Sunday June 30th, 2013 – Lansing, MI
In the old days, it wouldn’t have been out of the question for me to have driven home after my shows in Ann Arbor, MI last night. I gain an hour coming back, so that would probably give me an arrival time at home between 5 and 6am. These aren’t the old days, so I took the night’s sleep.
There was no reason to rush home, so I didn’t. I’m not doing the Mothership Connection radio show anymore, but even if I was I’d still have been able to make it in plenty of time. It had been a while since I was through Michigan, so I chose to stop and see some old friends along the way.
My first stop was in Lansing. That was where my first morning radio job was in 1990. It seems like a whole other lifetime ago now, but memories came flooding back as I drove through a town I never did quite take by storm - or any other way. I was only there six months, and it wasn’t fun.
The circumstances at the radio station I worked for were horrible, and I chose to go back to the ‘stable’ world of standup comedy. They actually wanted to sign me to a return contract, but I had had enough and decided to move on. In retrospect, I wonder how different my life would’ve been had I sucked it up and stayed. The station was eventually sold, so I would have had new owners.
The other times that has happened in radio I was shown the door, but who knows? Maybe this would have been the one time it would have been different, and I’d have had the long successful run in one town I’ve always wanted. I’ve seen it happen for others, but I’ve never had it myself.
My news person in Lansing was a sweetheart named Debra Hart. She was new like me, and we were together on the air for probably three months. We hit it off quite well on the air and off, and then she got an offer from the competitor across town. They gave her more money, so how could I be angry? She told me she needed to take the offer, and I totally understood. No hard feelings.
I ran into Deb just a few years ago, and she’d been on that very same station ever since leaving the job with me. She became a local fixture, and neither of us could have predicted that. We were telling the story on the air as I was a guest on her station, and listeners were calling in disbelief.
She had become so ingrained on the station she was on, that nobody listening could picture her being on the competition – which was also still on the air. That’s how the cards played out, and I relived the story in my head as I drove past the office building where the radio station used to be.
I also have some friends located in the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo areas, and I drove through those towns after a long time being away. Boy, the years sure have not been kind to either one of those towns and they reminded me of the pathetic decaying rust belt hell hole Lansing was when I was there in 1990. East Lansing is pretty hip with the university, but Lansing itself is a toilet.
Well, that toilet seems to be overflowing all through Michigan and it’s a shame. It’s indicative of the collapse of America’s greatness, and it’s sad to see it firsthand. The rust belt was the place to be at one time, and everyone had a job who wanted one and life was sweet. That’s over now.
I stopped in Dyer, IN next to have dinner with Tim and Kathy Slagle. Tim is from Detroit, but moved to the Chicago area years ago. We talked about how the whole state of Michigan has been rotting for years, and how sad it is. We both cut our teeth doing comedy shows all over that state, but now those places are barely hanging on. With radio and comedy, I have deep Michigan roots.