That's Jonny, Jewel and Tai. More on them later. It's another long day of radio coming to a close.
5:30am - Started the radio show. Christina Cortez, the video wunderkind, is off for two more days from school at Tribeca Film in downtown Chicago, so she came in and ran the video feed to Facebook Live. It was 7 degrees outside with a -7 windchill, so we of course tried to do the first half hour of the show in video from the parking lot. That didn't work too well as the connection to the internet kept fading out.
8am - I finished the radio show and left for Wicker Park for the One Region meeting of "local leaders."
8:45am - I arrived at the One Region meeting. It's a cheerleader session to gather momentum for the 600-million dollar extension of the South Shore train through Hammond, Munster and Dyer. I met Mike Nolan, who runs NICTD, and Leah Konrady, who runs One Region. We talked about when they're coming on the show next week. They want Bill Hanna, head of the Regional Development Authority, to call in while they're on. Mike and Leah looked a little puzzled when I say, "Okay, but we'll only have him on the phone for a couple of minutes. The rest of the time we'll just talk together."
I'm a radio host and a radio programmer and a radio owner. It's my job to say what would make the best radio. It does not make good radio when you have two guests in studio and then a third person calls in. Too many balls in the air. No rhythm to the discussion... and certainly no room for joking around, which is all I want to do on local radio anyways.
"Oh," Leah said, a little puzzled.
"I guess that will work," said Mr. Nolan.
I spoke with Chris White, the publisher of The Times and president of One Region. He's now publisher for four papers in the Lee Enterprise system. Chris may have been the only other person at the breakfast who wore jeans. He wore jeans and a brown sportcoat, like a hip Silicon Valley CEO. I wore jeans and a really cool Van Heusen sweater that my wife and daughter bought me. It makes me look like a professor at a small college in the northeast.
I moved around while speakers talked about environmental impact studies, ROI, and double tracking. For a while, I sat next to Dave Ryan, the executive director of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. We both started getting a little silly. After a while, I picked up the comment card and filled it out as Cheech, with the attached question.
"Dude, who cut your hair?"
10:30am - Met with Hammond mayor Tom McDermott about his show on WJOB. The mayor and a couple dozen other people buy shows on WJOB as part of what we call the Community Programming Initiative. It is an efficient and effective use of local radio. The meeting with the mayor was about pricing.
In the past 15 months, we have added brand new studios, an FM radio station, and a comprehensive Facebook Live video presence. It's time to raise prices. We'll be meeting with all of the people who do shows to tell them about the price increase. The mayor wasn't necessarily happy about the increase, but he seemed to understand.
1:45pm - Lane Paradis comes to my house and we record the tenth episode of "This is Dead Air." This is our Grateful Dead podcast in which we play songs from a live show and talk about them. This week's episode is an acoustic set of the Dead from Warfield Theater in 1980. You should listen to it at JEDcastradio.com.
4pm - Alexis and I go to the wake of Jack Schwer, family friend and father of Jonny Pupillo, pictured above. Jack was the most generous man I ever met. He died after breakfast on the stairs outside the kitchen. "Katie," he said to his wife, "I think I'm dying." And he died. He lived to his mid-80s, a full life, lots of kids and grandkids and a steel -oriented business. There was sadness, for sure, but also plenty of fond memories.
6pm - Alexis and I drive 42 minutes to the Avalon Manor in Merrillville for a dinner sponsored by the Lake County Bar Association. It's the robing of newly-elected judge Marissa McDermott. I talk to Joe Van Bokkelen, the former US attorney who's now a federal judge. The judge tells me that soon he'll take "senior status," which means he can take 50% of the caseload.
"Quality of life," I say.
"Perhaps," says the judge.
I also talk to Randy Palmateer. He's the union boss who recently got busted for a DUI. You can watch it on youtube. There's a comedic element to it. Palmateer also somehow got involved in the fiasco at the Lake Station court in which they didn't send the DUI's down to the state of Indiana. It came out in the paper today that there won't be any charges in all of this.
"There's a science to repairing an image, you know," I told him. "In crisis communications, which this is, you lay low for a while and then come back contrite but strong.."
I don't know why I laid my eternal wisdom on Randy Palmateer, other than he makes me laugh. He may be one of the more despised guys in Lake County right now. But if he makes the right moves, like anyone else he can bounce back.
Also, I talk to a Alfredo Estrada, a former steelworker who's now an attorney with Burke, Costanza.
"Hi, Jim. I listen every day. You're wrong that no Region basketball teams are gonna make it down to the state finals this year. Andrean will."
"Really, Mr. Estrada. You know what the good thing about owning radio stations and being one of the 15 guys who votes in the AP poll is?"
"No, what's that?"
"What I say goes. And I say no local teams are gonna make the state final game this year... at any class. In girls basketball maybe, but not boys."
I may not necessarily have total credibility when it comes to assessing politics, economic development, crime or public policy in general, but when it comes to high school basketball in Indiana, I'll put my expertise up against anyone... except maybe my cousin Scott, who lives in South Bend. He runs the big AAU program there. He has a better sense of who's good or not than I do.
7:15pm - Alexis and I stop at Portillo's Hot Dogs at I-65 and US 30. Alexis has an Italian Beef and I order a grilled chicken sandwich. As we're eating at a table, a guy walks by - "Nice morning show," he says.
"Thanks for listening," I say. We strike up a conversation. His name is Fred and his wife is Kim, who tells of her husband being so hooked that he listened on his phone for a good portion of a recent vacation to Florida. Fred's a Teamster 142 member.
"I drive a white steelhauler by your studio once or twice a week. Sometimes I beep," Fred says. Alexis talks with them also. We have some new friends... except they live in Lowell, which is the same as living in northern Kentucky.
8:10pm - I return to Mr. Schwer's wake. I speak with Jim Pupillo, the eldest of the brothers. Jim lives in Scottsdale. He's a successful institutional investment advisor. We talk about Defined Benefit plans and the decline of actively-managed funds. Morningstar Funds reported yesterday that 360-billion flowed out of actively-managed funds in 2016. Passive funds (which are based on indexes and formulas and don't charge nearly as much in fees as active ones) gained 420-billion or so.
After this discussion of high finance, I hung out with my best bud, Jonny, and his kids and wife, Tai.
"We met in kindergarten," Jonny told Tai, "same age as Juda is right now. Remember Mrs. Brush, Jimmy?"
Yes, I remember Mrs. Brush. And I remember the first day of kindergarten. I cried like a baby when my mom left me, which would be a process repeated 22 years later when she died of cancer after a lengthy illness.
"Well I remember it, Jimmy. And you know what?"
"I don't think I've seen you cry since?"
Maybe. Like a lot of guys who have worn the Laborers Local 41 label, I don't cry a lot. "When your first kid's born and at your mom's funeral." That's what a laborer named Joe Holly told me once about when it's appropriate to cry. I'll add the first day of kindergarten and when you get cut from the American Legion baseball team. Other than that, I really can't think of too many appropriate situations.
10pm - Alexis and I are lying in bed listening to a podcast called "Crimetown." It's about corruption in Providence, Rhode Island. They talk about corruption as an accepted way of life. Sound familiar?
By the way, in the photo above, Tai is frowning in the background. That's not an accurate depiction of Tai. She's almost always smiling and is much prettier than that picture shows. I apologize for using the photo, Tai, but in this photo your daughter is the most beautiful being on the planet this evening. I hope that's enough.
11pm - I sit down to watch our Facebook Live video of the East Chicago Central at Gary West Side girls basketball game. West Side has Dana Evans, who's signed to go to Louisville and is a candidate for Miss Basketball in Indiana. East Chicago Central has Jenasae Bishop, who's one of the more sought-after girls basketball players around. Jenasae's only a junior.
We couldn't do the game live on the radio this evening since we had to air the Purdue at Ohio State basketball game from Value City arena in Columbus, Ohio. But have no fear, Facebook Live is here. We broadcasted the game in video on Facebook. So far, it's had about 698 views. I'm gonna guess that'll climb to more than 1,000 by tomorrow. I don't know who won, so please don't tell me. Good night.