Newspapers and DJs Versus The Digital World


Recently we had a family movie night, the boys picked Cars 3, they have been in a Disney mode lately. This was a strange pick for them, to be honest. You might be thinking, “Boys picking Cars 3, why strange?” Well, they are 17 and 15, I’m not complaining, I loved it. It was a nice departure from having to watch Rick and Morty or an intense action movie, yet again.

We were commenting throughout the movie about the level of detail that the cartoonists add to the Pixar movies. As they get older some of the detail they may have missed as kids becomes a new part of the movie for them. One detail and then ensuing conversation struck me particularly hard during the movie. There is a part where Lightening McQueen visits Stormy. Stormy takes McQueen to his garage to show him all the newspaper clippings that Doc had sent to him over the years about McQueen. One of the boys said, “Look at how old-timey the artists made this scene.” I said, “How so?” and they both announced, “The newspaper clippings, no one reads actual newspapers anymore!”

This led us down a road that we needed to pause the movie to finish the discussion. It’s hard for me to reconcile that young people don’t have a sense for reading an actual newspaper. Everything they read is digital, where the headline or “click-bait” needs to be written as well as the article, or that article might not even be clicked on and read. They will never have blackened fingers from holding the paper and never fully understand the power that Silly-Putty could have on the comics.

I explained that my first real job started in grade school with my paper routes. My brother and I had adjacent routes and picked up other outlying adjacent routes, as other carriers gave up. We had a large part of the Cathedral area at one point, well a large part that was surrounding our block anyway. The rubber bands we needed to roll our papers with came out of our “salaries”. Wednesdays and Sundays, were the worst days because the papers were so big and heavy. The craziest part of this job, we had to collect payments by walking our routes with our collection stamp book. Knocking on strangers’ doors and begging for their money. If you were lucky and did a nice job, usually you would receive tips. During the holidays little gifts might be left for you in mailboxes or hanging from the paper holders. This blew their minds, not only that papers existed as the main mode of news and slowly processed information, but that they were delivered to homes in such an antiquated way. They laughed at the fact that paper boys and girls saw the news first before anyone else. They live in the age of instant everything; how could they imagine?

While passing papers, I listened to a Walkman set to WLS, because not much else came in on the radio. This was the next eye-opening, old-timey realization, radio stations and this one killed me a little bit. They don’t really listen to radio stations like we did or do. It’s all music on their phones, music they like, no commercials and sadly no DJ’s. They asked who my favorite DJs were and I quickly told them, growing up no competition it was Larry Lujack and Tommy Edwards. As I grew a little older it was Johnny B., now it is Lin Brehmer and Jason Thomas. I tried to explain that Larry Lujack and Tommy Edwards were such a huge part of my mornings getting ready for school. Animal Stories was the absolute best way to start your morning before you had to walk to school (apparently, up hills both ways, I was starting to sound).  Animals Stories was similar to a live action meme or Twitter page for funny animal stories, I tried to explain.

Since they have never had a DJ/listener relationship, I offered up this weekend that we could have another family night and play all my Animal Stories albums. They reminded me that I had tried to get them to listen to them once before, and they didn’t believe the albums were as funny as I knew them to be. It’s too bad, because they still make me laugh.

It makes me sad that newspapers and radio DJs are old-timey to them, and it makes me wonder (and maybe a little scared) what will be old-timey to their kids. We turned the movie back on and I enjoyed the retro movie night they wanted to watch. Maybe they can show their kids the Pixar movies they loved as kids and still love as teens, maybe they will be old-timey to them. I am going to dust off my Animal Stories albums this weekend and spend some time with Uncle Lar and Li’l Tommy. Putting a record from 1982 on a turntable is certainly not old-timey, is it?
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