I’ve been wondering for a while if we can continue indefinitely the kind of radio that we do.
If you really think about it, what we do isn’t really done that often anymore. We come on the air and open up the phone lines and people say what they want to say and then we all move on. This has worked pretty well for 93 years at WJOB. It started before any of the three or four of you who read my blog were even born.
There was a hiccup around 2000. That’s when a husband and wife from New York wound up corralling the spirit that is WJOB. They didn’t understand what the WJOB spirit stood for. Next thing you know, WJOB was on life support.
If it didn’t go into bankruptcy, then WJOB would have never gotten cheap enough for Alexis and me to buy it. We bought WJOB. We bought the license, the tower, the brand and all that goes with it.
What we did not buy is the spirit of WJOB. That is not for us to buy, or for anyone to buy. WJOB is a special place, if you let it be. For 93 years, Region people, who often don’t like each other, have united around one thing – the spirit of WJOB.
We don’t really have much to call our own, especially not now. We don’t even have our own television stations or professional sports teams. We look to Chicago for that, along with museums, fountains and jobs.
And we really don’t have control of our own government destiny. That comes from Indianapolis, which is 53 million corn cobs away down I-65.
What we’re left with is… what? What do we have that is our own?
The three or four of you could come up with some things that are our own. I’m sure you could. But in that list, you may include the spirit of WJOB. In the end, the Region has WJOB.
Now don’t think that I don’t know that. Like the three or four of you, I listened to WJOB as a kid – reluctantly. I really was one of those kids in the backseat forced to listen to the Voice of the Region. And I hated it. That’s part of the reason that I speak directly to the non-yet-believers on their way to school in the morning. You will one day believe in the spirit of WJOB. You’ll stop believing in Santa Claus. It will be replaced by a belief in the spirit of WJOB.
I bring all of this up because I suspect that in the world the way it is now, it is not as easy to provide a home for the WJOB spirit that is good and pure. The ghost, the spirit of WJOB, is threatened. I can feel it.
It’s not necessarily threatened by regulatory malfeasance or can't make payroll. These are always concerns, but for the most part we pay enough attention to these minor details to continue to crank out airwaves every day.
The threat to the spirit, the one I cherish almost as much as the spirit of the Grateful Dead itself, is threatened because of something a bit more mysterious, slightly sinister, bordering on hate.
You can see the hate in the world, the displeasure, the frustration, the sadness. All that you have to do is to turn on CNN or Fox at night. There it is. And it’s been there for at least a couple of years now. Hate, spite, want, melancholy, violence, lying, hurting people.
And here in America, we are not one. I accept that. The three or four of you probably accept that. Now that I think about it, if you the three or four of you read my blog on a regular basis, then you’re probably a bit of an accepter yourself. You just accept that I’m gonna ramble. You accept that Mad Mac is gonna call my show twice a morning. You accept that Ramon is gonna call me about 5:45. You accept that I’m gonna be a little late in the morning. You just accept.
You accept that we are a divided people, that we are a hating people. Really, think about your own breast – do you carry hate these days? At the very least, you may even just carry hate for the haters. But there is a hate in all of us these days. I’m certain of it.
You can hear it on my morning show. What we do at WJOB in the morning is we open up the airwaves so people can air whatever it is that’s in their breasts. And they can text in to me also, and they can comment on Facebook. They can email me and there’s got to be other ways to take in people’s comments that I’m not thinking of right now.
And that’s what worries me this Wednesday in early June just before midnight. It worries me that there is so much hate and spite in the world these days. It worries me that the way we do radio may not be appropriate for a world in which hate rules and truth does not. I won’t go into the specifics. The three or four of you watch the TV every night. You listen to the spew on WJOB. You talk to the angry neighbor. You may even hear it from your kids. You may even hear it from yourself.
My point is that the 93-year-old method of just opening the phone lines to hear what people are thinking just may not work in an era where hate rules and truth does not. Spee freech radio breaks down in this environment. I can’t explain it as well as I’d like right now, but I can feel the spirit of WJOB ailing. It has survived the depression, Pearl Harbor, civil rights violence, 911, Isis… but the spirit is having a little trouble doing what you and I do on a daily basis – accept the hate.
For some reason, it’s not a natural thing to do for the spirit that is WJOB, the spirit that is good and pure and resilient as hell.