Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leslie Keiling (2)

I have previously interviewed Leslie Keiling for Chicago Radio Spotlight, but I also recently conducted this mini-interview of her for SHORE Magazine...

Leslie Keiling // WGN Radio, Chicago

Leslie Keiling is one of the most respected traffic reporters in Chicago. In her twenty-plus-year career she has provided traffic reports and witty rejoinders to the likes of Steve and Garry, Larry Lujack, John Records Landecker and more. She currently reports for the John Williams and Steve Cochran shows on WGN Radio every weekday afternoon.

Least Favorite Song

It would have to be “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. One host I worked with previously was enamored with the piece’s songwriter, John Stewart. So every time the song came up or the writer came to town, I had to hear the story about how the original lyric was “now you know how funky I can be,” as opposed to the Monkees’ “happy.” It was an interesting story the first ten times or so, but after that it got very funky. Then I got the job at an oldies station. That song played every week for the rest of my employment. Talk about funky.

Favorite Brush with Greatness

Johnny Carson, backstage at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. Oh wait, that was a dream I had when I fell asleep with the radio on.

Worst Advice

I was at a private party; 20 years old, and hanging with several of the coolest people in Rock Radio at the time, including one of the hottest jocks in Chicago who was, without question, the object of many a young girls’ fantasies. Among those in attendance was a local sportscaster who kept blocking my move, and kept telling me over and over that I needed to leave Chicago to make any headway in this business. “Head to some place like Omaha,” he said. “Get the heck out of my way,” I thought. I knew I didn’t really stand a chance with the rock jock, but I sure as heck was not about to head off to Omaha when I was that close to perfection right where I was.

Something Listeners Don’t Know about You

I think I’ve shared just about every element of my life with listeners—births, deaths, weddings, OCD proclivities, underwear choices, family foibles, odd interests, favorite whatevers, least-favorite whatevers, and everything else in between. I think, on some level, that’s what makes people willing to invite me into their cars and homes on a regular basis.

Best thing about doing radio here

It’s my town. I grew up on the North Side. My husband came from the South Side. We got engaged at Navy Pier when it was still a warehouse. I went to school in Lincoln Square. I got married there, too. I love Lower Wacker Drive like a clubhouse. I worked for a decade at the top of the Hancock Building. I’ve watched sunrises at Montrose Harbor. I got my car stuck in the sand at Whiting Beach. My daughter swam at Oak Street Beach with Ron Howard’s kids when he was in town filming Backdraft. I tobogganed at the forest preserves until they ripped out the runs. I nearly got killed leaving a stop along the Brown Line. I now spend part of every day in WGN’s Showcase Studio on Pioneer Court. My life is so intrinsically tied to this town that I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.