In the beginning, though, we tried out Boost's product. We may have been their second or third radio station. I worked directly with a number of guys named Jason at Boost, even driving down to Indianapolis to meet with them in the hip section of Indy just off the square. In the end, I wanted to develop a station-specific app (WJOB) on which you could
1. listen live to our station
2. watch live our local programs
My idea was that it should be similar to my grandpa carrying around an old transistor radio. One click and he would be listening to WJOB. I figured we could always be two clicks away. One click to open the app. One more click to either watch or listen to my amazing local radio morning show buffoonery. It took a while, but we actually got the technology to work, although the worldwide audience interested in local radio in Indiana didn't.
Now, though, I can't find Boost anywhere. I made a few phone calls and sent a few emails but none of the three dancing Jasons has gotten back to me. I don't know where Boost went, and I don't know what happened to the company that designed the My Station App in the first place.
My suspicion is that they took some venture cap money and now they do something else. At one point, a venture capital I took to be a venture cap investor called me to inquire about their product and I answered the questions and maybe he gave them a bunch of money and they're working on an addition to Periscope. Who knows?
What I do know is that I have a technical mystery on my hands. The app still works, sometimes. We generate the audio in Hammond, encode it to Streamguys in California, and they send a stream to an address that links up with the app and you can listen to it on the WJOB app still. A thousand people have downloaded the app and when it doesn't work we certainly hear about it.
And we're hearing about it a lot these days. It's down more often than not. We'd like to discuss with someone ways to fix some of the code... but as of now we can't find anyone to talk to. We don't even know who's hosting our WJOB app and how it still streams if Boost and the three Jasons and My Station App are nowhere to be found.
It's a mystery.
So the tech problem is twofold. We don't now stream video because we're moving in to these amazing new studios on the campus of the Purdue Calumet Commercialization Center in a few months and it's then that we'll restart our video streaming of the morning show and other stuff. Also, the audio streaming on the app goes down a lot during the show and throughout the day. Again, we don't know why.
For long periods, then, all that I am doing is local traditional, terrestrial radio when I do the morning show. And in a digital age that is just not acceptable. A lot of people listen when they're traveling or they're just local radio geeks from another city (Dave from San Francisco, for example) and some people can't get the reception of the terrestrial radio in their buildings, especially at the mills or in the county building. And then, remember, a lotta people don't even have an AM radio so they only listen online even though they might be less than a mile from the 400-foot tower.
That's the issue. So I'm sitting here on a Saturday morning thinking about how best to connect to the people who want me digitally, so to speak. And I come back to a conversation I had yesterday with Andrew Dice Clay.
Dice came to the Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond last night, so I did a little preview promo with him over the phone. You can listen to it above. It's a rambling half hour of talk about Mexican chicks' butts, smoking weed, Dice's buddy Wheels "drilling" Dice's girlfriend, etc. Longtime WJOB listener Mark commented this:
That was the funniest train wreck of a interview you have ever done..
Judges score: 10 10 10
Anyways, during the interview, Dice starts telling me about Periscope. I have no fucking idea (since I'm talking about Dice I automatically want to swear) what the hell he's talking about, goddamit. So then Dice says he'll turn it on and he does live video of him talking to me. Dice tells me to go find it on Periscope, which, since I have no fucking idea what it is, I can't find.
You should do it, Dice tells me.
Now when Andrew Dice Clay tells you to do something... you might consider doing it. He wears all this leather and these hand coverups so he doesn't touch sweaty palms and you gotta admit that he looks pretty tough. I.e., see picture above. The reality is that it's probably mostly a shtick and if you just conjured up some of the old Berkeley boxing skills you might whoop his ass in less than a minute... but for now let's go with - If Dice tells you to do something, you do it.
So here I am with a technical problem. I need to stream my show... and I want to start from the beginning. What can I do to satisfy the people who want to consume me in the morning in a digital way?
I've fucked around (thanks, Dice, see what you've done) for a long time with just streaming the audio of the show. Big deal. Everyone does that. And quite frankly, there's not a lot of options for little stations to get on, say, Iheart or Radio.com. I've tried to contact IHeart a few times (emails, phone calls, etc) and they won't call me back. Same with Radio.com. We stream on tune in.com but I'm not so sure that's our long-term solution.
This situation gives me an idea for a product - a site that aggregates only small radio station live audio streams and you can go to the page and click on, say, Turlock, California (where I once ate a cheeseburger that another human being half-regurgitated) or Elko, Nevada (where I once spent a 100-degree weekend with a woman near a nervous breakdown - caused by me) or Hayward, Wisconsin or Winter Springs, Florida, etc.
But I have an idea for a product related to radio every day. Stop doing that, I say to myself. Just concentrate on doing simple, down-to-earth local radio and then blog about it every once in a while and take some pictures and post your notes and, eventually, film a lot of it.
Film a lot of it?
You mean, record video of your show or your life and then edit it and then wait for it to process and then wait for it to upload and then wait for very few people to watch it? Do that?
I'm reminded of my college baseball coach. No shit, I did play college baseball. For two years at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Barry Obama was there on the basketball team at the same time, by the way.
Anyways, at the awards banquet at the end of one of the seasons - the one after we played in the NCAA regionals in, you guessed it, Turlock, California - a very old Grant Dunlap did a long introduction of how I came from Indiana and that I ran laps around the field after practice "just to feel my heart beat" and so forth. The old man - and he was really old, coaching at Oxy for like 50 years - said this as he handed me my trophy.
And in all my years I never had a worse practice player.
What the fuck (thanks, Dice) does that mean?
It turns out that old Grant and the other coaches, for the first few weeks of practice, wondered often why in the hell they had coaxed me to come out to their little Division III school to play baseball.
You kicked the first four ground balls I hit you at short, and whiffed your first dozen swings. You could run, we could see that, but that was all we could see.
So for the first four or five games, that's all that old Grant let me do in games. Pinch run. He was afraid to put me at short, and he didn't want me to embarrass myself at the plate. So he let me pinch run and steal bases, which I enjoyed doing but eventually you want to put your glove on to play the field and to stand in the batters box to take some cuts.
So we were killing Cal Tech, which everyone does, and old Grant put me in at short. Hard hit grounder over the pitcher's head, I gobble it up and whip it to first. One out. Next hitter - a popup behind third down the left field line. I dive and catch it.
And then the next inning I drive one to the right center gap for a double. After I scored, I sat on the bench there in Pasadena next to Dunlap and took a drink. He pushed down my paper cup full of Gatorade and looked me right in the eye -
Where in the heck have you been, Mr. Longhaired Indiana boy?
So that's the story. Grant Dunlap discovered something in me that it took me decades to accept - worst practice player I ever coached. That same theme came true when I traded in the pits. I could trade all right in real time, but put me in a trading room after attending a seminar on how to chart with candlesticks and I'm sure to lose half my net worth.
I can only really react in real time. In college baseball, in trading, and now in radio. My worst shows are the ones I over prepare for. Or the ones I prepare for at all. I've learned that. It's best for me to just start talking and then see what happens. It was best for me to best start trading and then see what happens. And, the late Grant Dunlap pointed out, it was best to judge that longhaired Indiana boy by his games and not his practices.
So be it. When it comes to the morning show, it's gotta be reaction, live, real, earthy, quirky and NOW. Forget the slick videos and podcasts - my only talent, if I have any at all, is in the NOW. Sorry, that's how it is.
So back to Dice - he turned me on to Periscope. Live now whenever. That's the best way to describe it. And that's what I've been fucking around with for the past couple hours. I downloaded the app and watched two women work out on the beach in New Jersey and some guy ride his scooter through the streets of Berlin. So I'm gonna now join the Periscope universe and go for a bike ride and stream my first Periscope. It'll probably suck because, as you can tell, I'm constructing a plan, drawing out a map of where I'll ride, and even writing about it beforehand.
Just wait for the game, mutherfucker. Just wait for the game.
...... By the way, that's WJOB station manager Debbie Wargo with Dice above. You can hear her on the podcast with Dice near the end. Debbie also obviously went to the show last night at Horseshoe. Sorry, Dan Nitto, I didn't make it.