Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bart Shore

Bart Shore is the morning traffic anchor at WBBM, Newsradio 780.


KLWW—Cedar Rapids, 1974-75

KRNA—Iowa City, 75-85 (music director, program director, top-40, mid-days on the air)

WLAK-Chicago 85-87 (overnights)

WUSN 99.5, 87-88 (starting part-time, then also filled in mornings for Deano Day working with Ken Cocker and Anne Maxfield)

Century Broadcasting, Chicago & Elmhurst (FM 100 WLOO, WCZE 820 AM). 1987-1990.
My fake on-air name was Jeff Christie. I was also the production director. They later became WXEZ, and then they fired the whole staff when it became WPNT.

Interstate Radio Network--1990-1996
All night trucker show owned by the Tribune. We were on all over the country. (The show originated from Studio C at WGN). Left after Tribune sold the company.

Shadow Traffic—1996—Present.
When I started at Shadow, I worked on the Catherine Johns show at WLS, and Howard Stern Show at WCKG, then when Lonnie Tyler quit, they started using me for mornings at WMAQ (1997-2000) with Pat Cassidy. And since 2000, I've been exclusively with WBBM. I'm really honored to be working with great professionals like Pat Cassidy and Felicia Middlebrooks.

Rick: I asked mutual acquaintances about you before this interview, and they all described you the same way: "That Bart Shore is a real character." Why do you think they say that?

Bart: (laughs) Hmm. I say what I think, and it usually gets me into trouble. I am a little outspoken. I don't take things too seriously though.

Rick: You're a local boy—you grew up in Wilmette. Were you a radio geek?

Bart: I listened all the time. Starting in 1965 or so through high school, I switched back and forth between WLS and WCFL. Then when rock stations started showing up on the FM, I listened to them all. I loved that music. I listened to WDAI. I still remember when WXRT signed on. At first they were only at night, and it was so cool. I was way into the music. My friends and I listened to it all, we saw everything that came through town. That’s what led to me radio in the first place, the music. That's what hurt about working at some of the music stations where I worked. I never really got to work at a music station that played the music I loved…

Rick: Let's talk about that. Not many people that listen to your traffic reports every morning on WBBM realize that you were actually a music disc jockey for many years. Tell us about those days.

Bart: I started in college at Iowa. A friend of mine was a record rep and got me in to meet this program director at a station in Cedar Rapids, and he hired me to do overnights. Then I took a pay cut to move to Iowa City for a music director job (photo: Bart at KRNA), which eventually led to a program director job. Even though I liked Iowa, I really wanted to work in Chicago. Nobody would give me the time of day when I called from Iowa, so I just moved back here in July of 1985, figuring that if someone asked "when can you start?" I could say "Tomorrow." I was really lucky to get two offers pretty quickly, one at Q-101 and one at WLAK. I took the LAK job, because it was full-time. That was in October '85.

Rick: Ah yes, The Lake.

Bart: The ratings at that station were huge, but it really was a boring job. The playlist was very tight, and we weren't allowed to do much. It was mainly just: "That was so and so on the Lake. Here comes so and so at the Lake." I was so bored I used to listen to Eddie Schwartz on WGN while I was on the air. I much preferred my time at US-99. I started as a part-timer there and their morning guy Deano Day seemed to call in sick all the time. The PD let me fill in for him when he couldn't make it, and suddenly I was doing more of the kind of show I did in Iowa. I enjoyed it—especially working with Anne Maxfield and Ken Cocker.

(AIRCHECK: Bart Shore on US-99 ) h/t DJ Headlines.

Rick: Do you miss it at all?

Bart: I do. It would be fun to do again, especially at a station where I like the music—like 94.7, but at this point in my life, it's nothing I'm really looking for. Those aren't the kind of jobs that just fall in your lap unless you're out there hustling for them. Nobody just knocks on your door in this business and says—"hey, want a great job?"

Rick: So how did you transition into traffic?

Bart: After the All Night Trucker show was sold by the Tribune Company in 1996 (Bart worked there from 1990-1996)—and moved to Nashville, I went over to Shadow Traffic.

Rick: Was that a hard transition after twenty years of music radio?

Bart: It was different, because it was only me talking, and because we don't really work with scripts at Shadow...

Rick: I've seen those Shadow reports and they look like they're written in code.

Bart: (laughs) Yeah, they are a little hard to decipher. Also, it happens so fast, you don't really have time to pre-read anyway, especially at BBM. We do it every ten minutes. I’m constantly gathering the information too, and sometimes we also do a little breaking news. Before I worked here I never thought I would like doing traffic, but I must admit I really do love it.

Rick: And on BBM, the traffic has a special significance. We all know that we can hear traffic and weather on the 8s, and a lot of people tune in just for that.

Bart: True.

Rick: My wife is programmed. At 8 minutes after the hour, she's hitting the button for WBBM to get the traffic.

Bart: There are a lot of people who do that. Let me tell you the best way to listen to WBBM. Tune in at the top of the hour. The first five minutes you get all the biggest national and international news from the network, then the next three minutes you'll get all the biggest local news, and then it's weather and traffic. Ten minutes and you're totally informed.

Rick: Depending on the demographics and the ratings book, the morning show at WBBM is the #1 show in Chicago. Have you reaped any of the rewards of being on such a popular show? Do people recognize you?

Bart: Not really—you're pretty anonymous on the radio. It's not like I've gotten good deals at restaurants. (In a fake hushed maitre d' voice) "Bart Shore is here."

Rick: I've known quite a few people over the years who were based at Shadow Traffic as you are, and some of them like that they're not in the same studio as the other people on the show, and others lament it.

Bart: I need to be at Shadow because that's where all the information is gathered, and I need it as soon as possible. Other stations do it differently. Some stations get information from us on the Internet and do the traffic from their own studios, others have people at Shadow, and others do it both ways, like WLS. Christina (afternoon traffic anchor on the Roe Conn Show) is at the WLS studios and gets information from us on the Internet. Wendy Snyder (morning traffic anchor for Don & Roma) is at Shadow with us. (laughs) There, I got a mention of Wendy into the column. It's not Rick's blog, if there isn't a Wendy Snyder mention (photo).

Rick: (laughs) Everybody loves Wendy.

Bart: It's been a lot of fun to work with her. We have the same schedule, so we arrive at the same time and leave at the same time every day, so I see her all the time. She was somebody I listened to for years but I never met her until she started at Shadow. When we met she told me that she has listened to me for years too. It was like we already knew each other, and we hit it off immediately.

Rick: In your eyes what are the cons of working from a different location than the rest of the show?

You do tend to feel a little excluded from the station—we're an afterthought at Christmas party time for instance. We don't get the free station jackets or whatever. We don't really feel like we're a part of the radio station, which I guess, technically we're not. But in WBBM's case, it's a little different. I'm on their website. I provide them with information all the time. I am under their control, but I must say, they really don't give me a lot of direction. They treat me like a professional and let me do my job.

Rick: So what you're saying is that you're not hanging out with Pat and Felicia after the show, tossing back a few cold ones.

Bart: Never. Although I have played golf with Pat a few times. But I gave up golf. I don't have time for it anymore. Between working long hours, and my dogs—I have a German Sheppard that takes up a lot of my time and energy, and a Wiener dog that doesn't.

Rick: Didn't I see a WCIU Promo with you and your dogs?

Bart: (laughs) Yes, that was me. I was just sitting there on the beach with my dogs and they came by and asked if they could use me in a promo, so I said, sure, what the heck. I did the promo for "The King of Queens," and they were surprised that I did it so well. They had no idea I was in broadcasting. I did one for "Bernie Mac" or "People's Court" too, but I don't think I ever saw that one on the air.

Rick: I have one last traffic question if you don't mind. I imagine you get a lot of complaints about traffic reports…

Bart: Actually we don't get very many complaints, believe it or not. Years ago I had the idea of creating the WBBM traffic tip line, so if listeners see something we're talking about or not talking about, they call us up and let us know what's going on. Most people that call are actually trying to be helpful. They call the number constantly. That's the reason our information is so good. It's one of the things I absolutely love about radio--the immediacy of it. It's a little different in television. I fill in for Kris Habermehl at Channel 2 quite a bit, and it's really not like that. If a big story breaks they can really only go to you if it's in one of those first two blocks of news.

Rick: How do you like doing the TV copter thing?

Bart: Oh, I love it. It's tough to do a split shift (mornings/radio, afternoons/television), but over the years I've managed to see Chicago from places that most people never will. I've been taking some great pictures…

Rick: Would you mind sharing a few of those with us?

Bart: Sure. Maybe someday I'll publish them…