A utility bill behind the mirror on the visor.
A snow scraper on the passenger’s seat.
The remains of late-night Taco Bell
asleep in the back seat.
It’s a Wednesday afternoon at 2:14. I woke up to talk on the radio outside the WJOB studios at Purdue in a snowstorm. There was a surprise five inches on the ground. It was only supposed to be two at most. None of the side streets were cleaned. It felt good to drive to work through fresh powder.
On a day like today, a lot of schools start on a two hour delay. And there’s lots of spinouts and accidents. There’s a stretch of the Borman Expressway between Calumet Avenue and Torrence Avenue that is always problematic. Two days in a row there have been accidents there. That’s because it’s the state line. The Indiana trucks stop at Calumet Avenue and turn around. The Illinois trucks turn around at Torrence. I call it, “the land of doom” on the radio.
I love talking on the radio in the morning, as the three or four of you know by now. It’s not easy at all to wake up at 4:30 in the morning for decades. You don’t really ever “get used to it.” What you do is you roll over knowing that there is a task that is good and pure and beautiful on the other side of being tired. My wife purrs when she sleeps. I would much rather nestle up to that than get dressed and clean off five inches of snow from my windshield.
And by the way, every time you clean off your car, you somehow get snow down your sleeve. Or down the back of your neck. Or you drop your glove and when you put it back on, there’s snow on the inside of it. The snow this morning was about as beautiful as it gets. Think Robert Frost stopping in his horse and buggy in a snowy woods. Think about that and then add huge semis and a 400-foot radio tower and a wind off of Lake Michigan. That’s what I talked in for the first 30 minutes of my show this morning.
This morning, Kevin Brinegar, the president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce called in. He does this during the legislative session to promote the interests of the Chamber. There’s also a whole lot of information he brings about our laws that are being made three hours away.
At 7am, a guy named Mike Dooley joined me in the studio. Mike, like me, worked a couple decades at the Chicago Board of Trade. We talked a little about those days, and then we talked about the “Big Shoulders Fund,” where he works. They’re trying to keep St. Francis de Sales on the East side of Chicago open. Good luck.
Al Hamnik, Dave Kusiak and I talked about the hullabaloo going on between Griffith High and Hammond High. The two schools agreed to not play each other in any sport going forward. That’s a shame. People got out of hand in the stands and on the court. Next thing you know, a great rivalry is gone. Life goes on. Radio does too.
I left the studios and drove about 20 mph to Gary to tell the story of live streaming video to a potential client. I do this a lot. I get in a room with people who really don’t understand the importance of live, streaming video. I tell our story, that we are the leaders in this, that live video is the future. Much of the time they don’t get it. I feel as if I’m talking to myself. I get the feeling that sometimes the listeners are looking at me as if I’m a snake oil salesman. Nothing could be further from the truth. I sell swampland in Florida, not snake oil.
There is a story to tell. We tried a ton of different ways to bring live video to the Calumet Region, and we’re finally doing it. In a big way. Now our marketing has to match our live video expertise. I’m working on that. The best way I’ve found to learn how to market live video is to get out and tell the story. Every time I tell the story, no matter how hardheaded the potential client may be about it, I learn something about the telling of my own story. One day, Region people will get it. Some do already. Those are the ones who keep their mouths shut because they know that they’re getting a great deal. Why does life have to be so hard? Because it does.
After the telling of the story… I rushed back to the WJOB studios at Purdue and taught a class in Sports Broadcasting. On Monday, the students took their first of two midterms. They broadcasted live on WJOB radio and on Facebook video. They broke up into groups of three or four and did a sports talk show. It was a lot of fun. I got a lot of work ahead of me to grade all of their performances.
Today, we prepared to do some play-by-play next Monday. Should be fun.
After the class, Ryan Walsh, Sam Michel, Debbie Wargo and I met with some folks who are gonna join up with us to do a big project. That is the future of doing live, streaming video, by the way. You can’t do it all alone. It just doesn’t work that way. You gotta get big enough to reach a point where you’re big enough to get the job done. We’re doing well with the video and everything. but we can make a much bigger splash – i.e., take ad money away from Chicago – by joining up at the local level. Too many local people with long-held animosities toward other media outlets can hinder this process. Those people have to be pushed to the wayside. Most of our ad spending isn’t even spent here in northwest Indiana. It’s spent in Chicago. You watch, I will personally change that.
I came home and made some eggs with tortilla chips. I get to lay down for 15 minutes and then it’s time to get in the car and drive a couple hours to West Lafayette. No. 3 Purdue hosts No. 10 Ohio State in a huge Big Ten game. WjOB has two press passes and two tickets. Alexis and I are going as press. Should be loud. Should be fun. And, get this, they serve beer at Mackey Arena.
Yesterday, by the way, Will Scrilla came into the studio. He got out of prison eight months ago after serving 17 years, 8 months for killing a man. Will wants to reinvent his rap career. He talked about having a purpose and setting a good example for his son and avoiding the trappings of the streets. For whatever reason, I took a liking to Will. I have no idea if that impression was reciprocated. What I do know is that Will is saying the right things right now and I hope he continues to say them and live by his own words. He went to Gavit, by the way.
“You mean you used to walk up and down this street right in front of these windows?”
“Yes I did. I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Will on prison – “It’s unnatural.” I hope he knows enough about himself to stay natural.
That should do it for now. I haven’t written to the three or four of you in a while, and I’ll tell you why. I’ve had a couple of disappointments in my life and I didn’t want to write to you until I thought about them for a while. I’ve thought about them and I’m ready to get back on track. The thing I don’t have time for right now, though, is to detail what those disappointments are. In due time, the three or four of you. In due time.