If you wanna make God laugh, tell him your plans. And if you wanna make him wince, write a blog.
That's kinda how I feel about this whole thing. Who gives a shit what I have to say about radio, what it means to me, how it's declining six percent a year and may wither away someday? Like God or anyone else really gives a shit.
As you can probably tell by the meager amount of blogging that I've done this month - I hate writing this freaking thing. And I don't know why.
It's not like I don't know how to journal. I'm one of these closet journalers. Sometimes I write pages and pages of just bullshit and then at the end of all of it I feel just a little bit better and can start my day or go to bed, whichever is next. Somehow doing radio four hours a day or so has somehow taken over the journaling. It's as if one way or another I have to vomit up a certain amount of words or I'll get Jimmy leg before I go to bed. You lay in bed looking at the ceiling fan listening to old Bee Gees songs and figuring out how tired you're gonna be the next day... (click Read more below)
Anyways, it's time to go to bed so I can get up and do another radio show. And I'm trying to figure out why I'm having so much trouble sitting down to write a blog. I don't know why. I can punch out a thousand words, no problem. I used to journal at least that many every day when I traded. And I served as publisher of my own newspaper for a few years and would pump out thousands of words in a week.
But when it comes to writing about radio - who gives a shit? That's how I feel. Who gives a shit? It's a dying art, like plastering and making buggy whips. I'm getting better and better at it. I can feel that. But I'm getting better at something that's dying. Once again, as with pit trading.
So here I am sitting in bed doing exactly what I did 40 years ago. I'm listening to the radio on my nightstand to music. I punched "Singer-Songwriter" in to my Pandora and up comes "Brandy" and "Tiny Dancer" and "Doctor My Eyes." And I think to meself - Shit, this could be 40 years ago. Same songs. Radio on the nightstand. Can't sleep. Worried about my future. Where shall I belong?
Of course, back then it was listening to WLS out of Chicago. And now it's a stream on my Android phone. But it's all the same when you can't sleep. Maybe that's where this love for radio originates from - insomnia. There's insomniacs all over the world listen to little boxes or phones or computers that push out words, songs, commercials, bumpers, ID's. A closeness with those words, however fleeting, for at least as long as it takes to fall asleep.
There I go again romanticizing radio. And it's supposed to be a business for me. What I want to tell you about is that we're learning a little about podcasting. We still don't have it right. I can tell. But I can also tell that we're closing in on it. For now, we're posting way too much shit radio. Why do we continue to post a 7-minute podcast when Mad Mac calls in to argue with me? Or Granola Bob? These are good callers but nobody listens to those podcasts. There's quality and something genuine that we have in a general sense and I probably have to do a web-only podcast and draw on little clips from the morning show and the whole thing will be much more listenable. A relationship on the nightstand.
So I wonder what year Jackson Browne's "Runnin' on Empty" came out. There's a hint in there. "In 65 I was 17." I wonder directly if I ever laid in my bed as a 13-year-old closet late-night radio listener and if Runnin on Empty would have been one of the songs I listened to. There was always sound. If it wasn't Larry Lujack and WCFL then I'd turn off the radio and listen to the train a few blocks away. The comforting sound of a faraway train. The comforting warmth of a radio on the nightstand. They equate somewhere in a land in which you can go to sleep when you want to. Otherwise, you just gotta wait it out.
So it really did take it out of me this morning. All the controversy and the zillion calls and then Don Koliboski of the Lake County Alliance calling to say that no one's calling him back about moving their businesses to Indiana. Then the mayor of Hammond, Tom McDermott, calling to announce that he's asking governor Mike Pence to step down for his buffoonery in coming up with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And also Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star calling in to tell that the NCAA is thinking of moving out of Indy. It's good stuff, really, and it's spilling over onto the CNN shows and Bill O'Reilly tackling it too. Gays and lesbians all over the place all pissed off. And heavy Christians digging their heels in too. It makes for great radio but I don't know why I get the feeling that it's all kind of made up. Really. A week ago none of us were even talking about RFRA and now it's really the only thing you can catch on the television or the radio. What is real and what is not? I have no freaking idea. You tell me.
For now, it's "My Girl" by The Temptations. I've got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May. I'm pretty sure that's real, 40 years ago and now. I'm half expecting to wake up and I can't find my clip-on tie and my mom's making Eggo Waffles with a side of Tang and I'll get a chance to be mean to my little brothers and Leo Chruby the next-door neighbor will walk through the door to ask my long-dead mother for ten bucks for a pack of smokes. There I go again, using radio to link to things that it is definitely not. A colorful kitchen scene 40 years ago, and the only way I can cut through the death, pain, bankruptcy, longing and grief of it all is to build a bridge starting with the radio on my nightstand.
Go figure. Don't reread it or you'll never hit "Post."