There’s light somewhere in a
jewelry store for those of you
who remember the vagaries of
old East Chicago.
With a past full of
you might as well
wait your turn in line.
so much dust on the
walking paths to heaven.
Who wants to turn up
at the pearly gates with
dirty pant legs?
I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and that’s it. I’m awake. It’s 3:04am and I gotta do a radio show in two hours and 26 minutes. That’s a lot of time to do something productive.
If it weren’t for stamps,
we’d all be yelling out our
And if it weren’t for
seat belts, there’d be
a few less of us waiting
in line at Chipotle.
After I blogged to the three or four of you yesterday, I drove to the Lake County fairgrounds in Crown Point for “Construction Day.” The local construction unions, along with the Construction Advancement Foundation, put it on. They bring in students from high schools and middle schools all over northwest Indiana and they show them what
and more do. It’s a way to show young kids that you don’t have to go to college and you don’t have to feel bad about not going to college. I talked on video to a woman counselor from Hobart. Her name is Valentine something or other.
“So how do you broach the topic of joining a union after a high school with a student?” I said.
“I ask them – ‘do you like going home after school and doing homework?’ If the answer is ‘No,’ then I tell them we gotta have a plan B.”
That’s pretty good logic. It was also a pretty cool exhibit in the main hall at the fairgrounds. Thirteen unions showed up to show their wares to young people. The ironworkers brought the guts of a small building. The operators brought a simulator similar to that you would use to fly a plane, except you play on it to learn how to excavate instead of fly. The laborers brought an old lazer machine. I know those too well. The Electricians taught young girls how to tie off wire. Carpenters set up a wall and put a bunch of drills out. Kids really like to put on goggles and drill screws into the wall.
Notice that I mentioned the
These are the four unions that support me the most. (The Teamsters also support me to a lesser extent.) There really is a lot to be proud of when you build a team that resurrects the local radio station. There’s also a lot to be proud of when the local trade unions step forward to make it all happen.
Because I used to be a Laborer. I know how to operate a jackhammer and how to guide pipe into the ground. I can program a laser (one of the old kind, not the GPS-based ones they had there yesterday), and I can wield what they call a “vibrator” to move recently-poured concrete around.
I wound up doing a Facebook Live video in which I walked around the main hall at the fairgrounds stopping at union booths and talking to students.
“Wow, JED, that was actually pretty cool video,” station manager Debbie Wargo said to me yesterday when I got back to WJOB.
“You could tell that you were enjoying yourself.”
Of course I was. Two of my favorite things were there. Kids and unions. I love joking around with kids and I love construction. When I left the Chicago Board of Trade at the age of 40, if WJOB wasn’t in bankruptcy, I would have reactivated my Laborers card.
There’s a certain peace of getting up at five in the morning and putting on your gotchees, jeans, two pairs of socks and your workboots. You don a thermal undershirt and a hoodie and put on your Carhart and off you go to work in the cold.
It’s how I learned to love the cold, by the way. I worked at the laying of a ton of sewer pipe in Calumet City, Illinois, one winter. It was one of those winters in which it’s sunny but bitter cold every day. These days, they don’t let you work when it’s below 10 degrees. That wasn’t the case in the early 1980s.
One of the things I learned from a winter of standing in a foot of water is how to dress. Once you learn to keep your feet dry and to always cover your neck, then cold doesn’t bother you. As a matter of fact, as a middle-of-the-night loner, you look forward to the cold. That’s because when you go out, there’s nobody out with you.
It’s also this longing for the cold that helped me develop JEDgolf. I know what the three or four of you are thinking. Two things.
- What does any of this have to do with radio?
- Why do you have to call everything JED-something?
- This blog entry really is only tangentially related to radio. In talking about how four unions have stepped up to sponsor me as a radio guy… I am simply just proud of that. It gives me a link to my past that wasn’t there before they sponsored me. I promote them well and they get a good deal, but it still just warms my little Polish-German-Dutch heart that the trade unions stand behind me.
- I’m not very creative. I toyed with “running golf” and “extreme golf” and “One Stick, Two Balls.” But in the end, what I do is take a seven iron and two golf balls and either run, if it’s relatively dry out, or walk, if there’s snow on the ground, and I play golf. I do it mostly when it’s below freezing, often when there’s a foot of snow on the ground.
As a matter of fact, we’re getting into JEDgolf season right now. I usually start playing in November as it gets cold. That’s usually when the snail golfers put their clubs away for the winter. But it’s been so nice lately that retired mill rats are still playing golf around the Region. You can see them pushing their clubs up number 8 at Wicker while you’re waiting at the light. They’re the solitary golfers who are darn-tootin happy to have one more day of sunshine and 50 degree weather. That way they can get out of the house for a few hours and the poor wife can get a moment respite from his farts and snorts and having the television on too loud.
Later, I went to Purdue Northwest to watch men’s basketball practice. As the three or four of you might know, I agreed to be the voice of PNW basketball this season. WJOB agreed to Facebook Live all of the home games and to put as many as possible also on the radio. PNW is jumping, as you know, from NAIA level to NCAA division II. This is a big jump. The Region doesn’t even really understand this yet, so I agreed to announce the games to see if we can’t get the word out a little better.
The guys weren’t practicing yet when I stopped by the PNW fitness center, so I went to another gym. This one’s at Wilbur Wright Middle School. That’s where my nephew Al had a game. He’s on the eighth grade team. Munster beat Kankakee Valley by like 40 poings. Al started at guard and played some excellent defense. After the game driving him home, I told him so.
“Thanks. I really appreciate you coming,” Al said.
It was so formal. I was driving along Ridge Road and I realized that Al has past through the hula hoop of life from cool little kid to a growing teenager. Pretty soon he won’t let me wrestle him to the ground at all, and he won’t think that I’m nearly as cool as he may have thought so before he stepped through the hula hoop. I saw it with my own kids and with tons of nieces and nephews. At the first hint of a voice change, you better get all of the horseplay you can because soon enough he’ll be texting with a girl and won’t want to play catch.
Alexis and I watched a little Trump for a while. As a stated purpose, this blog is to chronicle what it’s like to live a live of local radio. And as such, it presupposes that most of the audience may be in the future beyond the three or four of you who take the time to read me now.
With the future in mind, it is hard to describe just how entertaining it is to come home every night and get the Trump show. It’s something to look forward to. Every day, every night, Trump does something that’s interesting. To some of you, what he does might be appalling. To others, President Donald Trump is the savior for the middle class. Whatever Trump is to you, he is nothing but entertaining.
There’s this thing going on about North Korea testing nuclear bombs that could possibly make it to the west coast of America. And there was a tussle between Republican Trump and Democrats Schumer and Pelosi. Trump did a press conference with two empty chairs next to him where Chuck and Nancy were supposed to have been until they refused to meet.
There’s also this twitter thing. Every day, almost hourly, Trump tweets weird stuff. If he were your widower uncle, you’d take him to Community Hospital and have him checked out. But he’s the president and entertaining as hell, so he gets a pass. It really is difficult to overstate the entertainment aspect. We’re a country in awe of what can happen when you elect a carnival barker to be president.
I could only watch so much Trump last night because Purdue played Louisville in men’s basketball on ESPN. I watched it for a while but then Alexis informed me that her front tire was low. I wound up driving to three gas stations before I found an air pump that was working. How you can operate a gas station without a working air pump is beyond me.
It’s a good thing that we carry the Purdue Boilermakers on the radio. As I drove around, I could listen to Larry Klisby announce the game. The score was 22-21 at halftime, which meant that it was tough to listen to a Purdue team go 5 for 27 in the first half. But at least they played good defense and wound up winning the game.
When it comes to carrying Purdue sports, the big Purdue down in West Lafayette, I’m ambivalent. WJOB has been carrying Purdue football and basketball games since the early 1960s. A lot of Boiler fans in northwest Indiana and in Chicago and the suburbs count on us to bring the games to the radio.
The problem is that there’s no money in it. Almost all of the games are on TV somewhere or another. Plus, the conference actually streams audio of the games on their website. No one – I mean no one – steps forward to sponsor the games on the radio. We run them out of habit and so that when I go out to put air in Alexis’s tire, I can listen to the game. Other than that, there’s no business reason to carry Purdue, or Indiana, games. We just do it. It’s like a haircut you’ve had since high school. You just sit down in the chair and say “give me the usual” because that’s what you always said. We run Purdue games because we like our haircut.
That should do it for now. It’s now approaching 4am and I’ll probably go over to the health club and walk the treadmill. For some reason, when I work out before the show I have better focus. Get the blood flowing and you can talk a little more lucidly… although sometimes it’s the lack of lucidity that pushes the conversation along.
Last week, my brother-in-law Mark stopped me at Thanksgiving.
“Hey, the other morning when you were dancing in the middle of Indianapolis Boulevard, were you high, or just still drunk from the night before?”
“No. I just forgot to work out. That’s all.”
Don’t want anyone thinking that I’m high or that I drink into the morning hours. I just want them to think that radio is good and pure and beautiful. That’s all.