Not that it went off without a hitch. Around 4pm I woke up from a nap during the Wisconsin-Iowa game to the general anxiety and worry that you know all too well if you're in radio. There's a semi state football game coming on in an hour and I better go over to the station to make sure it gets on the air okay.
So I pulled myself off the couch and drove down Columbia Avenue listening to Geno - yowza yowza - play some bandstand music live on WJOB. Hmm, I thought, that's weird. We should be airing the pre game for the Andrean semi state vs. Fort Wayne Luers. So in my reverie and confusion, I hung a right a little too quickly onto 173rd and caught the curb and got a flat tire.
Not a bad enough flat that I couldn't drive. Just flat enough that it hurt to go over potholes and it felt like my head was tilting to the right.
I drove slowly and finally made it to the new studio, the one glowing beautifully along Indianapolis Boulevard, the one with the new studio furniture, hanging lights, bright blue background. It's really a peaceful and creative setting when it's dark out and you feel like you're the only person in the world doing radio.
I walked in to the new studio and there was afternoon host Ron and 40-year-old intern Noah standing at the board. Ron was showing Noah how to line up the football spots in the right order on the computer and in the background you could hear Ryan Walsh doing the pre game some 160 miles away.
"Sounds pretty good, huh?" Ron asked when he saw me.
"Sure does. But is it on the radio?"
All three of scrambled to turn on the little boom box in the studio that's tuned to AM1230 WJOB... and there was Geno playing some Everly Brothers - yowza yowza - and not Ryan Walsh doing pre game for the semi state football matchup.
"What the hell," Harlow said. He tried calling Geno at the old studio to tell him to stop with his music show and switch over to channel 7 on the board. That's where Ryan would be doing his pre game. But Geno didn't answer his phone.
So in a surreal radio moment, Ryan was broadcasting from the press box in Fort Wayne, thinking he was live on WJOB back in Hammond. Ron and Noah were sitting in the glow of the new studio listening to Ryan do his pre game on the studio monitor, thinking, like Ryan, that the pre game was beaming out from the tower.
And Geno was back in the old studio - yowza yowza - finishing up his bandstand music show, waiting for the cue to switch over to the football game.
"Stay here," I told Ron and Noah. "I'll drive to the old studio and tell Geno to stop and turn on the game."
I said this with complete confidence that I could drive the seven blocks to the old studio in a couple or minutes in time to broadcast the rest of Ryan's pre game.
But then I tried to pull out of the Purdue Commercialization Center where the new studio is on to Indianapolis Boulevard. No can do. Every Region Rat with a car must have been out tonight heading for a pizza or to visit grandma. For a good two minutes, I couldn't even leave the parking lot.
And when I finally could - thump, thump, thump. The semi- flat tire had turned into a real flat tire.
Luckily, there's a gas station just a couple blocks south of the new station, so I pulled in there - thump, thump, thump - to get some air for the tire. And parked in the one spot where there's an air station was a station wagon full of a mom and dad in the front seat and a baker's dozen of kids in the two back seats. What they were waiting for, I have no idea. A couple polite honks didn't get them to move, so I pulled up next to dad and after a brief staredown he slowly drifted out of the air station. I filled up the tire and then sped north on the Boulevard - no more thump, thump, thump - to the old station.
I whipped into the station, yelling - "Geno, answer your damn phone."
"I turn it off while I'm on the air."
"Well put it on freaking vibrate. They tried to call you a hundred times."
Geno looked at his phone. Yep, a hundred phone calls. But then again someone was supposed to show up at the old studio to tell him when to quit playing music and switch over to the game. I'm not sure who, but someone.
Geno flicks on channel 7. There's Ryan finishing with his introduction of the starting lineups, completely oblivious to the fact that the 20 minutes of engaging pre game that he has just concluded didn't make it on the air. Ryan goes on to announce a three-hour game from a tiny press box 160 miles away. Alexis and I do what Geno and Mary Olene and Ron and Noah and thousands of other Region Rats do with their Saturday night - we stare at a radio while Andrean drives down to the Luers 16 yard line in the last minute.
The drive stalls. Out runs the Andrean kicker to boot an improbable 33-yard-field goal in the last minute on a rain-soaked field. Alexis and I cheer at our kitchen table. Geno and Mary Olene do the same in their den. At the new studio Ron and the 40-year-old intern high-five each other. Guys in Hawks jerseys honk their horns outside bars. Andrean wins, radio wins.. and Ryan's none the wiser that the four hours of prep he did for his pre game show tonight didn't even make it on the air.
So don't tell him.