By the time 2017 is done, Alexis and I will have probably attended four bona fide rock concerts – and they all happened in the last 18 days.
Tom Petty once. Grateful Dead twice. James Taylor once. All four took place at Wrigley Field. Life is like that. One day you’re cleaning out your attic. The next thing you know you’re singing out loud with 30,000 other white people and one Mexican –
“How sweet it is to be loved by you.”
As part of James Taylor’s show, he plays a little documentary about his life on the big screen as he’s coming out. There’s a clip from an interview.
“I try not to be a version of myself other than myself. I just try to just be me.”
I’m paraphrasing, but the three or four of you get the gyst. He doesn’t act. He just plays. And I don’t know if James Taylor was better than Bob Weir. And I don’t know if John Mayer’s guitar work beat that of Tom Petty. All that I know right now sitting on my bed at 10:28pm on a Thursday is that I hope to not go to another rock concert at Wrigley Field for quite some time.
I’d much rather clean my garage and listen to Bob Dylan. Or Fleetwood Mac. Or Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd. Or Tom Petty, Grateful Dead and James Taylor. I’d pretty much rather be at home picking my toes or watching the news than fighting my way through Wrigleyville to another concert.
Last night, it was WJOB night at the Festival of the Lakes in Hammond. This is a really big deal, as the three or four of you know. They have these concerts at the Pav at Wolf Lake and you can see Chicago in the background. Last night, it was “Kool and the Gang.” My wife and station manager Debbie Wargo danced their asses off to “Celebration” and “Jungle Boogie” while I talked to listeners and watchers of the show.
I forget sometimes that there are a lot of people I never met that I talk to every morning. And it feels really good when they come up to me to say hi.
One couple told me that they lie in bed and wait for me to start talking at 5:30.
“And if you’re late, we can’t get started right away.”
I didn’t pursue the topic too hard, but the implication was that they had sex in the morning before the man went to work. And that they did it while listening to me babble on their nightstand. I like the thought of that… but as the three or four of you know, I often stand on Indianapolis Boulevard from 5:30 til six and just do a stream of consciousness thing without notes. A lot of the time, Ramon calls in and talks about Trump or the condition of the roads in Gary.
I can’t imagine making love to that background audio. It makes a little more sense if you take into account that I yell “Big Truck” every time a steel hauler or tanker or big box truck lumbers by.
“Big truck coming, honey. Big truck.”
But it makes no sense when Ramon is talking about Republicans hating Obamacare because it was thought of by a black guy. That cannot be incorporated into your romantic moment. Big truck, yes. Racism, no.
Another couple came up to me.
“Do you know who I am?” the woman asked.
“Yes. We’ve met, but I can’t place it.”
“I’m Preacher’s niece. Jennifer. And I don’t think we’ve met.”
Maybe we met. Maybe we didn’t. I talked to at least 100 people last night at the Festival of the Lakes – and also went onstage in front of thousands of people to mark “WJOB Night” – and, truth be told, there were a lot of people that I talked to whom I didn’t remember at all who they are.
The rhythm to the whole thing is that someone comes up and says “Hi.” And if I don’t address them immediately by their first name, Alexis steps in and does it. This works well.
But if Alexis is not with me - if, per chance, she is at the front of the stage dancing to “Ladies Night” - then I’m on my own. And that can make for really awkward moments. I either call the person by the wrong name… or I act as if we know each other and we don’t. Or, worse yet, it’s a client who writes me checks and they can tell that no matter how much I fake it that I don’t have a f---ing clue who they are.
I hung out at Wampum and Berkeley way too long to have much of a memory. And I boxed and ran the football into the middle of the line. And don’t forget about drinking copious beer and red wines at the Board of Trade. After a while, life becomes foggy. Help, Alexis, Help. Who are these people?
The WJOB crew came out in full force, and a motley crew we are. Above is a picture of some of us. It was a herding cats operation to get even the ones pictured together behind the stage while Kool and the Gang played out front. We laughed our asses off and danced and had a generally good time… which is what you do in local radio. You have a good time.
I mention the good times because, truth be told to the three or four of you, you don’t make that much money just doing local radio. It’s a labor of love, and all of the jamokes in the photo above – along with a dozen or so more who couldn’t be bothered to make it to the picture – do radio for the love of it. I’m certain of it. Everyone in that picture and plenty more know of the joy of being a part of local radio. I’m not making this up. It really is that beautiful.
But in the end, radio is dying. I’ve told the three or four of you this many times. It’s turning into something other than radio and, come hell or high water, I’m gonna chronicle it as it happens. I want to tell you about something that happened this afternoon.
You know, by now, that I host the morning show and in the afternoons I do these 15-minute snippets where I interview people who have anything to do with business. I believe wholeheartedly that every business or wanna-be business has a story to tell, and I’m committed to coaxing out as many stories of business as possible in my life. Business can be boring – believe me, I’m studying for my MBA these days, it’s boring as hell – but the people who do business are not boring. They have stories. I love stories.
Anyways, today I had two “JED in the Money” segments scheduled. In the first, a woman named Adra Young told about her business. She grew up in Gary and taught in the Detroit schools for 20 years and she wrote a book about bullying. It’s called “The Misfits.” Adra goes around to schools and other places conducting seminars about making good life choices as kids. And one of those good life choices is to not bully. Adra has gone from teacher to anti-bullying proselytizer, and it’s a good story. Watch it on our Facebook feed at Facebook.com/wjob.1230.
What we do is Facebook Live the “JED in the Money” segments in video and then play them later on the radio. Now, we also video stream “JED in the Money” to twitter. And good thing that we do.
In the second JED in the Money, I interviewed Robin Salzeider. She raised kids for 16 years and then went to real estate school to become a realtor. It’s a pretty good story about a girl who grew up on the south side of Chicago and met a lawyer, had kids, and now sells houses.
The only problem is that the world was almost deprived of Robin’s story. Technology did it. There’s always problems when you’re trying to get used to a new technology.
That’s not entirely true, by the way. We’re not trying to get used to Facebook Live. We have now posted around 1,800 live videos on Facebook and have earned about around two million views. The three or four of you would think we know all about how to post on Facebook. You would be wrong.
So the video I did with Robin Salzeider was posted in our facebook feed. But Debbie tried to share it to Robin Salzeider’s page. That doesn’t work, really. It works way better if Robin shares the video to her own page while logged in as Robin.
What winds up happening if you try to share a live video to someone else’s page is that the video winds up appearing twice on your own page. I couldn’t figure out why this was happening so much. I’d do a video and then for some reason it would be appearing twice on our Facebook feed, which is a no-no.
So Debbie and I discussed it and figured out that it was because she was trying to share videos to someone else’s page, and for some reason all that happened from this was that the video wound up twice on our own page.
Big deal, right?
Yes, it is a big deal. Because if you go to delete one of the two duplicate videos – and you delete the original and not the duplicate – then the video is gone forever. Which is what happened today with Robin Salzeider’s video. I went into Facebook and wound up deleting the original and not the duplicate video.
And poof – the video disappeared from everywhere on Facebook. Gone. Zippo. Null. Zilch. Poof.
That was quite disconcerting. We researched it by reading the Facebook blogs, and it turns out that if you delete the original of a video, it’s gone forever from Facebook. That really pissed me off. Not only was it a pretty decent interview with Robin – the telling of another good business story – it’s also a little embarrassing when you have to call someone up and tell them that we lost the video that we just did with them.
Now don’t get me wrong. We do this all of the time with radio. Many times in the 32 years that Wes Lukoshus did “Purdue Calumet Sports Insights” we had to phone him and tell him that we didn’t save his interview and that he’d have to do it again. Same thing with other radio clients. Often, a new client will come in, record a commercial, and then have to come back again and do it because we are radio idiots.
But, to the best of my knowledge, it has never happened with a Facebook Live video yet. And it still hasn’t happened entitely.
That’s because in a stroke of “how the hell did that happen?,” we now also stream live video of studio interviews on twitter. I don’t know why we do this. We don’t get nearly the audience that we do on Facebook. But we do double stream. It’s like wearing two condoms, you know, just in case one breaks.
So Ryan and Debbie and I had to scramble to find a way to make sure that everyone on Facebook, even the 500 or so people who had already viewed the Robin Salzeider video, knew that they could find the lost video on twitter. I’m still really pissed that we lost the Facebook version of the Robin Salzeider story, but I’m also a bit relieved that it was a middle-of-the-day JED in the Money that we also did on twitter and not a big news story that was only on Facebook that we lost.
Speaking of big news stories on Facebook… Check this out. On Wednesday, it looks like someone shot out the front picture window of Blythe’s Sporting Goods on Main Street in Griffith. They sell a ton of guns at Blythe’s… and it’s across the street from the Griffith police station… so the happening was a news story. This came to light early during the morning show.
So we called Sam Michel, who was on his way into the studios, and told him to go by Blythe’s and check it out. Sam did so, and wound up doing a Facebook Live video from the sidewalk in front of Blythe’s. He pointed the camera at himself and then at the broken window and talked for a while and that was about it.
But there’s a couple of things to note about this. First of all, 6,000 people have viewed the video, which is a decent amount for a Wednesday morning. And second, I started telling people about the story, but I had to pause.
“We’re going to hear all about it from our own Sam Michel, who is on the scene. We’ll have his comments on the radio as soon as he finishes doing his Facebook Live video and we can play the audio on the air here on AM and FM…”
Do the three or four you realize the importance of what happened here? For the first time in our 93-year-history, we did a live news story to another source… and then played it on the radio. That’s history. I had to tell listeners to hang on while Sam finished his live video so that we could circle back and play the audio of that video on the radio. History.
Too bad that Sam was having trouble with his phone. He talked into the camera all right to start the video, but when he turned his phone sideways to take in what looks like a shot-out window, his phone didn’t adjust right. You have to turn your head 90 degrees to see the window and the rest of the sidewalk scene correctly. It’s another in a long list of Facebook mishaps on our way to two million views.
That should do it for the three or four of you tonight. Remember the purpose. We are trying to follow the transition of radio to something other than radio. That’s all there is. But since I haven’t written to the three or four of you in a while. I thought I’d close this 2500-word ramble with a poem. You okay with that?
Backstage, let me in,
My dogs are barking hard.
The way it’s going,
The way it stands,
We’re gonna lose a
The clouds tell lies.
The bank sells fries.
The clowns continue to roam.
Without a core
Or salty shore
We’ll never find our way.
The way to heaven is lined with trinkets.
You have to resist the desire to pocket.
Without your soul, you’ll never get in.
There’s got to be a better way.
We are lost on a ship.
Floating, pointing, seeing things
That aren’t really there...
While the food runs out and it
Keeps getting hotter than hell.
Without a compass, you can sail by the stars.
But without toilet paper, you’re left
Hanging over the edge of the abyss
Just to shit.
And that’s no fun.
And without a toothbrush,
Your teeth begin to feel like
Someone else’s dirty teeth
In your mouth.
I wanted to be a shortstop.
Instead, I clip coupons and
Mow my own lawn.
It’s quite exhilarating.
In the end, there will be no
It got used up way too early
And there was nothing left
For the paperboy.
We don’t even shovel the sidewalk
For him or her in the
The road to heaven is lined with trinkets.
The trick is to resist the temptation to
Line your pockets.
Trinkets wear you down,
Big ideas don’t mean anything.
Short bursts of purpose
Are all you have left.
But those fade too.
And next thing you know
You’re in the driveway
Holding a dishtowel
As you wave goodbye.
It’s 8:31 on Saturday morning. Last night, since radio never sleeps, I hung out at the station fooling around with “This is Dead Air.” It’s a podcast that Lane Paradis the plumber and I do about the Grateful Dead. We play recordings of old Grateful Dead shows and then we talk. That’s the extent of it.
There’s this underground swirl of spiritual pot smoking types that can’t get enough of anything Grateful Dead. We have yet to plug into that swirl. Our average podcast gets about 40 listens. We can count that.
Watermelon and Ghirardelli chocolate,
XLR chords and marketing pamphlets.
Tom Petty, Grateful Dead and now
Facebook Live, Twitter Live and
A new surprise.
All radio is good.
Just some is better than others.
Most Facebook Live video is bad.
But it’s getting better.
I don’t know what it is, but every once in a while I just gotta write a poem. It’s not something I set out to do. It’s something that just has to be done, like going to the bathroom.
Eight is a really cool number,
especially when you make it
with two circles toppled onto
each other, and then tilt it.
Eight is playful, open