It's 6:28am and I'm importing some Grateful Dead songs for "Dead Air," this show that Lane Paradis and I are doing on WJOB now. It takes a while to import the songs - since Lane doesn't know how to save to a file on a thumb drive, just to a CD - so in the meantime I'll give you 1000 words.
It's difficult to relate to you in 1000 words how full the life of a local radio minor celebrity can become. Take yesterday.
I woke at 4:22am like always and read the paper for a while in the near dark and then drove to the station, picked up the Hammond Marina wireless microphone and went out into the parking lot and did some rambling radio. Part of the shtick that I do when I roam around outside is to yell at trucks and motorcycles and SUVs with Illinois license plates to slow down... and I marvel at the sunrise right in front of me. It really is a mystical experience to stand there in the gloamin' all by yourself with a microphone and a earbuds and talk to purple and gray and orange and silver September sunrise while huge 18-wheelers lumber by. Since I've found it too cumbersome to carry an iPad while doing this, I pretty much just ramble. It's a pretty inspirational atmosphere, especially of late when it's been dry and warm. Some of the rambling is good. Other parts of it are just rambling.
All radio is good. Just some is better than others.
A couple people called in about stuff - I can't remember what we talked about early - and then Attorney General Greg Zoeller called in at 6:45 and we talked about opioid addiction and ripoff artists who change the odometer when they sell you a car. Zoeller called in from Washington DC, where he was attending something for the Justice Department. It's always ironic when Greg calls in from DC in that he seems to spend a lot of his time railing against our nation's capital.
Alexis my wife and chief engineer through life came on with me at 7am - in studio, not out in the parking lot - and as far as Friday mornings go with me and her, it flowed. Sometimes it doesn't flow. Sometimes we have a guest who for one reason or another needs to be on when Alexis and I are there together. A couple weeks ago we had Christina Hale, who's running for Lieutenant Governor on the Democratic side. And sometimes we have someone come on about the Haven House radiothon.
But mostly it works best when Alexis and I just talk about stuff going on in the Region and don't take too many calls. Since Alexis is
1. a woman
2. a lawyer
3. a Mexican
she's got three strikes against her in some guys' books, so they tend to challenge her. This can be good radio, but also sometimes it hijacks the show off into some agenda that the guy's all into but not a lot of other people are.
Yesterday, Alexis and I had plenty to talk about. Remember, we went to about 15 different event movements this week so there's material there. One thing we talked about is that Edo Sincicich is in town. Do you remember Edo? He owned and ran the bar on Indianapolis Boulevard in Highland across from long-time sponsor Miner Dunn. Edo gave Alexis a job as a bartender back in the 1980s when she was a recently-divorced mother without a job. Alexis eventually met people in the law field and, tangentially, me, working at Edo's so it's always good to see him when he comes in. We stood at Growlers Bar with him on Wednesday night until midnight. That's how nice it is.
8:30 am - Hard Hat Outing. After the show, I changed into golfing garb and drove 40 minutes to White Hawk golf course in Crown Point for the Hard Hat Outing. That's when all the construction unions and union contractors and end users golf and party for a day. It used to be a little crazy, with some nefarious ongoings, but it's toned down over the years.
I've developed this rhythm with golf outings. Instead of spending six or eight hours hanging out for breakfast, practicing on the green, walking around to all the carts to glad-hand and laugh - and then playing golf for five hours and eating a dinner and bidding on stuff in auctions.... I just cut it off after all the carts pull out to go on the course. I arrive way early, talk to the people I'm supposed to talk to and then maybe talk to some more who might in the end be able to advertise on WJOB... and then I slip out. Sometimes I'll stand on the first tee and hit an extra drive for groups coming around the turn. And sometimes I'll drive around with the guy or gal running the outing - like I did yesterday with Kirt Witham of The Ross Group - and have a good time that way.
But now within an hour of the golfing starting up, I'm gone. I do more for the Calumet Region if I spend time at my studio. Just write a check and you're okay.
11:30am - After the Hard Hat Outing, I drove 40 minutes across the state line to the South Suburban College baseball outing at Lincolnshire Country Club. SSC basketball coach John Pigati is a good friend and my stepson Steve Holzbach played for baseball Coach Steve Ruzich, who's been there since Reagan, so I try to play in the outing most years to show support.
Besides, my buddy Lofty is friends with Pigati so the three of us get to get together and laugh for a while. Lofty stood next to me at the Chicago Board of Trade for a long time. He is the keenest market observer I have ever met. And he helped me make a ton of money back in the day.
Here's how it would work. The markets would all be moving. The yen would be going this way and stocks that way and bonds another way and maybe even gold and silver squirting in a direction. And Lofty and I would be doing what everyone else around us was doing - raising our hands and screaming for dollars.
Every once in a while Lofty would scrinch his left eye and say something like -
"you know, with yen doing this and gold doing that, it could put some pressure on the yield curve."
Lofty didn't do this often, but when he did, I'd quietly start selling some yield curve. More often than not, we'd have this conversation at the end of the trading day.
"You sold yield, didn't you," he'd ask.
"You son of a bitch."
"Didn't you, Lofty?"
"Of course not."
You see, the only way that Lofty could have this supremely keen insight on possible market direction was if he didn't do the trade that he was recommending. I won't go into the reasons why, but I did tell him that I'm developing the same keenness.
As you know, I'm not allowed to trade anymore. I am basically a trading addict who lost all of our money twice and my wife and I wound up toting our clothes in a wagon to the laundromat a few blocks away so our kids could have clean underwear. For quite a while after the first losing of everything, we didn't have the dough for a washer and dryer.
The second time it happened we got rescued by a hail storm. I'm not kidding. After a particularly hard rain, an insurance adjuster showed up at the door of our 800-square-foot house and handed us a check for $3,000 to fix the hail damage. I was sitting on the couch in the middle of the day in my underwear watching television and coloring on the floor with the kids.
Here's three grand.
Cool, now I can go back and trade.
And it was from that three grand that I eventually built it back up into enough dough to buy a couple radio stations and a newspaper. None of this really matters to the story at hand, so back to Lofty.
I explained to Lofty that now that I'm not trading, I have extremely keen market sense. I can go to bed at 10:30pm... and when I wake up at 4:22am guess where stocks are. Most of the time I'm right. I can also pick ranges of the Dow and oil, and I can sense when volatility is gonna pick up. I'm not kidding. I'm now Lofty. Since I don't have the trade on, and have no intention of doing so, I can with one whiff tell if it smells good or not. I'm not kidding.
I picked the top and bottom of the Dow at 18,200 and 15,400 over the past few months. A few times the Dow traded up to 18,200 and then fell back to 15,400. I said it on the air. And then last week I predicted on the air that the Dow, after it had reached 18,500 finally, was building a "ledge" and could be "ripe for a downdraft." Sure enough, that's what happened.
I'm not twisting my elbow trying to pat myself on the back here. I'm just telling you that I've turned into Lofty - if I don't have my personal money in on the trade, I'm a much better predictor of its ultimate worth. It's just weird.
Anyways, Pigati and Lofty and I played five holes of golf and then I had to leave. Coach Ruzich drove me a couple miles back to my car and I was again off to being a local minor celebrity, this time headed to the Dynasty Banquet Center in north Hammond... a good 40 minutes away, with traffic.
3:00pm - Never made it to the Dynasty. I had to pull over off of 394 to text with Ron Harlow, our afternoon host who was doing a live remote broadcast from the Dynasty for the Southlake Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Harlow couldn't make a connection with the studio so they weren't on the air. Here's the texts.
Harlow - "We cannot start late. We are dialing in and getting busy signal."
Me - "You might need to dial 9 to get out."
Harlow - It was 8, thanks. We got it whew. I have their check.
I could envision Harlow's panic. He and producer Tony Panek trying to call someone in the studio and all they get is a busy signal.... with all of the Hispanic chamber people hanging around the broadcast table ready to go on the air. I've been in similar panics, so it's just a matter of going through a troubleshooting checklist with a reasonable amount of calm. This one was easy. We got it on the first troubleshoot, but by the time I got back on the road, it was too late for me to make it to the Hispanic Chamber remote broadcast. I headed home.
3:45pm - I'm doing a new show with Lane Paradis called "Dead Air." It's a show about the Grateful Dead. Lane and I tape the show early in the week and then I edit it up usually on Fridays and then play it after high school football on Friday night. We just started it, and I'm gonna have to not leave the editing for Friday anymore in case there's a problem.
And there was, of course, a problem. I sat at the Apple in this little makeshift studio I have here at home and tried to mix Lane and I talking along with the music we play in between and make the levels smooth and all that. It came together except that one of the files that Lane gave me of "Jack Straw" by the Dead was somehow corrupted... and there was no time to wait for a new file. Lane doesn't email or even know how to save music as an mp3 or a .wav file. He knows everything there is to know about the Grateful Dead, but he's a little challenged when it comes to mp3s.
So I had to text him to say that we're gonna have to run last week's show again. He texted back.
"Do you want to do it live at 10:00?"
I didn't text back. Of course I want to do it live at 10:00 but my life is not my own. I still had a bunch of other stuff to do last night.
5pm - Alexis and I dropped my phone off at the WJOB studios on the campus of the Purdue Northwest Commercialization Center. We were doing a football game in video on Facebook Live and you're not gonna believe this but we do it using a smartphone. Jimmy Mullaney, a student at Purdue, puts my phone on a tripod and hooks up the announcer, which is usually me, and then streams the video and audio to Facebook. It's easy peezy and everyone should be doing this, but we're in the beta stage of using Facebook Live video so I don't want to advocate to harshly.
Anyways, we gotta use my phone to stream since I've got the huge data plan and a new phone. I had to spend the rest of the night without my phone, which came in handy since I didn't want to text back poor Lane anyhows.
5:20pm - Alexis and I arrived for a wedding at the Kuiper House, the home of the chancellor of Purdue Northwest. I won't go into who got married and who I talked to, but I will note that I believe it was the third wedding I'd been to there. Regina D. Biddings Muro, whom I worked with at WJOB in the mid-1980s and is now vice chancellor at Purdue, got married to Mundo there. And I believe that when I was a kid we walked down from my grandma's house, which was just down the street, to someone's reception there. Last night would then have been the third wedding there.
I will say that I spoke to Chris White, the publisher of The Times. Chris is also in charge of three other publications for Lee Enterprises and is no doubt a rising star. He works his ass off and knows newspapers and digital. One of the things I couldn't figure out was that after three years of living in the Region, are he and his wife, Laura, "Region Rats?" I don't know what the cut off is. How long do you have to live around here to be considered a "Region Rat." I could probably just make something up, since I am a local minor celebrity. So I will. You don't become a Region Rat until you've been living here for three years... and you listen to WJOB. Those are the criteria.
9pm - Bishop Noll Institute on Chicago Avenue. Alexis graduated from this fine institution in 1979 and they were having their "All schools reunion." BNI does it right. Every year they throw plastic on the floor of the indoor track and open the big garage doors onto the football field, and as the Warriors lose another one they have a whopping huge party. No shit. It's actually kind of cool. You can talk to a priest or a 21-yer-old alum or some old guy and his wife, both of whom have been listening to WJOB since the 1950s. I got a lot of listeners at this one, some of whom aren't always happy with me.
Christina Kolavo came up to me and got more than a little pissed that after meeting me a good half dozen times I didn't remember her. I tried to play it off by easing into the conversation until she could provide clues as to her identity, but Christina's a Region gal and way too smart for that. I often get chided for not remembering people.
"You don't remember me, do you?"
"Ah, yeah, you look really familiar."
Sometimes the person will give me some mercy and reintroduce him or herself, and then I can say.
"Oh yeah. We know each other."
And it can be a friendly conversation. But a lotta times some feelings get hurt. I can only chalk it up to this - I ran the ball in high school a zillion times, which means I got tackled a zillion times, and I boxed in college and worked on a construction site and stood in the pits of the Board of Trade. It's not as if I've been hit in the head more than the average Midwestern former athlete. It's just that while I was doing all of it I partied my balls off. I have had bad habits, and once in a while that adds up to me not remembering someone. Yesterday I had maybe 100 specific conversations with people, and if I forgot maybe one or two of whom I was talking to... well that's a pretty good percentage.
11pm - Alexis and I wound up at the kitchen table. I ate 1400 bowls of Cheerios and she, as a true Mejicana, heated up some rice and chicken tacos and some really hot salsa while she watched Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Alexis is a news junkie. I leafed through the Eddie Bauer catalog. Down jackets are on sale and I'd sure love to buy one... but of course we need a bunch of new equipment at the radio station. A down jacket is just not in the cards right now.
Midnight - we fell asleep listening to Adult Alternative on Pandora radio.
The Grateful Dead songs just finished uploading. So I'll see you later. 2983 words.