Typically, after doing the morning radio show, I hang around and talk with Ryan, Sam, Debbie, Christina, Jimmy and anyone waiting to go on next as guests. Today, I showed up at 530 or so, put on the wireless microphone, walked outside and did a half hour of outside radio.
It’s not a happy day. The cellphone video of the Las Vegas shooting is about as horrific as it gets. People just hanging out at a concert, jamming to a country melody, and then there’s these pops. You can’t tell what they are at first, and neither can the people on the stage or in the audience. Then it sets in. The performers run off the stage. People scatter. Some can’t scatter because they’ve been shot. What a nightmare.
As it’s coming out all over the news, I have to put on the microphone and start talking. Most of the time I roam around in front of the window along Indianapolis Boulevard for the first half hour just goofing off. That’s what I do. I goof off.
But not today. In accounting, there is thing called the “matching principle.” It holds that expenses should be recorded as they occur, regardless of when the money changes hands.
There is a “matching principle” in radio also. That’s when events should be addressed as they occur, regardless of whether or not you feel like dealing with them.
And I did not feel like dealing with the Las Vegas mass shooting this morning. None of us do.
I am carrying also the death of two women in my family over the weekend. My uncle Duane’s wife, Connie Brewster Dedelow, passed away on Saturday, In a separate incident, my aunt Kay Rex passed away. They were both in their seventies. They died within a couple of hours of each other and lived within a few blocks of each other in Crown Point.
My dad called me about 10pm last night to talk about it. That’s what I went to bed with. Sadness. Memories. Death.
And woke up to mayhem on channel 2. You know right away when there’s something really big happening. That’s because Jeff Glor is there on channel 2 telling you about it. At 4:30 in the morning when I first saw Jeff, the death toll was 20. By the time I went on the air at 5:30, the number was 50 – with more than 200 wounded. These are battlefield numbers.
It turns out that the guy was shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort. He was picking people off with automatic weapons. They never had a chance.
There have been other shootings brought up to me in the last couple of days. On Saturday, Alexis and I were driving south on US 41 when we both noticed at the same time that the Kmart was still vacant.
“That place could just never bounce back from the shooting,” Alexis remarked.
“It didn’t help that the name was just too easy – ‘Killer Kmart,’” I said.
The shooting happened in the 1980s. A young man took a rifle and walked across the street to the Kmart and started shooting people in the parking lot. Alexis and I talked about it, what we could remember at least.
Then this morning, Bill Baker said on the air – “This reminds me of that clock tower shooting in the mid-60s. Remember when that former Marine went up on the tower and just started shooting people. Kind of the same thing.”
… In the end, when there’s this kind of tragedy, you still have to go on the air. Actually, it’s when this kind of tragedy happens, it’s more important than ever that you go on the air.
It’s just that when you have such a close relationship with your listeners and watchers on Facebook Live, you can’t come to them with a false cheeriness. You can conjure up whatever pleasantness that is in you naturally, but you can’t cheerlead for us to all come together and you can’t tell off-color jokes. You just gotta be there to reassure people that you’re there and that WJOB is there and that the sun’s out and the school busses will run and there will be traffic at some point today on the Borman Expressway.
Don’t underestimate the power of routine in the face of tragedy. And, like it or not, as the morning radio host, I am part of people’s routines. I played my part. I did the traffic and weather and took a bunch of phone calls. My childhood chump of a buddy came in and we did not yuk it up like we normally do. It was a subdued broadcast. And then I came home to heat up a couple pieces of John’s Pizza, which is comfort food like no other.
We did get a couple of good news phone calls. One guy called in to talk about the Cancer Resource Center walk yesterday. He said there was a bunch of walkers and it was a class event. Of course it was. Anthony Nardella runs it.
And Charlie called in. On Thursday, he had called to say that he was bleeding from his butt – “what should I do?”
I of course prompted him to call an ambulance. Stubborn Region Rat that he is, he insisted on his wife driving him to the Hammond Clinic Urgent Care.
Charlie called in today to say that as soon as he go to the Hammond Clinic, they threw him in an ambulance and took him to Franciscan in Munster, where they did an emergency operation on his colon. With any luck, he’ll go home today. He sounded a lot better on the line today than he did on Thursday.
Also, Adrian Santos called in with decent news. If the three or four of you remember, Adrian had been calling in to update us on the plight of his parents, who were caught in the hurricane in Puerto Rico. Adrian shared with us on the phone his frustration that his mom and stepdad wouldn’t get off the island. Adrian and his sister were gonna pay for the flights, but they wouldn’t leave their house.
It turns out that they stayed in their house, and it didn’t blow over. But the neighbor’s house did. We know this because over the weekend, the parents flew back to Chicago. Adrian and his sister met them as they walked out of the gates at Midway. He told the story well, almost made even Billy Baker tear up.
… That’s enough for this morning for the three or four of you. I had a bunch of other stuff to say on the morning show and I had a bunch of other stuff I was holding in my head to blog to you on the next go-around. But it’s all for naught. There is death in the air and there’s nothing that you and I can do about it.