A week ago, I came into the studio and asked listeners how we can hold in our heads that Donald Trump is our president and that he also lies. It was a pretty good show. Trump supporters tended to point out that all politicians lie. One even suggested that he's just being more up front about lying, so in that way he's more genuine.
The caller didn't use the word "genuine." I did. It's something I get caught up in, this striving to be genuine on the air, in this blog, in the podcasts that I do from time to time, in the Facebook Live videos, the poems I write, and the moments I spend with my wife and two daughters.
It's an ongoing theme - just allow yourself to be genuine. Sometimes I get confused by this. You're laying there and before you get up to take a shower and either ride your bike or drive the Fusion down to the station to do a radio show... you think about an issue and you ask yourself - "Is that how I really feel."
Sometimes you know it's genuine and you just say it on the radio. Actually, after doing radio off and on for more than 30 years, when you speak into a microphone it just is you. There's not a huge line between the you that's on the air and the one who wrestles with the nephews or strokes your wife's voluminous head of hair before bed. It's all one and the same after a while.
So back to the truth... something's bothering me here and I'm trying to figure out if I'm just taking a political stance and I want to persuade people of my side... or if I'm truly sensing danger. To me personally, there is danger - not in forgetting the truth - but in releasing the requirement of being genuine.
Think about it, the three or four of you. When you listen to me in the air, do you have an overriding belief that all, or even almost all, of what I say is true? Do I speak the truth?
I may say a lot of true things, but the three or four of you know that you wouldn't necessarily say, "he speaks the truth." As a matter of fact, because of all of the years carrying a football, boxing, stumbling around Telegraph Avenue and State Street, my memory's not the greatest. Workable, but not photographic.
So when I tell a story or recall a happening, you may tilt your head and say - "yeah, it's probably mostly true... but what about the guy who became a homeless person. Did he really wear the same jean jacket for two years?"
Or when I talk politics. Do you really think that when I speak that I'm telling only the truth?
Probably not. But here's the other thing. When you listen to me on the radio in the morning - or read this blog or listen to my podcast on your pillow or watch my videos - do you think that I'm genuine?
I sure frickin' hope so... because that's all I got.
.... Anyways, I spent the last couple of hours preparing for this podcast I'm doing these days called - "This is Dead Air." As a matter of fact I'm listening to "Not Fade Away" as the three or four of you read this.
I'm gonna tell you how it's gonna be
You're gonna give your love to me.
Truth be told, there were times that I was actually giving my love during this song at Barrington Hall at one of the Wine Dinners. That's a story for another form of media that I carry around my neck like an anchor. True, I don't speak about the depth of "The Berkeley Days" all that much. I just want to leave them where they are, tucked away in my memory. They're perfect the way they were, and I don't want to disturb them. Besides, I'm a fairly respectable member of the business community and a full revelation might take all of that down.
But you can't run from The Truth, not if a guy you've been hanging out with for almost 50 years sits with you on the radio on Monday mornings. Billy Baker came in this morning and made a reference - "Great, go to hippy college and come back with those kinds of ideas.... "
I abruptly pointed the conversation in a different direction. "The Berkeley Years" must remain untouched. They were that perfect. I do, however, remember one Wine Dinner at Barrington Hall when that one Dead cover band played "Not Fade Away" in the cafeteria right under my room and for the length of that song, I was giving my love to... whomever.
Back to The Truth. So all week on the radio, we go back and forth (callers, not the three or four of you) about if Donald Trump lies and, if so, how do we hold that in our heads. A couple callers like Carl from Hessville really made me think - "yeah, we know that he's lying, but we just shrug it off." The general consensus was that all politicians lie so what's the difference if Donald Trump lies or not?
Like I said to the three or four of you, it only partially bothers me that Donald Trump may be lying and that we accept it. For some reason, I'm not surprised. 1776, 1860, 1917-45 we had dictators and fascists rise and then there's a big war. Then those people who remember what that was like die off and then it happens again. That part I get.
But to me personally, I just wonder if we're losing touch with what is genuine or not. We can reconcile lies in our heads. We do it all the time in our personal lives - No, my son's not gay. Yes, I ran someone over and left the scene and I don't know to this day if that person is dead or alive. We do things and then relegate them to the greater good of our lives.
After a while, though, what is genuine rises to the surface. We might be able to stomach a lie... but we can't live a life of disingenuousness. At least that's how I see it.
.... Since in this blog I essentially tell the three or four of you all about me and "My Radio Life," here's what tomorrow brings.
5:30-6am - I monologue on the radio
6-7:30 - Verlie Suggs sits with me on the air
7:30-8 - Former US attorney Dave Capp sits with me. He just got asked to resign along with 46 other US attorneys around the country by president Donald Trump. Let's see what Mr. Capp has to say.
8:15 - breakfast with nephew Jack. He's on spring break and is ten years old and is bored as hell. I can only give him an hour tomorrow. "No biggie if you can't. Jack was just asking for an 'uncle Jim' day." That's what my sister texted me. You have no idea how much of a failure I feel like right now because I can't meet that moment.
10am - doctor's appointment. Don't ask, but since the three or four do anyway, yes, it may just involve a rubber glove. Hope I don't groan again.
11:15 - I meet Geno Sferruzza at the old studio where there's a new studio now. Geno does the noontime "Region Bandstand" on WJOB. He does it from these amazing new studios we have at the Purdue Northwest Commercialization Center. But a couple days a week we need the studio sometimes to do Facebook Live videos and to record podcasts. Actually, the whole process is called a "JEDcast" after me. You can check it out at JEDcastradio.com. It took us forever to build a studio in the old office of Julian Colby, who owned WJOB for like 40 years and who hired me in 1985
Noon - lunch with Ryan and Debbie at Theo's in Highland to celebrate their birthdays. The triumvirate of who runs WJOB is really Debbie, Ryan and me. There's a ton of other people in the mix, like my sister Jennifer, Tony Panek, Harlow, Geno, Rick, Sam, Mullaney, Christina and more. But throughout the years, oftentimes if you dropped by WJOB for this reason or that, you would run into the three of us each at our computers. We don't talk much during these times.
1:30pm - Do a JEDcast with Matt Maloney, the realtor and former Board of Trade yahoo. What's a JEDcast? Technically, it's a podcast you video and play on the radio. That's what we'll do tomorrow. I'm developing this JEDcast called "JED in the Money." That's a lot of "JED" and by now the three or four of you are wondering is I'm not Donald Trump in my own form. An egomaniac, arrogant, always thinking about myself. But you don't really have to wonder because you know it's true.
3pm - Do the "This is Dead Air" podcast with Lane Paradis. I just prepped for two hours for this, so I don't know why all of the sudden I decided to write in this blog. Do you?
That's just the first part of My Radio Life day. There's more. What I want to tell the three or four of you, by way of excuse for not writing this blog often, is that I'm not committing to it. I'm not committing to Facebook Live video, podcasting, blogging, writing poems, announcing basketball games, doing breaking news, or even emceeing stuff in public sometimes.
Nope. The only thing I'll commit to is doing the morning show daily on AM 1230 WJOB and 104.7 FM in Hammond, Indiana. Also streaming live on the Tune-In app and on Facebook Live video. All of the other stuff, I'll just do it when I do.
.... By the way, I'm gonna roll over and read the cover of this week's Time magazine - "Is Truth Dead," it says on the cover page. Once again, life imitates local radio.