It’s 2:45 on a Monday morning. You’re asleep. I wish I was. In a couple hours I’ll be standing on Indianapolis Boulevard yelling at trucks. You’ll be waking up. Hope you wake up with me on your nightstand.
If not, so be it. Perhaps you prefer reading my ramblings than listening to them. That’s okay. These ramblings will no doubt outlast my radio ramblings. So let’s eat a couple waffles and admire the audacity of 18-wheelers headed for the highway in the early morning.
Headed for the
light shows the way. Headlights
help, but nothing beats sun on
the early quay.
The ongoing struggle in this blog is how I handle the slow death of radio. Sometimes I handle it better than other times.
Sometimes I want to turn my back on radio and totally embrace new technologies bent on replacing it.
Sometimes I want to rededicate to radio no matter what the fate of it is.
Most of the time I’m totally confused. These are the parts that you read about. My confusion. My doubt. My hesitation. My struggle. I hope it doesn’t bore you to death or make you feel like you gotta take a shower. At any rate, there’s three or four of you and that’s good enough for me.
But three or four is not good enough for radio. You need many thousands to carry this trick off. So in the interest of ratings, I’m gonna turn on the TV to help figure out what’s going on in the world. It’s not easy.
Every night, from the Democrat side, there’s talk of impeachment. From the Republican side, there’s a fascination with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. I understand this fascination. I danced up to a hot Mexican chick 30 years ago. Uptight white guys are finally following suit en masse to understand the wonders of brown.
I can't believe
that she is still
with me. I feel like I'm
the most boring person
in the whole world.
There’s just as much going on at the local level, although this doesn’t get nearly as much coverage. As a matter of fact, much of the really good stuff doesn’t get any coverage.
Gary mayor Karen Freeman Wilson came on my show the other day and said that three white guys from outside Gary got together to primary her out of office.
This was revelatory, at least to me. I suppose there’s all sorts of political nutscratchers who had already heard this. But it played out on the air in a weird way.
It was Tuesday, so that means Verlie was on the air with me. We bicker in the early morning. In the midst of it, Verlie called out these people as targeting the longtime mayor to get her out of office.
“That can’t be true” I said with amazement, feigned or otherwise.
“Ask the mayor yourself. She comes on with you at 8am.”
So there were two things newsworthy to me. 1. that three powerful rich white guys might ban together to go after mayor Freeman-Wilson. 2. that mayor Freeman-Wilson was coming on the air with me that morning.
And, yes, in her appearance, mayor Freeman-Wilson said it -
Tom Collins – He’s a really rich white guy. I don’t know if he has yet discovered the wonders of brown. But he is a white guy, so maybe it’s only a matter of time.
Mayor Karen told a story about Collins being on a board in Gary, abruptly leaving it, and then coming back seven years later wanting to be part of the huge casino deal. Freeman Wilson says she told him “no.” So he took some of his many sheckles and got her voted out of office.
Tom McDermott – He’s the mayor of Hammond.
“Why would the mayor of Hammond get involved in the race for mayor of Gary?” I asked mayor Karen.
“You’ll have to ask him that.” Mayor Karen said that she wouldn’t get involved in races in, say, East Chicago or Hammond.
This is a curious situation. Is mayor McDermott plotting a run for higher office? Perhaps he’ll take a run at longtime congressman Pete Visclosky. McDermott certainly has a ton of political capital right now.
As far as the two Toms… I really don’t care nearly as much about what they do as what Chris White does. He’s the publisher of The Times newspaper.
As the three of you know – and thank you for staying up with me – I struggle with whether we at WJOB should start taking sides. It seems to be the thing to do these days. As media, you can pick a side and then slant your coverage to make your side look better and the other side look worse.
This is, in effect, what the Times newspaper did leading up to the Gary primary. They came out early and loudly and endorsed Freeman Wilson’s challenger, Jerome Prince. And then The Times did a several-day series of articles that talked about poverty, decay and crime in Gary. And there is a ton of each in Gary. Maybe there’s more in Gary than in any city in America.
is calling you.
What you gonna do? We
could continue this. Or
you could answer.
I have yet to get Tom, Tom or Chris on the air to discuss mayor Karen’s accusations. I will try. I really don’t give two shits who the mayor of Gary is or if Tom Collins and Tom McDermott schemed to support a mayoral challenger. It’s a decent news story and I’ll cover it. But that’s as far as it goes.
What tweaks me is the accusation against Chris White, the publisher of The Times, and Marc Chase, the editor. It’s an interesting ethical dilemma and a question of strategy.
First, should a media pick a candidate and try to get that person elected? In the old days, you’d get hung up by your toenails for doing this. Julian Colby, the former owner of WJOB, would run down the hallway and slap you across the face if you stumped for a candidate on his airways (without them paying for it.)
But nowadays, media partisanship is what happens every day at the national level. Fox chooses Trump. CNN and MSNBC choose anybody but Trump. It’s an ongoing national drama and it’s interesting as hell. The three or four of you know this. If you can’t sleep, you might be watching The Show right now.
2. Should local media follow suit and choose sides?
This is an interesting question. The Washington Post chooses sides. Why shouldn’t The Times of Northwest Indiana? Maybe it’s just inevitable that choosing sides works its way to the local level.
Where does this leave me? This is what you really want to know.
My first inclination is to stick to my guns. I learned media in the 80s. I went to Occidental and Berkeley and took classes at the University of Chicago and Northwestern. Put it all together and it's the equivalent of a community college J-school degree.
I also apprenticed to the best newsman the Region has ever known – Larry Petersen – and worked under the czar-like reign of Julian Colby and Judy Grambo at WJOB. I also wrote Sports for The Times for five years.
In all of this, I was taught to not be a part of the story. You could say your opinion when you’re hosting a talk show or writing an opinion column – but news stories and the media itself should remain relatively impartial.
Maybe this is all changing.
Find me a plan.
The din of voices below
Won't tell me where to go.
A writer's search.
As the three or four of you know, I write this blog not only for your enjoyment but also for students of the future. I get this picture in my head of a group of students at a small liberal arts college on the East coast doing their senior project in a class called “The History of Journalism.” They’re looking and looking for a topic when one of them stumbles on my blog. They stay up late reading my ramblings, smoke some weed, and get an “A” on the project.
And for the next 50 years no one thinks of me until it happens again.
For these students 50 years from now – perhaps NOW is the moment when journalism changed. It went from perfection of independence to selection of interdependence.
Mark today - May 20th, 2019. It is the day the we realized and accepted at the local level that you could – and should – take sides. It is the day that journalism died. Something else that resembles journalism took its place.
You can play nine
whores with one club
and remain disease free.
Take a shower after.
That is the key.
The three or four of you know me. You know that I screw around. On the air. In this blog. Standing at a urinal taking a pee. Tickling my wife before bed. I just want a few laughs before I die.
But I’m serious about this. If what Karen Freeman-Wilson says is true – and the visual evidence of what appeared in The Times does not contradict her – then maybe it’s time for all of us in the media - at the local level even - to take sides.
What should we take sides on?
How about this – everything. That’s what MSNBC does. That’s what Fox does. Why shouldn’t The Times do it. And, of course, why shouldn’t WJOB do it.
I will ponder the fate of WJOB’s independence as I fry up two eggs and toast a couple of waffles.
“You’re a puerca. Your portions are too large,” my wife often reminds me.
I am a pig, a former athlete, a brother, son, father, uncle, cousin, husband, landscaper, golfer, friend, blogger, jogger and, at times, a heavy drinker. I know what all of these mean.
But what confounds me is this – what does it mean these days to be a journalist? I’ll leave you to ponder this question all day on Monday, May 20, 2019 – the day that journalism died.