Here's a radio timeline for Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014.
350am. Wake to watch the riots and looting following grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in shooting death of Michael Brown in #Ferguson.
515am. Drive around Region to check icy road conditions, call live to WJOB, talk for ten minutes. Like this early morning call-in on my way to the radio station. Producer Ryan Walsh allows it today for some reason.
530am. Walk into new studios at Purdue Commercialization Center, where there is construction going on all around us. "Watch out," Ryan says as I enter. "What the f#@*," I say, breaking my own rule of no swearing in WJOB studios. There's two mice stuck to a glue trap. The construction across the 20,000 square feet is forcing the little critters into our space. One mice squeals.
535am. Start speaking into the microphone. Can't hear myself. The new Allen & Heath mixing board is only half working. I speak, and Ryan says they can hear me on the air, but the VU meter isn't working and no sound in headphones. I can hear the first caller - Aleks - but he can't hear me. It seems only half of the main board is working. After five minutes of panic and turning knobs, I pack up and rush to old studios seven blocks away.
6-8am. Verlie Suggs and I do some pretty good radio, centering on the Ferguson riots and the Taser incident in Hammond. Verlie - Ferguson shows that in America there is very little value placed on the life of a black man. Several callers argue the merits of the case, saying that Michael Brown attacked the officer, that the officer had no way of knowing if Brown was armed or not. Good points. WJOBcaller Joe from Hobart says Ferguson sends message to whites and policemen that you can shoot black people and get away with it. Per usual, Verlie and caller MadMac get into it for good radio.
8am. The best radio of the day and for a long time comes when Verlie's husband Mike Suggs calls in. Mike's a quiet, almost always smiling, black man who has risen to Director of Operations for NIPSCO, the local power company. He's well-known as an executive and as a proponent of diversity.
Mike said he disagreed with the grand jury, that he thought that the case should have played out in court. And then Mike took a deep breath and told a couple of his own experiences.
One happened when he was high school wrestler in Elkhart, Indiana. He had gone to the grocery store after practice, where police put a loaded gun to his head and marched him around back to see if his wrestling shoes matched a footprint of someone who had just robbed the place.
The other happened as an adult. Mike pulled out of his subdivision in Merrillville and once again had a policeman put a loaded gun to his head. The policeman told Mike, "There's been a robbery and you're the first black man that I saw."
Sitting on my bed pecking away at a laptop, I don't have notes in front of me, but as best I can recall Mike said - "You really don't know what it's like until you've had a loaded gun pointed at your head - twice."
Mike opened up. I let him talk for a good 20 minutes. And I know you listened. Catch the podcast.
905-11am. I drive to Ohare Airport to pick up daughter Jeanie for Thanksgiving break. She takes the bus from UW Madison.
11:15am-1pm. Jeanie joins me and others on the WJOB team, including wife Alexis, sports director Ryan Walsh, business manager (and my sister) Jennifer Foreit, and afternoon host Ron Harlow (station manager Debbie Wargo is sick). We go to the Visualization Theater at Purdue Calumet for a presentation by four students on what WJOB should do to make money in the future. It's part of Jamal Hussein's business consultant class. Donnie, Victor, Alex and Maria have been hanging out with us for a couple of months trying to get to know our business.
They said we need to learn how to market what is already a pretty good product... and we have to make better use of social media. All four students should be proud. Great presentation. Dead-on observations and suggestions. We'll get a detailed written report in a few weeks.
1pm. Return to new WJOB studio to try to fix Allen & Heath mixer. Never mind. Angel Jimenez, the 19-year-old audio guru who's been with me for three years now, has already figured it out. We have too much plugged in to a daisy chain of power strips. Just not enough amps getting to the board. Problem solved (hopefully)
5pm. Attend Munster Wilbur Wright boys basketball game. Niece Annie is a cheerleader. Embarrass her by taking pictures.
7pm. Family watches more Ferguson-related protests in New York, Boston, LA and Ferguson. That's wife Alexis, 19-year-old daughter, brother-in-law Mark, sister Jen, 14 and 13-year-old nieces. Nieces say "it's not right what's happening." We talk about race, role of police, protests, a nation hurting. It's a corny Waltons scene for the 21st century. I'll use a bunch of the stuff that the niece's said as my own for radio show in the morning. Good night.