4:33am on Thursday morning.
Instead of rushing over to the health club to walk the treadmill and watch 10 TVs simultaneously, I'll sit on the bed in my daughter's room next to the dog and tell you that I sure wish the feeling of dread would go away.
It's still here. I just woke up from a dream in which I was riding alongside a fast-moving river in a some sort of range rover... escaping something. I wasn't driving, someone else was. I don't know who it was or what we were hurrying away from... but as I sat in the backseat of this open-air four-wheeler, I kept looking at the water in this really wide river. It flowed faster than we were driving. And in an instant I was in the water, bobbing up and down, looking for something to grab onto.
And then I woke up...
And then I woke up, and instead of walking the treadmill to shoo away the dread, I decided to tell the three or four of you about it. I'm still flattened, as many of you in the extended WJOB family are, by the apparent suicide of Karen from the North Shore, 54, a 1979 grad of Hammond Clark. She called the show a lot and stopped by the station and she knew a lot of the same people that I know and that others at the station know. She was the kind of person you want to attract if you're in local radio. And now she's gone.
Joe called in yesterday - Mr. Dedelow, I'm a first-time caller and I just want to tell you that you handled that stuff about Karen yesterday with dignity and respect. I helped her fix up her apartments and she was just an amazing, always happy person. Thanks for how you've handled it.
But I got a text from a guy - I feel for your friend. But is her family cool with all the attention brought to a suicide? ... Do you really want to broadcast about a jumper off the Skyway bridge. For one, not to give anyone else ideas.
When someone on a national stage, or even on a Chicago stage, in the media commits suicide there is little or no mention of it... let alone discussion. But we are different in the Calumet Region, and we are different in local radio. You can say what we want but after a while local radio, if we're doing it right, shakes hands or hugs everyone who wants to be a part of the extended radio wave family. It's inevitable. And families, however loose they are, are better off if they communicate.
I'm not gonna fight the dread that's washed over me since Monday night when I was sitting in bed and learned that it was Karen who fell from the Skyway to a mostly-frozen Calumet River. Just wait it out. The wake's tomorrow at Anthony and Djiadovicz in north Hammond. 2-8pm,
.... In other developments in My American, Radio Life, the four hosts meet today at 11am. I don't normally like to schedule ANY meetings in a day, but this one should take all of our minds off the dread of the day. After 11 years of trying to strike a balance with local and satellite radio programming, I believe that we're getting close. Heres the four locally-produced programs daily on weekdays.
Me and Ryan - 5:30am to 9:00 on average.
Geno's Region Bandstand - noon to 1pm.
Harlow and Tony - 4-6pm.
Rick and sometimes Kat - 10pm to midnight.
In between there's national programs like Laura Ingraham and Clark Howard and a ton of high school games along with Purdue and IU games and other sports. Sometimes we play "Region Flashbacks" in the evening and on the weekend.
We're catching some sort of rhythm with the programming day. By accident, of course. Trial and error. I could write a book for the three or four of you about all the mistakes we made in the past 11 years in trying to program this little AM radio station. I'd look like a complete buffoon. Remember when we went to an all-women format? That was painful. Not that I don't like women talking on the radio - the cause was noble. It's just that nobody listened and the Rosy O'Donnel-based network folded in short order. We've also done oldies and mostly sports and then in 2007, I fired everyone and walked into the studio and just started doing the morning show myself. From that point on, it's been a lot more fun.
So the four hosts are meeting today to see how we can do better radio. We don't really link the four shows together in any cohesive manner. We don't do promos of our own shows and play them throughout the day.
Hi, this is JED, host of the morning show. Join us Thursday morning for my high school football coach, John Friend, who received a lifetime achievement award from the Gary Old-timers Association. Also, Sheriff John Buncich will be here and we'll get details of the gruesome double-homocide in Gary.
That's a promo I could have done for today's show. But I didn't. As a matter of fact, in the 11 years that I've been doing radio - first in the afternoon and then the morning show - I have never once cut a promo. Imagine that. Lead by example.
It's 5:05 right now and I'm running late already. Sometimes, if I'm really late, I'll call Ryan at 5:30 and give a roads report on the air... like I planned it that way to be on the road at 5:30 so I could tell everyone how slippery it is out... instead of being, where I should be every morning, in the captain's chair at 5:30. See you in 20 minutes... maybe.