It’s 11:26pm on a Monday night. I did a horrible radio/TV show this morning. The lights didn’t work and the producers couldn’t get a video clip to play. And since I had to talk on the air about the death of Terry Conley, I was in a rotten mood anyhows.
I shared this with listeners – “Whether I’m riding my bike to do this show or driving my car down Columbia Avenue, I always look forward to talking with you. Not today.”
Not today. Yes, the things that happen in the world – in my world – sometimes get to me. I’ve shared this with the three or four of you before. I still can’t shake this question –
“Why would someone pull up alongside Terry Conley’s car and shoot him dead?”
I don’t have an answer. I also covered another story this morning out of Gary. There was a fire in an apartment complex in the Miller section, not too far from where Terry was shot and killed. The fire was on the fourth floor, where two kids, 4 and 2, were left alone. An older child was able to leap from the fourth floor to a blanket held by neighbors. He survived. The two little ones didn’t.
Horror in an apartment complex. Horror in front of a train station. These things may happen outside of me. But they get processed inside of me. This is my homeland. My ancestors walked down Indianapolis Boulevard in 1871 right in front of where, in 2018, I talk on the radio every day. I have an attachment to here.
This attachment extends to the Miller section of Gary. My dad and uncle had their construction company there. It was on the old River Queen property on route 12. After the funeral for Terry Conley on Saturday, I drove the long way home from Portage. I drove right past the old River Queen property that would become Dedelow, Inc. It’s still abandoned. Low warehouses, concrete office structures, a few rusted machines inside a chain link fence.
In one of those warehouses, I saw my first dead dog. My cousins and brothers and I were working during the Christmas holiday. Some of us were still in high school. Some of us were older. I don’t remember which group I belonged to.
It was a brutal winter. As a matter of fact, when I think about the late 1970s and early 80s around here, I think of brutal cold. It would take too much to look up the temperature patterns of the late 1970s and early 80s in and around Chicago, but I’ll bet my last bippy that is was below normal temperatures.
My cousins and brothers and I were cleaning up the yard, organizing tools, piling up debris, cutting some old railroad ties for scrap. We did our work and then left one Friday through the front gate. On the way out, we stopped to pet the yard dogs. There were three of them.
There were three on Friday. By Monday, there was just one. The other two had frozen to death, right there where we were working. The one, a German shepherd, froze with his legs sticking straight out from his body as if someone from the old taxidermy store in Griffith had stuffed him. His eyes were open as if he still wanted to be petted.
The other dog, a female, froze more in a ball, with one leg tucked under and eyes closed. The dog still living was limping from frostbitten paws.
I don’t know why I bring this up other than after I passed the old River Queen property where this happened, I drove by the Miller train station where Terry was shot. If I had taken a quick right, I would have wound up at the Lakeshore Apartments where two children would burn to death two days later. I didn’t do that.
What I did do this morning was one of the worst shows I ever did. I had to stop the broadcast and to a commercial three times to deal with technical problems. And, since producers Ryan and Christina couldn’t get the lights to work, I had to do the show in relative darkness, at least until the sun came up. It was a fiasco.
And then my childhood chump of almost 50 years came in. And, the three or four of you aren’t going to believe this, but he lectured me about making my show more of a TV show.
“Since you put the shows on youtube now, I finally watched one. I could barely get through it. You need to upgrade everything,” Baker said to me on the air.
This comes from a guy who for the last five years has regularly berated me – “Why are you spending so much time and money on streaming video? Just do radio.”
Now, all of the sudden, Billy “Buzzkill” Baker is telling me to get with the program. “Clean up the studio. Fix some of the shots. Get your damn lights working, and just do it.”
Yikes. Not those words. I heard them before. A long time ago.
It’s a character flaw that I have. I can move rather quickly toward a goal, and then I stop and think about it. And then I think about it some more. If there’s people to fire or disappoint, I ruminate about things and ruminate about them some more. You can probably figure this out by reading this blog.
I have been talking to the three or four of you for hundreds of thousands of words about how I’m so sorrowful that radio is dying and that I’m moving into streaming video. I say it with remorse. I miss my old friend, radio. I am grieving while swimming to the shore. I feel bad about doing WJOB as video. It hurts me. I feel as if I’m being disloyal.
“It’s just local content. Who cares how we get it? On the radio? On Facebook or Twitter or youtube? Just do it, Jimmy.”
Those words again. Baker repeated them during a break. I’ve heard them before.
At the risk of getting overdramatic…. as my mom was slowly dying in hospital rooms across Chicago, I would sit with her after my work at the Chicago Board of Trade. I worked for a firm and I had been talking for a long time about going out on my own to trade for myself.
Day after day, I’d sit at the end of my mom’s bed and tell her about it. She’d listen, or at least pretend to, from behind an oxygen mask.
One day, not too long before she died, my mom had heard enough. She pulled the mask from her face, which was no easy task, and said.
“uh ooh it.”
“Just do it already. Quit talking about it and just do it.”
Now I’m trying to remember if this was before or after “Just do it” became a familiar refrain for Nike. It was their campaign slogan for decades. Perhaps my mom thought of it before Oregon did.
Either way, my mom had a point. I ruminate, and then I ruminate some more. I was working for a group of guys which included Dennis Flynn who had given me my start in the futures business. They put a lot of money into training me. I was starting to make them some serious money. And then I was gonna leave. I felt bad about this.
“Just do it already.”
I eventually did leave these guys and start my own trading operation, but not until after my mom died. That made it easier, I suppose. It was a clean break with an old girlfriend, a clean break with my trading firm, and, of course, a pretty defining moment in our family.
So does it make a little more sense why I pretty much stopped in my tracks when Baker said those words this morning? He’s the one guy who was a non-believer when it came to streaming video. If Baker is on the train then it’s already left the station..
In other words, it really is time to quit badgering the three or four of you about how remorseful I am about turning my back on radio. It’s time to Just Do It. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.
Also, as I write this in late March of 2018, newspaper and news show are full of stories about how Facebook screwed up in releasing a whole bunch of data about users, including, no doubt, me and you. Facebook stock has fallen considerably in the past few days, and, just today, the DOJ launched a full investigation into Facebook’’s practices. Cook County just across the state line is suing Facebook as part of a class action. It’s getting ugly for Facebook.
You might think this is a problem for us in that I’ve pretty much directed our streaming video to Facebook. We do it also on Twitter and youtube, but most people pick us up on Facebook.
As a matter of fact, in the past week I could tell that our Facebook numbers have been weaker, just slightly.
What does this mean for us?
For now, I don’t know. But I sense an opportunity. What it is, I don’t know. But you can rest assured that once I do know what the opportunity is that I will work hard to kind of make it happen. And then I’ll stop. I’ll ruminate about it over and over again until, while you’re reading this, you say out loud to your partner lying next to you –
“Just do it already, JED. Just do it.”