A call came into the station yesterday.
“School bus crash. Corner of Summer Street and Columbia Avenue. Kids on the bus.”
So Tony Panek and I went out there in a hurry and, yes, a car crashed into the front of a school bus that had 15 kids on it. We did a quick Facebook Live video (8,000 views so far) and then left. The whole news visit took about 20 minutes from the time Tony and I left the station until we returned.
Reports were that all 15 kids were okay, although they were being taken to local hospitals for evaluation.
Since this is, of course, a blog about My Radio Life, let’s evaluate what happened here. We got a tip on a bus crash. Tony and I ran out there. Tony held the cellphone while I surveyed the scene with an official. Then Tony and I drove back to the studio.
Notice what’s missing here – live coverage on the radio from the scene. As soon as we got back, Tony played audio from Facebook Live to our radio audience – but we did not even think about going live from the scene on the radio.
Think about how different that is from when I started in the business in 1985. I covered crashes back then. And what we would do is record on a tape recorder at the scene, and then come back to the studio and cut it up and play it on the radio as an “actuality.” I haven’t heard that term in years.
That’s because radio itself – or, more accurately, radio in concert with Facebook Live, youtube, twitter, etc. – is an actuality. Sometimes, in 1985, if there was a phone nearby we would call on the air. There were no cellphones back then so a land line was your only option.
We did have a Marti unit we could use to broadcast back to the studio live from anywhere in the Region, but that required power to hook up the little transmitter. You also had to find a place for the Marti antenna, which was about eight feet tall. Rarely did we use the Marti for crashes and news events. Mostly we used it for football games.
The cellphone changed all of that in the 1990s. You could broadcast from anywhere live on the radio. But it’s the cellphone that’s again changing things, as you saw today.
I arrived on the scene, and rather than think about calling Debbie back at the studio to go live on WJOB AM and FM, I instinctively did a Facebook Live video that satisfied a lot of needs. It was pretty important at the time to let parents know that as far as the students on the bus were concerned – “they’re fine,” as the Hammond transportation director, Terry Butler, said. That was the important part. Let parents know.
So what was the right path to take to let frantic parents know that their kids were safe – go live on Facebook or live on the radio.
We chose to go live on Facebook and then head back to the studio and play the audio from Facebook Live on the radio. That’s how radio has changed. Book it.
… What else? It’s a little after midnight on a Tuesday and I gotta get up and do a radio show and then go to a NIPSCO CAP board meeting in Merrillville and then swing over to Schererville to meet with someone well-known who’s thinking about doing a podcast with WJOB. In between, there’s a proposal to write to a potential client. At 3pm, I’ve got a couple relatives that are gonna help me clean out the transmitter site. That’s how exciting My Radio Life is.
For now, though, I just wanna go to sleep. And I can tell right now that it’s not on the horizon anytime soon. As the three or four of you know, I traded in the pits of the Board of Trade for 18 years. And if you trade interest rate futures, the markets never close. You can trade notes and bonds at any hour of the day.
And I did. I would wake up at midnight or 2am almost every night to check on a position that I had going or even to put on a new one. I was addicted. I can see that now.
The question becomes – am I addicted to radio?
There is evidence on both sides of this issue. Yes, I’m up in the middle of the night writing a blog to the three or four of you called, “My Radio Life.” I’m thinking about radio and writing about radio. And I just finished editing a bunch of Grateful Dead songs for my podcast, “This is Dead Air.” And I have been working this evening on that sales proposal for a potentially large radio client. I’ve also been working on creating an online radio station, which I won’t tell you about because one of the other two or three of you might be a competitor and I don’t want him or her to steal the idea that I’m developing.
Radio is on my mind all the time. It doesn’t help that radio is also on the air all the time. And that I live a couple miles from the studio. I fix the machines myself and install new equipment mostly by myself. I am involved in almost all aspects of the radio organism. And since the organism never sleeps, then neither do I.
But we come back to the question – am I addicted to radio? And, if so, is that a bad thing?
I can tell you this – I know that I was addicted to trading and that it was a bad thing. I am fortunate to have gotten out when I did. I also know that like a bad alcoholic, I can never take a drink again, er, do a trade again. It’s that bad in me. I can feel it.
But am I addicted to radio? I won’t answer this right now. We’ve already arrived at Another Thousand Words and I’d really like to lay in bed and look at the ceiling for a while. Maybe after a while I’ll fall asleep out of sheer boredom…
Or, better yet, I’ll turn on our radio station and listen to George Noory talk about UFOs. Or I’ll listen to Adam Carolla’s latest podcast. Or I’ll update our website. Or… you get the picture. I’ll get back to you later with an answer on if I’m addicted to radio or not. Good night… er, I mean, good morning.