There’s no real easy way to explain why a radio host has to make him or herself stay away from the microphone once in a while.
It’s more than burnout, which I certainly had when I walked out of the studio on Friday, June 28. It’s now Sunday, July 8, and I haven’t talked on the radio that whole time.
Ostensibly, I took the time off to build a TV station. But as it turns out, TV wasn’t built in nine days. It’s gonna take a lot more than nine days. I had planned that by the end of the week we would be broadcasting live for 12 hours and 30 minutes every day to our own website. This isn’t happening. We’re not even close. At every turn, we run into a technical problem. I spent half the week trying to get a $12,000 video play-out computer to talk to a monitor. It’s very frustrating.
Outside of building a TV station, I had planned to reenergize my soul. This we have been successful at. I know this because yesterday on the way back from a wedding, Alexis and I were sitting at the stoplight at US 30 and 41, and I turned to her –
“I’m ready to go back.”
“I can tell,” she said.
True, I was burned out on radio. I could feel it for a while that I needed to walk away for a little bit. Doing radio is good and pure and beautiful – until it’s not. Sometimes, especially when you’ve got something on your mind, it’s not as good and pure and beautiful. This was the case through June for me.
What is on my mind is building a TV station. We’re getting close and the TV is taking up all of my time not on the air. This is a problem. To be a good radio host, you basically have to give your life to it. As soon as you put the headphones down at the end of the show, your mind starts gathering stuff for tomorrow’s show.
That’s if your mind is reasonably clear. This is a similar phenomenon to what I lived at the Chicago Board of Trade. As soon as you walked out of the pit at 2pm, you started thinking about the next trade. Then the Board of Trade added night trading, so sometimes I would stay for that. Then the Board of Trade added overnight trading on the computer. So I installed a bank of computers in my home. And then I hired a few guys to trade my account overnight.
Really what happened was that after a while I was in the market ALL THE TIME. There was never a time when I didn’t have a position on. It was a recipe for disaster. I realized at some point that I was going to lose all of my money AND ruin my body and perhaps my mind. I sold my seats and walked out of the Board of Trade building. I took the train home, changed my cellphone number, and didn’t answer emails. It was the only way to escape the addiction.
Now, I have what you might call a healthy addiction. It is WJOB. Still, at times I have to walk away from talking on the radio.
This was a good week to do it. The 4thof July fell on Wednesday. That meant that I only had to take off four days from the show. Here’s the lineup producer Ryan Walsh put together:
Monday – Dave Kusiak
Tuesday – Verlie Suggs
Thursday – Ryan Walsh and Jimmy Mullaney
Friday – Sam Michel
There’s several more people who will also fill in when I’m not on the air. This is a good thing. For a long time, it all fell on Dave Kusiak. If he couldn’t make it, then I couldn’t take off.
Usually, when I take a few days off from doing the show, it’s so that Alexis and I can go somewhere or I go to a media conference. Not this time. The main reason, besides talk rest, was that I wanted in nine days to build a TV station.
I basically have five people working on this – Christina Figueroa, Darya Marox, Mark Perez, Will Haczel and Jimmy Mullaney. Three are college students and two are recent PNW grads. It’s a pretty good team to build a TV station. I thought that if I just took four days off from doing the morning show that we could finish building the station. Boy, was I wrong.
It’s a lot bigger task than I anticipated. What the new station is is 12 hours and 30 minutes of programming each day. We have built another studio within the WJOB compound on the campus of Purdue Northwest. At the TV studio, we can do a lot of things, including do studio broadcasts and play video commercials. We can also schedule video to play when no one is there.
It has taken a lot of years to get it to this point, and I thought that if I took a few days off of doing my morning show that we could be broadcasting to our website by the end of the week. I was wrong.
We worked it hard, at least for the beginning of the week. But at some point I realized that whole world was on vacation for Thursday and Friday of last week. This put a dent in what I wanted to get accomplished.
I realized, ultimately, that I gotta take a step back in the construction of this TV feed and the website. I’m pushing it way too hard in my head. Part of the reason for that is money. We have put out a ton of money to buy computers, software, converters, cameras, tripods, lights and more to get to this point. And I have put in thousands of hours and have paid out thousands of hours. The bill is adding up and the quicker I can get the TV station up and running, the quicker we can sell commercials.
This is only part of the challenge. The other is that I have five really talented people working on the TV project over the summer. Three of them go back to school in the Fall – Christina, Darya and Will. Theirs is a pending deadline to get the bulk of the work done.
Another factor is me. I have had this vision to give northwest Indiana a TV station for eight years. Chuck Pullen and Istarted streaming video in 2010. That’s right. The various hosts were having trouble with where to put the dials on the mixer. So we put a camera in there so we could monitor how they turned the dials. We posted the live video feed on a remote page on our website and lo and behold people watched it.
It was early on that I realized that NWIndiana and the south suburbs of Chicago craved video. I have known and have tested for almost eight years their hunger for video. Now, I have to deliver it in a packaged fashion. It’s eight years of working on a project and we’re so close that I can taste it.
We’re so close, in fact, that I just want to rush through the final stages and get it done. I am impatient beyond description. Typically, when I take time off from doing the radio show, I come back with one thing that I gotta work on. This time, it’s patience.
Yes, patience. As the three or four of you who read my blog know, patience is not my forte. It just isn’t. I can talk a good game about just letting the world roll out how it wants to in front of you. But in the end, when I want something, I want it now. Especially as we get close to it.
The thing I learned from taking these four days off of the show is that I gotta take my time. I gotta back off from the big push to get this thing done. Take a deep breath and accept the risk that is inherent in putting out a bunch of money as you develop a new product. Accept that it might not work. Accept that it might. Accept that it’s gonna take more time than you want. Accept everything.
So it’s Sunday morning, July 8, 2018. It’s 6:21am. And the realization that I have come to is this –
Yes, I have to back off on this pressure that I’m putting on myself to come up with some sort of minimum viable product to show potential advertisers. Take it easy. Relax. Play with the machines. Let the young talent do their thing. Ask them where we should head. Let the project unfold.
That should be enough for a Sunday morning in July. It’s the last day without a microphone… unless of course I can’t stand it and I ride my bike down to the station and play a few records. Thanks for listening to me, the three or four of you, sometimes I just gotta write it out to someone.