Radio suits me because as you get older you become more like your Polish aunts. You fall asleep - hard - for a little while and then you wake up like it's the middle of a sunny day. You can hear the footsteps of restful reverie walk down the stairs and out the front door into the night. It's going to visit someone else.
Radio runs 24 hours a day every day. You don't really think of that so much. When you drive to the store in the middle of the night to pick up some medicine for your kids, you turn on the radio and there it is. Someone's talking to you. Someone's playing music in the middle of the night. It just happens. That's all.
You don't really think that someone's in a studio in Chicago or Hammond talking into a microphone. A peaceful yet solitary existence. Someone is behind that microphone. Or, in the case of smaller stations like WJOB, someone had to program that log so that you could hear Coast to Coast in the middle of the night. Someone had to insert that spot about where to buy a casket from Mike Gozdecki. Someone had to buy that license from the FCC and install a transmitter and pay for a tower and a bunch of computers and satellite dishes and even a plunger for the toilets that still, once in a long while, overflow.
And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the radio.
I slipped out to see a movie the other day - by myself. It's called "10 Cloverfield Lane." It's #2 in the weekend box office but for the life of me I can't figure out why. John Goodman stars as a survivalist who's a little weird and a lot creepy. A young woman and a young man wind up in his end-of-the-world shelter and it gets even weirder from there. The final scene is the young woman driving down a road in Texas at night all alone - in the car and on the road since there's not a lotta humans left alive - and the only thing to guide her is someone talking on AM 1370 from Houston.
"We're taking back the southern seaboard. If you can hear this, come to Houston."
Nice. The only thing left after an attack by planetary beings will be cockroaches, AM radio, and old Beetle Volkswagens. And plastics. Plastic like radio never dies.
You see... the three or four of you probably don't think about these things, not unless maybe you wake up in the middle of the night like my Polish aunts and you can't sleep. After a while, you don't even really long for sleep. You know it's not a remote possibility, so you move on to worry about all the things that can go wrong in your life. For me, that's mostly radio stuff. Once in a while I wake from a nightmare that the vinyl album just keeps skipping and skipping and I'm underneath the table and I just can't get up to nudge the turntable.
Come on the rising wind, you're goin' up around the bend
And you push yourself off the dirty carpet and there's no strength in your arms but you push anyways... going' up around the bend... going' up around the bend... goin' up around the bend.
... Anyways, what do the three or four of you think's gonna happen with this Trump thing? It's crazy. Chuck Pullen sat me with me on Monday (yesterday) morning. He walked around with his video camera outside the UIC pavilion on Friday night taking footage of all the anti-Trump protesters. They were volatile and angry and throwing punches and blocking an ambulance. Cops got hit in the face and protesters laid on the ground spitting blood.
Where was this stuff on what Chuck the tinfoil man calls "the mainstream media?"
Chuck and I share this fetish for gadgets and anything to do with streaming video. Often we talk about the direction of the connected TV world. He once talked me into building a vertical digital streaming network. We could stream - to the tune of tens of thousand of dollars of investment - from our servers at little old WJOB. The problem was that the internet feed cost so much so we had to scrap the whole thing.
We learned a ton, and now if the three or four of you want to see what Chuck Pullen looks like, or Stacy Bennett or Esther Goodes from the School City of Hammond, all you had to do was log on to your phone's browser yesterday and watch us at JED.tv. I'm not sure where all of this connected TV stuff is leading when it comes to radio, but it's leading somewhere. I have all of these gadgets, tools, softwares, cameras, switcher, cloud-based storage and stuff. And sometimes I just play with it all and even though it does nothing but cost me money, it's kinda fun and maybe one day I'll make a million dollars on it.
If not, then oh well, at least I'm enjoying the ride.... goin' around the bend... goin' around the bend... around the bend... the bend.
Anyways, Chuck's got more than a few conspiracy theories. But on this one about the coverage of the Trump melee outside the UIC Pavillion, for some reason he's onto something. All we were spoon fed on the telly was footage of Trump supporters in the Pavillion mixing it up with protesters. On the outside, protesters were out of control. Where the hell was that coverage?
Chuck's theory is that it doesn't fit the narrative that Trump is the villain. This is one of the few times that I agree with Chuck's tin foil assessment. He came on with me and explained himself calmly (the waves must not be as strong in the darkness of the early morning). I watched his uncut video - 11 minutes of it - before the show and he's right. Where the hell is the narrative that those opposed to Trump were out of control? That they caused the problem?
Chuck was so composed that when I got home, Alexis said to me - "Chuck was pretty good this morning." That's code for he was really amazing. Alexis is like George Halas. She throws complements around like manhole covers. Or is that nickels?
... Stacy Bennett runs the elementary schools in Hammond and Esther Goode runs the high schools. They've come up with this thing called "Saturday school" in Hammond. Besides the recurring nightmare of lying under the broadcast table and not being able to stop the album from skipping, I now have this nighttime torment of going back to my childhood... and waking up on a Saturday and instead of eating sugary cereal and watching cartoons... I gotta put my white shirt and blue pants on and go to Catholic school. School, for me, was always a struggle to stay awake. I didn't even mind sitting there listening to nuns and lay teachers talk about the Horn of Africa or the mitochondria. It's just that I was always tired. Saturday morning was for sitting around in your underwear and beating on your little brothers and then falling asleep during your little sisters' Sesame Street.
Interrupt this Norman Rockwell drawing and you get a hallucination about the horrors of "Saturday School." I listened intently to Stacy and Esther, and I really do understand that Saturday School is just the thing for some kids, especially those with trouble understanding the Pythagorean Theorem and those whose parents are having trouble scrounging up a meal. But still, I felt like crawling out of my own skin so I wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night with this nightmare of putting on my St. Thomas More uniform on a Saturday morning.