It’s 3:55 on Friday afternoon and I just got a haircut. I stopped at Nat’s barbershop on Calumet Avenue in Munster and sat quietly while the guy who cuts my hair, Dustin, and some guy named Frank held a conversation. Frank sat in the empty chair next to me. It’s the same chair that I sat in 50 years ago to get my first haircut.
I cried like a baby, by the way, for my first haircut. It was called “Smitty’s Barbershop” then. One of the Smith brothers put a child seat across the adult-sized barbershop chair, lifted me up, and cut my hair. The curious thing about today was that as I waddled my way into the barber’s chair, I looked behing Frank – this grizzled Calumet City guy holding a Miller Lite – and there it was…
The kiddie seat. It’s still there. The same kiddie seat that I sat on 50 years ago. We lived right behind the barbershop and my dad and I walked over there on a Saturday afternoon. A ton of men were hanging around and for some reason they found it funny that I was gonna get my first haircut.
“Give him a buzz-cut,” one of the men, also holding some sort of beverage like Frank 50 years later. That must be what started me off crying. I didn’t know what a buzz-cut was.
After today’s haircut, I walked next door to Johnny’s Tap. A guy named Steve Johnson owns it, along with his business partner Bob Mitziga. They are ne’erdowells like I am. Steve was there. We talked for a while about golfing, O’hare Airport, and Turks and Caicos. Steve is still a little bit pissed at me about something that happened ten years ago.
“I called you a half dozen times to play in a tournament with me at Innsbrook. All you have to do is return a phone call,” Johnson said.
“You think you’re the only guy waiting for a phone call. Grow up.”
I had a couple of beers at Johnny’s and then came home to eat some spaghetti. I made it last night. Now, Alexis just walked in from being a juvenile court referee, so I’ll have to get back with the three or four of you later.
…. 4:06pm. False alarm. I thought that I was gonna have to give my wife of 26 years some attention. Instead, she wants to take a nap. So if you’ll shut up for a while, I can type on the Mac laptop while she sleeps right next to us.
I want to back up a little bit on the day of radio. We have had this technical problem for the last week. As you know, we’re not really just radio anymore. We stream almost all of our radio shows in video on Facebook Live and Twitter. And we actually stream a lot of content in video on those two platforms that doesn’t make it to radio at all. We’re half radio, half video.
Normally, we stream the video of the studio shows using four cameras. This gives us the look of a big studio, for sure, but it also gives you different cuts of the face of the host, which, of course in the morning, is me. I like the four camera angles. It makes the show pop a lot more than just looking at the one camera angle.
On Tuesday, all of the sudden we realized that three of the cameras weren’t working. We run a video mixer called a “Roland V-4EX” that has four inputs for cameras. Camera inputs 1, 2 and 3 stopped working correctly and we were left with only one camera input – #4.
Now if you’re a video techno-file, then you know that a Roland mixer has four ports to take in cameras – 1,2,3 and 4. The fourth port is a higher-level port. You can bring in
In all, you can bring in four different formats of video into port 4. That was the only port that was working. We have a very expensive robotically-operated camera that goes through that port. And it’s beautiful.
On the other three ports, you can only bring in composite and HDMI video. On ports 1, 2 and 3, alll that you would see was scrambled video. The video was there, but it was all messed up.
Now, as you know, we have a whole bunch of really smart tech people on staff or associated with the station. But no one could really figure out why ports 1,2, and 3 were not working. It was quite the conundrum.
So this afternoon, I did what small business owners across America do when there’s a technology problem in their businesses. I went into work when no one was there and I spent some time with my equipment. I unhooked dozens of wires and turned a half dozen cameras on and off. I read a couple of manuals and called the help line of two different companies.
Still, I couldn’t get the cameras on ports 1, 2 and 3 to work. I did feel, however, that I was close to finding the problem and hence a solution. So I gathered up the mixer and drove across Hammond to a place called “Amtech” and spent an hour or so with a guy named Paul.
We connected the cameras, along with an S-video translator he had lying around, and we messed with all of the settings on the Roland V-4EX mixer.
Still, nothing. Ports 1, 2 and 3 wouldn’t work. We fiddled some more and all of the sudden Paul figured it out – Ports 1, 2, and 3 can’t accept HD video as well as port 4 can. In other words, we were sending from the cameras 720p or even 1080p video when ports 1, 2 and 3 can only really accept lower-quality 480p video.
I know this is some pretty deep-in-the-weeds stuff for the three or four of you, but truth be told, I’m telling this not for the three of four of you. It’s for the six or seven people who work with me on the video. People like Chritina Cortez, Chuck Pullen, Ryan Walsh, Sam Michel, Tony Panek, Jimmy Mullaney and others.
Here’s the deal – when you run a camera through ports 1, 2, or 3, make sure that the camera is set to send SD video (480p). I know that it reflects bad on us that our one camera (the robotic Sony) delivers channel 2-quality video and that the other three cameras deliver Ray Raynor-level video, but who cares? At least we’re on the air in radio and with four-camera video. That’s all that matters. All radio is good and pure and beautiful, just some is better, purer and beautifuller than others.
…. On the radio show this morning I talked about a bunch of stuff I can’t even remember right now. One guy, Jake, called in:
“Did you ever announce a seven-quarter basketball game, JED?”
“A couple times. Why?”
“My son’s seventh-grade team played one last night. It was great.”
We talked about the game and how his son hit a three at the buzzer to send it into overtime.
“It was a seventh grade game, right?”
“So let me guess the score at the end of regulation. 28-28.”
“Oh my god, that was the exact score. How did you know?”
It just so happens that I attended several of my nephew Al’s eighth grade games this year. Most of his games end in the range of 35-30. So I just cut off ten percent from the scores since it was seventh grade.
“The game took two hours. I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight.”
We talked about the game and the joys of youth basketball, but there was another story being told. It was the story of a dad proud about his son, and I will listen to that story any day of the week. Radio is good and pure and beautiful, if you let it.
That’s all that I have for the three or four of you right now. I’ve been thinking about something, though. You know how it’s coming up to the end of the year. Just to let you know – I never do New Year’s resolutions. It’s like with birthdays – what’s the big deal?
But I got an idea for 2018 – what if I followed the lead of Casey Keistat and Jeff Clark?
Casey Keistat is the guy who did a youtube video every day about his life for like a year and a half. And Jeff Clark is the guy who surfed Half Moon Bay in secret for like 15 years. What if I take a little from both of their strategies to come up with my own plan?
How about I blog about My Radio Life to the three or four of you every day for a year? I don’t know why that sounds like a good idea, but it does. In that regard, I would be like Case Keistat.
And how about the three or four of you and I keep it to ourselves? I write about the things that I remember in my radio life every day for a year, and then we'll see what happens. Just us. How’s that sound?
….. I don’t know what will happen with this idea. It’s brewing inside my gut like a big fart. There’s something else that’s brewing. And it is that a lot of the rules surrounding radio and the internet are changing… and there’s some opportunity for radio, which is good and pure and beautiful, to re-establish itself. In recent weeks, the FCC got rid of:
Yesterday, the FCC got rid of net neutrality. The game is changing. Where does radio fit into the new game?
I don’t know. It’s too big to tackle right now I have to take a nap,. I woke up, like always, at 4am and did a radio show. And then I worked out and then I fixed our cameras, got a haircut, had a couple of beers, and now I’m typing to you as it gets dark. My wife slumbers heavily next to me. All is well.