It's 5:49 on a Monday afternoon and it's 58 degrees out but at least it's finally freaking sunny. The cold and wet and dark can get to you and after a while you're looking forward to a fistful of chocolate chip cookies and repeated episodes of Boardwalk Empire.
But not tonight, because sunshine has come to the Chicago area, and that is an occasion. Midwesterners rejoice, for you shall see the yellow and blue that the sky has to offer. And you shall have radio.
And on the 8th day, God created radio.
8th day radio.
Something pure and simple and if you comply with all of the federal regulations you can speak freely for another day.
Today, Billy Baker my childhood chump came in and we talked about all the arguing around about combining all of Lake County, Indiana, in to one emergency dispatch center. How that could be an ongoing topic of conversation, I have no freaking idea. But it is. At least we got some laughs out of if and made fun of the appropriate people and then went on our ways. He went to work and I rode my scooter down US 41 to work out and all is good.
But it wasn't so good this morning. I was heating up some water to make some tea and then all the sudden - Hey Ryan, we've got DEAD AIR.
DEAD AIR? Are you kidding?
And yes, we had dead air. It rained all weekend and then it got cold so BOTH AT&T and Comcast went down so our connection between our new, temporary studio and our tower didn't exist. I zipped down the Boulevard on my scooter and was just about to do the show from the old studio when bam - the connection reignited. Thank you. Zipped back down the Boulevard and did the show from the Purdue Commercialization Center at 7150 Indianapolis Boulevard in Hammond, Indiana.
Now here's something about radio. When I started writing this blog that nobody reads, I was listening to some good Death Cab for Cutie on WXRT out of Chicago. XRT actually started out of Hegewisch Records on the very southern tip of Chicago not too far from here. Truth be told, when I was in high school I'd get together with some guys and we'd go out to Wampum Woods for a tune up and then to Hegewisch Records on the way home. We'd split up and just stand at the rows of albums and pull one out every once in a while and read the cover and then just kind of hold them in our hands. I, we, would do this for what now seems like hours but could have been a lot shorter time. When you're looking through really good vinyl albums, time kinda stands still and you never know when you're late for your cake and ice cream for your grandma's birthday or you were supposed to have the car back so your ma could take your little sisters to gymnastics.
Anyways, here's another reason that radio is saying a long, sweet goodbye. I'm typing along all right in this blog that no one reads and then all the sudden a jock named Jason Thomas comes on and says some cool and witty things about one of the artists. That's fine in and of itself. I like to be guided through my music by guys and gals (Terry Hemet especially) who really care about the music and Chicago. Vinyl, sunshine, now, Chicago, love for the music. It all goes together like a Leo Chruby drawing of girls with big tits and knee-high boots.
But really, the Jason Thomas or Terry Hemet coming on the radio and saying those cool and enlightening things about music is just a cue that you have an inordinate amount of commercials coming. Copious. Overwhelming. Grains of sand on a beach. I counted seven commercials and then I had to turn off the radio for a while. The commercials are gone and now there's a song on that is really good and I have no idea who made it. That's what a good guide does for you. Thank you, Jason Thomas... "Came down so swift, drove on down the coast... Hey little Hollywood, you're gone but you're not forgotten... Now I remember when the neon used to burn so bright Saturday night."
You may know who that is but I'm so stuck in my albums from the 70s that I need a guide like Jason Thomas to help me thgough this blog that nobody reads. But I don't need that many commercials. And I guess that's the message. If you go back to the days of a zillion albums at Hegewisch Records and then a pirate radio station in the back where they're playing Zep and Rod Stewart and Sabbath and Allman Brothers and you get the picture. Every once in a while there'd be a commercial to buy a pizza somewhere or an announcement about the bake sale at St. Andrew's. But it was just enough to give you a breath before Don Nelson and the next song came on the radio.
Don Nelson was this older guy I knew from Munster who spun records their once in a while.
Now don't get me wrong, as my wife and I own a radio station, we full understand the need to play a ton of commercials. But not THAT many. You get the feeling that this now CBS-owned station has to make so much money and the only way to do that is to feed up enough commercials that you feel like you're getting waterboarded. You can go on the internet and listen to all the music you want on Pandora with no commercials for $3.99 a month. It's crazy. But there's no Jason Thomas or Terry Hemet so there you go. No commercials or no good guide. Pick your poison.
My point is that the need to make a ton of money on commercial radio, and subsequently play a ton of commercials, is continuing to ruin radio. No shit. There's a balance out there, a quotient, something you can measure, between music, host, commercials. If the balance is right, then you and I actually WANT to listen to the commercials. We learn about cool products and sales and the commercials give that part of your brain that wants to tap your feet and maybe even dance a rest. No kidding. And the guide shows you what path to take in the woods without getting stuck by a bunch of thorns. Music, host, commercials. There's a balance.
But now when you listen to music on traditional radio, the balance is all off. You listen to a couple of great songs, bond with the host you know well, then listen to way too many commercials getting jammed down your throat like a crushed-up aspirin in applesauce, you know, the way your mom used to do it when you were sick. You hated it then and you hate it now.