For 18 years, I fought like holy hell in the pits of the Chicago Board of Trade. I made and lost a lot of money over the time that I ate overpriced meals in Chicago and flew to Vegas with a fistful of dollars in my pocket. I knew who I was. I was a trader.
Now I'm coming up on 18 years as a media man. I own a media molehill. There have been some victories - or the beginning of victories. We rescued the local radio station and then bought another one and got involved with streaming radio. We started a streaming video network for the local folks. That's starting to work, with emphasis on "starting."
One day I went to the basement of the Board of Trade and sold my seats, took the South Shore train home, changed my cellphone number, and bought the local radio station. The only way out of the Board of Trade was cold turkey, which is a term usually applied to drug addiction but it also has a place in the world of trading addiction.
The knee-jerk escape cost me. I knew in my heart of hearts that it might be a good investment to at least hold onto my seats. But I sold anyways. Seats went down immediately 25%, which made it look like a good move for a while. But then the seat rallied and became much more valuable than you or I could have imagined. I should have put the seats in my back pocket.
Eighteen years as a trader and now, soon, 18 years as a media man. There's one adventure that I would very much like to continue to beat the drum for... and that is the streaming video network named after me - JEDtv. We've built this network. My morning show is the most popular thing on both the TV and radio. I have a brand. What should I do with it?
I don't know. Do you?
One of the things that keeps coming into my red wine-addled brain - not today but in general there's been a lot of red wine - is something that a woman said on 60 minutes. It was a piece about the decline of local journalism. It was also a hatchet piece against Alden Capital. The woman said that our news attention is "coastal" and that the only time big news organizations pay any attention to the middle of the country is when there's a massive story. Then they fly their crews out, do the story, and then the crews fly back home to the coast.
1. Local news is dying. 2. A democracy cannot stand without local news. 3. We do have some news but it's coastal.
That's the gyst of the piece by the "coastal" news organization CBS and 60 Minutes. They proved their own point. They sent crews to Pottstown, Pennsylvania and to Chicago and then the crews flew back to New York.
How do I fit into that story?
I'm a local media guy in the middle of the country. We're making it, but we're no Facebook or Google, which were pointed out as bad guys when it comes to stealing money out of local communities. Them and Alden Capital.
Alden Capital is run by a guy named Heath. 60 Minutes the coastal media kept flashing his photo on the screen as if he were the devil, which I'm not entirely sure exists... but to hedge my bets I try to live a relatively clean and evil-free life. And I do the sign of the cross once when I walk by the sacresty four or five times a week. And I nod to the old ladies going in for mass.
Let's talk about Alden. They're now the second-largest newspaper chain in America. From a journalist's viewpoint, they are the devil, whether you believe in him or her or not. They buy newspapers - at a steep discount because no one wants them - and then fire a bunch of people and sell a bunch of real estate and intellectual property. They're left with subscriptions.
Ah, subscriptions. As Bozo would say - That's me. I sell subscriptions to my local TV network. We haven't reached some of the milestones I've set... but we're close. I get the feeling that if you sell enough subscriptions you can build something on the local level that can compete with Facebook, Google, Apple, etc. It's a theory anyways. It's part of the reason I've started doing the video podcast "JED's Journal," which I should be doing right now instead of talking with the three or four of you. Maybe "JED's Journal" will help me sell subscriptions.
Alden Capital is also the company trying to buy Lee Enterprises, which owns the local paper The Times of Northwest Indiana. I just signed an agreement in which The Times represents my fledgling TV network in the selling of advertising. One of the many reasons for doing this was that they'll take care of selling our political advertising. Just so you know, one of the worst things a local media guy regulated by the FCC can ever encounter is... think about it. What's your guess?
Those three can all be addressed by drugs. But there's no pill for political advertising. You can buy all the 100-dollar creams you can think of and at the end of the day you won't be able to sit on a toilet seat correctly. Or comb your hair. Or shtoop your wife... without a pill to cure political advertising.
So I found the next best thing - The Times. They're gonna sell our political advertising.
I realize that I've developed a rather defeatist view of the political landscape. I'll bounce back as soon as the hemorrhoid medicine kicks in and The Times takes this over for me. It doesn't help that the state that we are in in America doesn't leave much room for hope that your hair's gonna grow back or that you're ever gonna wake up with a bean pole like you did when you were 17. I wouldn't say it's hopeless... but we really fucked things up. Sorry for the language. I'm guessing at least one of us four will be offended by the use of a bad word for a good action... but that's how I feel.
We have fucked up America. It's how we rule ourselves and the people we've chosen to do so and what we let them get away with, which is lies and self-serving morality. Speaking of morals.. the moral of this story is that you can't find a pill for political advertising, but you can hire an outside firm to take the unlubricated broom out of your ass.
That's a reference to both hemorrhoids and to what I have allowed to happen in past few elections. I've lost lifelong friends, been blamed for a Congress race, have a whole host of people going after my wife because of me... and so on.
I don't think I'm off base to say that we have fucked up America. But I only say this in the most affectionate of manners. I love America. I'm sitting here on the bed writing in a laptop like Cary Bradshaw in Sex in the City - not nearly as sexy and quite a bit hairier (I think) - and I want to do is help fix things. I don't know how but I want to do something for the country that I love.
If, by the way, you have trouble sleeping, don't watch TV tonight. The talking heads from both coasts are talking about the invasion of Ukraine and how Russia could use nuclear bombs. This gives me abject fear and it is something that I addressed this morning in my video podcast. I told a rather long-winded story about writing a piece in 1982 that the fear of nuclear war was our biggest untold secret.
The teacher didn't buy it - "no one worries about that."
I do. I always have. Boom. Press a few buttons and this misery you've been living is gone in a flash. You and I and the couple other people who read my shit could be floating around the universe as bits of, mostly, carbon. Our living flesh would be reduced to scattered atoms. If in some alternative miracle we could stay alive long enough to float a couple million miles or so, we would have the most fantastic view ever. But that's not gonna happen. If Vladimir Putin or anyone else presses the wrong button, we're all just dust.
I'm rambling again. The two or three of you are used to it. Every few months I stick my index finger down my throat and I puke out a few thousand words to the three or four of you I've been keeping a journal in one form or another for 42 years. I write it then throw it away. Also stories, poems and word sketches of women and men in impossible situations. At least with this blog the world wide web keeps it for posterity.
Back to Alden Capital... A democracy needs local journalists. If there wasn't reporting of local council meetings, gangsters would get elected so they could vote themselves whatever salary they wanted. They would put streetlights only by their friends' homes... and good luck getting your street plowed if you didn't donate appropriately.
Ironically, there is one area where Alden and journalists are on the same side. 60 Minutes pointed it out. Alden keeps beating the drum that it's darn-tootin' time that Google, Facebook, Apple and the rest of 'em start paying local papers and radio stations and magazines and TV networks for their content. It's a great racket that we have allowed. Google searches the web and provides links to our stuff. And they sell the shit out of that list. We get none of it. That's not right. The gig is up.
That's all I got for tonight. I gotta wake up and do a local TV/radio show in the morning. Early in the morning. There's a lot of strife in the world. It's my job to try to make sense of it. Good luck wit dat.