It doesn’t speak to me.
I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried,
but Chicago reminds me of a
wet dreary day.
And I’ve been here thousands
of times on sunny days,
frollicking in the waves,
running with the throngs,
getting bombed at outdoor cafes.
Still, when it comes to Chicago,
I think of chilly winds that blow
from a heartless Lake.
There must be more.
Yes, we (I use this term loosely)
have broad shoulders and we
used to be the hog butcher
to the world. And yes, we have
tall buildings and big stadiums.
But I just wonder who we are.
What on Earth are we here to do?
For the time being, we are known
for murders and robberies,
bad weather and constant
construction on roads that
are needed to carry goods
and people across America.
We have little political
clout and we’re in debt
to our eyeballs.
We’re a hearty people, for sure.
We weather the weather, don’t we?
And we put up with losing for a
century, don’t we? We honk our
horns and bitch about Springfield
and we move to the suburbs.
But do we have a soul?
I guess that’s my point.
What heart beats under the
Jane Byrne? Is there anything
of merit said in a bar after
a Cubs game? Do we have
beauty, do we know art?
These are all questions
that poets who love Chicago
a lot more than I do
For now, I’m headed for
the Kris Kringle fair
to get jostled around and
worry about terrorists.
It’s 5am on Saturday before a Monday Christmas. Alexis and I have a ton of shopping to do today, so I’d like to get some sleep before I travel. But you know and I know that if you wake before 5am for 30 years, good luck with that.
As radio guy, there’s a lot of parties to go to. I’ve been to at least one party for the last eight days. It’s exhausting and exhilarating all in one nut roll. And, when you really think about it, the morning show at WJOB is kind of like a stationary movable feast. So we got that going for us, too.
In the end, I’ve talked about a lot of kids soccer programs in the past 10 days. Outside of the three hours of conversation I have pumped out every morning, I’ve probably had another three hours a day of Christmas party talk. In radio, it’s me sitting a room rambling about one thing or another until someone calls or comes in as a guest. That’s all radio really is.
At Christmas parties, the conversation is a lot more arduous. On radio, I don’t have any real problem following what people are saying to me over the phone or in person in the studio. And I can read with focus the text messages, emails, HeyJEDs, and all of the other forms of communication that come my way. But I find myself when I’m listening to someone comment about the pasta bar or about the water table in south Lake County.
In the end, I’m talked out. I’ve been to at least one Christmas celebration for each of the last nine days. Believe me, I am appreciative that I get to live My Radio Life in the Midwest part of America. I honestly can’t think of a more rewarding occupation among a heartier people. But when it comes to Christmas, I get used up.
Today, finally, I get to spend it with my wife going in and out of stores. I will probably get tired of this by mid afternoon and want to take a nap on the couch. If that’s not an option, I’ll pull on her heartstrings and we’ll go into a bar and sit there talking about things. I like doing that, talking about things with my wife in a bar.
My sister Jennifer and I have been mapping out what we plan to do financially for 2018. This is actually a conversation we’ve never had before. At the end of the previous 13 years, my sister would print out all of our financials and request a sitdown with me to come up with projections for the next year. I would never do it, claiming that there’s just too many Christmas parties to go to.
This year, though, I am a graduate business student who just passed Accounting. This means that I learned about budgeting. And it’s helping. I actually sat with my sister for a whole 30 minutes to come up with a plan on how much money we should spend in 2018 and how much we should aim to take in. If all goes well, Alexis and I can put those new windows on the house. If not, it’ll be another Christmas meeting the mailman at the door just hoping that he’s carrying a check or two.
We had our little Christmas get-together yesterday at the WJOB studios on the campus of the Purdue Northwest Commercialization Center. Ray Garcia Jr. of El Taco Real catered a taco bar. We didn’t have any booze because it’s Purdue. And in the end, producer Ryan Walsh wore an elf outfit and Rick Kubic and Kat Marlow told all about their trip to the Dominican Republic. I didn’t know that there was something similar to Montezuma’s Revenge on that island. Kat got it and tells the story about it in a very funny fashion.
We have a bunch of young people who work for WJOB. It’s part of being on a college campus. So what happens at WJOB stuff is that Alexis and I and Debbie and her husband Roger and the rest of the 50-ish crowd wind up sitting around tables and talking. And the young people filter out into the next room and do something fun. Someone brought a little ping pong game and the young folk all stood around that and laughed. The older people sat around the tables and ate.
One of the things that came to me yesterday with 50 or so people standing around who all, at some level, have an interest in the station… is that it’s a pretty good group. 2017 didn’t bring really any major personnel changes. And when I sit down to the think about it, like I’m doing right now in what used to be my daughter’s bedroom but is now an office, I’m pretty satisfied with what all of us have built.
Really, think about what WJOB was when we bought it out of bankruptcy 13 years ago. It was a dump, much maligned and rightfully so. Now it’s something that a lot of people contribute to in one form or another. As mentioned before in this blog, radio is good and pure and beautiful if you let it be.
That should be enough for this morning. I’ll try to keep my pledge of writing to the three or four about My Radio Life as much as I can during the holidays. But there’s also a part of me that wants to turn down the conversation. I want to lay in bed and look at the ceiling for a few days, and then get up and do family stuff. That’s a good life. Radio is a good life.