It's 1:16pm on a Wednesday afternoon.
Today, the Griffith state champion robotics team came in to the studio with their little robot on tracks and put it on the table where I broadcast from. It turns out that these six kids and two coaches figured out how to have an arm stick out from the robot and pull itself up to a basketball rim, and with a ball in the tupperware on top of the robot, dunk the basketball.
The robot could dunk the basketball. There's a video on Whistlesports.com of this process, and it's gotten 110,000 hits so far.
Anyways, as cool as this is and as important as this is to the lives of these young people - almost all of whom want to go to Purdue for college to study engineering - it's not the nugget I want to tell the three or four of you about. It has to do with dreams.
The coach of the team is Gracia Dudicek. Her son, Gabe, is on the team. So I interviewed Gracia and the other coach - Rich Morgan - and then rotated two kids in at a time into the studio. When Gracia's son came in, he described what it was like around the breakfast table, where he and mom often talked about robots. Imagine that for breakfast... talk about robots. No one does that... except for maybe one of my four readers Carole Terry. She spawned a nuclear engineer, so maybe at one time in their many breakfasts across a couple of decades they talked about robots.
Anyways, young Gabe - whom I joked looked like a young Adam Levine from Maroon Five - says something like this:
"Yeah, sometimes I wake up and tell my mom - 'I had this dream and in it thought of a way we could make the robot move just a little bit better...'"
Bingo. That is the start of inspiration. Once you start dreaming about what it is you are passionate about... that could be start of greatness... or simply a lifelong obsession.
So it goes with me and radio. As a kid I listened to radio every day. In the car, in the kitchen, every night in bed. And I carried radio along with me to school, to football practice, on dates, to Wampum.
But it didn't stop with listening and thinking about what was said on radio and about the people saying it... radio invaded my dreams. The songs that I heard on WCFL and WLS before I went to bed would show up in my dreams. California Dreamin' by the Mamas and the Papas became a little boy in Indiana dreaming about walking in a California church and holding a palm tree next to a girl in a bikini and the priest sipping on a Daiquiri that my aunt Mary just made for him. Stuff like that.
And I dreamt about being on the radio. I wanted to 1. play music like Larry Lujack. and 2. talk about sports like Irv Cross, who went to Hammond High just down the street. I took my radio apart, and I bought different radios. And when everyone started wearing cassette players on their belts and listening to music on a headphone, I did the same... only I used the part of the cassette player that tuned in to radio.
What good is music if someone's not there to hand it up to you on a platter? If you're not sharing it either in your own head or literally with someone else? And who in God's name would listen for the hundredth time to a tape of the new Journey album when you could listen to Lou Boudreaux and Jack Brickhouse do a Cubs game?
So after a full day of listening to radio for several hours a day... every day... radio would invade my dreams. I would wake up from dreams in which radio played an integral part. Sometimes I would imagine Larry Lujack in a studio somewhere at the top of the John Hancock Building spinning a record and smiling. Sometimes I would be in the booth with Jack and Lou and Lloyd Pettit and I would be handing them Jujubees of fiddling with a dial on a receiver.
Don't you see? Jake dreaming about robots. He is writing his future. Once it's in your dreams you can't escape it. So here I am today. I just took a nap for a couple of hours because it was bowling last night and you know what that means. It means, by the way, that I've finally reached a 170 average after all these years, so I'm bowling my ass off to keep it that way. I started four years ago, as you know if the three or four of you cross over and listen to the show, at about 130. Then it was 140, 150, and this year I started out about 160. As of last night, I was a 170.1 average. I bowled a 175 average last night, so we're all good.
I can go to sleep at night knowing that the radio station is still playing and that I am more than a 170 average.
Anyways, during this rather fitful two-hour nap, I dreamt about radio. I dreamt about Jean Shepherd. Yes, that Jean Shepherd. Not the one who starred on New York Radio for dozens of years and who wrote and narrated A Christmas Story. Nope. The Jean Shepherd who started out right here at WJOB in Hammond. He walked in to our new studios on the campus of the Purdue University Calumet Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center in his signature hat with a bamboo brim and nodded his head - "Fancy shmancy."
That's all I have for the three or four of you. Because then I got a text on my phone from the radio station and then a call from Comcast to see if our STL between our new studio and the transmitter site is still up and running. I just wanted to lay back down to find out what else Jean Shepherd had to say about our new studios... and about radio in general. Maybe he could tell him how to 1. how to do a better radio show and 2. how to stop thinking and even dreaming about radio all the time, every day, every night. That's it for now. The three or four of you will have to go find something else to do on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of America when it's cloudy out and Spring is a long freakin' way off. Don't kid yourself. It may be 60 degrees today, but you're a fool if you think that's all old man winter has for us this year. Don't be a fool.