12:01am on a Tuesday
I had to go quiet. That was the only way.
I know that I promised to share with the three or four of you My American, Radio Life... and that I have been negligent in doing this for a few weeks. But in the meantime, we:
1. launched a new radio station
2. launched a video network
And to do this, I had to go quiet. We have a close enough relationship that it would be difficult to carry on this blog conversation without sharing the ups and downs of giving birth to something from nothing. These two projects - the FM radio station and the Facebook Live video - have ruled my life for weeks. I think about and do very little else.
But I'm gonna be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender.
No, that's not true either. If it were true - if I had really once again sold my soul to the legal tender - then I'd be thinking in terms of making a ton of money off of the new crap that I'm developing. But truth be told, I don't really think in those terms. I think in terms of creating something beautiful.
That could be kind of vague. I understand that. But there was a time that my life wasn't My American, Radio Life. My life for 18 years was My American, Trading Life. And for nearly two decades I lost myself in the quiet desperation of screaming for dollars. I sold my soul for the legal tender. I don't regret that. It was a stage. It sent my wife to law school and my kids to college.
Enough about me. What about FM radio? Check out the press release below and watch the Facebook Live video post of Alexis and me announcing that after 93 years of being WJOB 1230AM... we're now WJOB 1230AM and 104.7FM. That's right. We now broadcast in the Hammond/Chicago area on 1230AM and 104.7FM.
As the press release hints, this came about as part of the FCC's AM Revitalization Plan. Evidently there's a bunch of AM radio stations across America that are really struggling. I get that. We are part of this group sometimes and sometimes we're not. Either way, the FCC thought it would be a good idea to give all of us class C and D radio stations an FM frequency to go along with our AM frequencies. This is like winning the lottery, by the way.
And you know what else? It's a pretty good idea by the FCC. This federal agency got it right. WJOB is a lot stronger today than it was a week ago. AM and FM beat AM only.
It's been a long process to make 104.7FM happen. I'm sure that if the three or four of you keep reading this blog and I keep writing it that ultimately I'll go through the details of the whole process of buying an FM translator, getting it approved by the FCC, doing the engineering and construction and testing it and all of that. For now, just know that for the better part of a year I've been writing this blog to the three or four of you and I have been holding a secret. You don't know how many times I was working for several hours on the FM station and then I sat down to write this blog... and the only thing I could think to write about was the upcoming FM station.
But I just couldn't. Loose lips sink ships and all that. Alexis and I and our attorney in DC, Gary Smithwick, pledged to toil on the application and if it came to fruition, fine. If it didn't, fine also. To us, the coming FM station was something that would be kinda cool if it happened. If it didn't happen, we'd be fine too.
But we do have FM radio now and I really don't know what to do with that. The rules are such that for four years you gotta simulcast your AM signal and then after that you can broadcast the two stations separately. I'm reading on some of the blogs and radio websites that some AM stations that have gotten an FM translator are going more to music. We probably won't do that. We're WJOB. We're a talk/sports station. The music will come. As a matter of fact, I've always wanted a music station. That way I could play all of the Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead that I want. In four years maybe.
I'm showing you some of my thinking when it comes to the new FM station. And that's all that it is. Thinking. I've been working on an island for months now trying to get this thing done, and I really haven't thought about a strategy for the FM radio. When Alexis and I think of one, I'll let the three or four of you know.
.... So what about the Facebook Live video stuff? Now that the FM is up and running, I can turn my attention to broadcasting radio on Facebook Live... and to giving the many interns that we have this summer some tutelage.
We started doing Facebook Live video of our radio shows just three weeks ago, and already we have thousands of views of our shows. The most popular videos have been
1. an interview with Jeff Strack after he was just named the new CEO of Strack & Van Til grocery stores. That's had a few thousand views.
2. Friday's announcement by Alexis and me of the new FM station. That's had 2,000 views.
Also, the mayor of Hammond on his weekly show gets almost a thousand views and then sometimes it's an unexpected Facebook Live segment that gets a bunch of views. I had new intern Ben Wood on for a short get-to-know-your-intern segment and that had like 800 views. Go figure.
This afternoon, I finally had the time to sit with the producers in the afternoon to show them how to stream Ron Harlow's show on Facebook Live. Harlow does the show and producer Tony Panek answers the phones, does the weather and traffic, posts news items for Harlow... so he's too busy really to be switching camera angles and tagging posts. So now we have two afternoon interns in Abi Belka and Jimmy Mullaney. I gave them a 45-minute tutorial on how to do a Facebook Live video broadcast of the radio show and then went home and turned off my phone. It's been a long-standing tradition to let interns figure stuff out on their own. That panic in the early stages of their broadcasting careers can pay off handsomely in the future.
It looks as if they were able to figure it out and got Harlow's show up on Facebook. That's a start. Now we have two shows - mine and Harlow's - that stream live on Facebook. Soon it will be a third. Rick Kubic, who just finished his 10pm to midnight show from the WJOB AM and FM studios, sent me this text.
"You gotta show me how to link in the wire cast to Facebook. Is that going to be the norm?"
Yes, Rick. That's going to be the norm. I'm gathering that it's okay with you if I post this text in that it illustrates where we're going with radio - We're taking it to Facebook - and I'm glad that you're itching to stream your show on Facebook. I get the feeling that your growing cult of followers will love to watch you in the studio late at night in the dark. I don't know if Facebook Live broadcasts in stereo or not. Can you find that out?
Rick also texted this:
"By the way, good show this AM. I'm a big fan of Garry Meier, saw him at Dairy Queen in Munster late 90s."
That's right. I had Garry Meier on the show this morning, along with Ken Rutkowski, the host of nationally-syndicated "Business Rockstars." Ken was in town so he sat with me for more than an hour in studio... and after a while he called his buddy Garry Meier and we did a little radio. That's some pretty rarefied radio air, being on with Garry Meier and Ken Sutkowski. And yes, I was kinda nervous when I went to the phones and it was the Chicago radio legend there. He talked with us for a good 15 minutes. The three or four of you can go my Facebook page at JimDedelow to watch it. It's pretty cool.
I will notice one thing for the three or four of you... and that is that the Garry Meier/Ken Rutkowski post only got about 300 views on Facebook so far. The interview with local physician Dr. Mary Tilak got way more than that. Maybe we're learning something there about local radio. Maybe local people prefer hearing local people on local radio. Hmmm. I thought I'd get thousands of watches because it's Ken Rutkowski and Garry Meier. That didn't happen. Hmmm.
Thanks for plowing through this rather rambling blog post. Per usual, I'm up in the middle of the night and can't sleep and that's where the three or four of you come in. You allow me to empty my mind of the ongoing clutter so that I can do a better radio show in a few hours. Thanks.