It's 4:38am on a Saturday and you'd really like to sleep in on the weekends but you're such a creature of habit that you wake up without the alarm. I usually set it for 4:22am on weekdays. Today I woke up at, you guessed it, 4:22am looking to hit a snooze button. There is no snooze button on Saturday.
Last night was the first round of high school sectional football games, and we knocked it out of the park. Brian Jennings and Kirk "the Minnow" Smith did the East Chicago Central at Munster game. And Ryan Walsh and Rick Massoels did the Boone Grove at Whiting game. Brian and Ryan have been doing this long enough as play-by-play guys that they can with ease throw it to each other to try to catch scoring plays on live radio. Brendan Hull sits in the studio and tries to keep up with all of it. Brendan’s a junior at Purdue Northwest. It’s a lot of pressure for a student but somehow he keeps up and adds to the broadcast.
I should probably have gone out to one of the sites or to the studio last night to help out. But somehow I was getting a whole lot of pleasure out of sitting in my living room in the dark listening to the games on my smartphone. That’s how I listen to WJOB AM 1230 and 104.7 FM a lot these days and if I wasn’t so lazy I’d look at how many others are taking in our content also on the Tune-in app.
But there was a twist last night. We have plenty of young and eager talent hanging around the WJOB studios. Remember, we’re on the campus of the Purdue Northwest Commercialization Center. There’s talent everywhere. Two of those with expanding dexterity and interest are Sam Michel and Jimmy Mullaney. Sam just graduated and Jimmy, like Branden in the studio, is a junior broadcasting student at Purdue.
So they went out to Facebook Live the Gavit at Morton game. It had nothing to do with radio. I’ve worked with Jimmy enough that he knows how to set up a tripod in the stands and tape an auxiliary battery to one of the legs… and then put an iphone in the slot at the top… and then broadcast a game in video.
It really has become that simple. In the past five years, we’ve spent untold thousands of dollars to develop our own “vertical video streaming network,” as I called it. And with one fell swoop, Facebook did everything we were trying to do, which, at least partly, was to develop “video of radio.”
With Facebook Live, Sam on the microphone and Jimmy jiggling with the camera (smartphone), those two could bring a simple yet effective video broadcast of the Gavit at Morton game. Sam announced by himself, with Jimmy operating the camera and feeding Sam who got the tackle and stuff like that. It’s the future of… is it radio? Is it video? Is it something else?
I really don’t know. But I will tell you this. Instead of putting on jeans and some boots and a winter coat – it got cold and wet and windy last night – and trouncing through a muddy parking lot to a stuffed press box, I sat in the comfort of my own living room and took in two media of sectional high school football games.
Notice that in neither of these consumptions of local media did I tune in to my radio. As a matter of fact, other than in our bedroom on the nightstand, I don’t have a radio in the house at all. We’re in radio as a career and as a way to support our two kids through college, and about half of the time I don’t even take in our content on the radio. I take it in by streaming on the internet.
Anyways, I’d like to think that I participated in the future of radio, er, broadcasting last night from the leather chair in our living room. With my phone on the armrest streaming the radio calls of Brian Jennings and Ryan Walsh, and with my laptop streaming the video feed of the game at Morton, I ordered a pizza (with the same smartphone I was using to stream the radio feed) and ate hot Aurelio’s, chewing even more abruptly as the games progressed.
I hope this doesn’t disappoint the three or four of you. I mean, if you’re local in any way, then you should know that I’m the local radio guy. And if “local radio guy” doesn’t actually listen to the airwaves, then what hope is there for radio in general?
Yes, you could look at it that way. But I take a different tack. I can’t help feeling that instead of radio dying, it’s transforming into something that can be as beautiful, if not more, than traditional radio. Look at last night. There’s Ryan Walsh, who didn’t graduate from IU all that long ago. Then there’s Sam Michel, Jimmy Mullaney and Brandon Hull, who are even younger and are Purdue people. With a seven-man crew, we were able to broadcast two radio games and a video game… and I and anyone else who cared to do so could watch and listen in our own living rooms. There’s something going on with the “transition of radio,” not the “death of radio” and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
About that pizza. Aurelio’s isn’t a sponsor but I have faith that they will be someday. I ordered green pepper and tomato with extra sauce and they messed it to be green pepper and spinach. Oh well. I didn’t say anything at the counter and just took it home. And as with a lot of other “mistakes,” it’s actually better than my tried and true green pepper and tomato. Next time I’ll get spinach and green pepper. There’s a lesson here… something about stumbling on a new invention. That’s how I feel about radio. If we – me and the young turks and the old turks hanging around WJOB – keep trying new things then we’ll eventually discover green pepper and spinach. Another Thousand Words. Find something to do for your Saturday.