The three or four of you might forget that on top of all of this digital crap we do, we still run two traditional radio stations. This means I spend a decent amount of time messing with transmitters, processors, DGA distributors, encoders, mixing boards, satellite receivers and modulators. It’s a part of the job I secretly enjoy.
Yesterday, our engineer came into town. His name is Mike. When he does, the rest of life stops.
“Engineer Mike is here. I don’t know when I’ll be home.”
This is a familiar refrain. My wife accepts what it means.
“Dad won’t be home for dinner, girls. Engineer Mike is in town.”
One of the many things we addressed yesterday is the level of audio of WJOB AM and FM. When you listen on the radio, it sounds a little weak. You have to turn up the volume. Sometimes this is because the file that we’re playing is weak. But when it comes down to it, we were running anywhere from 60-90% of the volume of AM 890 WLS in Chicago. This shouldn’t be.
Mike and I broke down the whole system, from where most of our audio originates at the Purdue Northwest Commercialization Center to where it comes through the Tieline encoder system to the various processors it goes through to how it’s distributed through the DGA to how the tower is tuned.
It’s a long journey from a DJ's mouth to your ears. And, if you’re into that sort of thing, it’s as beautiful as it is complex.
It turns out that dyslexia once again wins out. I was reading one of the gauges backwards. It’s the compression gauge. I figured the more compression, the louder the audio. But it’s exactly backwards. Mike and I fixed this. Now, hopefully, when you listen to WJOB AM and FM it’ll sound more like WLS 890, WMAQ 670, WIND 560 and the rest of the Chicago AM stations. They’re only 22 miles away.
… In My Radio Life, I’m not just the engineer’s assistant, I’m also head data manager. I am starting to understand, partly through going to MBA school, that one of my main jobs is to manage data.
Think about it. We produce
This stuff came about organically. I didn’t draw a linear timeline and say – “Okay, next let's move into streaming video. Let's draw up a timeline of when we'll introduce Apple.”
No. The technology changes so quickly that it happens to you rather than the other way around. One day you’re sitting in a 60-year-old radio studio. The next day you’re streaming live video on Roku in people’s living rooms.
These streams have to be maintained. So do the video highlight clips that you produce. And the photos. And the blogs and the podcasts. It’s dizzying if you don’t haf a thucking pwan.
That’s not my saying. It’s from Leo Chruby. I haven’t talked about him in a while, but he’s still part of me.
When I was a kid, my mom and dad and four brothers and sisters and I lived next to the Chrubys. We shared driveways. My mom was Polish and the Chrubys were Polish so there was a lot of black socks and white tennis shoes going on.
I could write a book about the Chrubys. Someday I will. For this purpose, flash forward to when I was taking the train from Chicago one day and ran into Leo Chruby. He was the second oldest in the line of Chrubys, right behind Lori.
Leo spoke with a lisp and, as a teenager, was one of the resident juvenile delinquents of the neighborhood. He did drugs and got in fights. He eventually competed in Golden Gloves in Chicago and that seemed to fit him. It gave anger a place to go.
Leo was about five years older than me and would, if there was a problem, intervene. More than once I escaped getting my ass kicked for my big mouth because I lived next door to Leo Chruby.
Leo grew up to be an artist. Somehow a rich guy who owned a building in Chicago let Leo rent the whole top floor loft. It turned into a sort of artist’s hangout. Leo drew his overarching cartoons, most of which showcased scantily-clad busty women. I wish I had one to look at right now.
“You gotta haf a thucking pwan, Dimmy. You gotta haf a thucking pwan.”
One day I was taking the train home from Chicago after trading bonds (half drunk as usual) and Leo approached me. Leo gave me an update about what he was doing, and I did the same.
“You’re the same as you were when you were a thucking thnotnosed kid, Dimmy. No plan. You and Joey (his little brother), you never had a thucking pwan.”
It was a bit surprising the vehemence with which Leo harangued me. Most people commuting home from Chicago want quiet. Many sleep. Leo spoke loudly, drew attention to us both.
“I know you, Dimmy, and that’th gonna be your thucking pwoblem your whole thucking life. You gotta have a thucking pwan.”
Leo’s been dead for ten years or so now. He was a raging alcoholic. He used to walk from the Chruby home to Johnny’s Tap then stumble home several hours later. The story goes that one time he couldn’t walk the block and a half and just collapsed on the sidewalk.
Cops took him to the hospital, where he recorded a .52 blood alcohol level. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it could be.
It wasn’t the last time Leo harangued me with the “thucking pwan” concerto. Once in a while I would go over to his house on Madison Street and sit with him and listen to old-time radio shows. He had a wall full of tapes, meticulously organized and marked, of radio shows from the 20s through the 60s. As you approached the house, you could hear the audio, day and night. He kept a window open, even in winter.
That’s another story. Leo and the old-time radio shows. What concerns me this morning on my way to do my own old-time radio show is that Leo was right. I don’t haf a thucking pwan.
Half a glass of
on the desk reminds me
to hydrate and wipe my
In an effort toward developing a thucking pwan, I have come to realize what my main job is – I manage data and also people. And to that end, I have spent the last couple days trying to distribute a section of data for different people in our organization to manage.
For a couple of the three or four of you, this might seem rudimentary – “You mean you never had a structure to manage all of the stuff you produce?”
“No maam. I mean – 'yes maam.' There is no data management structure.”
“Then you suck.”
So let me know, the three or four of you, if you notice any improvement in:
I hope it works. I don’t want to let Leo Chruby down. He’s been through enough already in his life and death.