It's 2:50pm on a Saturday afternoon and you'd think that I'd be at my nephew's baseball game. I was. Little Al played in Glenwood, IL, and saw that. Waiting to go to nephew Jack's game at 4pm. In between, especially when Alexis is out shopping, it's always radio.
We're still in these temporary studios on the campus of the Purdue University Calumet Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center. So while Geno does his show I have to be relatively quiet. We're in one big room. The northeast corner has been turned in to a radio studio with cameras and sound-absorbing tiles. My typing behind the baffles has to be bothering poor Geno.
"Hot and muggy today and the dewpoint way up. Does it feel like summer? What would summer be without a Beach Boys tune? Region Bandstand, WJOB... Giddy up, giddy up, 409."
When I'm doing the show in the morning and the office folks start to arrive around 9am and whisper to each other and open their emails and run the copy machine even - yikes - I get all turned around and pissy.
"Can you guys shut the f--- up while I do a radio show?" I say during a break. Think Ralph Kramden, or an irritated Frank Sinatra. Or Jeremy Piven in Entourage. Or any of the thousands of people who ever traded in a pit... or worked on a construction site. Just do as I say and worry about your feelings and your email later.
Anyways, speaking of traders. I ran into Dave Harangody last night. He's a guy from Whiting who, like me, spent the better part of his working years in a trading jacket screaming for dollars. We reminisced for a while and then spoke in hushed tones about July 1st. That's the day that trading is set to end after a 150-year run. Historic moment, but does anyone really care?
Not me, really. I once had a daydream that I would fly around to all of the floor trading operations and write about them. Just to have it for posterity, because even then I sensed along with many others that floor trading was doomed. No more yelling, just clicking. No more spitting into another trader's face... just yelling at a computer screen. The world would change, and then floor trading would go away and few would have written down what it was like. I suppose I could write it down now so that one of my grandkids could read it on a rainy Saturday afternoon... but past that I don't think that many people really care that pit trading is gonna die next month. There's just not a lot of demand for the story of its demise.
But I take a different tack with the slow and angry death of American radio. It will die. Make no mistake about that. Radio will, like trading, become a digital endeavor. It might even be a digital endeavor off the 400-foot tower. While listening to Geno do his Saturday afternoon throwback show - "Up next - I know my rider - by the Byrds on the voice of the Region, WJOB."
"I know my rider's gonna miss me when I'm gone... " The Grateful Dead turned that in to "I know you, rider..."
I know you, rider, gonna miss me when I'm gone
I know you, rider, gonna miss me when I'm gone
Gonna miss your baby, from rolling in your arms
Speaking of which, Alexis and I are scheduled to attend the Grateful Dead concerts at Soldier Field July 3, 4, and 5. Have no idea what to expect, other than a lot of tie-dye and grilled cheese sandwiches. I used to follow them around wherever - Watsonville, Cow Palace, Alpine Valley, Orange County - but you know and I know that the best shows they ever did were at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. That scene - like trading, and (soon) like radio - is dead. It's still in my head and I suppose that as with trading, I could write down all the shit that I saw and lived in that early 1980s era. But other than one of my grandkids on a Saturday afternoon.. .no one's gonna give a shit.
"It's Region Bandstand with Geno Sferruzza... but you can just call me Geno." If you were driving around northwest Indiana or the south side of Chicago 50 years ago you would have heard a show very similar to what Geno is doing right now. Everly Brothers, Patsy Cliine, The Byrds, The Beatles... and clips from The Honeymooners and the Jack Benny Show. What will happen to shows like Geno's when radio is dead. The long, sweet death of American radio. You tell me.
As soon as Geno clears the studio, I'll download some audio files to cut them up and post them on my podcast channel. Podcasting is the future of radio, but you gotta believe that eventually in some remote corner of the country some guy or gal is gonna write in obscurity about the long, sweet goodbye of podcasting radio. Then what will it be?
Telepathy radio? Or will radio become a cream you smear on your hairy arm and somehow you pick up audio waves? Or maybe radio will ultimately bypass the ear all together and just send waves to your brain that feel like music, that make you want to dance, smoke weed, bop your head up and down at a stoplight. Just waves. Simulated audio waves making you bemoan the long, sweet goodbye of American radio and its corollary - the long, sweet goodbye of podcasting radio.
"Mama's got a squeeze box she wears on her chest, and when daddy comes home he never gets no rest... because he's playin' all night. He's playin' all night."
Geno's playing that song on AM radio that can be heard for a good portion of Chicagoland. A couple weeks ago, I heard that song live at the Allstate Arena by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend. The Who put on a great show... not as good as Grateful Dead shows of the past... or Bob Dylan shows. Or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. But better than the Marshall Tucker shows I've seen and the Cheryl Crow shows (although she puts on a good show, if you can get past the mental daydreaming of what she would look like naked.)
The best show I ever saw? Either Grateful Dead Greek Theater 1984... Or Bob Dylan 1990 in Merrillville, Indiana. Bobby D came out on a Tuesday night and played all his hits and two hours later walked through the backstage area, got on a bus and the hell out of Merrillville. No bullshitting with the audience and no "new" songs. Just a lot of Rolling Stone and Highway 66 and a big brass bed and that boxer from Patterson who got thrown in jail for not doing a crime, supposedly.
So there. I'm sitting in the temporary studios on what was supposed to be a dreary June day like all the rest of them, at least according to the ever-accurate WJOB weather forecast. Instead, it's kinda nice out. Not raining like it has been for the past week, and if you squint real tightly you can see a tiny fraction of the sun behind the Cumulus clouds to the west. Tonight it's pivotal game 5 of the Stanley Cup series. The Hawks and Tampa Bay are tied at two games apiece.
Here's what I'll do tonight. Instead of going out to a bar and drinking a zillion beers, like we have been doing for the past couple of months of hockey playoff games. Alexis and I will sit in the living room and watch the first two periods. And then when it's all tied up in the third period... I'll go up and lie on my bed and listen to the last 15 minutes of regulation on the radio. When it gets really tense and you can't even squeeze out a piss... it's best to listen to it on the hometown radio call. That goes for Bears games with Jeff Joniak on WBBM, with Purdue games and Larry Clisby on our own WJOB, with Don Fisher on IU games on, you guessed it, WJOB. Bulls games, too. When they get really tight, I'd rather lay on my bed and watch the ceiling fan go round and round and listen to the hometown announcer get all excited and bitch about the refs and just picture it in my mind.
"Kane down the left side. He lets go a one-timer and Toews crowds the net, hacks at it. HE SCORES." Tell me if no one is bothering you and the Hawks are this close to another Stanley Cup and you like me are a radio lifer... that you wouldn't rather listen to the third period of the Stanley Cup game 5 than watch it on NBC with the vanilla national announcers. Go ahead, tell me.
There, it's taken me a long time to write you some more crap in the blog that nobody reads...long enough that Geno's winding up his show with some really cool Gerry Rafferty...
You used to say that it was so easy
But you're tryin, you're tryin now
Another year and then you'd be happy
Just one more year and then you'd be happy
But you're cryin', you're cryin' now
I don't what significance that stanza holds... I only know that it's playing on my radio station on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of June. All is well. Also, Geno just informed me...
"Hey, did Debbie tell you that I'm going til 4:40. We're broadcasting another women's football pro game, so I'll go the extra 40 minutes."
Oh well. Maybe I won't get to cut any podcasts. It's just as well. First pitch at Community Park in Munster in three minutes and puck drops in two hours. See ya.