So I’m just gonna ramble. I hope you don’t mind.
I should probably just write my blog and get it over with. Why the heck else would you write a thousand words if not for someone to read it? Life is long and hard and then you die. Trust what comes next… because it comes next.
Don’t ask why.
Try not to cry.
Don’t be so shy.
Avoid a tie.
You will eventually
Go out with a sigh.
“Go out with a sigh” could be pretty good life advice.
Live is hard and, hopefully, long so that by the time you’re ready to kick it, you’re kinda tired anyhows. So just sigh and die. Not a bad plan.
I don’t know what my plan is. Neither do the three or four know what your plan is either. You might have a plan, and you might try to stick to it. Even so, you don’t know what your future holds and neither do I.
I know what my past is all about. As you can tell, we celebrated my tenth anniversary of doing “JED in the Region” in the morning on WJOB in Hammond, Indiana. It’s a milestone of sorts, but it’s not an indication of what the next ten years will hold. If there will be a next ten years.
For my 10th anniversary of doing the show, Ryan and Debbie threw me a surprise party. My dad came in, so did Alexis, Billy Baker and Dave Kusiak. My brother Jeff called from Ohio. I don’t know what to make of all of this attention except to say that if Billy Baker, Dave Kusiak, my brothers Jeff and Brian and I got together in a bar, it would be one hell of a party.
As a matter of fact, if my dad joined us and so did Alexis, that could be one hell of a party also. I won’t say much about how much my dad partied through his life. It was probably less than most. He’s just too good of a guy to do too many things that are reckless. But I did see him drunk a few times, especially when he was younger.
Billy, my brothers, Alexis and Kusiak – I’ve seen them lit up before. And I guess one of the things I’d like to do before I kick it is to see all of them drunk at the same time. I could write a poem about that.
Actually, on Monday morning, I was doing my bit, as Verlie Suggs puts, - “standing out on Indianapolis Boulevard yelling at big trucks”… I was standing out there and I mentioned a couple of times on the air that it was my 10th anniversary of doing the show. I thanked everyone from the late Greg from Munster to the anonymous tooth fairy for supporting the show. These are relatively corny comments and thank yous when you gush on the air about how it is supporters of the show in whatever fashion who make it possible and worthwhile. That’s really true, but when you say it on the air or write it in a blog, it sounds hokey.
Stuff like “you’re an idiot” or “beats the Sam Hill outta me” sound better.
It’s 10:33 on Tuesday night, so if you add it up, it took a good 38 hours after my 10th anniversary show to sit down and write about it for the three or four of you. But to tell you truth, other than Ryan and Debbie throwing me a surprise party on the air, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I did the show, worked out, went to a few meetings, came home, went to bed. Let’s do ten more years.
I did, however, like seeing the aforementioned friends and relatives in the same studio. My dad, wife, brother, and two friends could have done a pretty good radio show. It only lasted about 20 minutes and then we ate cake and I ran out of the studio to go work out. I left in haste because I was embarrassed. I’m not sure why. Either I was embarrassed for all of the celebration of Me… or I’m embarrassed that the most important thing I have done career-wise for the last ten years is to do a radio show.
Baker told the story of how ten years ago he urged me to go on the air. This is true. I did not want to do the morning show. Not at all. But since we were just about to go bankrupt because I didn’t know how to manage a business, I kicked everyone out of the studio and just started talking.
My show sucked at first. I didn’t know what to talk about. In the beginning, I projected. That’s when a topic comes through and you make it about everybody but yourself. You don’t really relate your opinions. You stick to the facts. You ask and re-ask callers questions because “it’s about them.” It’s all about others.
That works for a while, but then listeners figure out that you are unnaturally hiding yourself, and they leave you. Not that I ever had a mass exodus or anything. It’s just that from the moment I threw out the theory that I should say almost nothing about myself - that's when the show kinda took off.
That, too, wasn’t my idea. I hired a consultant to come in and tell me that I had to give more of myself to the air. So I did. It makes it a lot easier to do a radio show, believe me. When you’re doing it like you’re not the star of the show, then you have to research all sorts of things to talk about that aren’t you.
But when you mix it up and talk about things in the world and then also talk things in your own world, you always have that club in your bag to go to. You can always switch from talking about raises for county councilmen to talking about your niece’s 16th birthday party last night. Or how your fungus toe is doing. Or how slow you drive.
You don’t have to do any research to talk on the radio about how slow you drive. You just have to go out and drive slow and then wake up the next morning – drive slow down to the station – and then talk about it. It’s pretty easy.
So take it as a given that I appreciate the three or four of you who check out my blog about what it’s like to live a life of local radio. And, if you happen to go both ways – which increases your chance of success - then thank you for that too.
That would make you a reader and a listener – biJEDual - which means you could very well be tucked under my pillow right now. You’re a freaking eavesdropper and you love it. And I love you.
Now come out from under the pillow. Expose yourself. No, I don’t mean that. Reveal yourself. Come out from underneath my pillow. I want to see who you are. And besides, I really don’t want a lump underneath my head when I put my head down in a few minutes to dream about sassafras and cherry popsicles.
Dreams. We forget to mention those. It has been ten years that I’ve been doing the same radio show in the same time slot on the same radio station, and I’m pretty sure that in all of this time I have not one time told one of my dreams. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it, because, like you, I spend about seven hours of my day sleeping. There’s a lot going on behind the eyelids during that time.
Once in a while I’ll wake up and start typing furiously right away. I have no idea if what I write when I just wake up is any good or not. Just as I have no idea if anything I write in this blog is any good. You and I just made a pact that I would write about living a life of radio so that future broadcasting students at a small liberal arts college on the East coast could study me in 20 years. That should be long enough to make me an artifact.
Anyways, since I am a red-blooded American male, sometimes I dream about sex. It’s not like when I was younger and I dreamt about sex every night. Sometimes now I dream about not being able to pay the mortgage or answer the phone, sometimes in the same dream. And once in a while I dream a situation in which my mom is still alive. In those dreams, no matter what’s happening, I don’t want to wake up. I prolong the sleep as long as I can because, what the heck, my mom’s standing in the kitchen holding a dishrag. The water in the sink is running behind her. She may be yelling at me and my brothers and maybe even Dave Kusiak and Billy Baker, but she’s alive. That’s all that matters.
I drove by the old house on Madison Avenue behind Arby’s today. I thought a couple of things –
- Why don’t I ever drive down this street? It feels good on a sunny day to look at the front porch and remember the time that Joey Chruby and I threw a cat 20 feet in the air… just to see if it would land on its feet. The cat did, limped away, and we never saw it again. Until that point, this stray cat would come around a lot. This incident taught me a little about being mean and that there are consequences for being mean. This realization didn’t have much effect on my later years in that I managed to treat a lot of people poorly. It seems like two lifetimes ago, but I was mean to a lot of people and that’s part of the reason I’m doing penance as a ten-year morning radio host.
- I also thought – “Shit. At one time, my mom would be standing in that kitchen right there, and me and my brothers and a few ne’er do wells would be playing baseball in the front yard. My little sisters might be playing dolls on the porch.” Those were good times. I miss those times. I still, after her being dead for almost 29 years now, miss my mom. That never goes away.
I do have to tell the three or four of you something my dad said when he came on the air the other day. If you don’t know my dad, he’s a gray-haired old fart who, as he approaches 80, grew a real gruffy beard. He looks like a former hippie right now, even though he’s a pretty staunch Republican with a neatly-manicured lawn.
“You know what you told me when you were young, don’t you?”
“No, dad, what was that?”
“You told me – ‘don’t worry, dad, I’m gonna make you proud someday.’ Well, son, you made me proud.’”
And all it took was doing a morning radio show for ten years. I guess, when you add it all up about the surprise party on the radio, complete with a couple of cakes, donuts, pastries and a half gallon of coffee from Dunkin Donuts in a big cardboard box, I was both surprised and humbled. I really was. I had no idea that Alexis and Ryan and Debbie and my dad and Baker and Kusiak and my brother could do anything together. It doesn’t make sense. It’s like I smoked a bunch of weed and then went to bed and dreamt about going to a Cubs game with this group and losing my sunglasses.
This is about all that I have to write to you about tonight. I really wanted to convey to you how truly grateful I am for the surprise party on the radio and how grateful I am to everyone who contributes to let me do radio in the morning and to write this ridiculous blog. That’s what I feel after a six-day heat wave in which we set five high temperature records. The heat is supposed to break tonight. Right now, at 11:05pm, it’s 80 degrees. By 5am, when I step out of the shower to do more radio, it’ll be 62. Hallelujah.