3:45 on a Monday morning
Good morning to the three or four of you. I hope you were able to sleep better than I was.
Per usual, I woke at about 2:30am to worries about radio. It's what I do, both worry and do radio. And in the middle of the night you can lay in bed awake but with your eyes closed and think of all sorts of ways to save radio, if that's what you in your heart of hearts want to do. You know it's headed to die if someone doesn't do something, and that someone might as well be you.
At least it all makes sense with your eyes closed. As soon as you open them, more practical considerations such as what should I talk about on the air this morning and how am I gonna make the next loan payment become quite a bit more paramount.
I woke up and started dinking around Facebook. I posted a photo last week of me and three of my brothers and sisters and my dad and that got, let me check, 180 likes. Is that a lot? Not really. Not for a locally famous morning radio host.
But it also got me thinking - why is all that blah blah blah chatter on Facebook and not on the radio? I'll just take the last post on my timeline.
It's a black-and-white picture of an old man and two young kids sitting at a picnic table. And the inscription from Theodore McClendon is - Chillin' with Gramps in the early 1960s.
Now I know Theodore McClendon - for a while he and his brother did a show on WJOB - and there is, I'm sure, a great story behind the photo. Let me rephrase - the photo tells a pretty good story just by itself. There's the grandpa sitting there smoking a cigarette - back then, everybody smoked, even in the face of children - and he's looking down at Duane and Theo only slightly amused. Back then, kids were to be more seen than heard and it's fairly evident in the photo.
But Gramps has a kind, if not entirely interested, look on his face as he gazes down at Duane, who's much taller than the other kid, who is Theodore. Memories, sadnesses, kindness, lives lived to the fullest - there are stories in the picture and in the Facebook comment that Theodore left. And it's all on the internet and not on radio.
Does that make any sense? Is there a possibility that Theodore could have somehow transferred whatever he was feeling at the time he looked at the photo of his Gramps and brother, posted it, and then thought about the right thing to write about it... is there a way that Theo could have transferred that process to audio and ultimately radio?
I don't know the answer to that. But sometimes I wonder. I wonder what would happen if I opened up our little WJOB to be a Facebook and Twitter and Instagram extension. How would that work?
I don't really know, at this point. It's just the germination of an idea hatched during another middle of the night bout with waking up for no apparent reason at an ungodly hour. To some extent, during my live show there is a bit of Facebook. But most of the time we have directed talk - we talk about what's going on in the public arena. We talk mostly about current events of a public sort.
But Facebook is basically about public events of a private sort. You post a photo of your brother and grandpa and then people comment on it. Here, let me check if there's any comments yet on Theo's post.
"Love this - a simple picnic - what great memories."
"Love the matching outfits."
That's just in the ten minutes since Theo posted it in the middle of the night. My question is this - why can't that same kind of easy, sometimes meaningless interaction, transfer to radio?
In other words, almost everything we do on radio is directed. We start at the top of the hour. We tell people what the weather is going to be like, and where the traffic backups are, what the markets are doing... and then we tell them what the most important events of the day are, like who killed whom (allegedly) and what municipality is running out of money and what huge grocery store is opening in the area.
We direct the conversation. We say what the topics should be. We say how long the topic should go on. We choose who can talk. And we say when it's time to do something else.
But while we're doing this, it's an almost exactly opposite type of interaction that's going on on Facebook. It's photos of your grandpa 50 years ago. People like that kind of thing. So what gives?
That's the kind of stuff I think about with my eyes closed lying in bed waiting to do a radio show. That and how to make the next loan payment.