Radio rolls on. This time it’s outside room 526 at the Hampton Inn in Madison, Wisconsin. There’s a laundry room right across the hall, imagine that, and in this tiny mausoleum of a cleansing factory there’s a desk in the corner and a fan blowing hard as hell overhead. It’s not Hemingway’s definition of a clean, well-lighted place. But it’ll do. Alexis can sleep.
Yesterday Alexis and I drove from Hammond, Indiana, to Madison to see IU play at #4 in the country rated Wisconsin. I don’t know precisely when it happened, but somewhere along the line Alexis joined me in an only kinda health obsession for anything sports, with an emphasis on basketball. This was a huge game, don’t get me wrong, but not that big of a game that we’d drive a couple extra hours through a snowstorm to go see. As with just about everything else I do, including write this ridiculous radio blog, there is included an ulterior motive.
My daughter goes to school here, which you already know if you listen to the show. She started doing news on the radio when she was 14 and in her senior year she basically chose between Purdue and Wisconsin on the air – much to the chagrin of my Boilermaker forever father, who despite his passion for anything black and gold had none of his five kids go to West Lafayette and so far no grandkids.
Sorry pops. Anyways, Alexis and I made record time to the Belvidere oasis near Rockford. The state of Illinois had been working on I-90 for the entire time that Jeanie’s been at Madison and they finally finished. Three wide-open lanes of concrete and a mesmerizing view of infinite cornfields. You can speed like hell if you want.
So while we split a #2 cheeseburger meal at Mickey D’s and watched semis roar past below us, I asked her –
Hey, how bout you drive for a while. I wanna take a nap.
Are you kidding me? Look at that snow coming.
Nah, it’ll pass over, I said, the eternal, and often incorrect and misleading, optimist.
As we walked in the parking lot, the skies opened up with snow-globe beauty and vengeance. And the howling started, like a smoke ring day when the wind blows. Now I won’t be back ‘til later on, if I do come back at all.
But you know me Al. Anyways, the madness behind my eyes sometimes breaks into an unseen and unheard – unless you too are behind my eyes – Neil Young ballad. I’m sorry for that. I try to stop it but it’s like an old man lying by the ide of the road with the lorries rolling by. Don’t let it bring you down.
Anyways, record travel time went to blizzard crawling. Cold road spit whooshing from one side of the north-south road to the other quickly, no time to stop other than to make it hard to see the semi in front, behind and a few feet next to you in the passing lane. White-knuckle all the way up 90-94 from Rockford to Madison.
And then it got even worse. US 12-20 at ext 142 was a crawl for the four miles or so that you gotta be on it to get to the campus. White road, white/gray sky, white guardrails and one very scared brown woman in the passenger’s seat. I whiled away the time by listening to Roe Conn out of WGN in Chicago. Yes, you can pick up WGN in Madison, Wisconsin, and yes, Roe has moved his afternoon show from WLS to WGN. I think he got fired. It’s the first time I heard his new version of Chicago in the afternoon and one thing seems different and I like it. It was just Roe. At WLS he had other people in the studio and a ton of guests and stuff. Byonk. Just you, Roe. That’s what we want.
Anyways, we made it to the hotel with the help of Roe, for me, and the Wild novel by Cheryl Strayed for my wife. We threw our stuff down and walked against the wind with hundreds of bundled-up cheeseheads a few blocks up Johnson St. to the Kohl Center, which rears its behemoth presence in the middle of a blizzard like no other stadium I’ve seen. Check out the photo above. See if I’m lying.
We have media passes, as you well know if you listen to the show. And I hope you do because I’m really funny. And we showed the extremely nice woman at the press table our ID’s and then an extremely nice man opened the door to the stairs that lead down to the press room and the court. Alexis decided to go up to the desks reserved for credentialed media and I went on the floor under the basket next to the cheerleaders. It was an ESPN game so Dan Dakich walked by right in front of me a couple of times and I was gonna say “hi” but then again he probably doesn’t remember that I schooled him in 6th and 7th grad when he was at SS. Peter and Paul and I was at St. Thomas More. At some point Dan held back a grade so I didn’t get to school him anymore. And he grew another foot and I didn’t, so eventually he got to shut down Michael Jordan in one of the most classic NCAA tournament games ever. And I got to sit in a laundry room to write a blog that five or six of you will probably ever read.
I got some decent photos, and man, is Frank Kaminsky a beast. I don’t mean that he’s 7-foot tall with the wingspan of Michael the archangel. I mean he’s mean and long and can drive to the hoop and likes to push lesser mortal Hoosiers out of the way to snare a rebound. I was impressed. My buddy Loftee, who is buddies with Frank’s dad, once questioned the boy’s hunger, hinting at the NBA career killing “soft,” but I didn’t see any of that. How dare you say that, Loftee. Now apologize.
Anyways, it’s always cool to watch Yogi Ferrell play. I first saw him while sitting center court for the state finals at Conseco fieldhouse. I announced his Park Tudur team’s thrilling win over Bishop Noll in the state title game. Yogi won that game. Just a fierce competitor and you can tell he’s the kind of guy who will make sure he parties no matter if he makes it to the NBA or not.
I took some pictures in the first half and then climbed a zillion stairs to join Alexis and then my daughter came over from the student section and we went to the The Great Dane for dinner. I had something called “Inner Warmth Stew,” which is the kind of vegetable-dominated collection that you can only get in Madison. After dinner we walked through the north Pole to DLUX, where Jeanie’s boyfriend is bartender. I drank another thickass craft brew trying to figure out when my little girl went from this bouncy Catholic schoolgirl to this cosmopolitan college senior who dates the bartender at a trendy Madison bar.
After that, we walked around the deserted capital square area through the south pole this time – I like the cold, I really do, but for some reason Wisconsin cold cuts through to your core like nothing you can describe – to Jeanie’s apartment off Langdon Street. I usually stay outside of her apartment, not entirely comfortable with four or five college co-eds walking around in various states of undress – but Jeanie had my birthday present so I had to come in.
And true to Midwestern college form on a Tuesday during another freezing ass snowstorm, there were several people sitting around a low coffee table playing some sort of board game. There were, of course, beer bottle everywhere and when someone guessed wrong the name of the maid for the Brady Bunch, she had to drink a glass of beer. My daughter handed me a really mushy card and a gift bag full of a ton of homemade chocolate chip cookies and another little treat in there and I hugged her awkwardly, since that’s the only way I can really hug, and said thank you and then Alexis and I walked back through Russian Siberia on a bad day to the hotel, where I listened to a little Adam Carolla podcast and then went to bed.
What does any of this have to do with radio? First, I’m not doing my radio show. Right now, as I sit in a laundry room, you may be listening to Dave Kusiak. I hope you’re enjoying another break from gravelly voice. And second, we’re the northwest and Chicago affiliate for Purdue, Indiana, Valparaiso and other smaller colleges, so sometimes I gotta attend the games to foster the relationship.
If that sounds like a load of bullshit, well, it’s just the start. I’ve included a couple of emails between me and Patrick in the UW press office. You be the judge if that is bullshit or not. But in the end it’s my daughter’s a senior and she’ll be leaving soon and besides, until last night I had never seen a game in the Kohl Center. So there. I just wanted to see my daughter and some great college basketball players play, so we drove through a blizzard.
Here’s the emails.
We received your request for 2 credentials for the Indiana at Wisconsin game. Our credentials are for accredited media only. I can grant your request and parking pass, but we are unable to credential your daughter.
Please let me know if you would still like the one credential/parking.
Thanks for approving a credential for WJOB for tomorrow's IU game. There's a little confusion, however, on the other request. The second request is for my wife, Alexis Vazquez Dedelow, who owns WJOB and often accompanies me on the morning show. We are sports geeks and we sometimes attend games of teams that we air. We do reports after the games and on the morning show, web, photos, etc, and we often have reporters from the NWI Times on to discuss Big Ten games. My daughter, Jeanette, attends UW but she sits in the student section.
WJOB is 17 miles from downtown Chicago and can be heard by more than three million people. We are the Chicago and northwest Indiana affiliate for Purdue, Indiana, Valparaiso and smaller schools in this area. I announce about 50 high school and college basketball games a year, sometimes accompanied by my wife, and have voted AP in Indiana for years.
WJOB-affiliated teams typically encourage Alexis and I to attend games. We have two standing credentials at all of the above colleges. I understand that IU-Wisconsin is a big game and you are no doubt receiving questionable requests, but please note that WJOB has been a hoops broadcasting powerhouse for generations and we continue the tradition by carrying our in-state schools and by attending at least a few games a year.
Please reconsider and put the second credential in the name of Alexis Vazquez Dedelow. Sorry for the miscommunication, which I doubt no doubt caused in the first place. Check out wjob1230.com and jed.tv or my facebook at jimdedelow for confirmation of above info. I can also provide references from above universities for Alexis and I.
Thanks and look forward to meeting you tomorrow night,
Jim, Thanks for the clarification. We will approve your request in the morning.