As the three or four of you know – and so do a few broadcasting students 50 years from now – that I do the morning radio show here in northwest Indiana. I start talking about 5:30 and end usually around 8:30. It’s about three hours a day on average for the morning show.
- do the morning show
- run a media company
The truth is, however, I don’t narrow to these two things. I keep dabbling in a host of other media that will most likely never pan out, never make any money. It doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t do them. It just means that you gotta temper your expectations.
This blog, for instance. It is possible that one day people will join the three or four and read what I have to say about the death of radio. The odds are, however, that I will be dead and gone and so will you. I write this blog, I’m realizing, for three audiences:
- the three or four of you (you’re at the top of the list)
- broadcasting students at a small liberal arts college on the East coast in 50 years
As I lay out to you what I’m doing, I often figure out where to go next. It’s that simple. You might think that I have a general plan of how to accomplish what it is I want to do, but you have to figure out what you want to accomplish before you know what to do. You help me with that.
Think about the students 50 years from now. I could lay out a general outline of what it’s like to own a couple radio stations as they slowly die – and what it’s like to give birth to the Region’s first TV station. But I would have a hard time trying to explain the context in which we’re doing this.
Over the weekend, the Senate of the United States confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. This is a milestone. It marks something. It means almost nothing to say these days that we are a divided nation. We are. There’s two teams and only two teams. You’re on one or the other, whether you want to be or not.
There’s hate. There’s partisanship. There’s racism. There’s entitlement. Is the populist nationalism a reaction to having a black (half-black) president for eight years? Is it a natural reaction? Do we swing one way and then the other? Is there danger in our midst?
This is why I’m kinda pissed that Kurt Vonnegut is dead. Why’d he have to go die? He could pen a sardonic salute to a president who hears no blame… through no fault but not his own. He could make fun of women in purple fishnet outfits and he could light up a whole bay with his Goldwater sign. We need Kurt Vonnegut now more than ever. What’d he have to go and die for?
I find myself reading Vonnegut and listening to old Jean Shepherd tapes. I don’t know why. I’m hearken back to the 50s and 60s. I have more of an affinity with men of that time than of my own. I want to put on a tight black suit with a skinny black tie and sit around sipping whiskey and smoking cigarettes. I want to kiss a woman who smells like an ashtray. I want to go down six stairs to a seedy blues bar under a Laundromat and listen to legends that will beat time.
I want simplicity
a well-lit five and dime.
I want burgers, fries
a shake, a jukebox.
I want saddle shoes
it’s really all the same.
One talks of god and
the other talks no
Once you start rhyming or thinking about the 50s and 60s, you can’t get away from it. By the time you fold the newspaper, you’re finished with your shit.
Stand on your head
look at the bed
forget the hand that
Blanket your soul,
pay the toll,
lose the friends who do
This is not one of the blog entries in which I figure out which way to head next. I have a pretty good idea these days what I want to accomplish. It’s simple. I want to give northwest Indiana and Chicago’s southland a TV station. It’s getting clearer in my head what I want to do.
For a long time, I just wanted to survive as a couple of radio stations. That was hard enough. If it wasn’t for me paying myself below market rate, we’d probably be dead in the water. We survived. We endured. Now what?
It’s not really a business proposition, at least not yet. I’m going to business school to get better at running a business. That should help in trying to give the Region a TV station.
But my end-all isn’t to make money. I wish it was. That would make it so much simpler.
Do A to make B.
Make C to pay for D.
Hire E to do F.
Give G H’s job.
It’s all to make money, to have more to spend on things you want. I already have everything I need. I’m typing on a computer right now on a bed in the guest room. My pretty wife with a judge’s job sleeps a dozen feet away. A sliding door separates us.
There’s three cars in the driveway, an air conditioner around back, a picnic table on the patio and gutters on the house. We just got a new refrigerator, dryer and microwave. In a month, we’ll be getting on a plane to visit our daughter who lives in New York. We go out to eat whenever we want.
This describes my life, but it could also apply to your life. Unless you’re a starving artist or a single mother, you too probably have gutters and a car, do vacations and play guitar, got a microwave and a refrigerator. These are staples of our time, even if you’re poor.
They were not staples of the time that won’t let me go – the 50s and 60s. Then, you might not have had a refrigerator and you were lucky if the family had one car. Vacations may have meant driving to Aunt Cindy’s a few hours away. Life was simpler. You didn’t have as much pressure to have.
My point is that it is not need that I work to satisfy. We are not rich. We are just comfortable Americans. I was, twice in my life, kinda wealthy. But that got old. It’s possible that I sabotaged myself just enough to fall back to the middle. I like it here. It’s warm and not lonely.
Besides, you can look yourself in the mirror and sleep at night. At times, roaming around the 1 percent, I felt like I was wearing someone else’s underwear. And that’s not a good feeling. You’ll do anything to find and put on your own underwear. Yuk.
The trick now is to do something meaningful. It has been that way for a long time. You could say that every morning when I talk on the radio and do things that allow other people to talk on the radio and to do videos that I’m doing good. I believe this to be true.
But it’s not that good. I could do more. I feel it in my gut that hangs over my beltline. I could give the Region something it doesn’t have and that lasts. A TV station. I can build one. I have the experience and the knowledge and the drive. The one thing that I don’t have enough of these days is money. And I’ll find that.
So that’s where it is this Columbus Day, 2018. I won’t do the show in a couple of hours. Chuck Pullen will. He often does the show on Monday holidays. It gives me a chance to catch up on things like developing a vision and editing my Grateful Dead podcast.
Besides, how much can you talk about Donald Trump and all that he is doing without taking a break? It’s exhausting. I can’t imagine how he must feel living the life of constant return. I’m exhausted just poking fun at him. He must be exhausted always trying to find things to do that you can poke fun at. Life is a circle. Where’s the point?