ABOUT THE COLUMN
I’d like to explain and apologize for the randomness of the column lately.
Not the content, that’s always been random.
But the timeliness.
“Daily” is what it’s promised, but certainly not what it’s produced. In a couple of recent weeks, the column has only been posted once or twice.
That hurts us both. It disappoints you, and it loses me readers.
So let me explain what’s going on, and how I intend to do better in the future.
At the root are two things: A new work schedule, and an internal struggle fueled by the abundance of blogs.
First, the schedule.
At the first of the year, the company that had previously been my prime employer changed my schedule in Rochester and assigned me duties in Syracuse. This compelled me to leave another employer and to abandon duties in Salt Lake City.
I went from doing a morning show in Salt Lake and a midday show in Rochester, which I had done since 2000, to doing a midmorning show in Rochester and an afternoon show in Syracuse.
Though my total number of hours on the air per day – seven – did not change, the distribution of those hours across the work day did. That fact, and the dynamic of the various cities involved, has created a work load that has hurt some other responsibilities.
I have had to quit working with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, for example, and I have been an hour late to a handful of Village Board meetings.
I’ve also had to stop eating dinner with my family on weeknights.
And when the day’s duties have been extreme, or included non-routine responsibilities – work meetings or village meetings or my wife has had to be away – the column has taken a hit. When it’s 11 o’clock at night and I’ve been on the run since before 5 o’clock in the morning, I find lately that I sometimes lack the discipline to sit down for an hour and write a column.
I hope to fix these difficulties by finding greater efficiencies in my work routine, and by pressing for better technology – namely, finishing efforts to let me broadcast from home.
Basically, I try to leave my house by 5:05 each morning. I live 40 miles from work and park four blocks from my building. I like to sign in at the security desk by 6:10.
I do show prep of national and Rochester issues from 6:15 to 8:15 every day but Thursday. On Thursday, I record a weekend program from 6:15 to 7:15. Typically, except on Thursdays, I go across the street to the gym and lift weights, including walking time, from 8:15 to 8:40.
At 8:44, I go into the WHAM studio for the Free For All segment. That lasts until 8:56, when I set up the talk studio I use for my Rochester show.
I am on the air in Rochester from 9 to 1.
Ideally, during the commercial breaks in Rochester, I do show prep for the Syracuse show. This works well if: I don’t have live commercials to do, the computer isn’t balky, people don’t come into my studio to talk to me during the break. Also, there are often stories in Rochester that are developing as the morning progresses, and during the breaks I work those stories.
During the noon news break, I go into my office and change into running clothes.
From 1 o’clock – when the Rochester show ends – until 1:15, I attend to any business that has popped up, I try to send e-mails to the Syracuse producer asking him to set up any interviews I might want, and I move my stuff out of the WHAM studio.
At 1:15 I leave the building to go for a run, returning between 2:30 and 2:45.
If I deleted the run, that hour and a half would give me time to write a column every day. But it would leave me on my backside for 12 hours straight. I have seen work take the health and vitality from people, and I don’t want that to happen to me. Maybe more importantly, I need to run to stay fit and sane. I have little kids, and I need to be able to work another 25 years. Being fit gives me the best chance of that happening. Also, running keeps my head mostly on straight. I probably have an addictive personality and a messed-up psyche, and of all the things I could obsess on, running is the least harmful.
So the run stays in the schedule.
After the run, I check the status of Syracuse interviews and I try to update myself on late-day happenings in Syracuse. At 2:50 I record a commentary for Rochester. At 2:58 do a live promo for the Syracuse show.
The WSYR show then runs from 3 to 6.
During the commercial breaks of the Syracuse show, my plan is to write the daily column. That, of course, is far from ideal, and it usually doesn’t happen. Most often, I am doing Syracuse show prep during the commercial breaks on the Syracuse show.
From 6 to about 6:15, I record commentaries for Rochester and Syracuse, and promos for Rochester.
I get home between 7:15 and 7:30.
And before bed I have to watch the local television newscasts for Rochester and Syracuse – that’s four of them – and do a rough outline of where show prep will take me the next morning.
Ideally, to get adequate sleep – which I find increasingly important as I age – I need to be in bed by 9. That would leave me 90 minutes of being at home awake each day. Life’s requirements, and the barest of time with family, consume all of those minutes and more.
And sometimes there are Village Board meetings or other responsibilities that are thrown in on that.
I recognize that most working people have schedules at least this busy. I also recognize that I am not working any more hours than I have before.
But they are more difficult hours. Doing four hours in a medium-sized city – Rochester – is harder than doing four hours in a large city – Salt Lake. And doing a new, small city – Syracuse – is harder than doing a familiar, large city – Salt Lake.
The bigger the city, the more that happens and the more media products there are to report on it. The smaller the city, the less that happens and the fewer the media products there are to report it. In a big town, there’s always something to talk about. In a small town, there isn’t.
These are all things that I can adjust to, and which will smooth themselves over as I adjust, become more familiar and develop efficiencies. Also, we’re hoping soon to have things set up so I can work part of each week from home.
So it will get better.
But recently it has been a handful. And on those nights when I’m exhausted and it’s way past bedtime and the column still isn’t done, I’ve gone to bed anyway.
A second factor is a general discouragement I’ve developed about writing. Whereas it once was my professional purpose, I find myself anymore almost embarrassed by it. The era of the blogger has revealed writing for what it may ultimately be – the intersection of narcissism and navel gazing, equal parts vapid and vain. The blogosphere is peopled almost exclusively by self-important idiots who can neither report nor write, and being part of that crowd makes me fear that I might actually be a part of that crowd. Years ago, having an online column was useful and interesting, now it is essentially the venue of housewives and adolescents, venting their angst and counting their hits. Basically, where I used to be proud to be a writer, I can’t really say anymore that I am. I almost think that thinking you’re a writer is a personality flaw.
So there are my excuses.
I’m busy, and I’m embarrassed.
And here’s my plan.
I am going to try to write three or four columns ahead over the weekend, and thereby reduce the load during the week. I’m also going to push harder to work from home – which will buy me an extra two work hours a day.
And I’m going to apologize.
I can do better.
And I will.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012