It’s 3;55am on a rainy Thursday morning. And due to the demands of the job, it is only in the early morning that I can find the time to tell you about My Radio Life.
Yesterday, I opened the radio show, as always, by roaming the sidewalk of Indianapolis Boulevard. The camera looks outside at me through a window that often fogs up. I look like a ghost to Facebook Live and Twitter video. Sometimes I feel like one.
Often these days I picture my ancestors walking up what is now a Boulevard that handles tens of thousands of vehicles in a day. Back then, in 1871, it was a simple trail. My people used it to walk down from Chicago after the whole city burnt down.
I picture my people walking down the Boulevard that was then just a trail soot-filled. Their clothes are black. I can’t see their faces but I can feel their pain. Then I talk on the radio, making clucking sounds and walking out onto the pavement as if I were a chicken.
That was my silliness yesterday. I noticed in the Times newspaper that the city of Hammond was considering and ordinance to allow chickens within the city limits. I yelled at cars and pickup trucks that sped by.
“Are you pro-chicken or anti-chicken? Just stick your hand out your window with a thumbs up or thumbs down.”
Most people in Hammond, based on this crude straw poll, are pro chicken. I bawk-bawk-bawked out into the street when there were no vehicles. I laughed out loud and made fun of the chicken ordinance on the very land that my ancestors had crossed 146 years ago on their way to the Woodmar section of Hammond. That’s where they settled and lived up until just a few years ago.
This connection to the past is somehow bubbling up inside me these days. Up until recently, when I realized that I was doing radio every morning on the very spot these people would have walked 146 years ago, I didn’t really think about a connection of the heart with people from that long ago. I mentioned it once in a while on the radio, but it was only in passing. For some reason, these days I feel it more. Why? I don’t know.
I am reading the biography of Andrew Jackson that Jon Meachem wrote. If the three or four of you who read my blog go back a couple of entries, you’ll know that I met Mr. Meachem on Sunday. His book about Andrew Jackson won a Pulitzer Prize. I really don’t know the intricacies of how they choose a Pulitzer or who started it… or even what country it comes from. But I do know that it’s big enough of a deal that Meachem could put on a crisp gray suit and travel to Westville, Indiana, give a speech, and collect a big check.
Big check. Big check.
In the tradition of what my people are not – which is big readers – I am going to present you a quote of how Andrew Jackson thought of his presidency.
“I feel in the depths of my soul, that is the highest, most sacred and most irreversible part of my obligation, to preserve the union of these states, although it may cost me my life.”
Now comes the comparison of a presidency to a radio molehill. Yes, I feel the same about my purpose when I walk out onto Indianapolis Boulevard every morning with a wireless microphone attached to my hip. It is the highest, most sacred and most irreversible part of my obligation to preserve the spirit and tower of WJOB.
Meachem goes on to say that for Jackson there really wasn’t a separation between what he did for his country and what he did for his family. In other words, the country was his family. And that’s what I leave for the three or four of you before I turn to something at least a little bit more interesting – I don’t really make the distinction between the radio and my family. Yes, of course my family is more important. What kind of man would I be if that was not the case?
But do know that as I stand out there on Indianapolis Boulevard and I conjure the ghosts of a rag tag group of my ancestors walking up the trail in the dark – burnt, exhausted, hungry and fearful – that the radio is more than a job. It’s my destiny somehow. I was supposed to wind up doing this and I have no freaking idea why.
“The story of Jackson’s life….is of his long, unrelenting war to keep his family and his country safe.”
When your job and your family are one and the same, how do you watch the World Series without feeling the warmth of the blanket and the warmth of the leg draped over yours… while accepting the oppressive nature of generations of hard-working people that are whispering to you to get up off your ass and work. Don’t lay still. Work harder to build something. If you don’t, your city could burn down and you could wind up walking down a deserted trail with your tattered family and the few belongings that you were able to salvage. It’s a lot to carry on a rainy Thursday morning, but this really is the only time that you and I could have to get together.
Yesterday, I did my prance around the Boulevard, mimicking chickens and bawk, bawk bawking into the wireless microphone. I don’t know if it was good radio or not. And I don’t really care. It was a relief from the treachery of the day. It was just Tuesday that a guy named Safrio rented a truck from Home Depot for $19.99 a day and ran over a bunch of people on the lower west side of Manhattan. He killed eight and injured several more. My daughter Jeanie on Facebook marked “safe.” That’s enough for me to feel threatened and want to walk around bawk, bawk bawking like a chicken.
There is a lot of fear and loathing in America right now. It plays out every night on television. It plays out every morning on WJOB. I don’t know if it’s always been this way or I’m just more in tune with it since I am the voice of the Region for two and a half hours every morning. Whatever the case may be, once in a while you gotta bawk, bawk, bawk like a chicken or you’ll lose your mind.
7am – Purdue Northwest Director of Athletics (don’t say “athletic director,” producer Ryan posted on the chalkboard) called in to promote an upcoming dinner for John Friend. He was my high school football coach who went on to become the athletic director of Purdue Northwest – then known as Purdue Calumet – for a lot of years. They’re throwing a party to recognize Friend on Thursdaya, November 18th. You can come.
Director of Athletics Costelo also made an announcement – that I, Jim Dedelow, is gonna be the new voice of PNW mens basketball. That’s right. We came to an agreement with PNW for WJOB to broadcast in video and sometimes in radio home sporting events. That’s in seven sports. Volleyball, womens soccer, mens soccer, mens basketball, womens basketball, softball and baseball. That’s a lot of videoing and radioing. I’ll announce most of the basketball games in the hopes that my presence could bring more attention to the athletics. We’ll see.
7:15am – US Senator Joe Donnelly called in. I gently upbraided him for not really knowing that PNW had moved to division II and was on the rise.
“Hey, it’s not Notre Dame, but it’s something, Senator.”
“Stop that,” he said.
Donnelly talked about a new health care bill that he was working on with a Republican senator and an opioid initiative that he was working on with a Republican and a couple of other things that had a Republican in it. This is odd in that Joe Donnelly is a Democrat. Here’s the thing, though. Donnelly has to run for re-election next year in a state that is mostly Republican. You could say that Donnelly got elected the first time by accident, as this guy named Murdoch that I interviewed a few times said something really stupid about rape right before the election. At least that’s how I remember it.
This time around, Donnelly has to win on his own merits against someone who probably won’t say something really stupid right before the election. So he must be trying to portray himself as someone who works well with Republicans. I can’t think of a Democrat that I have interviewed who has seemed more friendly to Republicans.
We’re in troubled times, remember. And if you’re reading this in 50 years, know that Democrats and Republicans hate each other with a passion. They often won’t even talk to each other, let alone work together. I hope it’s not that way when you’re reading this.
7:30am – Sportswriter Al Hamnik joined me in the studio. Al has been writing sports for local newspapers for 43 years. We talked about his, pointing out that no one – NO ONE – works the same job for 43 years anymore. I prompted Al to write a book about his experiences. Al parried the idea by saying that he knew a few local journalists who had written a book.
“The one guy – he sold like 35 copies. That’s it.” Al said in answer to the suggestion that he sit in his basement on sunny days and type into a laptop. I get his point and so do you.
8:10am – I was walking to my car in the parking lot of the Purdue Northwest Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center and I ran into PNW Chancellor Tom Keon. We wound up going to breakfast at The Wheel down the street. It took forever for the food to come and the chancellor nearly missed his 9am meeting in the Center with a group from a community college in China. There were Chinese people walking around the center all day yesterday. I tried to talk to a few of them, but they were having trouble understanding my pidgeon steel mill English, so we just motioned with our hands how good the pastries were.
9:05am – Jimmy Mullaney, Sam Michel, Christina Cortez, Ryan Walsh and I rearranged the studio in a hurry for “One Million Cups.” This is series that I host in which we bring in entrepreneurs to tell about their products and companies. About 25 people jam into the studio and we do it as a “live studio audience.”
Yesterday’s presenter was Jennifer Lovett Ciefus. Forgive the spelling but it’s 4:36am and I gotta finish this at some point and go fulfill my destiny as the bawk, bawk, bawker of Indianapolis Boulevard. Jennifer is also the owner of Nana’s Sweets. She brings pastries and other delicacies into the studios every Wednesday for the local entrepreneurial community to partake. I really hope that Jennifer makes it with her invention. It’s called a Sachho. It’s a pouch for your cellphone that allows you to hang it on an electrical socket without putting it on the ground.
10am – I was the host for a meeting of NISSA. This is a local organization that has taken up a ton of my time of late. We’re trying to build a 60-million dollar facility to house all the people and equipment that you would need to deal with a large-scale disaster. This is a big project, and due to my involvement in the flood of 2008 when I criticized our local response… and due to my involvement with guys like Munster police chief Steve Scheckel and North Township trustee Frank Mrvan, I’m right in the middle of the planning and negotiations to make this thing happen. It’s tedious work that we’ve been doing for a couple years now. We’re getting closer to the momentum that we need. That’s all I’ll say, other than that our NISSA meeting had to be moved from the main gathering space to an auxiliary classroom. There were Chinese people running around the Center, along with entrepreneurs, people coming in for radio shows, and even a few students working on their robotic projects. It was one of the busiest mornings at the Purdue Northwest Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Centers that I can remember.
11:22am – This is when producer Sam Michel came to the door of the NISSA meeting and motioned me to come down to the studios. I was scheduled to host a show called “Noll Today” at 11am. There were students from Bishop Noll waiting along with the principal Lorenza Pastrick and the Bishop Noll president Paul Mullaney. They had to get back to school. This is one of those points in which you really do wish that you could split yourself. I had to excuse myself from the NISSA meeting, which was just getting juicy.
11:30am – I interviewed three Bishop Noll students on Facebook Live and Twitter video – Megan somebody and two boys. They are all good students and want to do big things in college. I hope like hell they all do.
The rest of the day is a blur. I wrote a three-page proposal for a large company. I’m hoping again like hell here, but it would be really nice if they accepted it. Mont Handley, the associate director of the Center, asked me if I would consider applying to be on “The Profit.” This is a reality TV show. Mont knows the producer.
“Sure, Mont, I’d love to have someone come in and tell us what we already know – that I’m a horrible manager and if I were any good, we’d be making a ton more money.”
“Good. I’ll send you the application.”
Maybe I’ll fill it out. Maybe I won’t.
6pm – Back at the WJOB studios, I interviewed Charlie Odle. He’s a veteran of the war in Iraq. He was present for a dozen explosions of IED’s and wound up with several concussions. Now, he’s a hard-working member of Laborers Local 41, of which I am a proud alum. Charlie made it through the war despite getting thrusted against hard objects a dozen times in his tour. Now he has four kids, ages 11 down to 1. Good for you, Charlie. You’re my new hero.
6:45pm – I interviewed, as another “JED in the Money” segment, Dave Gearman. He’s known on the air as “Dave from Highland.” A couple of years ago, Dave predicted that terrorists might start using trucks to kill people. I dismissed his comments as fearmongering. I was wrong. Dave and I discussed all of the truck terrorist attacks of late and how easy it is to rent a truck and drive into a crowd of people. That’s the world that we live in. It frightened Dave two years ago when he called in and told us about his fears. And I, along with several callers, berated Dave for his wackiness. Who’s wacky now? That’s a tough question in a world of lies and hate and killing and fear. Hope that wakes you up. 2500 words on a Thursday morning. That oughta keep the three or four of you for now.