Tissues on the nightstand
by a bottle of Advil and
some Alka Seltzer Plus.
I am resigned to the fact
that a November cold will come.
There will be a chill
in our bones in December,
and it will be gray all
the days in January.
February means blizzards
and March and April say rain.
There will a couple of
perfect days in May
when you bare your arms
and jump for joy.
Better enjoy them because
by July you’ll be sweating
through your undershirt.
There’s a few more
perfect days in September
when it’s dry and sunny
and you keep eating that
last ice cream cone.
By October, you’ll be
handing out candy
knowing that a November
cold will come.
Repeat. Do it again.
Welcome to Chicago.
With time and a computer, I could probably pump out four or five poems in a day. It’s just a matter of laying in bed and thinking about things. Although once in a while I’ll be stuck at the checkout counter at Strack’s and I’ll think of a poem about chewing gum or People magazine, but I’ll forget it by the time the groceries are in the trunk. It makes you wonder how many poems come and go without ever gracing a laptop.
It’s a Sunday morning at 5:57am and I’ve been lying in bed looking at the ceiling for a couple of hours now. Alexis just got up and went downstairs to help the daughter get ready for work. She’s the daughter who doesn’t like to be a part of my radio show or my Facebook Live videos or my podcasts or this blog. She is the daughter who shall go unnamed.
So would you like to fulfill your duty this Sunday morning?
You do know that there are a number of reasons that I reach under the bed for the laptop and type to you. Let’s think about this.
That’s right. Part of your duty is to just sit there while I ramble and him and haw and by the end of a few thousand words I have a better idea where I should head. I don’t wish this task on you. You choose it.
It’s not just radio as an industry that is in flux. It’s me, too. I started out 13 years ago as a local radio guy. It was easy to define myself. I was fighting a worthy cause, following in the footsteps of radio soldiers before me. I knew who I was.
But now I don’t know who I am at all. And I don’t know which tasks to concentrate on. I get the feeling that if I share my quandary with you, I”ll figure some stuff out for myself and I’ll be able to better enjoy my Sunday.
It’s not a completely free Sunday, but close. The only thing on the social calendar is to travel to Alsip, Illinois, and attend a wedding for one of Alexis’s cousin’s daughters. That’s how it goes with marrying a Mexican. You marry the woman and the family, and you can’t move more than a few miles from the homeland without creating a big hullabaloo.
Here’s what I’m working on now.
I could lay back on the bed and wait for a poem to come. Or I could soldier on with this journey to figure out what I should do next.
It’s not just radio, Facebook Live, the app and venture capital that I’m doing these days. I also write this blog and do a weekly podcast about The Grateful Dead. I also want to do a lot of gathering. This would be for the future, not for now.
You might think that since I started writing this blog, My Radio Life, a few years ago that this was the start of me writing to nowhere. As a matter of fact, I’ve been writing to nowhere for a lot of years. It started in my junior year in high school when a gal that I was dating gave me a leather-bound journal with blank pages in it. That must have been my 17th birthday. I’ve pretty much been hammering out meaningless journal entries ever since.
Maybe it’s time to find them and gather them.
I’ve also produced thousands of hours of audio and radio and I want to gather those. I have this idea that I’ll gather the files and put them into an instance of Simian, which is really just a fancy Itunes, and play the files randomly into infinity. They say you can’t live forever but if I were to tag my radio files back to back ad infinitim, that’s kind of live living forever. Especially after you die.
So the long and the short of it is – I don’t really know where to focus right now. I know one area that I should focus but I never really get to it. And that’s sales. For better or worse, we have a lot of products that could garner sales from local companies that want to:
I can’t tell exactly how many Facebook Live video views we’ve had since we started in May, 2016, but I think it’s approaching 3,000,000. I’m not kidding. Since it’s only the three or four of you, I don’t mind saying that.
What it shows, however, is how horrible of a manager I am. These are sellable units, these views of our Facebook Live videos. And I’m not out there selling them, nor have I hired anyone to sell them. We still live by PMS – the Passive Marketing System. One day it will be taught in B-schools. It’s a system in which you concentrate solely on making the best product you could possibly make (radio, Facebook Live, podcasts, blogs, etc.) and you don’t worry at all about bringing in money to support the efforts. Quality over selling.
The theory behind PMS is that if you make things that are so compelling, the dollars will come. This is true to an extent. We have been quite fortunate to be able to do radio. Facebook Live video, podcasts and more without having to worry that much about the dollars to pay the rent, the FCC, the insurance guy, taxes and, of course, payroll. For some reason, for 13 years, if we just remain true to the course and dedicate ourselves to the mission, then enough money shows up at the end of the month to do it all again.
That’s not really the way to run a business. But when it comes down to it, I don’t really know how to run a business. I know how to create wealth. I’ve done it before in my life. But when it comes to establishing and running a business like it should be done, I don’t have a clue.
That’s why I’m going back to school, which is another endeavor. Right next to the laptop is a huge textbook – Accounting: What the Numbers Mean. It’s a really thick textbook filled with words, charts, numbers and drawings. In the end, its authors, Marshall, McManus and Viele, want to teach you how to organize your financial thoughts. That’s all that accounting is.
I took the midterm the other day, the one that I shared with you that I thought I had flunked. I thought this because I am slightly disylexic, as you know, and I thought that I had gotten a few things backwards. I studied like hell for a week, mostly because the daughter who shall go unnamed studies every waking moment and she rebuked me for not doing the same. There was a moment of peace a couple Saturday evenings ago when she sat at one end of the dining room table studying her microbiology and I sat at the other end of the table studying my accounting. We sat there for three hours straight and, I’m not kidding, didn’t say one word to each other. I was like a little kid afraid to move for fear of the priest reaching across the vestibule to slap my hand. I studied because I didn’t want to let my daughter who shall go unnamed down.
And because of that marathon session at the dining room table I wound up getting a 96 on the accounting test. Imagine that. A blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.
The first half of this accounting course centered on how to compile financial statements. These are balance sheets and income statements and the like. These are good for when you go to get a loan or you’re trying to analyze a company to see if you want to invest in it, but financial accounting really doesn’t help you run your business better.
Now, in the second half of this course, we’re moving in to managerial accounting. And it is in managerial accounting that I’m coming to understand what a really horrible manager of WJOB I have been for the last 13 years. As a matter of fact, I’m wondering how we even stayed in business. I’ve never done a budget or a cost analysis. I never even really look at the books or do a plan. We just do.
I do know, however, how we have stayed in business for these past 13 years. Women. There have been women around me (Alexis, Debbie, Jennifer, etc.) who have done the things necessary to organize the financial data and to pay the bills. Debbie runs the station on a day-to-day basis, and my sister, Jennifer, does the books. She is woefully underemployed every time she walks in to the Purdue Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center. She used to be an auditor for Peat Marwick. Now her main duty is to tell me every 20th of the month that we better get five grand more to come in or payroll’s gonna be a bitch.
And you know what? The five grand always comes in, one way or another. An agency emails a buy or someone walks through the door wanting to pay their bill for the next six months. It’s a beautiful thing, this Passive Marketing System. If you believe in it and work it hard enough, you’ll get by.
But that’s really all that we’ve done for the past 13 years. We’ve gotten by. And to tell the three or four of you the truth, I don’t mind just getting by. I’m doing what I love to do – radio every morning – and I don’t have the hassle of being really rich. We could go into this, my theory of the pitfalls of having a bunch of money, but that wouldn’t make much sense to the three or four of you. In the end, it started with my mom. She didn’t trust what money does to people. My sister, Jennifer, the woefully underemployed financial whiz, carries on the tradition to this day.
“See how people are,” my sister says every time someone stiffs us. “See how people are.”
Enough of that line of thinking. In the end, I’m getting tired of the struggle. We have built a beautiful thing, not only of radio but of innovations and the future. What we have not built alongside the product is the marketing to go along with it. That’s part of the reason I went back to school to get my MBA. If we’re gonna do great things, I have to get serious about running a business.
I suspect that at this point at least one of the three or four of you just laughed out loud.
“JED’s a slacker. He’ll never run a business like it should be run.”
This may be true. You may be right. But with all due respect, just because I cannot personally run a business tightly and with resolve, it doesn’t mean that I can’t hire people to do this. That’s what I’m going to school for. It’s not necessarily that I want to be a better manager, which I do. It’s more that at some point I want to know how to hire better managers than me to run my companies. That’s the long and the short of it.
To sum, I’m all over the map. And I know it. There’s:
By the end of this 2500-word diatribe, I’m really not any closer to figuring out what I should do with my hours today. I have a few before the Bears play at noon and before I have to put on a suit and go to a wedding. I could.
Thanks for hanging out with me on this Sunday morning. Alexis, after a round of negotiations, just agreed to make me breakfast. And, just to be clear, breakfast trumps blog any day of the week.