We started on this journey, the three or four of you and I, with a bloated sense of of our own self-importance. We figured that I have something that’s important enough to say about the death of radio to make this ongoing story of My Radio Life a historical document.
That’s so that broadcasting students 30 years from now could read this and exclaim, “Oh, so that’s what radio was like.”
It’s an admirable mission, to record a death as it happens. Sooner or later, though, we’ll all die live on Facebook and it won’t be all that unique any more.
We can share the women, and we can share the wine.
As you can tell, as I sit on my bed after doing the radio show, I’m listening to the Grateful Dead. Actually, I’m listening to MY Grateful Dead. Yes, it’s true. Lane Paradis the plumber and I have put together a 24-hour stream of live Grateful Dead songs strung together as series of our This is Dead Air podcasts. I listen while I work out… and write Another Thousand Words.
There’s a lot happening in this transition from radio to perhaps something else… but more importantly from a historical standpoint is the transition of Donald Trump from president to perhaps something else. Yesterday, the Department of Justice appointed a special prosecutor to look into if the Trump people colluded with the Russians to fix the 2016 presidential election.
It’s science fiction drama to even think that this would be possible. Trump tweeted this morning:
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
I could take the president seriously, except for the exclamation points. I hate exclamation points. I’d rather walk into a bathroom to a big Lincoln log left in the toilet than endure an exclamation point. My brothers used to do that a lot, leave Lincoln logs, by the way.
Anyways, what’s happening is exactly what President Trump warned would happen if Hillary Clinton got elected – that she would spend a significant portion of her presidency under investigation. Now it’s the Donald. Stocks tumbled yesterday 372 points on the Dow to 20,606. It’s a dark time…
But it’s a very interesting time. There is plenty to talk about on the air. I took a dozen phone calls this morning on both sides of Trump. My first two calls defended the president. Bob said,
If Trump comes out of this, he’ll be stronger than ever – untouchable.
The second caller, Brian, echoed that sentiment.
God put Trump in office, and only God can take him away.
For the broadcasting students of the future, in case you’re interested, my WJOB callers are divided into three camps. The Trump lovers, with whom no matter what craziness the president comes up with, they stand by him. A woman named Sue called in yesterday and yelled at me.
How dare you question our president like that. Shame on you.
Shame on me, I guess. I asked similar probing questions sprinkled with smart aleck remarks about Barry Obama, who was at Occidental College when I was there in the early 80s. Barry was not prepared to be president, even if he did change the name that he wanted everyone to call him. I brought it up about Barry’s inexperience and you should have heard the uproar. Good thing I own my own radio station.
Anyways, group two is the Trump haters. They’re jumping for joy that there’s a special prosecutor. They also like it that the former FBI director – the one that Trump recently fired, James Comey – says that Trump asked him to lay off on investigating a guy named General Michael Flynn. You can’t turn on CNN these days without hearing “possible obstruction of justice by Trump” said at least a dozen times an hour.
Fernando is a Trump hater. He called in today.
Trump’s a jerk, an ass. He’s always treated people that way. Republicans are gonna cut their losses soon enough.
Then there’s us, the three or four of you and me. The bewildered five. You might be a Trump lover or hater, I don’t know, but my guess is that if you were drinking the Kool-Aid either way, you probably wouldn’t stick around for too much of my smart alecky radio or my poking fun at anyone with a position of authority.
That’s what it is, really. If you’re a decent journalist or an independent radio host, then you probably have in your past a history of rebelling against authority. It’s in your DNA, along with a penchant for Grateful Dead music or the ability to grow tomatoes well.
I don’t where each of you is in terms of these three groups. But I can say with a fair degree of certainty that you do indeed fall into one of these three groups. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t.
… Yesterday we tried something new at the radio station – a live audience inside the studio. As the three or four of you know, we have built brand spanking new studios on the campus of the Purdue Commercialization Center. And we’re building this entrepreneurial community. We meet every first and third Wednesday in the building to listen to innovators present their stuff.
The meetings have going along okay – it’s called “One Million Cups” – but me in my let’s disrupt everything mentality said, “hey, let’s put it on Facebook Live.”
So we moved the meetings from their spacious environs to my radio studio… and it went really well. More than a thousand people have watched Robin from Valparaiso show his product called a Pool Python. It’s a way to clean your pool without doing much. You can watch the video if you want, if you can pull yourself away from the television long enough.
That’s hard to do, of course. The Trump drama is that consuming. You can’t get away from it. I’m gonna try to release myself from it for a couple days just because… but I doubt that will happen. The drama keeps increasing. There are twists and turns every day, every hour sometimes. If you stop watching, listening, clicking, you’ll miss something and you’ll have to go back to the first episode to catch up.
I interviewed Indiana governor Eric Holcomb yesterday, and at the end of the interview, I mistakenly said – “I’ll see you tomorrow, Governor, at the South Shore Arts Center.” That slipped out of my mouth without me thinking. That’s been happening a lot lately. I’m a little burned out right now, and sometimes when that happens you eat too many doughnuts and you say stuff you wish you could grab out of the air and take back.
You see, I’d much rather move data today than sit through a news conference or question and answer segment. Heck, I had the governor on one-on-one yesterday and I could ask him whatever I wanted. Why would I go somewhere to repeat the process?
But there is this thing called respect for the office, and there is merit in seeing someone face to face. So I’ll mosey over to the arts center in a couple of hours – in a sportcoat, yuk – and hear, again, what the governor has to say.
I also interviewed Senator Joe Donnelly yesterday, or was it the day before? Donnelly says he’s “deeply concerned” about Trump these days.
Holcomb, a Republican, and Donnelly, a Democrat, have something in common. Holcomb has just been voted the most unknown governor in America. Donnelly is gonna be in a dogfight to retain his Senate seat, possibly against Todd Rokita, who grew up a few blocks from where I’m now picking my toes.
Donnelly wants to be visible in the Region. Holcomb wants to be not invisible in the Region. So I talk to them on the radio and everybody wins.
Or do they? It’s the weirdest thing. Now that we have Facebook Live, we can gauge the interest in guests. In the past, we would just have someone on the air and we would just estimate if people wanted to hear them or not. It’s a pretty easy estimate to say that people want to hear from the governor and one of our senators.
Or do they? Take yesterday. Go through our Facebook Feed. We had a couple of shows, including my morning show and some valedictorians from Hammond high schools, that got thousands of views.
And then there’s the videos of interviews of Holcomb and Donnelly. Each of them got about 300 views. There’s even a video up there in which all we’re doing is testing the equipment for One Million Cups. That got a thousand views.
What’s that tell you? It’s my duty, of course, to bring our political leaders on the radio and on Facebook Live and streaming live on the Tune-In app. It keeps people informed. But does it entertain people… and do they really freaking care?
I don’t know the answer to that. I just thought I’d check in with the three or four of you again. It’s a nice day out. Go out and enjoy it, so that when it’s all said and done, you can say with a fair degree of accuracy, “at least I’ve enjoyed the ride.”