Radio radio radio radio.
You are in me.
I can’t quit you.
I know that I should.
I’d be better off if I
turned my back
But I just love you.
Is it OK for a grown man
to say this to a craft?
I sure hope so. If not,
there’s not enough
clean underwear in
the laundry basket to
make up for the embarrassment
of shitting your pants in
fifth grade class.
That’s what it would be
like if it wasn’t OK to
It’s 9:29 on a Wednesday night.
5:22am – I get to the show eight minutes early. Instead of playing music to warm up, I pull up a Jean Shepherd radio show from March 21, 1963.
“Here’s something from 55 years ago today. See if you like it.”
Jean Shepherd talks about having a cold. And he talks about reading a book that he wasn’t supposed to and getting reamed over it by a teacher. That’s what Jean Shepherd did. He left Hammond, Indiana, and went to New York City and told stories about Hammond, Indiana, on the radio. It worked for him.
I love listening to old Jean Shepherd shows. For some reason, it works best when it’s dark out. When I can’t sleep, I pull up a late-night show from 50 years ago and it’s like Jean is talking directly to me. Across time and terrain, heartbreak and sorrow. The stories are the same. Some of the stuff Jean jokes about could have happened yesterday.
6:45am – A couple of women and a student call in from Griffith, Indiana, to promote a fundraiser on Saturday. They’re raising money for kids with cancer. They’ll have a bouncy house, carnival games, silent auctions.
“It’s supposed to snow on Saturday. For five bucks apiece, you can bring your kids to the Griffith fieldhouse and let them run around.”
8:05am – Breakfast at the counter of The Wheel Restaurant on Indianapolis Boulevard just off the exit of the 80-94 expressway. Lane Paradis, my Grateful Dead associate, joins me. He has coffee. I have eggs and potatoes. Tom White, recently retired from the insurance business, eats a huge omelette a couple stools over.
9am – A strenuous workout to melt away breakfast and six days in Key West. I gained a few pounds from drinking a lot of Bud Lights.
11am – I teach Sports Broadcasting 290. Students take their quiz. They each do a 60- to 90- second sports update. Twice. I sit at the end of the table and grade them. You could watch the video on Facebook Live, if you want.
1pm – Lane Paradis and I crowd into the “The Truth Booth.” It’s this little studio on rollers that we use to record commercials and promos. Rob Ellis built it. Since the main studio is in use, Lane and I have to go in The Truth Booth to record our podcast. It’s called, “This is Dead Air.” We haven’t done it in a while.
We did Hartford, October 15, 1983, first set. The best song is “Cold Rain and Snow.” That might be my favorite Grateful Dead song.
2:15pm – Judge Lorenzo Arredondo came into the studio with his sister and a few other people to buy some advertising. One of the guys is an old East Chicago guy.
“I listen to you every morning. Now how do I do this Facebook Live so I can see you.”
I instruct him how to do it.
“Maybe I’ll sign up for Facebook. I want to see you, if I can.”
That makes me feel good. The rest of the day I’m in a good mood because some old guy from East Chicago gets it.
3pm – I arrive at Dowling Park to announce a women’s softball game between Saginaw Valley State and Purdue Northwest. I’m just about to go on the air and I get tapped on the shoulder by one of my students, Auttumn Martinez. She used to play softball.
“Here, put this headset on.”
She does as told and sits with me for seven innings of a Division II softball game. Saginaw Valley State wins 4-2. For some reason, I fall in love with women’s softball. Nobody yells at the ump. The girls run their hearts out to first base. The game moves way faster than baseball. Since I, along with the other announcers in the WJOB fold, will be tasked with announcing baseball and softball games, I choose softball from now on. It’s not just because the games are way quicker. They’re easier to announce, also. The pace is better and you’re closer to the players.
There was one thing, though. It was sunny, for sure. But it was also 33 degrees out with a 20-to-30 mile an hour wind blowing off Lake Michigan. There is no enclosed broadcast booth, so Auttumn, producers Ben Cowert and Nick Hedrick and I froze our asses off. I wore longjohns and snow boots, turtleneck, sweatshirt and my Arctic-ready Columbia coat. I looked ridiculous in two wool hats and a scarf.
Several hours later, I am still cold.
5pm – I get a text from station manager Debbie Wargo and Ryan Walsh
“Craig’s playing for the White Sox on TV. He just struck out.”
So I go back to the WJOB studios and watch the rest of the White Sox game. I don’t get to see my nephew bat, but I do follow the box score on MLB.com. Craig got a hit in the first inning and then struck out three times.
I know exactly what he’s doing. He’s pressing. He wants to show the White Sox organization that he can hit the ball 500 feet, no problem. So he’s swinging as hard as he can. Hopefully the White Sox will give him enough chances so that he can sink into a rhythm. He’s 6-5 with a huge frame. And he’s mean enough to want to conquer. Maybe he’ll make it to the bigs, maybe he won’t. But it won’t be for lack of trying. He’s a rookie. The White Sox took him in the ninth round out of Indiana.
6:15pm – Alexis and I arrive at my sister’s house for nephew Jack’s 11th birthday. Nieces Megan, Katie, Annie and Maddy are there. So is my brother, Brian, and sister, Jennifer and her husband, Mark. Nephew Al is there. He’s 14, so I make fun of his new haircut. My daughter Jackie arrives. I film us singing Happy Birthday to Jack and we send the video to daughter Jeanie in New York City. She and her boyfriend Daniel Facetime us immediately.
This could very well be a completely warm Midwestern moment. The only blemish is that I am reminded that I have a daughter who lives in New York City. I haven’t seen her in months.
9pm – We arrive home. I check the number of views for the Purdue softball game – 2,000. This is surprising. Who are these people watching college softball? Basketball only got about a thousand views, or less sometimes. You never know where the views are gonna come from. It’s a mystery.
9:29pm – I start writing this blog to the three or four of you. I have been avoiding you because I’m thinking about something. It boils down to this.
I exist on a precipice. On one side, radio is failing. And quickly. On the other side, Facebook Live is expanding rapidly. I live in both worlds. I love radio, but it can’t go on like this. We may have to break up.