It’s a great time of the year to be local radio guy, especially if you’re into basketball.
On Sunday, Alexis and I went to W. Lafayette for the Purdue-Penn State game. The Boilers pulled it out 76-73 to end a three-game skid that nobody saw coming. After winning 19 in a row, you expect more. For three games, you got less.
Last night at the Sportsmanship Dinner, Dave Kusiak, my partner in a lot of crime, said:
“You watch. If Purdue goes on to make a run in the NCAA tournament, they’ll look back on these three losses as the reason why.”
It is, of course, on everyone’s mind that Purdue could make a run in the NCAA tourney. We all have our fingers crossed, including my wife of 26 years. Somehow, she has become a huge basketball fan.
“What did you think was gonna happen? While we were dating, you took me to a game a week. And it never stopped. I just went along with the program.”
I don’t know who’s the bigger fan, Alexis or me. I’ll come back from class in the evening and Alexis will be walking the treadmill while watching the Wisconsin-Michigan State game.
“Oh my god. Wisconsin was winning by 10 and now they’re down by 5. This is bad,” she’ll shout as I walk in the door.
“And the refs are horrible."
We went down to W. Lafayette and stayed the night in a Baymont Inn. I didn’t know that you could still get a hotel room in America for $71 a night. We checked in, ate dinner at Mountain Jack’s, and drove to Mackey Arena. We have two seats on media row and also two regular seats. Alexis and I sat on media row.
“Man, that was a great game. You ready to go?” I said.
“What? Aren’t we going to the press conference?”
So we sat in the second row of a press conference that started out with players Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline and Dakota Mathias answering questions. Then Penn State coach Pat Chambers took his turn. Finally, Purdue coach Matt Painter came in.
“Rebounding. That’s what we have to worry about. Rebounding,” Painter said. I didn’t ask any questions. It was late. I just wanted to get back to the hotel room and watch Sportscenter.
“You didn’t ask any questions,” Alexis said on the long walk behind Ross-Ade Stadium. “If your dad was here, he would have asked questions.”
That’s true. My dad goes to the games a lot and reports to me what’s going on. I use his info on the morning show. Sometimes my dad asks questions. He’s the old guy with the gray beard who knows basketball but won’t shut up. That’s my dad, and I’m proud of that.
Last night, it was more basketball. They had the 64th annual Sportsmanship Dinner at the Halls of St. George in Schererville. It’s when 800 people, including players from 29 teams, break bread and listen to speeches. IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox said it best:
“I get the opportunity to travel all over this great country. I meet with my colleagues in other states. When I tell him about 800 people getting together before the state tournament every year, they can’t believe it. This is truly an unique experience.”
I’ve talked about my experiences with the Sportsmanship Banquet before, how I screwed around so much in high school that I missed the true meaning of the thing.
After the dinner last night, Dave Kusiak and Billy Baker and I and a bunch of other guys in sport coats retired to the bar to tell stories. That’s where what I may have made a fatal mistake – I put my two cents in.
As the three or four of you know, I put together with Chris Ramirez of the Region Sports Network a plan to broadcast live in video most of the games of the upcoming IHSAA boys basketball tournament. It should be about 20 games total. It will be a lot of work and I may wind up losing my shirt. Still, it’s the right thing to do. I introduced Facebook Live to the Region. It’s my responsibility to use it for good.
And make no mistake. The Indiana boys high school basketball tournament is good and pure and beautiful, just like radio.
“Hey, I don’t normally do this, but I’m gonna suggest something to you guys,” I said to Billy Baker and Ernie Nims.
“You gotta make a show of this,” I said.
For 64 years, they’ve put a bunch of old mostly white guys at a big head table on a stage. The old men talk and talk, and the young boys sit at the tables, bored and their minds wandering. They may even try to pay attention. But it’s difficult. The old men say things like –
“Reach across the table and meet the players from the other teams. They are your partners in combat. Some will become lifelong friends.”
Kids don’t wanna hear that. They want video of themselves playing in last year’s sectional. They want highlight dunks, long threes. When you introduce some old guy, flash some photos on a screen of him wearing really tight shorts in the 70s. Play music, flash some lights.
I told this to Billy Baker and Ernie Nims.
“And here’s the kicker,” I said. “I just put together a deal in which we're gonna broadcast almost all of the games from the four main sectionals around here. For the first time in history, you’ll have video to work with. You could put together a killer show for kids and sponsors.”
As I was saying it, I realized that no matter how this goes down, I may have just created a bunch of work for myself. I can feel it.
“Why don’t you cut up the highlights as you go along so we’ll have them?” Baker asked.
As the three or four of you also know, I’m a softie. Whatever it costs, I’ll charge just under cost so that I lose money on whatever we come up with. The solution here is to provide the video to them free of charge, line them up with someone who could bring in lights, huge video screens, speakers for the music, and so one. Let that person track down each honoree for photos and videos of themselves… and then get out of the way. I told them how it needs to be done. I don’t have to do it for them.
Anyways, it’s 4:45 am on a Tuesday. I didn’t do the radio show yesterday. It was Presidents Day. Rick Kubic did a great job filling in.
“What is this? When JED does the show, there’s 19 producers around. When I do the show, I get Panek,” Kubic said.
It’s a Tuesday, so Verlie will come in. I have been thinking a lot about Facebook vs. radio. As the three or four of you read in my last blog post, regulation is the key to making it fair for radio and for protecting our American democracy –
Radio = chains
Facebook = freedom.
When I get the time, which won’t be soon, I’ll address the general mission of radio vs. Facebook. At the core of Facebook’s freedom is that they don’t really choose what content will be on their platform. Radio does, by law. I’ll explain to you how I think that this is the basis for the competitive advantage that Facebook has. I won’t go into it right now because I have to eat a couple of eggs, put on some pants, and do a radio show. Talk to you later.