Roll in on the river: Once in a tickle trunk is easy; forever is hard

Southeastern Michigan’s newest social media sensation (on Facebook) is News on the River, produced by Jim Roll. The daily newscast, anchored by Roll, is shot in front of the mighty Huron River. Each edition lasts one to two minutes. The first one aired on Oct. 19.

News from the River 2018-10-29 at 7.36.10 PM.png
A screenshot from the Oct. 29, 2018 edition of News from the River, which included a report on use of rubber ice cube trays by Midwesterners.  

In the first handful of episodes, a fashion correspondent, Erica, has appeared twice, offering advice on what to wear. From Monday’s newscast: “Just open up your tickle trunk…take whatever you want out, put it on and go outside, and you are fall fashion!”

About a dozen broadcasts into the project, a reasonable question arises from its rapidly growing fanbase: Is Roll committed to producing News on the River every day for the rest of his natural life?

Here’s Roll’s response: “I’m going to try and do one every day for a year and see where I’m at! Erica is taking the show to new heights and she will be reporting on non-fashion news as well.”

My mastery of Facebook is not complete, but I believe the newscasts are visible to anyone who visits Roll’s page.

I don’t know Jim Roll all that well, but I know some things about him that a lot of his Facebook friends probably don’t.

Jim Roll’s portrait on the teeter totter taken on May 17, 2006.

In May of 2006 Roll weighed about 210 pounds.

In a football game with one second left on the clock, if Roll’s team has just scored to make it a one-point game, he’d go for a two-point conversion to win, instead of kicking an extra point to tie.

I know these things because I interviewed Roll as a part of the Teeter Talk series I published several years ago. (Guests would agree to be interviewed while riding a teeter totter.)

I tried to produce a new Teeter Talk about every week. I didn’t often hit that mark. So I’m familiar with the kind of self-imposed burden that Roll will be shouldering by committing to a daily newscast.  But I am confident Roll will achieve his goal of a daily newscast for a year. Or more.

Zach London’s portrait on the teeter totter taken on Dec. 25, 2006.

That’s because alums of Teeter Talk have a good history of following through on projects with a recurring commitment.  Take neurologist Zach London.

London has been recording a new song every month since 1993 or so. That’s a quarter century of monthly songs. When I interviewed him in 2006, about six months after Jim Roll graced the end of the teeter totter, I wondered how long he’d keep at it. His slogan is: “I will write and record one song a month, every month, until I am dead.”  He’s not dead, yet. Last month’s song was “Delightful Romp

From the final verse of October’s song: “You’re a delightful kid / And you’re so not gonna quit.”

I’m looking forward to the first day of November, when Zach London’s next song drops.

And I’m looking forward to tomorrow, because it will bring the next broadcast of Jim Roll’s News from the River.


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