If you wrote this script and took it to Hollywood, you’d get laughed out of town.
“Really, sir, the whole world gets the same virus and they all have to go in their homes, apartments, tepees, trailers, igloos, houseboats, whatever. And then they have to sit there and wait until someone comes up with a cure.”
“The people do it because they don’t wanna die. We follow dramas all over the world. There’s horoism in hospitals. There’s buffoonism at the highest levels of government. There’s extremely touching moments as couples reconnect. There’s incredible tension in the same homes as people are jammed on top of each other for days on end.”
Keep talking is one of the hardest things to do these days. It’s impossible to comprehend this fully – but two weeks ago we were broadcasting the sectional final between Lake Central and Merrillville in front of a raucous crowd at the John A. Barato Center in East Chiago. Nine days ago, I was interviewing Larry Moore Jr. as his 20-4 Hammond High Wildcats were getting on a bus to go to South Bend Washington for Regional play.
Regionals were, of course, set to be played by the IHSAA in front of no fans, just media. Sports leagues, concerts, political rallies were being called off in droves, but the IHSAA was trying to be one of the last sports events in America to cancel. Finally, they did. That was just nine days ago.
What has happened in those nine days? If you’re alive now, then you know. The world is following the script. All restaurants and bars are closed. Our president goes on the telly every day for an hour to tell us how amazing he’s doing in mobilizing industry to produce masks. You drive around and almost all businesses are closed. In Illinois, there’s a “shelter in place order.” Only “essential” businesses can open. In California, 40 million people have been ordered to stay in their homes. Streets are deserted. We’re waiting for a storm.
In China and South Korea, which got the corona virus first, they had a whole bunch of cases on the upward slope of “the curve.” It’s a bell-shaped curve with steep slopes that resulted in 80,000-plus cases in China. Italy’s not far behind right now. They had 800 deaths yesterday, most of them in northern Italy. They’re expecting more today.
What we’re trying to do in America is called “flattening the curve.” One way or another, you’re gonna get a ton of corona virus cases. The strategy is to space them out over time – flatten the curve – so that your hospitals can keep up. One of the biggest problems is ventilators. With corona, the virus imbeds in the walls of your lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. A ventilator helps you with that until you can do it yourself. If there’s too many corona virus cases and you show up short of breath at the hospital, you’re shit out of luck. Die in the waiting room.
Today is Sunday, March 22, 2020. We should be mass hypnotized by the first round of the NCAA tournament. Instead, we’re mass isolated.
Weddings, fundraisers, cancer walks, minority job fairs, Trump rallies, even funerals – canceled. Kenny Rogers died yesterday. His family is having a private service. They’ll do something bigger after corona virus.
What am I doing on the air?
I have spent this weekend preparing. For what? I don’t really know. The one thing I have to admit is that Chuck Pullen was right. He has been bugging the hell out of me for years to “virtualize” WJOB, meaning that we could take in content over the internet to broadcast on TV and radio and no one would have to be at the station. That’s what I’m doing this weekend. I’m virtualizing WJOB. Tonight we’ll test. We'll go live to Sam’s basement and Tony’s basement and Ryan’s bedroom and Chuck Pullen’s garage and then we’ll expand it to a couple of local officials. I built a full studio in our spare bedroom to quarterback it all. Hope it works.
It has to work. WJOB has been around the Calumet Region for 96 years - the Depression, D-Day, Kennedy’s assassination. For all of these 96 years, we did it from a physical studio. Now, if it all works, we'll do it from a "virtual studio." You could be driving down Indianapolis Boulevard listening to us live on the radio and then you look in the studio and there's nobody there - what's up with that?
The script says that the local radio station builds a virtual studio and broadcasts from bedrooms, living rooms, basements, garages. No handshakes, no touching, no looking at each other's eyes, no spittle on the microphone, no sneezes during breaks. Just talking about the horror of it all. That's what the script says to do.