I saw an interview with Steve Stone one time on how it would have been easy to make fun of the late Harry Caray, who said and did some outrageous things in the Cubs announcers' booth. But Stone made a pledge early on that no matter what Harry said or did that he would not make Harry look stupid.
That has stuck with me and I use it in dealing with callers. Invariably listeners will come up to me and ask - how do you not just go off on such-and-such caller? or how do you have so much patience with that idiot so-and-so?
I simply build on Stone's message - never make Harry look stupid, whoever Harry might be.
This morning I got into it not with Harry Caray but with WJOB callers Granola Bob, Walt, Mad Mac and even Gloria. Ostensibly they're upset about the commuter train that's set to cost half a billion dollars that may or may not be coming to Indiana. They believe in some sort of conspiracy amongst the local media to keep out that freight trains might also travel down the tracks.
And that led to a discussion about the media in general and, forgive me for letting it go in this direction, if I'm a journalist or not. In typical fashion, I let them take their shots - even Gloria - and then circled around to the difference between a journalist in 1975 and today. In 1975, Rich James went out to a news event and then came back to the Post-Tribune headquarters on Broadway in Gary and wrote a story that went into the print paper. That would be the end of his duty.
Now look at what a journalist like Hamnik does, say, for a Friday night football game. He tweets at least 20 times during the game, takes pictures and posts them to the website and maybe to Facebook, writes a story about the game, collects the stats, and then records some video after the game of the coach saying why his team won. It's a whole different ballgame.
I don't know where this is leading. I sense that it's a debate that nobody actually wins or is even really sure what it's about but that in the end gives everyone involved a little insight. That's all you can ask for anyways, I suppose.
And a little humor, too. The best one today came caller Pat, who was irritated by Mad Mac's rant.
"He's like a nose hair that needs to be plucked."
So it's 10:30pm and I just returned from the new studios. Our streaming computer picked up a virus and we may lose the machine and the 900 gigs of recordings that were stored there. Looking for the OS disk as we speak, but who keeps those anyhows? Just another tech issue. Just another tech issue.