And so it goes with local radio. I really did set out to blog to you about the past crazy week of radio, but then God started laughing again. Here’s a few things.
5pm NIPSCO Advisory Panel meeting. Every couple of years NIPSCO gives you a blanket at Christmas for serving on the panel. These are the best throw blankets you could even think of. They’re soft on one side and coarse on the outside. My daughters steal the NIPSCO blankets as soon as I walk through the door. And at least we have a door. I arrive early and talk with Jane Dudley who does case work with the poor at North Township and Cynthia Rivas who mixes with a lot of the same at Healthy East Chicago. Somehow we talk for a good half hour about how many single mothers there who are homeless. That means there’s a lot more kids homeless around here than you would think, if you choose to think at all about it. Jane and Cynthia each tell me anecdotes about moms hiding homelessness from DCS so they won’t get their kids taken away, sleeping in cars in freezing weather, showing up at the township kids in tow, hungry. I’m warm on my bed typing this to you and I’m feeling pretty guilty about that. Jane and Cynthia pledge to bring a mother on the show who is either without a home or lived through it. By pledging to cover mother homelessness in the Region I don’t feel as guilty about myself.
Tuesday – 530am radio show. President Obama announced last night that due to the turmoil in Ferguson, Misssouri, he’s gonna buy 50,000 cameras for police officers. Caller cousin Phyllis makes a rare appearance to say “Wasting money on cameras because of one instance is overreacting.” That in itself doesn’t make the earth rumble, but she added something that I’ve been thinking about. “Social media causes unbelievable stress in everyone’s lives.” Yikes. Caller Walt tells about Joey Chestnut, who came to the studio last month, winning another eating contest, this time downing 8.2 pounds of turkey in eight minutes. Good for you, Joey. Jeff Sandefur comes in to studio to promote a fundraiser, and entertainer (don’t say ‘clown’) Lenny Hoops calls in to promote the circus coming to town. We continue the tradition of having the only radio show in America about a river when Dan Repay comes in from the Little Cal commission, says he’s gotten 12 mil for flood relief in the past couple of years – and there’s still a long way to go. Joe Simonetto and Dave Nellans of Munster Town Council say that someday there could be a train station somewhere in Munster, perhaps near Ridge Road. Richard Knipp and Harvey Jackson of the Teamsters Union talk about cameras in the cabs of trucks and forward facing ones too. With cameras, cameras everywhere, I come up with the idea to film my whole radio day live for 24 hours. I’m not sure why. That way maybe I wouldn’t have to blog it out like right now.
6pm. Tuesday night bowling. I bowl like shit but we win 5 points out of 7. Feeling a little guilty that I didn’t go to basketball with my 75-year-old dad and my brother and his kid. Oh well.
Wednesday, 530am – Aleks calls right off the bat to remind me that I was wrong. In a rather complicated story, a report has surfaced that says that former Indiana Dept of Education head Tony Bennett and his staff may have committed 100 violations of law… and the report somehow got buried and no charges have been filed. The report compares what Bennett did (use staff and equipment for campaign purposes, among other things) to what George Van Til did as surveyor here in Lake County. Van Til is likely headed to jail. Months ago, several callers complained that there’s a double standard, that Democrats go to jail in Lake County for stuff that Republicans in Marion County get minor fines for. More than once I told a caller to have faith in the justice system and to clean up our own house before we go whining about a double standard for Marion County. “Quit being such a Lake County whiner,” I said.
“Yes, Aleks, I was wrong.” So there. Jane Henegar, the state Executive Director of the ACLU, called in to talk about Ferguson and now the New York lack of indictments on white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men. “It’s a systemic problem… militarization of the police. Racial disparity…” Henegar talks about the individual rights of minorities. I ask also about the individual rights of law-abiding citizens and a decent radio discussion breaks out, which is different from a regular discussion in that you can’t swear or get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of it. Caller Ramone from Gary says it ain’t the color barrier, it’s how you behave. Hoodies. Single parent families. Caller Sue says she wishes more black men would call in about the “black situation in America.” Good radio. Al Hamnik of the NWI Times comes in and I can’t remember what we talked about but that it was good radio too. I leave after the show to go for a walk around Wicker Park and as soon as I get two miles away, Debbie Wargo calls me – “Did you forget something? There’s 18 radio students waiting for you.” Oops.
I skidaddle it back to the studios and groups of three or four take turns going on the air for ten minutes. It’s Education Live on WJOB. It’s the students’ fourth or fifth time live on the air, and something truly amazing is happening. First, they can’t get enough of it, asking to come in every class and go live. That’s pretty cool. And second, they got way better. And that’s pretty cool, too. More confidence. I tell them that in a video that you could watch if you could ever find it.