I can’t do it.
There’s so much that happens in a radio day that it’s too much to write down. My Radio Life isn’t mine at all. It’s yours. I give myself to radio and at the end of the day I don’t even have enough left to write a poem for my wife on Valentine’s Day. She wrote me one. I always write her one. I am losing the battle against tasks and responsibility. Most men live lives of quiet desperation, frittered away by detail.
This evening, Alexis and went to El Taco Real in north Hammond for Valentine’s Dinner. It’s finally starting to warm up a little. You can feel as you drive north on Columbia Avethe that the 18 inches of snow everywhere is starting to turn to water.
This is ironic in that there is a leak in our laundry room that is spreading water under the folding table. If you walked in there right now, you might slip and fall on your ass.
At El Taco Real, owner Ray Garcia Jr. sat at our table for a good hour telling some pretty interesting stories. What I get from these stories is that Ray is basically a decent man caught in a world that doesn’t care as much of about some of the things that Ray gives a shit about. For some reason, he’s caught in a cycle of wanting to help people up and do the right thing. I want to shake his massive frame -
“Forget about helping people. Help yourself. That’s the only way to get ahead in life.”
But that wouldn’t be a genuine thing for me to say. I am radio man, and I do a whole lot of stupid stuff that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with getting ahead. It’s done out of some sense of duty or some romantic wind of help the world. Sometimes it’s guilt. Sometimes it’s to prove that I’m not a loser. Sometimes I just feel sorry for people. In the end, I wish I were more of a hardass and less of a softie like Ray.
Today after the radio show I resumed the rather lengthy negotiations with people at the Indiana High School Athletic Association. I’ve got this ridiculous notion that we at WJOB should do our part to Facebook Live video as many sectional and regional games that we can do. It depends on how many cameras and people we can muster up and pay for. And it also depends on how much the IHSAA is gonna make us pay for rights fees.
This negotiation was not pretty. One of my many weaknesses is that I have a tough time working my way up the line. What I mean by this is that I try, I really do try, to start dealing with the people in the lower positions to get a deal done. But invariably the folks at levels that are not the top level are, as Thoreau points out, frittered away by detail. I respect this, to a point, then I get mad. I get mad at myself that I can’t get deals done without talking to the people at the top. It’s always been that way.
Now I do get deals done at the top. But that’s not the point. I really do want to find a way to start at the appropriate level and get deals done at those levels, not going to the top to get it done. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, then go wash your underwear in the laundry tub and hang them on the chairs in the dining room.
The point is that I cut a deal today that should allow us to broadcast around 20 games of the Indiana high school basketball tournament in video. My students in the Purdue sports broadcasting class are gonna be part of the broadcasts, as are a few high school students we have. Of course, I’ve got to pay a ton of people. We’re teaming up with Chris Ramirez and his guys at the Region Sports Network to get all of this done.
And for all of this, whom do we have to thank? You’re not gonna believe this, but the answer is Bobby Cox, the head of the IHSAA. A short phone discussion with him and ten minutes later we got the whole deal done. Let’s see how it turns out.
Now why would it matter to me that we broadcast 20 video games of the boys tournament?
Once again, it’s the same thing that I criticize Ray Jr. for doing. I’m mixing sentiments and business. It’s hard to outline a scenario in which we make a whole lot of money for our effort in broadcasting these games. But I just feel that it’s my responsibility, because I first introduced Facebook Live video to the Region, to broadcast these games for the kids playing in them. It’s not a business reason. It’s sentiment.
I really do believe that these kids should have the memory of what for half of the seniors playing each night will be the last game of their high school careers. I have the capability to preserve the moment forever. That’s something I should provide to these young guys and their families.
There’s another part to this. It starts with this - I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life. The linear path to this point that I’m sitting on a pillow as it turns from Wednesday to Thursday is pretty much as it is. I accept all of the disappointments, humiliations, pains, heartaches, sorrows and so forth that lead up to this moment.
Except one – I never won a high school basketball sectional game. The thought of this irks me to this day.
As a hotshot sophomore guard, I went as all other players do to the Sportsmanship Dinner. Back then, it was at Tiebel’s restaurant the night before sectionals started. I sat with all of the players from other teams and ate dinner and dessert. Afterwards, I talked with some guys from Hammond Gavit that I knew.
But as the main speaker was getting ready to start, I snuck out the back door into the parking lot to, you know, partake in a bad habit. That’s what I did in those days. I know that this will hurt my dad to read. But a long time ago he accepted that I had way too much of my mom’s brothers in me to adhere to any regular course of discipline.
The problem was that I wasn’t wearing a coat. And it was like 10 degrees out. To further complicate matters, after I went out to do my wampum imitation, the door locked behind me. I was stuck outside in the Tiebel’s parking lot in 10 degree weather watching the big trucks roll by on US 30.
I could have walked around to the front of the Tiebel’s restaurant, but when you’re a bit bewildered from your bad habit, that doesn’t sound like a good idea. So I waited… and waited… and then finally one of the local referees left to go get his cigarettes from his car. I can still feel the relief that came as he opened the door and heat enveloped my body.
But by then, the damage was done. The next morning, I woke up with a 104-degree temperature. I wound up listening on WJOB to my team lose at the last second to a much inferior Crown Point team. We had been ranked at times #3 in the state of Indiana. My part was to dribble up against presses, steal the ball from the opposing point guard a couple times a game, and pass the ball down low to Mike Hertz and Paul Wolak or out to the wing to Tony Nelson. If I had been there to my job, we would have never lost and might have made a run downstate.
Now you can draw your own conclusions as to why I would want to spend a bunch of money to broadcast video of all of these tournament games. Maybe it’s a sense of duty. Maybe it’s to make amends. And maybe it’s a simple confession.
So what did I do my junior year to help us again lose our first game of the sectionals?
Again, I let my guys down. As sectionals approached, I was seeing this cheerleader by day… and a cross country runner by night. After everyone went to bed, I’d sneak out and run over to this girl’s house, knock on her window, and we’d go run miles all over the Region. Sometimes we would run the whole night and then make out for a while and get home just in time to eat breakfast and go to school.
That’s exactly what happened the night before sectionals my junior year.
“Good night, mom. Good night, dad.” I said after the Sportsmanship Dinner. I fell asleep for a couple of hours, then woke up to my alarm at one in the morning. I bundled up, ran to Maria’s house, knocked on her window, and next thing you know we were running full speed along Hart’s Ditch. Running and talking and grabbing and stuff.
The night before sectionals, it snowed. Piles of snow coming out of the sky in the middle of the night. It made for some of the most beautiful running on the planet. The soft landing of your Nike on powder, the quiet of everything except a faraway plow and a lonely train.
We ran to Highland High School, and since there was enough snow, we could climb onto the roof. We found a warm exhaust fan to sit on and make out. I can still smell her teeth, feel her hot breath on my neck. What I can’t do is erase the memory of the loss at the Calumet sectional that night. I played like shit. That’s what happens when you’ve been out running all night during a snowstorm.
I am an idiot. I have lived the life of an idiot.
Since we’re on this roll, the five of us, I’m guessing that you want to know what happened in my senior year to contribute to another sectional loss in the first round. I don’t remember this one as clearly. I know that we weren’t nearly as good my senior year as we had been the preceding two years.
I do remember this. We were warming up doing layups and there were a lot of people there already. And in the front row was a kid I grew up next door to – Joey Chruby. He was a little bit drunk and he kept calling my name. I wasn’t giving him the attention he wanted, so he started yelling as loud as he could –
“Jimmy Dedelow does coke. Jimmy Dedelow the big basketball star does coke.”
Now I’m not gonna comment on the accuracy of this statement, but I can tell you that it was quite embarrassing. The other guys on the team, none of whom I really hung out with, were smirking. They knew that I had bad habits. Some may have secretly wished that I would someday pay for these bad habits. Chruby didn’t stop yelling it until the game started.
What does any of this have to do with My Radio Life?
You figure it out. The people in my office are asking – “why do we have to do so many games?” The answer is simple – because we can. And since we can, we owe it to these young men to give them and their families a quality broadcast they can watch in 20 years. That’s why. Now shut up and pack the cameras.
What else happened in My Radio Life today?
I did some idiot radio along Indianapolis Boulevard like I always do. A lot of people beeped this morning and some even opened their windows and yelled. Here’s why.
There’s this kinda funny political story going on around here. It has to do with the upcoming election for Sheriff of Lake County. A little while ago, the former Sheriff John Buncich was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in federal prison for taking bribes. That opened up a whole can of worms. A guy named Oscar Martinez became the new sheriff. He’s running against a whole slate of challengers in the May primary… including a woman named Betty Dominguez.
Now this is where you’re gonna have to draw a flow chart. Betty is actually the wife of the former sheriff before Buncich, Roy Dominguez. Betty filed on Monday to run in the race. It surprised everybody.
Enter Jackie Sutton.
Who the hell is Jackie Sutton? That’s a question a lot of people would like answered, including, possibly, the Indiana State police.
Jackie Sutton is a name that is registered to a Facebook account. And on that account, someone – Jackie Sutton or whoever – is writing a bunch of really deep, hurtful things about some Lake County politicians. So the current sheriff of Lake County and Lake County prosecutor Bernie Carter are asking the Indiana State police to uncover the identity of Jackie Sutton and possibly prosecute him or her for a felony of some kind.
It’s part of the Lake County circus. How it relates to radio is that this morning I stood outside on Indianapolis Boulevard trying to assist in the investigation.
“Are you Jackie Sutton?” I yelled at an SUV rolling by.
“Are you Jackie Sutton?” I yelled at a Bulkmatic semi.
“Are you Jackie Sutton?” I yelled at a four-door Impala. After a while, I moved on to other topics… but evidently the drivers-by didn’t forget my original question.
“Yo, Dedelow – I’m Jackie Sutton,” one guy in a pickup yelled out his window.
“Hey JED, I’m Jackie Sutton,” a young woman yelled from her car. Then a guy in a dump truck and another guy in a pickup truck. This went on for a while until I got tired of freezing my ass off and went inside.
“I’m Jackie Sutton,” producer Ryan said as I walked into the studio.
“No, I’m Jackie Sutton,” producer Sam Michel said.
Another weird thing happened while I was out there this morning. My phone rang.
“Who would be calling me right now?” I told the seven or eight listeners and the two or three people watching me on Facebook Live. “I’m gonna answer this.”
So I answered my cellphone while I was on the air freezing my ass off out on Indianapolis Boulevard. And guess who it was?
Betty Dominguez. She wanted to correct a couple of minor points that were being said about her and to assure me that her candidacy is for real. I went off the air to talk to her privately. It was kind of surreal, the whole thing was. I wish I could describe it to the three or four of you better than I am right now.
What else today?
In a 45-minute span on the show, I interviewed:
Later in the day, I taught Sports Broadcasting. We meet at the Purdue Commercialization Center, where the WJOB studios are. All that I have to do is walk into the next room and there’s the students.
There’s a little bit of a problem right now with the class. We worked for a few weeks on doing sports talk shows live in the studio. All of the students did well with this.
But as well as they did with sports talk, they have done equally not as well with play by play. We ran some tape on Monday in the studio and, in groups of two, they announced the game. You can watch it on Facebook Live. No one did well with this.
I guess I’m learning how to teach this class. I thought that the students would do just as well with the play-by-play and color announcing of games as they did with just sitting around in a studio talking sports. But this is not the case. They are nearly lost in the broadcast booth. We’ll see how things turn out on Saturday.
That’s when we’re all going out to the Ashland University at PNW game. As I may have mentioned to the three or four of you before, WJOB broadcasts all PNW home games in every sport. So I’ll announce a game on Saturday and split the duties with Ryan and Sam.
But we’re also setting up a parallel broadcast booth, courtesy of producer Ben Cowert, a recent PNW grad himself. Sam and Ryan and I will take turns at the “real” broadcast booth while the students rotate turns at the “not so real” broadcast booth. We will tape the students’ calls of the games and we’ll review them later. When they’re not announcing, they’ll learn how to run a camera, adjust the audio, cut between camera shots, etc.
That ought to about do it. It’s now 12:55am on Thursday. I am sitting in the TV room right below where my wife of 26 years is sleeping. And you know those bad habits that I started to get into earlier in this diatribe?
I have given up almost all of them for love. The moment I met the Mayan princess, somehow it didn’t seem as important to live undisciplined like my mom’s brothers. What mattered was to make it to the next day when I could kiss my wife goodnight before bed. That’s as much a part of My Radio Life as anything else.