Jerry Davich: Everyone has an opinion
Jerry Davich firstname.lastname@example.org September 23, 2012 7:18PM
Michael Essany checks his notes before the taping of Seven on Ridge Tuesday evening at the Genesis Center in Gary. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:05AM
A burnt cross in the lawn of a black family. Convicted murderers finding God in prison. Candid observations from the edge about Michael Essany’s new late-night TV show.
What do these recent columns have in common? Each one has touched an obviously raw nerve in readers, so much so that I’m surprised I have any readers left.
“Jerry, get your head out of your (expletive) and stop comparing terrorism to a burnt cross in a black person’s yard,” one male reader yelled to me in a voice mail. “That’s it, I’m canceling my subscription!”
“How dare you give newspaper space to a man who admittedly murdered someone,” a female reader told me. “What about all the victims of murder who get zero press coverage?”
And, respectively, “I’m sure that your column on Essany’s new TV show, ‘Seven on Ridge,’ was accurate and honest but, geez, can’t you cut the guy a break? It just got rolling,” said an older-sounding reader.
Despite the contentious tone of those phone calls, I’m appreciative of the passionate feedback regarding those columns, and other previous ones. Interacting with readers is all part of my job, and I welcome your responses — positive feedback, negative and outright angry, too.
Last week, during a public presentation at the Maria Reiner Senior Center in Hobart, I was asked for a percentage of my reader feedback, positive vs. negative. Truth be told, about 80 percent of the responses I hear or see are positive. But the negative feedback is always louder, angrier, more memorable.
As one female senior told me after my presentation, “I always read your column, but I don’t always agree with you.”
Fair enough, I replied. I’ll take that reader response every time.
and you, and ...
Before life marches on and I forget to do so, I want to publicly thank the dozens of guests who attended that aforementioned presentation, made me feel so welcomed and bought copies of my book. I had initially planned to talk about loneliness, among other topics, but your constant questions, quips and collective quirks made me feel anything but lonely that day.
It was the confession of one elderly man, though, that really made my day.
Bob Lamken, of Merrillville, raised his hand from the front row and said in a matter-of-factly tone, “A previous column of yours saved my life.”
What? He explained that it wasn’t so much my column than its topic — on that senior center — which prompted him to give it a try after losing his wife of 60-plus years.
“I was very depressed, so I thought I would give it a shot,” he told me.
These days, Lamken is a daily staple at the center and his life is no longer shadowed by the quiet darkness of depression and loneliness, he said.
The audience applauded him. I applaud him, too.
Dept. of Clarifications
My Sept. 16 column on Jason Gaboian, who was convicted of killing a Gary man in 2007, failed to note that he did later file an appeal to his conviction. He lost that appeal in 2008.
What’s your hang up?
Each day, I get plenty of reader feedback via email, voice mail and snail mail, and I hear a plethora of opinions to my work. But rarely do these opinionated readers call in to my “Casual Fridays” radio show to share their viewpoint or to counter mine.
Although each show is packed with planned topics, interviews and silliness, I’m always willing to take phone calls from readers and listeners, too.
Feel free to call in this Friday between noon and 1 p.m. at 769-9577, that’s 769-WLPR. Otherwise, call my voice mail at 648-3107 and leave a message, some of which I replay on my radio show in a segment called “What’s YOUR Hang-up?”
‘Hello, this is ... ’
Speaking of voice mail calls, I get a variety of methods to leave me a message, from, “Hello, uh, well, uh, yeah ...” to “Hey, write an article about ME.”
So, if I may be so bold, here is the best way to begin a voice mail message to me if you have a column idea.
“Hello, my name is - - - - - -, I’m calling from - - - - - -, and I have a column idea for you. It’s about - - - - - , and you can reach me at - - - - - .”
You’d be surprised how much time that would save both of us. Or, better yet, email me.
Although I write only four columns a week, much of my job is making connections with readers, such as one with Mike Donelson and Valarie Kubacki.
The South Haven man who uses a wheelchair contacted me to say his 16-year-old grand-nephew, Brendan Mullaney, recently achieved the Boy Scout status of Eagle Scout.
“That’s quite an achievement!” he told me.
A ceremony for his grand-nephew is planned for Oct. 7 but Donelson couldn’t find a wheelchair-accessible van or vehicle.
“I always take the Porter County Aging van service to and from doctor’s offices, but they don’t operate on weekends,” he said. “Do you know of any organizations or individuals who might have a wheelchair access van and would be willing to let me use it for one day? Could you pull a few strings maybe?”
I was not able to note this in a column but, no strings attached, I posted his query on my social media websites. Within a few hours, he heard from a reader of mine named Valarie Kubacki, of Valparaiso.
“Valarie said she’d be happy to pick me up and take me to my grand-nephew’s graduation ceremony and take me back home when it’s over, too,” he told me excitedly the next day.
Thanks, Valarie, for not only making Mike’s week, but also for making me less skeptical about our often-cruel and selfish world.
Find more of Jerry’s writings on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and jerrydavich.wordpress.com.