I don't suppose I'm the best of bloggers these days but perhaps I'm decent at being a radio guy so like the red wheelbarrow that makes all the difference. Or does "taking the road less traveled" make all the difference and it's just that a lot depends upon the red wheelbarrow?
For now it's a Saturday morning and I'm set later to interview my high school gym teacher - Jon Jepsen - who's getting the new pool at Munster High named after him. That's at about 5pm. And then after that I'll announce the Valpo at Munster boys basketball game and then meet Alexis at a bowling fundraiser for the Salzeider Charity at Plaza Lanes that we've been pushing all week. And then we'll wind up at a surprise party for a guy at Wicker Park pavilion.
I strongly believe that there's no way in hell that he'll read this blog, so he can't figure out the surprise beforehand. There's only about five or six of you who read this stuff anyhows, and I don't think he's one of them.
... As far as telling you how radio's going... as you know we've been in the new temporary studios on the campus of the new Purdue Commercialization Center or Excellence Center or whatever the name's gonna be. There's construction guys crawling all over the place making this state-of-the-art complex that I along with maybe one or two others believes will help bring a whole new high-tech industry to the Calumet Region. But I digress...
The original plan that the Chancellor and I and a guy who has retired by now hatched was for us to move into the temporary studios before anything else happened at the Center. This was a little risky on our radio part since we knew that after a while we'd be in the middle of a major construction project. Jackhammers, roofers, constant pounding and grinding. Burly construction workers shouting to each other to bring over a Skywheel or a rigger pin. All that noise and confusion we knew would be a challenge when it came but you have no idea how badly we wanted out of our historic yet dank and dreary studios.
And besides, the plan was also for us to move into the Center to give the Purdue project some exposure and momentum. After a couple of years, when more financial support came through, we would move to more permanent state-of-the-art studios a little closer to the street.
That was the plan. Move into the temp studios and then down the road make another move into the final studios that we could use to continue to do solid local radio and also increase our involvement with Purdue Cal.
The plan has moved, however, a lot more quickly than anticipated.
We put together this awesome studio and recording booth and offices and we're really kinda proud of it. Right about the time we finished, though, Purdue started their portion of this huge construction project. Pretty much since we started broadcasting some of the shows in the new studios in, say, April, there's been cranes and compressors, clanking and grinding. As expected, construction workers yelling to each other. Electricians drilling into concrete can be especially noticeable. They're not only loud but at least once they cut our internet line and took us off the air. The other time they deny it but I have my suspicions.
Now don't get me wrong. I appreciate entirely our new situation, and you know that ever since I was a little kid hanging around the Purdue Cal campus with my late Uncle Dennis that I've wanted to see the campus grow, transform into something a little bit... more.
(Yes, that's right. I'd throw a ball around with my uncle and his friends and these girls who didn't wear bras... right outside the Anderson Building. There was a lot more open space on campus back then, late 60s, early 70s. Every once in a while my uncle and his friends and these amazingly beautiful women would hand around this burning piece of leaves or something. And they'd laugh and eat Fritos and throw the ball to me and laugh again. Once, when I came home after one of these day-long Purdue Cal visits, my mom smelled my hair then took my uncle into a room and yelled at him for what seemed like forever. After that, my uncle and his friends and his amazingly beautiful women didn't hand the burning leaves around in my presence anymore. And to tell you the truth, I missed it. They were a lot of fun when the burning leaves was around.}
Anyways. Since it's a Saturday morning and I don't have any radio to do until later on, I can ramble. In the end, 2014 was a great year for WJOB. We moved into new studios and we got some solid local programs and a ton of advertisers and momentum. I thank each and every one of you five or six who read this blog for your hand in this success.
But now, the plan for us to move into the final destination studios has been changed. Instead of in a couple of years, it may be in a couple of months. Ultimately, the original plan has kinda worked. Purdue (i.e. mostly Chancellor Keon) has built on momentum and raised the money to build out what is essentially the high-tech, venture capital portion of the building.
It's a lot sooner than we expected. So now instead of kicking back and doing radio and fiddling with our own high-tech, venture capital ideas for a couple years... we're in the beginning of another move. It's only 35 feet to the southeast, but it might as well be across the Region to Buckley Homestead.
We're doing a whole new studio design, something that will have a "wow" factor. Something that we can be proud of at WJOB for years to come and a facility that can help us in teaching Purdue Cal students and interns. And speaking of that, we just hired one of the kids that was in the Radio and TV Performance class that I helped teach last semester. His name is Alex K. I don't know how to spell his last name yet, and quite frankly in the tradition of pit trading, he's not important enough yet for me to take the time to learn the spelling. But he will be someday. Eager, lot of talent. And if you think about it, if we didn't have this close involvement wit da University we wouldn't have probably met Alex and hired him.
Anyways, I write all this crap down so that the history of WJOB won't be lost. One of the things that has pissed me off the most was that when we walked into the radio station after winning a court case 11 years ago... there was nothing left of the history. No reel to reels, a few carts, no written histories or momentos. There was, of course, a hidden room with a couple thousand albums in it, some kinda valuable. But there's little left of the history of this great radio station, home to Jean Shepherd and Frank Reynolds. Feliicia Middlebrooks, Cosmo Courier, Jan Gabriel, Jon Anoustopolis. You have no idea how I'd like to have some of their tapes, notes, photos of them. All that crap. I've made a commitment to myself that this would not happen on my watch, that we would attempt to gather what history that we could and that we'd preserve at least some of our recordings, photos, videos... and that I'd write down along the way what happened.
So there. You and five other people get to know our history as it happens.
We have already procured, one way or another, almost all of the stuff for the new, final studio. But you have no idea what a challenge it is when an architect asks you to tell them where we'd like the power supplies, the internet portals, where we're gonna place the cabinet with all of our digital stuff. Where do we want the walls. What kind of walls. Floors. Colors. All this crap I don't know anything about. The first time around we just agreed with the University, since they were ultimately gonna be using what is now our temp studios, to just build a big white box and we'd put up our own temporary stuff. That was a lot easier. Now that we're looking at moving into a long-term home... there's a lot more thinking that goes into it and I wasn't quite prepared for that.
Also, we have been having trouble connecting on the internet from the new studio to the transmitter at the old studio. A few times last week we just lost connection and went to dead air for a few moments. Once, it went completely dead and Ryan and I had to skid addle down the Boulevard to the old studio and do the morning show there. Back in the basement, damp, next to the boxes with the old Playboys and carburetors in them. Wait, that was Joey Chruby's basement. Yes, our old studios, with no windows and the stagnant air, reminds of the Chrubys' basement.
I'm not sure what the problem is. We set up this VPN network between sites using Barix streamers. We had to order Comcast at both sites (and pay for it double) and as a backup we installed AT&T internet at both sites too. The AT&T is the backup because our old studio is in an old area where they don't have that much bandwidth so we made AT&T the backup. So if Comcast goes down, we're supposed to wait about 20 seconds and then it's programmed so we'll be live again with the AT&T system.
But for some reason there's little hiccups that you can hear on the air. I have had several people look at the system, including a wunderkind named Ryan from Boone Grove, and we can't find what feels like a short or something. The best I can tell is that as has been told to me that Hammond simply has old cable and phone lines, and that we simply can't rely on this aging infrastructure to send audio. Maybe.
Or the construction guys left a hammer laying against one of our lines or someone hates us (they're out there, believe me) and knows enough to hack into our system and mess with us.
Whatever it is, for the time being, until I can find the short in the system, we've been doing all the shows from the old studio. How's that feel?
So the timeline for another project has been accelerated. I had planned, once we finally got into our final studio, to build an STL (studio transmitter link) from Purdue to our old WJOB. It's not that huge of a project. You basically set up a Marti system at Purdue, with an antenna on the roof, and you shoot the audio over the air to a receiving antenna somewhere on the WJOB building. It has to be a high enough antenna so that the power lines next to the building aren't in the site line. The receiving antenna grabs the audio, brings it to the transmitter, and then shoots it up the tower so you (the five or six of you who read this blog) can listen to WJOB, along with the thousands who don't and probably never will read this blog.
Anyways, now that we're having problems with our internet-based VPN, I'm thinking about building the over-the-air STL right now. And that takes some time and some resources. We'll see. Ryan the web wunderkind and I worked all afternoon yesterday on the VPN connection, updating software and replacing firewalls and crap like that. Maybe that fixed the problem, maybe not. I'm gonna go into the new studio and play albums tomorrow and see if there's hiccups on the air. I'd do it today but we're running four or five basketball games - Purdue, South Suburban, my high school game, Valpo and one more, I think. It's a basketball marathon and no time to play old Clapton albums just to test the sound quality.
That's right. It's basketball season, and that's all right with me. On Wednesday, I went with Bill Baker to the Purdue-IU game and sat under the basket. We carry both schools so I knocked out two birds with one visit. Purdue killed em, and that' got me on a high all week. And then, even better, Alexis and I went to niece Megan's 8th grade B game on Thursday. She scored six points, including two banked free throws. Proud of her. Check out the photos above, if you want.