It’s 7:20am and I should probably be doing a radio show. Instead, 24-year-old Sam Michel is sititng in the chair for me. As I told the three or four of you before, my daughter was coming into to town from New York City. I pledged to everyone involved that I would take off two days from doing the show to go to the beach and laugh.
Part of what we did yesterday, besides burn ourselves in the 95-degree sun, was to go to the Lighthouse Mall. That’s where I bought two suit outfits. Now I know what the three or four of you are thinking – JED, why the hell would you upgrade your wardrobe?
It’s a valid question. I am now and have been for a long time a bad dresser. I don’t even really comb or brush my hair in the morning. There’s silver streaks in my goat tee that make me always look like I should rather be operating a jackhammer than sitting in a radio studio. And for the life of me, I could never really find clothes that fit my shoulders. I always look like I’m wearing someone else’s shirt.
That’s until yesterday. I went with Alexis, daughter Jeanie, and niece Annie to Banana Republic. I was actually leaning against the wall perusing the messages on my phone when I looked up and saw a mannequin with a tan sports jacket and jeans on. That looked pretty cool.
“How much is that jacket?” I asked the guy whose name it turns out is “Lenzin” or something like that.
“It’s normally two hundred dollars. But since it’s summer and everything’s on sale, it’s 89 dollars.”
“Let me try it on in a 42.”
It turns out Lenzin is quite the salesman. He brought out not only the tan sports jacket which goes well with jeans – which is all I really wear – he also suggested a gray suit combo that was on sale for $149 total. I’m not kidding.
The whole comedic adventure took off into full force as I would go into the dressing room, try on a new set of clothes, and then walk out into the store to be judged and cajoled by my wife, daughter and niece. It was, as the three or four of you might suspect, a complete horror.
“You look frumpy in that jacket. Get a size smaller.”
“Those pants are baggy in the ass. You look fat.”
“I don’t like that pattern on the jeans.”
It took several of these humiliating walks down the runway to come up with two complete outfits that I could, if I wanted, wear on the air at WJOB.
Now if you’re new to this blog and new to what I do in radio (that would make four or five of you instead of three or four) then you may not know that part of the purpose of writing “My Radio Life” is to catch the transition from to radio to something other than radio. I want to record my life and my observations so that one day a communications professor at a small liberal arts college in Maine could assign my blog to students.
“Read Mr. Dedelow’s pieces from June first through the seventh of 2018 and write an essay on what technology does to spoken word content.” Or something like that.
And part of what technology really does do these days is it makes me dress just a little better. You see, for 32 years now, off and on, I’ve been doing radio or writing newspaper articles. For most of that time, it’s been in an office or studio with no people in it and no cameras. Now, both of these conditions are changing.
The first and third Wednesdays of the month, I host a thing for entrepreneurs that boasts a live audience. We set up a bunch of chairs in the studio and then do the show, which also airs on Facebook Live video like most of my other radio shows these days.
So in essence, whereas radio was pretty much a solitary experience with no visual aspect to it (other than the theatre of the mind), now I got people standing around me and a bunch of people watch me do radio on their phones.
It’s quite unnerving. I dress, left to my own devices, as if I were still an undergrad at UC Berkeley. Standard fare is blue jeans, some construction boots, a washed-out polo, and messy hair. I feel completely comfortable in this uniform. I even wore this uniform for 18 years at the Chicago Board of Trade underneath my tan and sky blue trading jacket. Although, to be precise since you couldn’t wear blue jeans at the Board of Trade, I wore jeans that were of a khaki color. It took a while to find khaki-colored jeans back then. Now, you can buy jeans in all sorts of colors. But not then.
The point is that I have to upgrade my appearance on the air. Really, I don’t mind looking schlocky. It’s part of who I am. The three or four of you who have been with me on this blog most likely understand that by now. I slouch a little, shave poorly, smile crooked, and my hair sticks out in all directions from under my headset. The polos look like they’ve been worn a thousand times, and my jeans do too. You can’t really see my shoes – they’re most often under the broadcast table – but when they do appear, they’re faded and scuffed.
It is in this state that I feel most comfortable. Or at least I used to. Now, once in a while I look at the Facebook Live video of my show and I think – “You look like a f---ing amateur.” I’m talking about myself in that way. I look sloppy, apathetic, dirty almost. I look like I just smoked a bunch of weed and I’m gonna drive out to Hegewisch Records to pick up the latest Who album.
The realization has set in that I can dress better. I don’t want to sell out completely – as some say I have done – but I can wear some clothes that at least fit right. That’s a good place to start. Find some clothes that fit. It took a long time yesterday evening at Banana Republic at the Michigan City Lighthouse Mall with three judging women telling me to “turn around. I don’t like it. Try something else.” But in the end I’ll have at least two full outfits that fit. That’s a start. Another Thousand Words. Bye.