"Are you prepared to get angry," station manager Debbie Wargo told me over the phone on Wednesday.
"We lost all internet, Comcast and AT&T, including the VPN that connects us from the new studio here to the transmitter."
I was at the Dynasty Banquet Hall in north Hammond and had just moderated a panel in front of 325 people. Women in Business. Here's who was on the panel.
Barb Greene, president of Franciscan Healthcare Munster
Carla Morgan, attorney for the City of East Chicago
Kathleen O'Leary, president of NIPSCO
Denise Dillard, Methodist Hospitals
Dr. Mary Tilak, internist
It turned out to be good discussion. Work-life balance, changing attitudes toward women at work, women role models, women support networks, etc. I made a few silly jokes, but on the whole I remembered my wife's admonition on the way out the door - If you gotta think twice about saying it, don't say it.
So I checked my natural inclination to smart aleck, and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities, including a quip about hot flashes that would have brought down the house (at least among the males present).
So after the luncheon we're all hanging around the accompanying Business Expo in the main hall at Dynasty and Debbie calls me. I run over to the new studio and it turns out construction crews cut both of our internet lines. How, I have no freaking idea.
So we scrambled to reset all the equipment to broadcast from the old studio for the afternoon show, which happened to be a live remote from the Business Expo. And yesterday morning I had to do the show from the old studio, which we're in the process of redoing so it was at best a huge inconvenience and kind of embarrassing when guests came in.
In the end, it's Halloween, which is often a tough day for me and my brothers and sisters. My mom died 26 years ago today at right about this time of the morning - 4am. It was a sad moment at the hospital on the campus of the University of Chicago. I remember driving home down the expressway and looking over at the sun coming up over smokestacks and crains, rail yards and telephone poles. My mom had suffered for half a dozen years, so it was relief and grief in one quiet sunrise ride through the heart of industry.
Anyways, that was a long time ago. Happy Halloween. Time to do a radio show... at the new freakin studio, hopefully.
On the show this morning, I gave away a few tickets to Alice Cooper Sunday night at the Venue at Horseshoe Casino.
"I haven't seen her play since the late 70s at the Hammond Civic Center," I said. "Wonder if she still puts on a good show."
And for the next hour my fill=in producer Angel Jimenez (Ryan went to IU Bloomington for a few days to party) kept handing me notes - "So and so called, said to tell you you're an idiot. Alice Cooper's a guy."
Literally, the Calumet Region can't take a joke.
So Alexis and I are thinking seeing Alice on Sunday night. If you're in local radio, you probably don't make much money but you do have access to a ton of tickets to concerts and stuff. Sometimes you go because you want to. And sometimes you go because you want to cozy up to a big client. Alice sits somewhere in between.
. Where does the Alice Cooper concert fit?
.... Too bad you weren't driving down Indianapolis Boulevard in the wee hours on Halloween. You coulda seen two ghosts. One in a habit, and the one a radio host turning completely white for a moment. Here's how I put it on Facebook.
Cousin Phyllis scared the s#%t out of me at 530 this morning. I looked out the WJOB window at the Purdue Cal center and in the darkness appeared a nun who faintly resembled my mom, who died 26 years ago today in the early morning. "I just saw a ghost," I told you guys on air. Nice costume, cuz. And thanks for checking on me.
Seven women found dead in Hammond and Gary. Feds busted up a heroin ring. A gal from Crown Point dead in a car chase with police in Mexico. Prostate cancer.
Tough show. Purdue Cal athletic director Rick Costello started it out light talking about the Coaches Caravan on Thursday night, which I’m gonna host. There’s a script somewhere and I should probably study it but instead I’ll rely on wit and candor. Costello told about Purdue striving to make it into Division II. Dream come true, baby. Dream come true.
Hammond mayor Tom McDermott talked about how the Hammond police solved the case of the local serial killer. Motel 6, weird text, SWAT team taking the guy by surprise… Then all the sudden Darren Dion Vann just starts talking. A weekend of discovering dead women in abandoned buildings.
We also talked about the taser incident and how a lotta people have been criticizing Hammond police for excessive force and racism. The mayor stressed that despite all of the criticism the Hammond police kept doing their job and took down a serial killer. Good work, guys.
But back to the serial killer. I asked the mayor why Mr. Vann was leading police to all of the bodies and he said – It’s my opinion that he just wants the death penalty.
Hmm. Does Indiana even have the death penalty? Can you request it? If you killed someone and you just want to die, then should we keep you alive and make you suffer? I get the feeling that this death penalty stuff is important to the story. If I had a yellow highlighter I’d use it on “death penalty.”
State Rep. Linda Lawson talked with me about dangers for women. She’s holding a women’s symposium tomorrow at 6pm, so the whole thing was kind of timely. Lawson used to be a tough female cop. She told some stories of how it used to be for women who got beat up by their husbands. Are women safer now than when she first started in the 70s? I don’t know. Maybe.
I asked Highland town councilman Bernie Zemen again about his diagnosis of prostate cancer. He looks a little worried. He’s a hardass Region Rat and that means you walk around with a hardass Region look. But then again when the doc tells you that you got cancer…
“Of course I’m a little scared,” he said and he meant it. We both took up the cause about getting the blood test and, if need be, watching the doctor put on the latex glove.
Ouch just thinking about it. The brand spanking new Munster town manager Dustin Anderson came in and told about how he was there to do the wishes of the town council. I did a doubletake on that one. For 30 years, Tom DeGuilio was town manager and I can’t remember him saying in all of that time once that his only job was to fulfill the wishes of the town council. I’m a cynic. That’s all it is.
Teamsters officials Richard Knipp and Harvey Jackson talked health care and this new way that drivers get a safety score. Zero is best. Once you get to 60 or so insurance carriers drop you. We talked about how the Borman is probably the heaviest truck traffic in America.
That’s a lot of radio for a rainy Tuesday after I just got back from the Notre Dame at Florida State trip. Returning to seven women murdered by an alleged serial killer, big heroin bust in our own backyard, prostate cancer, and a local woman fugitive dying in a car chase.
In the end, the serial killer arrest and taser incident gone viral have the eyes of the country on Hammond, Indiana.
“Fox and Friends wanted me on this morning,” the mayor said. “Instead I came to your show on WJOB in Hammond, Indiana.”
I don't really have to prepare for the show as much these days. It gets carried along by constant callers about the Hammond taser incident. In short, cops stopped a black man and woman and two kids in the backseat. Man and woman wouldn't get out of car and cops wind up tasseling the guy and arresting him. The video went wildly viral.
Most people call up supporting the cops. Some call up supporting the NAACP. And some just call up and want to make jokes.
Either way, the show carries itself. The charges of excessive force and possible racism against the Hammond police department are real. The confusion and conviction that you hear in the voices of callers is real too. The hurt of mostly black callers is real. The support of the cops is real. It's all real in its own way. You can't separate the bullshit from that which is real because it's local radio and somehow that makes it about as genuine as you can find.
So for tomorrow - Tuesday - I'm gonna be lazy. Usually I sit up at night putting together possible topics, like studying for a test. You don't tell anyone you're doing it because you're the cool guy in a letter jacket. But you study your ass off enough to beat the crap out of your little brothers for bouncing a ball a floor above.