I have actually taken a couple of writing courses. It was in the mid-1980s. I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to become a writer or a trader.
In one, you have a chance of making a bunch of money in a short time. In the other, there’s a good chance you’ll be sitting in your basement in your underwear several years after you started.
Okay. Writing and trading aren’t all that similar. They come together in that for a good period of my life I couldn’t choose which one I wanted to do. So I wrote and wrote and traded and traded. And then came a couple of kids. Then I lost all of our money and my wife had to put the kids in a wagon and wheel our dirty clothes to the Laundromat.
Then a hail storm came. An Allstate agent showed up at the door with a $3,000 check. Instead of fixing the dents in the roof, I drove down to the Board of Trade and put the money in my trading account. And, as Robert Frost would say, “that has made all of the difference.”
It’s 3:15 on a Friday morning, and life moves so fast as local radio guy that the early morning hours are provide the only time for us to get together. In the past couple of days, I have:
- attended a few Christmas parties, including the mammoth Strack & Van Til fiesta at the St. James Hall in Highland. I talked to a Canadian supplier of the grocery chain. He does something like analyze how you use your energy at all of your facilities and then comes up with a plan to save you millions of dollars. I also talked to some guys who supply wine to SVT. They sell the Barefoot brand, which I really like. It tastes good and only costs about five bucks in the SVT stores. Don’t show up with a Barefoot brand to a Christmas party, though. You know.
- interviewed Jon Gold, the CEO of Trade Winds, which provides services kids and adults with disabilities. You know and I know all about Trade Winds. They used to be near downtown Gary but a few years ago moved into this 55,000-square-foot facility in Merrillville. Then they bought the building across the street and a lot down the road. There’s a lot of people with disabilities, and they all need services. Even Gold noted that Trade Winds may have to take a breather on the growth for a while. He’s been CEO for 18 years and has been associated with Trade Winds for 30 years. I interviewed him over the summer at the Trade Winds picnic. He was sitting on the bench of the dunk tank, and every time he came up for air, I asked him a question. It was an unseasonably cold August day. He was freezing his ass off.
- announced another Purdue Northwest basketball game. This was at home against Northern Michigan. Once again, the Pride held their own until the final two minutes. That’s when the visitors kicked it into another gear. I can’t tell you how excited I am that division II basketball has come to Hammond. But there’s no mistaking that Wayne State on Saturday and Northern Michigan last night have a gear on their transmissions that we at PNW do not have. At least not yet. I had a nice talk with head coach Matt Bush before the game. He’s pretty excited about the recruiting class for next year. Right now, the PNW Pride are 0-7.
Of course, there’s more. I only record the happenings because, as you the three or four of you might remember, our purpose here is to put down for historical purposes what it’s like to live a life of local radio. Radio is dying or, at best, transforming. It won’t be like it is now in a few years. A radio guy, if he does exist, will not have this closeness to and total immersion with the local community.
I joke with Alexis that if something happens to her, I’ll just take a page from Queen Elizabeth and get betrothed to WJOB. She, in her hidden Lucille Ball mentality, retorts –
“Oh yeah, you’ll get remarried all right. And she’ll be at my funeral.”
There is a silent snow, secret snow feel to having a wife who won’t show her vaudeville sense of humor to anyone else but me. It’s a show every night. I’m not kidding. She tells me about her day, does imitations of people, goes on comedy rants, and then cooks me enchiladas. I am a happy man. I do not want to get married to WJOB.
I’m taking off from the show this morning. Ostensibly it’s so I can start studying for my graduate-level Accounting final on Monday. I’m a lot worried about this. It’s not so much that I have to obtain a good grade so that I can get a job. And I pretty much have already sucked what knowledge I need for my business out of my Accounting book, which sits quietly on the couch as I type to the three or four of you –
Accounting: What the Numbers Mean
It sounds so majestic. It’s not. It’s just contribution margin and overhead application rates waiting for me to comprehend them. Neither of these will help with my business. But I slog on anyways. There’s an answer somewhere in getting an MBA. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something that will help me come up with a plan to sustain WJOB and to implement that plan. Without some guidance, I get the feeling that in five years I’ll be doing just what I’m doing now, which is trying to figure out how I’m gonna pay for everything that’s associated with the upcoming Christmas.
I’m also taking off from doing the show because I have to let some of the younger talent develop itself. Sam Michel, the 25-year-old sports guy from Highland, will do the show for me this morning. He and Ryan Walsh and I traded off announcing the women’s and men’s games last night at PNW. Ryan is the producer for the morning show, the best in the Chicago area. Sam may one day meet his goal, which is to be the play-by-play guy for the St. Louis Cardinals. Neither of these guys gets to develop their wares with me barking orders every morning and every game. I’ve got to step aside and, as Cat Stevens would say, let the children play.
Although it’s not like I’m gonna laze around the house all day, which I would love to do. I have a lunch date in which I’ll try to sell a sponsorship to a rather large sponsor. This is how it works best. I meet with someone who’s thinking about coming on board. We get to know each other. I show them the numbers. They’re surprised as hell that we have grown so much in the past couple of years. They agree to sponsor WJOB on all of our platforms… and, get this, more and more they’re agreeing to sponsor me as a brand.
I’m not kidding. If you really think about it, there’s not that many personalities in the Calumet Region of Indiana and Illnois just to the south of downtown Chicago. There’s just not. We don’t have our own media – we get all of it from Chicago. And we don’t really have our own big government, which, as we have seen at the national level, can produce brands also. We get our big government from Indianapolis, which is three hours away.
That doesn’t leave us with that many personalities in the Calumet Region who can hawk products and services. So what WJOB station manager Debbie Wargo has been doing in the past few weeks is to present to potential sponsors a couple of standard radio and streaming video packages in which they get so many spots and so many mentions. They might even sponsor something like weather, sports, business, and so forth.
And then Debbie is throwing in a “JED package.” This is when the advertiser basically sponsors all of the stuff I do. Now I know what the three or four of you are thinking –
Really? A “JED package”
That’s what I said. Who the hell is gonna want to sponsor me on:
- the morning radio show
- the morning video show
- JED in the Money segements
- my Grateful Dead podcast
- this blog
- and so forth?
But I guess that when you throw it all into the cauldron, you come up with – no, don’t say it – a brand. As it was explained to us by one advertiser.
“JED’s his own brand. I’ll take the JED package.”
Now this presents an interesting dilemma. For a long time, ever since my wife and I purchased WJOB in 2004, I’ve gone with the assumption that the best way to sell advertising is to do it under the umbrella of WJOB. It’s a brand that’s been around since 1924. There are people who listen to my show who were listening to WJOB in the 1940s. And their kids and their kids’ kids and maybe even their kids’ kids’ kids listen to the show. WJOB runs deep in the community.
So we never really thought of trying to sell anything else but WJOB. Not JED. Not “the Preacher,” who died a few years ago. Not Kubic, not Geno, Harlow or anyone else.
But what if that’s the better way to sell advertising – not as a local radio station but as personalities who serve as brands on the radio, on social and online. It’s an interesting thing to note in the development of local radio. When I meet with the potential advertiser today for lunch, I’m gonna offer up me as a brand. I’ll let you know how that goes.
That should do it for this morning. One of the things I found in doing this blog for the three or four of you is that if I just type and type and don’t judge what I’m typing, I can belt out a lot of words in a short period of time. Here it is 3:45 and we’re at almost 2,000 words. Just type and type and type and tell people how good and pure and beautiful radio is. That should be enough.