I wake to sleep, and I take my waking slow.
Before Facebook Live, try as we might to change, we were still essentially one AM radio station just outside of Chicago. You can hear us in Chicago. But we’ve been an Indiana radio station since Woodrow Wilson was president.
Yes, we stumbled on the possibilities of video. Often, when radio hosts came to do a show, they would leave the studio in shambles. They might leave McDonald’s cheeseburger wrappers or a milk carton. One time, there as a whole pizza underneath the broadcast console. Who forgets about a whole pizza?
The real problem, however, was that hosts, of which there are always many at WJOB, would leave the dials in the wrong places when they left. I can’t tell you how many times over the past 14 years I’ve had to wake up in the middle of the night to put WJOB radio back on the air because of this.
So we put a live video camera in the studio to Big Bother hosts into putting the dials in the right spots when they left. Yes, up until a couple of years ago, we used an old Autogram board with dials. Now, the only place you can find one of these in use is at a broadcast museum.
A couple of the three or four of you know some of this. I’ve told you bits of our video story before. I bring it up again not for your sake but for mine, so I can put in perspective what is happening. In 2016, when Facebook dropped a bomb on the broadcast world by coming up with Facebook Live, it changed our world. You know the story. I went to the Streaming Media East conference in New York City. I ran into a guy who was there to explain this new thing called “Facebook Live,” and the rest is history. A couple years later we have 5,000,000 video views on Facebook Live.
At about the same time we started Facebook Live in 2016, we bought an FM radio station. And we moved into Purdue. It’s a lot of change in a short period of time.
But the pace of 2016 doesn’t even begin to compare with what is happening right now. Sure, Facebook Live is fine for showing an instant video of your grandkid’s bi8rthday party. But it’s not meant to build your own streaming video network. You can’t even play commercials on Facebook Live. So we started up our own network. It’s called WJOBNetwork.com.
And it is because of WJOBNetwork.com that I rarely have a moment to myself and that I rarely write this blog to the three or four of you. The agreement was that I would write a thousand words on average to the three or four of you every day to let history unfold as it unfolds. I have been remiss. My Radio Life moves at such a frantic video pace that I don’t have it in me to sit down and squeeze out a thousand words or so about what we’re doing.
It’s not easy to conceive for a couple of you of what streaming video really is. You may have a tough enough time understanding how Facebook Live works. On the other hand, one or two of the three or four of you may have even more knowledge about streaming video than I do. I doubt it, though. There’s not a lot of people in the Calumet Region who know more about streaming video than Chuck Pullen and I. It’s just how it is. We’re addicted to its power.
Streaming video has certainly exerted its power over me. I wake up thinking about it and I go to bed thinking about it. That’s what I used to do with radio. I would wake up thinking about radio and I would go to bed listening to old Jean Shepherd shows from WOR in New York in the 1960s. I love his stuff from the 1960s. It is raw, beautiful and funny. Plus, a lot of what he talks about happened in Hammond, Indiana, a few blocks from where I yell “big truck” every morning.
For some reason, though, since I started immersing into streaming video, the old Shep shows just don’t ring as strongly with my core. I try to listen to bits out of 1965 that would warm me. Now, I just use them to fall asleep. Something is happening with me concerning radio. Can I have two friends? Can I still love radio because it is good and pure and beautiful and court streaming video also? For a long time, I felt as if I were cheating on radio by courting video. Now, I don’t know what I feel. I just wake up and run for 12-14 hours trying to build our own video network. It’s a fun time, but it’s also an exhausting time. I had to wake up at 5am on a Sunday just to find a few minutes to write to the three or four of you.
Part of this time crunch is that the demands don’t stop just because we’re trying to build a TV network for the Region. While we’re broadcasting a half dozen or more live games on video each week, there’s still stuff in the community that I gotta be a part of – that I want to be a part of.
On Friday, I went to the Munster Homecoming parade and took some pictures of my niece, Maddy Foreit, who rode around town in the back of a convertible in the parade. Ben and Josh Foreit were also in the homecoming court. I rode my bike over to the parade but it had left Elliot School where it starts. I caught up with it in front of the house where my family used to live at Fisher and White Oak. I snapped a few photos of Maddy, Ben and Josh and rode back home.
I laid down for a half hour and then went to work on Friday night football. It’s been a nonstop ride since. I ran out to our video broadcast of Lowell at Highland expecting to hang out with the six-person crew for a while before the game, but they were in a frenzy. We had a problem with audio. I had to skidaddle back to the station, find an appropriate XLR cord, and then rush back to Highland before kickoff.
Then it was over to Munster with Alexis to watch the homecoming court drive onto the field at halftime. You’re not supposed to go on the track around the field, but there were so many Dedelows and Foreits and some others that we filled the area by the floats and convertibles. I took a ton of pictures. It was a good, fulfilling night and that would have been enough for a weekend.
Instead, Alexis and I woke up at 6am yesterday and drove to W. Lafayette for the Purdue football game. We tailgated in lot T next to a guy and his wife who brought out a deep fryer in which they made a mountain of Basa. Purdue, after three tough losses, finally got a win. They beat #22 Boston College 30-13. It was a great time.
We left right before the end and made it home in less than two hours. That’s huge for after a Purdue game. Plus, there was big accident on the Borman so we had to wait in traffic for a while. We got off at Burr Street and meandered home from there.
When we got home, I studied statistics for my MBA for a few hours. Then we drove to Wolf Lake and watched Steve Miller rock the place out. Alexis and I stood right in front of the stage and danced on concrete for two hours. That made my legs hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I took four Advil, rubbed CBD oil into my hip, and tried to go to sleep. Didn’t work. We stood for hours on concrete at the Purdue game and did the same at the Steve Miller concert. My bones can’t take that.
At midnight, Alexis and I wound up sitting in the parking lot at White Castles dipping fries into ketchup on the dashboard. Today, we’re heading to the Cubs-Sox game as part of a Purdue Northwest outing. Life goes on.
It’s delicate balancing act, this life of local radio has become. I can almost do everything I’m supposed to do in a day if I just run a radio station, go to grad school, love my wife and kids and work out once in a while.
But if you put a streaming video network into the mix, all hell breaks loose. One of the casualties is that you and I don’t get much time together. Have patience, my friend. Maybe just maybe we’re building something that decades from now someone will say is “good and pure and beautiful” just like radio. It may mean that streaming video is dying by then, as radio is now. But what the hell? If the ride for streaming video is half as good as the radio ride, then it will all be worth it.