It's the middle of the night again.
It's all a facade, your
devil may care attitude
Invariably, I wake to worry about radio... and I take my waking slow. This time, I'm worried about our backup system. In a few hours I'm scheduled to host Griffith basketball coach Gary Hayes, athletic director Stacey Adams, and schools superintendent Pete Morikis. You're probably thinking - "big deal, JED, you host teachers and administrators all the time. They talk about the state of education, or a new tutoring program, or changes in the nutritional content of school lunches."
But not today. This morning, the radio show takes on a higher calling. As you know, the Griffith team bus rolled over on I-65 on Saturday on the way to the semi-state 3A basketball game at Lafayette Jefferson High School. A lot of kids and coaches are injured, banged up. They're emotionally shaken. And so is the rest of the school and town and the Calumet Region.
Yesterday, I was in the blinds and shades aisle at Home Depot and the two clerks were talking about it.
Clerk 1 - "I wonder how fast they were going."
Clerk 2 - "Did you see the pictures? It's a miracle nobody got killed."
Clerk 1 - "Yeah, I know. If it was me or you, we woulda probably got killed."
For several hours on Saturday, the Griffith bus crash was trending on Facebook, right alongside Donald Trump. It's that big of a miracle that nobody died or even had a major injury. A lotta scraped faces and bruised muscles and a couple of broken bones and a punctured lung, but no death. Go ahead, do the sign of the cross or bow to allah, for nothing short of a higher power intervened to keep the 26 players and coaches safe. That's really the only way you get to trend on Facebook, by the way, is to have some sort of miracle.
So yesterday after the show, Ryan and I were talking about what kind of coverage we should give to the crash and aftermath on the Tuesday show. Ryan called coach Hayes.
"He answered right away. He's laid up, says he couldn't believe how sore his back is this morning. He can barely get around."
That's not good for a high school basketball coach to be in that much pain... two days before he's scheduled to lead his charges into battle against the vaunted Marion Giants, owners of several semi-state and state crowns through the years. There's reports of Martin Schiele being on crutches. Martin is Griffith's quick point guard who's really the main cog against any kind of press. Leading scorer Tremell Murphy was in a neck brace just a couple of days ago lying in the grass along I-65. There's reports of other injuries, too.
Yesterday, a guy called in from East Chicago and said his nephew is on the Griffith team and has a cracked vertebrae. The rumors of injury are rampant. And it's in this light that IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox rescheduled the semi-state game for 5pm central time Wednesday in the historic Lafayette Jeff gym.
There's a lot of rumor and no doubt misinformation going around about the extent of injures to Griffith players and coaches, about early dismissal and how to get on the fan busses and how to get tickets... so Griffith sent out an announcement that included this:
TUNE IN: Griffith Superintendent Peter Morikis, Athletic Director Stacey Adams and Boys Head Basketball Coach Gary Hayes will light up the airwaves from 6:45am to 7:15am Tuesday on WJOB 1230 AM.
Ryan said that Griffith called and in typical humble Griffith fashion asked if they could buy some time for Tuesday morning to give out all the information. The problem was, however, that Lake County coroner Merrillee Frey and County elections director Michelee Fajman were scheduled to be on the show, which on Tuesdays Verlie Suggs co-hosts with me.
"Cancel Fajman and Frey and tell Griffith to come in and of course they don't have to pay."
That was my response to the situation. It's the same response that the three or four of you would have had. The issue now, however, is that all five of us are up in the middle of the night worrying about the WJOB backup system.
With the new studios along Indianapolis Boulevard seven blocks from the old studios behind Smith Chevrolet, we have to somehow send the radio that we produce back to the old studios and through the transmitter and up the tower so that you can hear it. Our challenge has been for months that every once in a while Comcast internet drops us off the air. I've written copious blogs about it.
Typically, it's not that big of a deal because if Comcast internet goes out for more than a minute, we simply switch to a phone line. And therein lies the catch. With all of the basketball games we've been broadcasting lately, sometimes we needed a third set of equipment. Ryan took out the backup system and used that. So if Comcast internet goes down while the Griffith people are on, we're screwed.
And that would be unfortunate. Because this is one of those times that local radio has to step up. It's not just that local people need to know who's hurt and who's not and if they can sign up for a fan bus and what time will the kids be getting out of school so they can drive down I-65 to Lafayette Jeff.
There's more. And we've seen this a bunch of times before on WJOB and at local radio stations across America - when there's tragedy, we turn to local radio to heal. The first time I saw this was during the massive floods of 2008 when the Borman was closed for a week and 1600 homes in Munster were underwater. We stayed on the air live for six days straight. It was a tough time, but in the end local radio joined with the community to ...
Start to heal. I'm hoping that this is what happens in a couple of hours on WJOB... if of course we stay on the air.