The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own.
It’s 5:23 on a Saturday morning. On Thursday night, I slipped over to Showplace Theater 16 in Scherervile, Indiana, and caught “The Grateful Dead” movie with Lane Paradis. He’s a plumber. You can see Lane riding around in the big Whiting Plumbing van. At any given moment if you knocked on Lane’s window at a stoplight, and he obliged to roll it down, you’d hear songs like “Eyes of the World,” which I’m quoting from above.
But the heart has it's seasons, it's evenings and songs of it's own
So instead of writing Another Thousand Words for the three or four of you on Thursday night, I drove over to the theater in a Grateful Dead sweatshirt and watched concert footage. “The Grateful Dead Movie” is a documentary out of the 1970s. For some reason, across the nation on Thursday a bunch of theaters played the movie.
Oh, I forgot. It was 4-20. That’s some sort of code for marijuana. I thought there’d be a lot more people in the theater. As a matter of fact, I almost didn’t drive over to the theater because I thought it would be sold out. When I got there, I sat next to Lane.
“This is pitiful,” Lane said, a little too loud for a theater (both he and I are hard of hearing). “There’s not more than a dozen people here.”
Lane takes it as a personal affront when anyone insults The Grateful Dead, and he was certainly taking it as an insult that very few people would come out on a Thursday night in late April in northwest Indiana to watch “The Grateful Dead Movie.”
Me. I don’t really care. I just wanted to see the music. I wasn’t at the concert that they portray in the movie. It’s from the Winterland Arena in San Francisco in the 1970s. I didn’t make it to Berkeley and San Francisco until 1982.
Although I wasn’t at the Winterland for the making of this movie, I was certainly in the scene in Berkeley in the 1980s. And I miss it. There were some magical moments at the Greek Theater, Watsonville, at the Barrington Cooperative where I lived. I don’t wanna talk about them right now in that I’m a productive member of local society. That’ll be another blog for another day.
For now, my connection to the days in Berkeley, the Grateful Dead scene, to a person I once was and will never again be is that Lane and I do a podcast called, “This is Dead Air.” We play a few cuts from a live Dead show and then talk about the music, the scene, the cost of the tickets way back when, the looks on the faces of people during an especially raucous version of “Wave that Flag.” It’s a Grateful Dead thing. You either get the podcast or you don’t. Check out the latest podcast above. Episode 22, Greek Theater, Berkeley, 1987.
And guessing by the numbers we’re getting in listenership, not a lot of people get The Grateful Dead anymore. Us Deadheads, we’re a joke to a lot of people. Just look at the numbers at the Showplace Theater on 4-20 in Schererville, Indiana. There just isn’t a ton of interest in a band that hasn’t played together in more than 20 years, since Jerry Garcia suddenly died.
That doesn’t stop the spirit from moving forward. My wife and two daughters and I went to see a version of the Grateful Dead at Soldier Field a couple years ago. I can’t overstate how happy I was that evening. I was taken back to a time in my head when I didn’t have the wife, the two daughters, yet sitting there in the seat of Soldier Field, I’d come back to reality and there would be this beauty dancing next to me.
How did I get here? That’s what kept going through my mind. And a sliver of peace slipped through the worry about radio, the anxiety of payroll, the general never really be peaceful if you own your own business. I don’t regret that I own my own radio stations. Don’t get me wrong. But know this – in choosing to live My Radio Life, I choose a life in which there is never really rest. Think about it… radio never stops. You don’t turn off the lights and go home for the night.
The three or four of you may picture in your head a bunch of people keeping the radio station going overnight, on the weekends, on holidays. It’s not that way. Sure, Debbie, Ryan and I form the core of a team that can keep the station running at all times. But I drive down there on Christmas, New Years, in the middle of the night, during my nephew’s baseball game. There is always something to tend to to keep the stations running. I’ve been looking for some better solutions.
I’ve been looking for a way in which I could go live on WJOB am1230 and 104.7 FM any time from my home… and eventually from my cellphone. Last night, I think I finally figured out how to broadcast from home.
It’s a Rube Goldberg contraption, with several unnecessary steps to get the words that I speak in my TV room to become waves on the 400-foot tower. For you radio geeks, here it is.
- I speak into a microphone in my TV room.
- The sound goes into a 12-channel XENYX mixer
- The sound goes from the mixer into a Barix Instreamer 100.
- The Barix Instreamer changes the analog audio to digital.
- Then the Barix Instreamer sends the audio over the internet to an address that I’ve punched into the Instreamer.
- The address is that of Streamguys in Sunnyvale, California.
- Streamguys takes the audio and restreams it to anyone with a computer or smartphone who wants to listen to me talking in my TV room.
- One of the places that picks up the stream from Streamguys is a computer at the WJOB studios. I program the studio computer to play the audio.
- The WJOB computer sends the digital audio to a 16-channel Allen and Heath mixer that changes the audio back to analog.
- The 16-channel Allen and Heath mixer sends the audio to a machine called a “Tieline.” This Tieline acts as an encoder, like the Barix Instreamer. The Tieline takes the audio and changes from analog back to digital.
- The Tieline sends the digital audio over the internet to another Tieline machine at the WJOB tower site seven blocks away.
- The receiving Tieline at the WJOB tower site changes the audio from digital back to analog.
- The Tieline sends the analog audio to another 16-channel Allen and Heath mixer.
- The 16-channel mixer sends to audio to a chain of machines, including a compressor, a processor, a Nielsen ratings machine and more.
- After the audio goes through all of the machines, it runs into the transmitter.
- The transmitter sends the audio up the tower and you can hear me talking from my TV room.
If you count it up… the audio starts out analog, changes to digital, back to analog, back to digital and back to analog before you hear it off the tower. There’s another change back to digital after the processors in which the audio runs into another Barix Instreamer and gets sent back to Streamguys in Sunnyvale, California, to get restreamed to the world on a different channel.
Out of the three or four of you, maybe one of you could follow this rather confusing audio route. I lay it out for the one radio geek who will know enough to accurately comment – “JED, that’s the most outrageous thing I’ve ever heard in radio. There’s got to be a better way.”
Yes. There certainly has got to be a better way. But this is the way that I figured out over several months so that I could better control my own radio stations. It’s also why when I’m lying in bed, I’m not necessarily thinking about the next Another Thousand Words that I’m gonna write to you. Or when I’m sitting at a Grateful Dead concert or movie I’m not necessarily in the moment. I’m always thinking about my radio stations. Radio is never more than two or three thoughts removed from my mental viewing screen. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Another Thousand Words. See ya.