That’s not something I just thought of. It comes from the movie, “The Founder.” It’s the story of Ray Kroc, who screwed the McDonald brothers on his way to fame and fortune… and someone else’s wife.
Big deal, right?
Or is it?
It’s hard to tell what the American way is anymore. I always thought it had something to do with a relentless pursuit of the truth, prosperity, and doing it the right way.
But I question that. It’s something different now. Truth doesn’t really matter. Prosperity certainly matters – for me and me alone. And doing it the right way?
What the hell does that mean?
I met with six people today at the Purdue Northwest Commercialization Center.
Debbie Wargo, WJOB station manager
Ryan Walsh, WJOB sports director
Sam Michel, late-morning host
Jimmy Mullaney, our first marketing department employee
Christina Cortez, our 20-year-old video department director.
Jennifer (Dedelow) Foreit, WJOB finance director
That sounds like a boardroom of extremely competent people. And it is. We are finally at a point where we have a team that could really get some things accomplished.
“We are going to do three things this summer,” I told them.
- Change the culture at WJOB (to think more like a business)
- Create a marketing department
- Make WJOB sound better
That’s a pretty bold vision, but then again, fortune favors the bold. It’s also a plan that has encountered a bit of a hiccup with the bankruptcy filing of the parent company of Strack and Van Til. But no worries. We’ll just work harder for less for a while and do it the right way.
Whatever that means.
Anyways, let’s see if it works this summer. We have developed some pretty sneaky and fairly cheeky media products.
- a 93 (or 94) year old AM radio station
- a brand new FM station
- a huge Facebook Live presence
- a burgeoning local podcast network
It’s a lot of stuff to develop in a short time. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done. We not only brought WJOB AM back from the dead. We are starting to turn the whole thing into an organization that deals at least most of the time in the truth. We’re accepting that we have to get a little greedy and go out and sell ads and make money. And, the three or four of you be the judge, we’re doing it at least partly in the right way.
Truth. Prosperity. The right way.
There are non-believers. The three or four of you would have been proud of me at the NIISSA derby party on Saturday night. I don’t regularly get involved in civic stuff. I figure that I can do more good by sitting in the chair at the studio than by sitting in a chair at a board meeting or fundraiser.
But there I am going to meetings for NIISSA and buying a table for the fundraiser and telling anyone who will listen that our area needs a Multi-Agency Coordinating Center. You don’t want to hear it from me now. That would take up the rest of Another Thousand Words.
Anyways, I strike up a conversation with Jerry Tippy. He’s the newly-elected Lake County commissioner, and for a long time he’s pretty much hated me. It must be something I said (“obstinate bastards?”) or maybe it was how I said it (without care for anyone’s feelings). Whatever started it, Mr. Tippy has refused to come on WJOB and pretty much to even talk with me.
This happens way more than the three or four of you would think. It’s part of the job. As a media guy, doing it the right way means that when you order a take-out pizza, use a fake name.
Mr. Tippy sits down at the table – my table – and in front my friends starts touting me as “fake news.”
I laugh it off.
“No, really, you’re fake news.”
Ha ha ha ha ha.
“If you weren’t fake news, then maybe I’d come on your show. But you’re fake news.”
Now this is really polite company we’re in, and truth be told, I have a bit of a reputation for flying off the handle. So I take a breath and think about it a second.
Yes, Alexis and I have put our whole hearts into building WJOB, and so have a lot of other people. I sit there every morning and I listen to whatever it is that people in the Region have to say. We’re a solid group that's united in working toward a common goal – and are getting paid next to nothing to do it.
And here’s this guy nearly spitting in my face that what we have built is “fake news.”
The old me – the one who’s punched traders in the face, who’s tackled after the whistle, who got thrown out of the Whiting Community Center in fifth grade for arguing calls – the old me would have muther-f---ed Mr. Tippy directly, flipping a table and quite possibly starting a wrestling match.
But I didn’t. After a couple deep breaths, I did what I do a lot these days. When MX makes a nasty meme about me on his MX Cartoons page, I laugh. When a caller says I’m a hypocrite or a bad radio programmer or that my breath stinks, I laugh.
What has happened? I really don’t know… but I suspect that it has something to do with the mission. I feel that Alexis and I and the six people listed above and everyone who else works or volunteers at WJOB, along with devoted listeners and contributors – we’re trying to accomplish something. And somehow the larger mission, purpose, destiny makes me turn the other cheek. I don’t understand it, and I don’t really like it… but flipping a table and starting a brawl wouldn’t contribute to the mission.
It gets even better (or worse, depending on how you look at it). Jerry Tippy and I wound up talking for 45 minutes. I may be going on the next fishing trip with Jerry and some guys that we both know. Also, you may not know this but Jerry is quite the guitar player and we agreed to play together soon. Another Thousand Words. Go figure.