Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bobby Skafish (2)

I have previously interviewed Bobby Skafish for Chicago Radio Spotlight, but I also recently conducted this mini-interview of him for SHORE Magazine...

Bobby Skafish // WDRV Radio, Chicago

Bobby Skafish is the afternoon drive (3-8 p.m.) personality on the classic rock station, the Drive, WDRV (97.1 FM) in Chicago. He has been a mainstay of the Chicago radio airwaves for the past thirty years, including stints at WXRT, WLUP and Q101. The Hammond, Indiana, native is known for his quick wit, his laid-back approach, and his encyclopedic knowledge and love of rock ’n’ roll music.

Radio Philosophy

You know how some food servers can bring a huge, heavy tray of food and drinks to your table perfectly, without a drop sloshing over the side or dishes set in front of the wrong people? I try to do the radio version of that. I also hear radio people work so hard to convince the audience of their own coolness that it permeates the entire presentation; I save that time by making it about the music and the listeners. The music is the art; I’m the frame.

Favorite Brush with Greatness

I emceed the Sting Live at the Blue 5 concert in Grant Park in October of 2003. I should note that when Sting was ready to go on, I introduced Gary Sinise and he actually introduced His Stingness. It was also Cubs-Marlins in the playoffs, so there were dual big events—I gave a few score updates onstage.

But as for “the brush,” standing behind the stage, Robert Downey, Jr., struck up a conversation with me. I asked him if he was in town filming and he told me no, he was here for some sort of event—he was vague, and modest, as I read later he was here to be honored at some swanky affair.

He was holding hands with the woman he later married, at Sting’s Long Island home, no less. Funny thing was, on July 4, 1997, the day I hooked up with my wife, I was substitute-hosting a morning radio show, and a guy called around 6:00 a.m. who said Robert and he were listening, and that Robert wanted to hear “Please Don’t Tell Her” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. He offered to put Robert on, but I declined, my shyness kicking in as well as the hunch that they were seeing 6:00 a.m. from the other side of night.

Radio Influences

The usual suspects for someone my age who grew up on Chicago media—the old top 40 DJs of WLS and WCFL. I remember Larry Lujack, in his prime, saying, apropos of nothing, “Boy, this station [WLS] sounds good when I’m on it.” Only Superjock could pull that kind of thing off, but you need at least a little bit of that attitude. I also have fond memories of my introduction to FM, on the WBBM-FM dial position [96.3 FM], in the early ’70s featuring a very young Bob Sirott. I asked Bob once if he still had tapes from that era and he said he did. I realize he’s a busy guy, but I hope he has given them a listen, because it was a magical, simpler time. And let me add that I have also been inspired, and perhaps influenced, by Creem magazine, the Doors, and Quentin Crisp.

Worst Advice

“Don’t take that job offer,” from the Loop, in 1983, from the management of where I had been working. Much fear mongering and playing on would-be insecurities that I didn’t have.

Best Thing about Doing Radio Here

Doing radio here. My family and I absolutely love Chicago, and our neighborhood. I’ve lived within walking distance of Wrigley Field since I moved here from Hammond, in 1977.