2:37am, Wednesday morning.
Wanna make God laugh?
Tell him your plans.
And God has been laughing at Alexis and me the past few days. We've been trying to sneak out of town to see my nephew Craig play baseball for Indiana University. He's a junior outfielder there, and he leads the team in hits, runs, at-bats, and RBIs. In college baseball, you can get drafted after your junior year. It's derelict of sports broadcaster uncle Jim that I have yet to see him play college baseball except on television.
It's also derelict of Alexis. In the typical hillbilly Mexican way, we're related to Craig and his family on three sides. Don't ask. It's a little embarrassing. Just know that we had reservations to stay at the Kellogg Convention Center in East Lansing, Michigan, for the weekend to see Craig play a three-game set against the Spartans. At the last minute, Alexis had a couple of emergency hearings late on Friday, and then the daughter came into town. Next thing you know we're cancelling our hotel reservations and walking around Wicker Park.
Now don't get me wrong. Walking around Wicker Park with my wife and daughter and Abby the dog on an unseasonably warm day is one of my favorite things to do in the world. You can go to the photos section of this website to see why. Calvin Coolidge dedicated the park in 1925 and ever since it's been the best 2.5 miles walk around.
And yesterday, as the three or four of you may know by now, Hillary Clinton came to our city of license - Hammond, Indiana, to give a stump speech at Munster Steel. Alexis and I went, as you can tell by the photos above, but we were supposed to go to Victory Field in Indianapolis to see Indiana take on in-state rival Notre Dame. Didn't make it. Cancelled another hotel reservation. God is laughing.
What about Hillary? She preached to the choir yesterday. Her entire speech was about bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. She referenced the losses in steel and oil and other factory jobs that we've seen in Indiana, and she promised trade policies that will reverse that trend, going so far as to say it's THE priority of her would-be presidency.
It's a great plan. But as the three or four of you may suspect, God may be laughing.
Instead of barreling down I-65 to a nice clean hotel room, taking a nap, then having a couple beers on the square next to the state capitol... and then going to a baseball game at Victory Field... Alexis and I stood in line with media from Fort Wayne, Chicago, Indianapolis, one woman from a French newspaper, South Bend and so forth. They brought out the dog to sniff our backpacks and all I could think of was did any of the college students in my life leave a joint in one of the pouches. The couple dozen backpacks were laying on a concrete pad with police and reporters all around. The rather large German shepherd did stop at my pack, but only for a moment and that probably had more to do with a rotten banana that I found later at the bottom than any marijuana remnants.
Alexis and I waited for almost three hours for Hillary to take the stage, but it wasn't without incident. A group of union Ironworkers were milling about on the other side of the rope from where Alexis and I and a few dozen other media types were hanging out, so I called out - "hey, Jim Dedelow from WJOB here, was anyone here when Barack Obama came eight years ago?"
That's right. In all irony, eight years ago Barack Obama on his trek through the primaries came to Munster Steel and gave a speech about manufacturing and trade. Except that eight years ago Munster Steel was in Munster. The three or four of you, if you're local, should remember this. It was at the corner of Calumet and 45th. As we speak, construction crews are leveling the old barn to make condos and a shopping strip.
Anyways, eight years ago I did pretty much the same thing Alexis and I did yesterday. I waited in line, had a dog sniff my backpack, worried about some kid leaving weed in my pack, sat around for three hours waiting for a possible future president... and I taped the whole thing. Sometimes on our Region Flashbacks segment on WJOB, I play portions of Obama's speech. Obama talked for the better part of an hour. Hillary talked for 20 minutes. You can listen to Hillary's speech in its entirety by clicking on the link above. If I get around to it, I'll put up a link to Obama's speech eight years ago so the three or four of you can compare.
Anyways, a number of the ironworkers yelled back to me, waving.
"Hey JED, listen to you."
That's always nice. It was like showing off in front of the other media. And then one of the guys walked over.
"Hey Jimmy, it's me, Erskine Ferris, your buddy. We go way back." And there he was, a svelte and smiling Erskine in a hard hat. I thought he had been sick.
"I just had my second open heart surgery. Lost 20 pounds and I'm doing great."
We hugged and I interviewed him. Turns out Erskine was there eight years ago when Obama came to town. If I get around to it, and that's a big "if," I'll post that interview with Erskine up above. Erskine and I played basketball on youth teams a long time ago. On a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, one time, he scored like 30 and me 20 and we beat Harlem, New York. At least that's how I remember it.
... In the end, it's the middle of the night and once again here I am blogging for the three or four of you instead of sleeping. It's a curse, this restless way of trying to rest. My mom handed it down to me, and my aunts, and a bunch of my uncles. Some of them are dead and some live scattered around the Calumet Region. I guess there's solace in knowing that if you took a silent helicopter to their houses right now you'd probably see at least one light on in the bedroom or, if they got a mate, in the living room so they don't wake him or her up.
In a couple of hours I do a radio show. I gotta decide if I'm gonna drive a couple hours to Lafayette and wait in another line and get sniffed by another dog to see Bernie Sanders speak. I'm emailing back and forth with Bernie's media coordinator to see if Bernie's coming up this way, but he's not sure if that's gonna happen or not. It's not a bad way to spend a day. Driving down I-65 like I've done hundreds of times before to relatives' houses, meetings in Indy, to IU where I went to school for a short time before being thrown out, to high school basketball games, to interview politicians at the statehouse. I guess, now that I think about it, I've never driven down I-65 to cover a presidential candidate giving a speech. A first for everything.
... And speaking of emailing presidential primary people, I've been hitting it pretty hard. Believe it or not, the three or four of you, I actually do know some people of relative importance in this state, and I'm contacting them and throwing their names around in an effort to get at least one short interview with at least one candidate. It's shameless of me, I know, but at the heart I'm part ruthless (scumbag?) reporter. Working with legendary newsman Larry Peterson a zillion years ago, I learned early on that "No" is just the first round of negotiations and that it really is my duty as a newsman at WJOB to bring local listeners coverage of stuff that could effect their lives. I tell a lot of corny jokes in a day, but I really do take that duty seriously and if there's any reason that I wind up driving down I-65 today it's that ridiculous sense of duty more than anything else.
Here's a some recent emails I sent.
Hey ----, can you get me Hillary? Or Bernie, for that matter? ... Any time of any day I can tape or go live, in studio or on location. Take the initiative. I'm the best, fairest and most humble interviewer you know... Thanks, JED
Here's another one.
My wife and I own WJOB, which recently located our studios at the Purdue Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center in Hammond. I'd just like to ask you to plant the seed with ------- to consider suggesting to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz to make a visit to the center and come on the radio with me.
I've interviewed ------------ several times in the past, and I showed him the new studios on his recent visit here. If one of the candidates were to come here...
Here's another one.
Do you have any suggestions on how we might get a --------- candidate, or two, for an interview at our new studios at the Purdue Northwest Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center?
Your candidate can present his vision to local voters with a competent interviewer (me) on a station owned by a female Hispanic. On the Purdue side, students who take classes here would learn a ton and we could promote the new $5,000,000 center.
I'll go on location any time, live or taped, audio or video. Also, I'll be in Indianapolis for the morning on Wednesday. Thanks in advance, JED
I hesitate to post portions of these emails, not that I might embarrass the recipients, but as as I re-read them I realize what a media scumbag I really am. In my quest to get an interview with a possible president, I prostitute my wife's Hispanicness, the students, even local officials and steelworkers. Look at this exchange.
My wife and I own the radio station in Hammond, down the street from where you'll be at 12:45pm this afternoon. I would really like a chance to ask Secretary Clinton about bolstering the steel industry and other manufacturers in this area. I'll be at Munster Steel. If you want to get ahold of me, you can text or call (cellphone #).
Also, please consider it an open invitation for Sen. Clinton or a rep from your campaign to come to our studio... You can check me out by asking local officials such as the mayors of Hammond and Gary, or by visiting my website at JED.tv.
Here's the response.
Unfortunately, we're not able to make an interview work today but I'll be in touch if we're able to make something work the next few days. Also, -------- can make sure you're all set at event for audio!
And here's my response, once again prostituting local hard-working men and women.
Thanks, ----- A lotta steelworkers and refinery workers would love to hear me ask Sen. Clinton how she'll make things better... JED
Even producer Ryan's getting into the act.
Good morning ------,
Is Senator Sanders doing radio interviews while he is in Indiana?
WJOB AM 1230 in Hammond is the voice of Northwest Indiana.
Morning host Jim Dedelow would like to have the senator stop by the studio or call his morning show.
WJOB AM 1230
... That's enough for the middle of the night. The three or four of you be the judge - does my shameless prostituting of good people to get an interview with a possible president make me a media scumbag? Or am I simply fulfilling my duty by doing everything in my power to inform local voters of what presidential candidates have to say?
In my defense, it's a really important primary in five days. We Hoosiers could help shape the future of this campaign and this country.