It’s 2:34 in the morning on a Friday and I wish I could sleep it all the way through to 4:30, but that rarely happens. We own our own business, and if any of the three or four of you do the same, I don’t have to explain it to you why you wake in the middle of the night.
There are freedoms and a little romance about owning your own business, especially if it’s a radio business. But in the end, you wake up a lot just trying to remember if you forgot something.
It’s like packing to go on a trip. You throw the suitcase on the bed and you start with your feet. Here’s the shoes I’m packing, and here’s the shoes I’m gonna wear on the plane. And here’s some flip-flops.
Okay. Now, how about socks? I have black socks for this pair of shoes. And white socks for the running shoes. For the flip-flops, I don’t need any socks, but I should probably think about putting a little sock on my right big toe. It’s ugly as hell and shouldn’t be out in public.
Now it’s time for my legs. I’ll throw in a pair of jeans. And some khakis. Now how about underwear? I’ve got these Jockeys to wear when I’m walking around, and here’s some boxers for at night when Alexis and I are hanging around the hotel room.
Oh, I forgot cargo shorts, Everybody wears cargo shorts. They have a lot of pockets. Everybody likes pockets. That way you can put your cash in one pocket and your keys in another and your phone in another and any train passes or bubble gum wrappers in another. Don’t forget cargo shorts.
You pack your toothbrush and your razor and some ibuprofen and floss and, if it’s a romantic beach vacation, you might even pack those little pills that your buddy gave you - “for a little extra for the wife.”
There’s a lot to remember. You try to predict what you’ll need on the other end of the suitcase. That’s what it’s like running your own business. You pack every day. Sometimes you can wake up at regular time and ride your bike down to the station and do your radio show… and then think about packing later.
Or sometimes, like right now, you wake up in the middle of the night just to run all the bills and audio files and personnel hours and appointments through your head so that you don’t forget something and wind up in West Palm Beach without any underwear.
You gotta have underwear. There’s nothing worse than buying new underwear on a trip. I’ve done it before and you wind up scratching yourself – a lot.
“Cut that out. You look like a dog.”
“Sorry, but these new underwear don’t fit right. Maybe I’ll go Injun Joe.”
“I’d rather you scratch.”
I’m trying to convey to the three or four of you what it’s like to run a couple radio stations along with a Facebook and Twitter live video operation. It’s like packing to go on a trip. You pack every morning or you’ll wind up without any underwear, which leads to awkward scratching. That’s the best way I can put it.
... Next question – what’s this about the Times and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott having it out for Lake County Sheriff John Buncich?
Buncich, as the three or four of you may know, is under indictment for taking bribes from towing operators. None of us know if it’s true or not, but the feds think it is. And, once in a while, Hammond mayor Tom McDermott comes on WJOB and criticizes Buncich for still being in office and for some other things. And the Times – they do articles in which there are negative things said about Buncich.
It turns out that Buncich’s attorney, a Mr. Truitt, is taking issue with this. In an article in the Post-Tribune, Truitt says there needs to be better jury screening because Buncich
…has been the victim (of) an endless negative campaign by the Northwest Indiana Times and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott," Truitt's motion read.
Here’s how Mayor McDermott shoots back at this.
McDermott, who has a show on WJOB-1230 in Hammond every Friday, has addressed Buncich's legal troubles on the air.
“I have First Amendment rights and I will exercise them" McDermott said, during an interview with the Post-Tribune.
McDermott said Buncich chose to remain sheriff after the charges were filed but could have stepped aside. As citizens, people have a right to criticize public officials, the mayor said.
"As long as he's there, I think it's fair game for criticism," McDermott said.
The three or four of you can do what you want in terms of if McDermott and The Times are going after Buncich in an unwarranted fashion. And you can have your own take on if this is gonna taint the jury pool. For the purposes of this blog about radio, however, I want the three or four of you to think about one thing – why isn’t attorney Truitt including WJOB in the cast of characters who is considered “part of an endless negative campaign” against Buncich.
I don’t really know the answer to this, other than to say that I once worked in the mid 1980s for Julian Colby and Judy Grambo. Colby owned the station and Judy sat in his office all day.
In the mid 80s, federal prosecutors were doing this “Lights Out” investigation into the courts of Lake County. It was a huge investigation that ultimately took down judges and attorneys and clerks and whole bunch of people. Some went to jail.
One day, I was in the newsroom and I wrote a story about the investigation and then at the top of the hour went into the studio to do the news. Back then, you read the news at the top and at the bottom of every hour. Now, it’s different, but back then it was like clockwork.
I wrote a story in which I didn’t say “alleged” crimes about one of the judges, and I may have speculated about how much time a certain judge would get in federal prison.
I finished my news, weather, sports and traffic, gathered my papers and walked out of the studio – to Julian Colby and Judy Grambo standing there, arms crossed.
“Give me that story,” Judy said. And she and Colby read the story. And then for the next 22 minutes, until I had to do another newscast, they scolded me for not using “alleged” and for hinting that the judge in question was already guilty.
“This is America. Everyone, even Lake County judges, are innocent until proven guilty. And I don’t care if the whole county has convicted Judge ----- in their minds, we’re not going to do that on WJOB. You say ‘alleged’ and you remind people every chance you get that these people are innocent until a jury says they’re not. Do you understand me? This is America.”
I wasn’t as devil-may-care back then as I am now. It really mattered to me that Colby and Judy yelled at me. I respected what they did as radio station operators and as people who actually cared how the news was done. It hurt me deeply that I had made such a huge mistake, that I had let them down. I remember going straight back to my parents’ basement that night instead of going out drinking with the other reporters like I did every other night.
And I remember laying on the couch thinking about it – “why in the hell did Colby and Judy care so freaking much about preaching this innocent until proven guilty smack? We all know that the judge did it. Everybody says so.”
I covered the rest of the corruption investigation, and every time I used the word “alleged.” And when I guest hosted on the talk shows, I made sure to remind people that Judge So-and-so was innocent until proven guilty. This was not a popular refrain. We live in one of the most corrupt counties in America. It’s been that way since Dillinger the cop killer roamed freely in East Chicago while the whole world hunted him down. We, as a people, not individuals, have been on the take for generations.
And this generation after generation corruption shows up on the air at WJOB. Sometimes, a caller, or even a mayor, gets carried away and has in their words already convicted Lake County Sheriff John Buncich. And I have to remind them that Buncich is innocent until proven guilty, that the feds don’t always get their man, and that Judy Grambo and Julian Colby were right after all.
Perhaps that’s why attorney Pruitt didn’t include WJOB as part of the “endless negative campaign” against John Buncich. Either that or he just forgot.
P.S. Watch McDermott live on Facebook or Twitter at 7:45am today to see if he addresses the motion by attorney Pruitt. Or you can listen at am 1230 or 104.7 or live on the tune-in app. Radio is changing into something other than radio, but the story of the “alleged” corruption in Lake County, Indiana, lives on.