umbrella of WJOB. It’s a brand that’s been around since 1924. There are people who listen to my show who were listening to WJOB in the 1940s. And their kids and their kids’ kids and maybe even their kids’ kids’ kids listen to the show. WJOB runs deep in the community.
So we never really thought of trying to sell anything else but WJOB. Not JED. Not “the Preacher,” who died a few years ago. Not Kubic, not Geno, Harlow or anyone else.
But what if that’s the better way to sell advertising – not as a local radio station but as personalities who serve as brands on the radio, on social and online. It’s an interesting thing to note in the development of local radio. When I meet with the potential advertiser today for lunch, I’m gonna offer up me as a brand. I’ll let you know how that goes.
That should do it for this morning. One of the things I found in doing this blog for the three or four of you is that if I just type and type and don’t judge what I’m typing, I can belt out a lot of words in a short period of time. Here it is 3:45 and we’re at almost 2,000 words. Just type and type and type and tell people how good and pure and beautiful radio is. That should be enough.
It’s 3:41 on a Wednesday morning in December. It got up to 63 degrees on Monday. Right now, it’s 29 degrees and windy. Welcome to the bottom of Lake Michigan.
We all felt the change in seasons in one day. Yesterday, I hosted the question and answer session at the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce meeting in Hammond. Jeff Strack was the main speaker. He told the story of how he got back his family’s many grocery stores in the area.
We entered a new era for Purdue Northwest yesterday. For years, the university was just the one location in Hammond and was considered a commuter campus. If you were a warm body and you graduated high school, you could get into what was then known as Purdue Calumet.
That’s how it was for about 60 years. Fast forward to 2017. The new chancellor, Tom Keon, a few years ago came into town to make Purdue Calumet and Purdue North Central, which is about 40 miles away near Michigan City, into one big regional university. Purdue president Mitch Daniels may have had something to do with the original idea for this plan.