Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brian Noonan

UPDATED January 2012


Rick: Things have changed a bit for you since we last spoke, haven't they?

Brian: Wow, I can't believe it's been almost 3 1/2 years since you were gracious enough to interview me the first time. To say a lot has changed for me at WGN would be an understatement. The time since last November 2010 has been the most eventful, but the two years before that need to be addressed so I'm not accused of having "selective memory".

My weekend overnight shows were doing very well. I had two great producers and news guys to work with and we were really hitting our stride and growing our audience. Some of the goofiness that I put out was really good, some was awful, but we were having fun doing it and the audience seemed to be having fun too. I was doing a lot of fill-ins during the overnight shift during the week as well. It's no secret that during that time, WGN got new management that implemented a lot of changes. For reasons known only to them, I was not part of their plans. Luckily, since I held down the last segment of the schedule they were worried about, I was able to keep my head down and avoid their wrath, except for losing all fill-in spots. Just when I had gotten some indications that the end of my run at WGN was on the horizon, all those people were sent packing, and without any exaggeration, within 24 hours my fortunes changed.

Rick: So who saw the diamond in the rough?

Brian: The day after the changes, WGN's GM Tom Langmyer asked me to fill-in on some of the newly vacated 7-10pm shifts. He had a vision for a show that was "sports focused, but not exclusively an X's & O's sports show." One that would cover a wide range of topics, while still being true to WGN's sports tradition. I did that show for about six week's and then it was announced that David Kaplan would be returning to that spot to do the new show "Sports Night" with a group of rotating co-hosts. I was asked to be one of the group, which was great since I was the only "non-sports" guy in the rotation. The show would also include Andrea Darlas in a combination role of news anchor and co-host. Kap and I had never worked together before the first show, but something happened, and the chemistry was perfect. By the end of February it was decided that there would be no more "rotating hosts" and that the lineup of Kap, Andrea and I would be the faces of the franchise, to put it in sports parlance. We've been together for a year and the show seems to be doing very well. Most people really seem to enjoy the fact that we can talk sports, but also go wherever we want. Each of us brings something different to the program, and the combination seems to be working.

Rick: And I'm also hearing you a lot in other dayparts as well...

Brian: My new role on "Sports Night" combined with new management that seems to value what I do, has lead to other changes as well. I'm doing a lot more daytime fill-ins during the week, and on December 31st 2011, I did my final overnight show. Starting January 22, I will be on Sunday evenings from 6-9. I'm looking forward to the new spot and bringing some of the "Radio Irreverence" that we had in the overnights to a new audience. Leaving the overnight slot was a little bittersweet. While it will be nice to sleep at normal hours, the audience during the overnight is very loyal and diverse, and I will miss the interaction I had with many of them. Oh yeah, I also got an office that I share with our "Sports Night" producer. I'm like George Jefferson, movin' on up.

Rick: And if a man can say this to another man, I have to say, you look fantastic these days. You're a shell of your old self. What's going on there?

Brian: For a number of reasons, not the least of which is that because of "Sports Night" we're doing more remotes and I'm in the presence of professional athletes, I've lost nearly 100 pounds. I've still got a way to go, but watch out. Soon, I'll be in nothing but leather pants and mesh t-shirts. With that horrifying visual, I'll thank you again for asking me to do this and apologize for being so long winded. It might have something to do with filling a six hour overnight shift for the last few years.

The original interview follows...

Brian Noonan is a comedian, an actor, and the weekend overnight host at WGN Radio.

Rick: I know you grew up on the south side. Who were some of the local Chicago radio guys who influenced you the most?

Brian: I really think I started being influenced by some of the great Chicago radio talents before I even realized it. Not to be a company shill, but when I was a kid, there wasn’t a day that went by that WGN wasn’t on in our house. I listened to Wally Phillips, Bob Collins (photo) and Roy Leonard for years before I found out that there were other radio stations out there. They had an ability to connect with an audience which I see now is what made them so successful.

As I got older, I was a big fan of Larry Lujack, Bob Sirott, and John Landecker. Then Johnny B. came to town and I was under his spell like everyone else I knew. The guy who I’m sure has influenced me the most is Steve Dahl (photo), both as a solo act and during his legendary run with Garry Meier. I was and still am a huge fan. I learned from him that you can share personal stories, comment on the news and be a social critic as long as, above all else, you are funny and genuine. I know I’m leaving out some fantastic talents, but I’ve always loved radio, so the list of guys I admire and who influenced me would be epic.

Rick: I've heard your show on WGN a few times, and I think you really have something there. How would you describe the show to people who haven't heard it before?

Brian: Thanks for the compliment. Trying to describe my own show is a difficult task, because when you boil it down, the show is me. It’s my life, opinions and my interaction with listeners. It’s definitely humor driven and I try to not take myself or anything else too seriously. I can and do talk about important stories with the proper reverence, but within a few minutes I’m laughing about something else. Depending on the day it’s also me doing silly characters, telling tall tales and just having a good time.

My first producer described me as an “every man” and I think that’s accurate. I have a lot of the same problems, concerns and experiences as most people, but its how I deal with them, the way I tell a story and my willingness to share the details that hopefully set me apart. I think it’s my ability to connect with people and be genuine that makes listeners comfortable spending time with me. I also think the listener can tell I’m having a ball and that atmosphere of fun is contagious. I try to keep a quote from Dean Martin in mind whenever I’m doing the show, “just tryin’ to have a little fun folks, that’s all.”

Rick: I've done the overnight shift before, and I know how much it messes with your body clock. You've filled in for Steve & Johnny several times and had to do it for more than a few days in a row. With a young daughter at home, it must be a rough schedule. When do you find time to sleep?

Brian: I have had the honor and pleasure of being the main fill-in for Steve and Johnnie (photo) for the last year and a half. I cover the 2-5 am portion of their show and it’s always a great time. Their audience and crew have been welcoming and I always look forward to keeping their seats warm. Boy, that doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean.

I had a hard time adjusting my sleep schedule when I started covering for them and even with doing the weekend overnights. Should I sleep right when I come home, take short naps, sleep later in the day, or just forget it and get so pumped up on coffee and energy drinks that sleep doesn’t matter? Getting home at 6 am is proving a little easier now that school is back in session. My daughter is in band, so that requires us to get up at six every morning anyway. I usually come home, wake her up and go about my normal routine. Then I stay up and work on the next day’s show, do my mundane errands and then hit the sack around noon. I’ll get my full amount of sleep and then be up in time to spend some time with my wife and daughter, watch some TV and then it’s back to the station. It is definitely an adjustment, especially doing the shift sporadically, but I enjoy being the voice crying out in the darkness.

Rick: Your career is like a radio sandwich. Radio, then stand up comedy, and then back to radio again. I know you do both radio and comedy these days. Do you consider yourself more of a radio guy doing stand up or a stand up guy doing radio?

Brian: Wow, why do you want to box me in? I can’t be compartmentalized. This is an interesting question because it’s a perception that can work against you in both areas. I think both stand-ups and radio people are very territorial and don’t like the idea of interlopers “trying” their craft. I can see their point. I respect and enjoy both very much. Now that I’ve stalled it’s time to answer your question. I would say I’m neither. I’m an entertainer first and foremost. I have developed and continue to develop the skills I need to do a great job in both forums. I enjoy different aspects of each job. Whether it’s the live performance and instant feedback of stand-up, or the theater of the mind creation, and local connection of radio, in the end, being able to deliver funny content and being relatable are the most important things to both jobs.

Rick: You were out in LA for awhile and managed to get a few pretty impressive credits on the resume. One of your gigs was a recurring role on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno as a sketch player. Talk about that experience a little.

Brian: TV work is great if you can get it. I recommend everyone try. You get treated great, no matter how small your part may be, you’re compensated well and let’s be honest, being on TV is cool. I did my first sketch on The Tonight Show when they were doing a week of shows from the Rosemont Theater. I played a guy who demanded a hot dog from Jay Leno (photo) and then in a video montage, the hotdog was brought to me by various Chicago celebrities and sports stars. The best thing to come out of that day was meeting Walter Payton. It was right before he got sick. He was very friendly and I was like a little kid I was so excited.

When I moved to L.A., I contacted the producer who had hired me in Chicago and was fortunate enough to do a few more things for them. One of the “highlights” was appearing topless in a sketch parodying the now defunct XFL. Another giant man and I were cheering for the “XPGA”. Nothing says quality television like shirtless, overweight men jumping up and down with painted stomachs. Unfortunately that was not my only topless TV appearance. Did I mention they pay well?

Rick: OK, let's talk about LA versus Chicago. They say that Chicago people who move to LA never seem to fit in to the LA world. Did you find that to be true, and if so, why do you think that is?

Brian: Except for my four years at Southern Illinois University, I had always lived in the Chicago area, so any move would have been an adjustment. I think it’s easy for people to bash L.A., but overall I really enjoyed my time there. That may be because I didn’t live in the belly of the beast. We were very fortunate. A week after arriving I was on a game show and won enough money to put a down payment on a house. We lived in the Santa Clarita Valley which is about thirty miles North of Hollywood. Mine was a typical suburban life except for my unusual job. I might have had a harder time adjusting if I lived in Hollywood with four other guys in a cramped apartment. Most of the people I met weren’t native Californians anyway, so everyone could relate to making adjustments.

There were definitely things I missed about living in Chicago, but I came back often enough to satisfy my culinary needs and enjoy three days of snow. I didn’t miss the humidity or the mosquitoes and loved eating Christmas Eve dinner outside. The biggest differences I found were based in the show biz world where people were always looking over your shoulder to see if someone more important was in the room, and an overall sense of superficiality. I never bought into that, so I enjoyed my time there and never thought we would move back to Chicago, but you know what they say about best laid plans.

Rick: You're also an actor, which is one of the reasons you were out in LA. I take it there isn't a ton of acting work here in Chicago. Are you still keeping your hands in it (doing commercials, etc)?

Brian: You’d be surprised how much acting work is available Chicago. There is a lot of commercial production and Hollywood is taking more notice of our beautiful city and bringing movie production here. The industry is still entrenched in L.A., but opportunities for Chicago actors are increasing. I still audition for anyone that will have me and have been fortunate enough to book some commercial work since coming back. It’s just another avenue to be creative. I’m always ready for my close up, but I don’t know if the public is ready. Did I mention the topless appearances?

Rick: Working at WGN radio has got to be a big thrill for someone who grew up in Chicago. It's the ultimate destination for radio professionals. How did you get your foot in the door there, and what do you consider some of the highlights of your time at WGN?

Brian: The fact that I get to roam the same halls and work in the same studios as some of the legends of Chicago radio is never lost on me. There is a history at WGN that has to be respected, and it is a thrill to be able to do my part. The fact that my entire family is lifelong WGN listeners, so I get a little respect during holiday dinners is another bonus.

I got my foot in the door in a non-traditional way. I had decided that it was time to get back to radio and had put together a demo made up of my appearances on various shows. Tim Dukes who was the P.D. at the Loop at the time, heard that demo and asked me to put together a show with myself as the lead. I got a studio, asked another comic to be my sidekick, found a woman to add another voice and did a mock show. Despite very positive response, The Loop hired some guy named Jonathon Brandmeier. Maybe you’ve heard of him. I think he’s got potential. I sent the demo to WGN because Todd Manley was acting P.D. Todd and I had both attended S.I.U. and were acquaintances, so I figured I had nothing to lose except the postage. To be honest, I never thought I’d hear from him. It was WGN after all. Todd heard something he liked and asked me to come in, but by the time I did, there was a new P.D. who didn’t share his vision. That guy was gone fast, and Todd and Kurt Vanderah brought me in. Those guys were big supporters of mine and I’ll always be grateful to them for giving me the shot. I was teamed with Laura Hirsch at first, but she left after eight months and I’ve been going it alone ever since.

There have been so many highlights for me since I started at WGN. The biggest one was the first time I got to do the legal I.D. and throw it to news. To me, that meant I was really on the station. Since then I’ve been thrilled to meet the other fine voices at the station, do cross talk with Spike, Orion and Max, fill in for Steve and Johnnie, and meet a lot of great listeners. I’ve also enjoyed building the show to a point where we’re starting to attract quality guests at off peak hours.

Rick: What do you think your show needs to take it to the next level?

Brian: This is a tricky one because if I really knew the answer I’d have moved to that level, but here’s what I think. To successfully move to the next level, the first thing I need is more reps. Nobody grows without constant effort and repetition. The weeks I fill in and do eight or nine shows, things are really humming. I get into a rhythm like all the good ones do. Since the hiring part is out of my control, I also need someone with the foresight and imagination to not worry about where I’ve been, but to see where I can go and give me a shot. Add in a great support staff, management support, a heaping dose of luck, then click your heels together three times, say “full time gig” and there you have it. (Oh yeah, getting to do an interview always helps too.)

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.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Alan Cox

UPDATED 9/10/10


When I last spoke to Alan Cox about two years ago, he had just been let go as the morning man at Q-101. He is back on the air again, although now he's in Cleveland. When I spoke to him the other day, I asked if he could get me caught up on what's happened since our last conversation.

Alan: After we spoke in Sept of 2008, I took a sales job with WNUA, in order to keep my ear to the ground in Chicago, hoping that something on-air would surface. Ironically, I was only there for 11 weeks, as Clear Channel fired 1,200 employees on Inauguration Day 2009. As a newbie, I knew I'd be among the axed; sadly, stalwarts like Rick O'Dell (see above) found themselves in the same boat. As everyone knows, it was shortly thereafter that WNUA's jazz format was no more.

I continued to do stand-up in clubs around Chicago, as well as commercial voiceover work for clients like AutoZone, Verizon, and Northwestern University, narrating a few documentaries that aired on the Big Ten Network. In December of 2009, famine became feast when my agent called me with two on-air offers, neither of which was in Chicago.

As much as I hated being off the air, I hadn't contemplated having to leave Chicago again after only two years, and economic circumstances being what they were, I had to go where the action was. In truth, despite being bummed about loading the UHaul again, it's really been a great development. I'm hosting a talk show (which I had wanted to do all along) at the legendary WMMS in Cleveland, my third go-round as a Clear Channel employee. (One thing I'll say about CC: unlike other radio companies, getting booted from one position never keeps you out of contention for another with them.)

In some ways, WMMS feels like a throwback to my formative years working with Johnny B at The Loop. WMMS is a rock station that has had great success with talk in drive-time, a rare bit of foresight that a market like Chicago would do well to emulate. I've definitely brought a different vibe to the station, with my mix of comedy, politics, and raw, unvarnished commentary. (9 months in, my show is #1 18-34 and #4 25-54)

In April of this year, I was also brought on to host middays at WSDD in St. Louis. It's a more music-intensive show, targeted at Gen-X women, but the management there were fans of my irreverence and the OM is an old friend of mine, so it all came together. I record the St. Louis show in the morning from my Cleveland studio, then go live on WMMS from 3-7p.

Fortunes in this biz turn on a dime, and I'm very happy to be back on the air. Now my goal is to get back to Chicago in a few years and inject some much-needed new blood into the talk radio landscape in my hometown. Also, a final shout-out to Jonathon Brandmeier and Robert Murphy. Both have been invaluable mentors to me, and both deserve to be back on the air at home, ASAP. In the meantime, until I return, anyone can hit me up and stream my show at

The original interview follows...

Alan Cox was the host of the Morning Fix, which aired on Q-101 from 2006-2008.


1992-1994: WLUP FM/AM (intern, later ass't. producer-Jonathon Brandmeier Radio Showgram)
1993-1994: WZOK/ Rockford, IL (weekends)
1994-1995: WXRX/ Rockford, IL (weekends)
1995- 1998: WRKR/ Kalamazoo, MI (afternoons)
1999- 2006: WXDX/ Pittsburgh (afternoons, moved to mornings)
2006- 2008: WKQX/ Chicago (mornings)

Rick: How did they break the news to you that they were pulling the plug on your show at Q-101, and what reason did they give?

Alan: It was a pretty standard radio dismissal- After our August 1st show, management told me and my cohost, Jim Lynam, that they were "making some changes effective immediately" and moving the afternoon duo to our slot. They didn't give a reason, but my contract was up and they were paying me a lot of money, so I knew it was a possibility. Radio has fallen on hard times across the board. Despite assurances to the contrary, stations are simply knee-jerking over PPM- the exact wrong thing to do. PPM is just as screwy as the diaries were. Ironically, after our dismissal, our PPM numbers were the highest they'd ever been. A lot of smart people in our industry are making a lot of strange decisions.

Rick: When you started your career working as an intern for Johnny B, did you ever think that you'd be up against his show--right down the hall from him?

Alan: I definitely never thought I'd be on the air opposite him. Even though I'm not even in the same strata as Johnny, it was a complete thrill to be working down the hall from him. When I walked into his studio about a month after I had been back on the air here, his jaw dropped. He hadn't made the connection that the guy he sent to pick up hookers with a hidden microphone 15 years ago was the guy hosting mornings at Q101. My career goal was always to be doing drive time in Chicago and everything I know professionally, I learned from Johnny- drive, work ethic, creativity, stamina, perspective- everything. For a guy to still be at the top of his game and so creatively relevant, when so many others have flashed in the pan, is proof that he's unparalleled.

I was a stand-up comic before I got into radio and I crossed paths with Garry Shandling one time. He said that, other than his father, he had never wanted another man's approval more than Johnny Carson. That's how I feel about Brandmeier.

Rick: I really admire the idea of what you were trying to do with that show. It sounded like a bold experiment. Just about everyone I know in Chicago radio was tuning in to that first week to hear how it sounded. I know you rehearsed it a few times, and pre-recorded a stockpile of stuff, but in retrospect, do you wish you would have had a chance to roll it out in another time slot to get your sea legs before launching it in morning drive?

Alan: The original Morning Fix wasn't a victim of its timeslot; more a combination of a other things. We were replacing Mancow, which would have been a daunting task for any kind of show. Plus, I think there were too many moving parts and the audience couldn't get their arms around the sum total. Some listeners loved its frenetic pace and comedic tone; other people felt like it didn't give them time to breathe. Plus, radio is an interactive medium at its best. People want to call and be part of the fun. The original show was very self-contained. It's one thing to do a funny radio show; it's quite a dicey proposition to do a show that's working very hard to be funny in a specific way. The idea was sound, but it simply didn't resonate with enough listeners. The Q101 core audience is primarily into the music and wasn't really sure what to do with our show. I think it would have been more successful on a station that skewed a bit older.

Rick: I know I'm not the only one in radio who was rooting for it to succeed.

Alan: I'm proud to have been a part of it. It was (former PD) MIke Stern's baby and it brought me back home. For all of the times people say, "Give us something different on the radio!", we did. We had immensely talented people in that incarnation, and it was a LOT of work, but the bottom line is- it's still radio. It's very difficult to change people's habits. In a market like Chicago, where you have legendary personalities up and down the dial, being an upstart show of ANY stripe is very difficult. Even more so when it's an entirely new concept.

The audience it did garner really railed against station management when they pulled the plug on the ensemble show, but I have to credit Emmis for taking that chance on really giving it a shot. The old show got 14 months, which is longer than most other stations would have given a show like that. In the largely bland radio landscape, Emmis would have been hailed as heroes had it succeeded. Most radio companies wouldn't have put the time or the resources into a show like that in the first place.

Rick: I did catch quite a few inspired moments on the show when I tuned in. What are some of your favorites?

Alan: Some of the best bits from the old show were the ones that came completely by accident. We'd all be pitching ideas and someone would riff off someone else,and so on. We did a lot of NPR-on-acid humor, like the science reporter who invariably would jumble his facts and just devolve into bragging about sleeping w other professor's wives. We did a completely strange bit called "Backseat Goat", about a goat that sat in the backseat of your car and acted like a GPS, but only through a series of animal noises that the driver inexplicably understood. We tried to balance the higher-brow with the lowbrow. A suburban school put on a play that upset some Italian-Americans, so we did a grade-school production of The Sopranos, in which the kids clumsily mimicked all the vulgar language and stereotypes. All little bits of twisted humor that were unlike anything else on the dial.

Rick: When most of the show was let go, and you were asked to carry on, what was that like the last few months? Did you feel like they were giving you a legitimate shot?

Alan: At the very beginning, they just wanted us to babysit the music. Between Mancow (photo) and the old Morning Fix, they hadn't had music in morning drive for almost ten years and they wanted to regain that position with the Q101 audience. Understandable. But I walked into management and said, "if we're keeping the seat warm for a new show, tell me now." I'm a pro, I get it- but be upfront if we're just leftovers. They assured me that we had a shot, and I believe that they at least wanted to see what we could do. So we played more music and slowly introduced more personality pieces into the format. We had lots of callers, lots of sports, lots of good guests, lots of solid quirky comedy- we were gunning for that male 18-34 demo, and getting it. We had a fiercely loyal audience, with no marketing and no promotion. It was word- of- mouth. But the pressure to deliver overnight is so immense, albeit completely unrealistic. My regret is that our show only got seven months, and we were at the top of our demo. That's why I chalk it up to a financial decision.

Rick: With your background in radio, I'm sure there are lots of different paths your future career could take you. What are you most interested in pursuing at this time?

Alan: I'll be trying my hand at voiceovers to pay the bills, but I love the medium of radio. I reject, on principle, the notion that it's a dying ART form. Commerce dictates that music formats seemingly regard talent now as a necessary evil, but I've always felt particularly suited for talk radio. I think there is a big hole in that format for a younger, politically savvy, edgy, engaging personality like myself. I've also been a columnist and a PBS TV contributor during my radio career, so I've never been content to have a limited skill set. I grew up listening to Larry Lujack and Steve & Garry, Brandmeier and Bob Collins. I'm a big Roe Conn fan. And, though I disagree with them on many things, I admire guys like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for successfully crossing over as talk hosts who understand it's still entertainment. I want talk radio to be my next thing.

Rick: Anything you'd like to say to the fans of your show?

Alan: None of us would be here without listeners, and I have had some of the best. Many of them have gone from being faceless to being great friends, and that's a rare thing. I'm grateful for anyone who listened, and I hope they'll return to me when I'm back on the air.

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.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kevin Robinson

UPDATED: 3/7/09

When I spoke to Kevin last summer he was with Audience Development Group, a consulting firm. A few months later he was named program director of 106.5 The Arch in St. Louis...

Kevin: The new opportunity at 106-5 The Arch is going extremely well. This is the most successful Adult Hits brand by any yardstick in the country. The latest trend delivered #1 25-54 for the month and is trending up over the last three trends! The difference is that THIS Adult Hits station followed a customized blueprinted for St. Louis, not national success.

It also presents a foreign opportunity for me. Every one of my previous station-level programming call-ups were rescue missions. Stations which needed immediate triage care and eventually rebounded. At 106-5 The Arch, I've inherited a wonderful brand populated by excellent professionals at every level. My job - don't mess it up!

Plus, Bonneville is a wonderful company that has values in line with my own. Far more than the bottom line, Bonneville honors their people as their most valuable resource - above all. Nice to see that in this or any climate.

The previous 2 1/2 years has taught me that of the 11,000+ radio stations in our country, the best ideas are developing out of local, small market properties. Free of the encumbrance of publicly-traded, corporate mis-steps, the nimble owner-operated brands are producing truly great radio for their markets.

For years, smaller markets were often scoffed at for sounding - 'small market'. You and I evolved out of small markets. Now, in this environment of large-market cookie-cutter formats and nationalized talent syndication, the small market station is emerging as the place many long to return be, in order to reclaim their craft.

The original interview follows...

Kevin Robinson is a strategic partner at Audience Development Group. From 1992-2004 he was a prominent program director in Chicago at WJMK and WZFS/WYLL.


*Audience Development Group, 2006 – Present
*CBS Radio - Vice-President/HOT AC Format - March 2005-July 2006
*Y98 FM KYKY/St. Louis - Program Director - September 2004–July 2006
*106.7 The Fish WZFS & AM 1160 WYLL/Chicago - Program Director - April 2002–March 2004
*Oldies 104.3 WJMK & AM 1160 WJJD/Chicago - Program Director - December 1992–March 2002
*Mix 92.9 WBUF/Buffalo - Program Director - November 1991-December 1992
*95FM WVIC/Lansing - Program Director - August 1989-November 1991
*Y95 KOY/Phoenix - Assistant Program Director/Music Director/Research Director - November 1987-August 1989
*LRS102 WLRS/Louisville - Assistant Program Director/Music Director/Air Talent - December 1984-November 1987
*97WB WBWB/Bloomington - Everything - March 1981-December 1984

Rick: During the heyday of WJMK, you were the program director. I don't think people realize or remember just how big of a ratings powerhouse that station once was, and you were guiding it during most of those years.

Kevin: During that stretch, there we so many people who helped achieve a fantastic run where we were Top 5, 25-54 persons, 23 of 29 Arbitron surveys - often without resources while our competitors where investing truckloads in outside tactical marketing.

Part of the reason we flew under the radar was that I wasn't nearly the 'legend' in programming guys like the great Mike Phillips at K-EARTH or Joe McCoy (photo with Kevin) at CBS-FM were --so they received more well-deserved press, especially in the trade publications. If you remember, I had the personal policy of no trade press - thinking at the time that if you give an interview, you're simply sharing secrets.

Plus, I never lobbied hard for industry awards - although we received many Marconi nominations I thought the NAB voting process was flawed. Basing a nomination on a package of written, non-verified words without audio was simply wrong to me. But I was proud of the numerous A.I.R awards the staff and station picked up - audio nominations voted on by our peers, imagine that!

Rick: When John Landecker was hired at WJMK in 1993, that really marked a change in WJMK's approach. It was the first time WJMK really allowed a full-service morning show. Talk about some of the growing pains of that process from your perspective.

Kevin: The sole reason I was hired (other than that I would do it for the lowest cash amount and would put up with the dung flying out of the corner office) was to bring life to WJMK between the records. I was a Top 40 guy, NOT an oldies guy. I learned the music from my hours spent with Bill Drake, (Yes, that Bill Drake), then employed Top 40 momentum and acumen, including identifying a morning show that could drive numbers.

When Landecker (photo) was working with Saul Foos, he tried to get anyone from the Foos talent pool on WJMK. I kept asking him, 'why not YOU?' He said NO several times, until we had him fill-in a few times in August 1993 then put together a deal the next month.

In retrospect, Landecker tried too many things on the audience at once. He eventually grew into a GREAT morning talent after inside and outside guidance, including spectacular coaching and packaging from you. I still play my Landecker & The Legends CD's!

Rick: What are some of your fondest memories from your years at WJMK?

Kevin: The amazing staff that we were able to assemble. The building certainly wasn't 'talent friendly,' but we were able to change that.

Think about it - Legendary air talent like John Records Landecker, Dick Biondi (photo) and Catherine Johns, plus Brant Miller (Now mornings on WLS-FM) on weather and Richard Cantu on news (now with ABC Network News). Great jocks like Scott Miller and Greg Brown (now with WLS-FM). The BEST part-time staff in the city - three of our part-timers were former Chicago morning men. The parodies you and Vince Argento (now with Jonathon Brandmeier) put together and Bob Lawson's amazing imaging (who's still with WJMK - whatever they are doing) glued it together.

Plus across the hall at sister station WJJD we had Legends Clark Weber, Bob Hale and Bob Dearborn.

I have GREAT memories of everything I learned from the staff roaming the halls of 180 North Michigan. But bad memories of the furniture.

Rick: Is there anything in retrospect that you would have done differently?

Kevin: I would have celebrated our victories with greater vigor and caught more of the fecal matter flowing down the halls.

Rick: I've previously written about the experience of working with former WJMK general manager Harvey Pearlman. I think it's hard to explain to current radio people what Harvey was like. How would you describe his personality?

Kevin: Many of the Harvey stories are true -albeit amped up as those who translate history tend to do. He was one of those colorful radio icons that's hard to explain. He liked to yell, and he claimed he never fired anyone - people simply quit. Harvey could be radically angry one minute then your 'grandfather' the next. He was generous in his own way - I learned more about the business of radio from him than anyone else.

Harvey rarely cut people, if ever - the wholesale staff gutting took place after he left. Some of my favorite quotes, which will never be published, came from Harvey's office.

Rick: After you left WJMK, you were working with CBS as a national program director of one of their formats. In that role you traveled all over the country listening to some of the other CBS shows. Is there anyone out there in a smaller/medium sized market that you think would fit in well here in Chicago?

Kevin: That's a good question. The BIG issue is that MOST great radio talent do such a GREAT job of serving their local community that transferring them into Chicago wouldn't be a good match.

But since you're pinning me down to ONE, John Jay & Rich in Phoenix/Tuscon are simply amazing. They grab HUGE shares in and out of their target. Why Clear Channel hasn't placed them on Kiss in Chicago is stunning to me.

Rick: You've worked with some real legends. What Chicago radio personalities do you admire the most and why?

Kevin: Well, all of the people I mentioned earlier. Plus, I wish we could have worked with Fred Winston (photo) more but there was a history that proceeded you and me. Ron Britain is in the same boat. My three hour Ruth Chris lunch with Ron is the stuff of legend.

You might remember where Melissa Foreman was going to join us until she met Harvey. Her addition to the Landecker in the Morning show would have been remarkable.

Rick: You're currently working as a consultant. Tell us a little bit about what that entails?

Kevin: I hate the word 'consultant'. Yuck. It carries so much negative baggage from those bad ones who've carried the bag before me. Since I've had exposure and success in so many different formats, my clientèle runs the spectrum. Country, Oldies, Christian, Hot AC, Talk, Mainstream AC - I have them all.

I also have a few Americana formats - which I think is the NEXT BIG THING.

Plus, for some odd reason I've become somewhat known as a talent coach. There was one situation this Spring (because I don't share my pedigree unless asked) where we had a 'difficult' morning show. The owner, much to my chagrin, pulled out The Landecker Card to get him to pay attention. Ugh.

Most of my partnerships are in smaller markets and I try to lend what I've learned from guys like you to their particular situation - working completely custom depending on market opportunities. I'm talking to you now from Tyler, Texas!

Never do I come into a situation with a format or 'safe list' in my back pocket. Every opportunity is different - which is why I openly question the 'plug & play' format option.

I work with my Partners Tim Moore out of Naples and Brian Wright in Grand Rapids.

Rick: I've become a big fan of your weekly newsletter, The Robinson Report. You write about the business in a realistic, but positive way. How does one go about getting on the list to receive it?

Kevin: Anyone can subscribe at which might the longest URL on the net.

I try to write The Robinson Report for the NEXT generation - those who haven't been soiled by cookie-cutter formats and give them ONE thing to put into play (or to think about) each week.

The response is strong - which tells me there's plenty of life left in terrestrial radio.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Building Teamwork with Talent

I wrote this a few months ago for Kevin Robinson's radio industry newsletter, The Robinson Report. (Kevin will be my interview subject this weekend for Chicago Radio Spotlight). It was reprinted this week in the industry publication "All Access." I'm reprinting it here now for the local crowd. The intended audience is radio station programmers.

Since the beginning of radio, there has always been an uneasy relationship between talent and programmers. It's totally natural if you think about it. Talent is right-brained, creative and impulsive. Programmers are mostly left-brained, detailed and analytical.

The clash occurs when a programmer attempts to coach the talent. Left-brained programmers nearly always coach right-brained talent using left-brained techniques.

And then they wonder why it doesn't work.

I was a radio producer for 20-plus years. I always got along well with both sides because I'm a natural right-brained person and could think like the talent, but I was raised in a very strict family of left-brained thinkers, and therefore could also understand where the programmers were coming from.

I heard what programmers were trying to say during coaching sessions, but I also heard what the talent was hearing. It wasn't the same thing. Ninety percent of those problems could have been avoided by following three simple rules.

1. Leave your anal tendencies at the door

In your job, attention to detail is a necessity ... until you apply it to your coaching sessions.

You must let the little things go. You must. When the talent hears you constantly harping about something that he or she considers completely meaningless (you know what I'm talking about here; the stuff that makes them roll their eyes), your chances of getting them to listen to your advice on any other subject is gone forever.

2. Use the proportional rule
Yes, talent is sensitive, but you don't need to deal with them with kid gloves. You can say what you really believe. You just need to convey the positive as enthusiastically as you convey the negative.

If you think 90% of the show was good and only 10% wasn't, then you should be spending 90% of your time praising the stuff you liked, and only 10% critiquing. When you only accentuate the negative, you're subliminally telling them that you hate the show, even if you don't feel that way.

3. Listen to their ideas, don't immediately judge them

Way too many great ideas die because programmers don't listen. Often, a creative person can see the potential in an idea before he or she is able to put it into words. That needs to be nurtured, not squashed. Restrain yourself from pooh-poohing ideas you don't understand. Help them talk through their ideas instead. When the talent is unable to verbalize it to you, he will realize that it needs to gestate in his brain a little longer. Eventually, he'll come back to you later with a great idea, or he'll kill it himself.

The key is being non-judgmental. You're not against it. You're just trying to understand it.

That's it. That's all you need to do. If you follow those three simple rules, the talent will believe you are on the same team, which of course you are.

Once the talent believes he has a teammate, he or she will be more confident. Once they are more confident, their natural creativity will flourish.

Once that happens, everyone wins.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Melissa McGurren

I recently conducted this mini-interview of Melissa McGurren for SHORE Magazine...

Melissa McGurren // WTMX Radio, Chicago

Melissa is the traffic anchor on one of the top-rated morning shows in Chicago, the Eric and Kathy show on the Mix, WTMX (101.9). Melissa grew up in Portage, Indiana, and got her start in radio working in Hammond and Merrillville before scoring the gig as the “sexy” traffic reporter on the Mix. She has won several awards for her work on the Eric and Kathy show.

Radio Philosophy

Know a little about a lot. Be genuine.

Least Favorite Song

I do not, I repeat, do not like the song “Beautiful Girls,” by Sean Kingston.

Favorite Brush with Greatness

Suze Orman. Not that I think she has all the answers to managing money properly, but she sure made me rethink how I deal with my own money managing!!

Best Advice

Appreciate every moment of a successful show . . . it won’t last forever! Believe me . . . I do!

Best Thing about Doing Radio Here

The Chicagoland area, which includes Northwest Indiana, has the most dedicated listening audience, which keeps me employed. Thank you, everyone!! I grew up in the Portage and Valparaiso area. Now I get to come to work and embarrass my friends and family from these cities by talking about them on the air. That means many people in the region walk around knowing I’ve shared some of their private moments. Okay, okay, so I haven’t been that bad. I at least ask before I tell! I’ve found everyone has a funny story.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Eddie Volkman

Updated 8/29/09


I interviewed Eddie (right) about a year ago when he was still doing the morning show with JoBo at B-96. I caught up with him again this week to find out what he and JoBo are up to and what they have planned.

Our 8-month contract payout just ended in late July, and negotiating with any other broadcast outlets BEFORE that would have violated the contract, and we're not stupid! Ha Ha!

So Jobo and I just chilled and enjoyed the paid vacation. I travelled a lot, including Hawaii, Europe, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Nashville & more.

Jobo mostly spent time at his Freeport, Illinois houses, designing, remodeling, and relaxing.

We've recently been in some meetings with a few Chicago radio groups and feel pretty good about popping back up on Chicago morning radio again soon, of course as "Eddie & Jobo."

We both did very well financially with our last contract, so we're willing to wait for just the right situation and deal to come along. I'm headed up to Vancouver for a week or so, then down to Oklahoma to visit my daughters. But thanks to digital media, I'm always close-by... I'll keep you posted!

The original interview follows...

Eddie Volkman (right) is the long-time co-host of the morning show on WBBM-FM (B-96) along with Joe Bohannon (left).

Rick: Your dad is still a revered figure in this town. What was it like growing up in Chicago as Harry Volkman's son?

Eddie: By the time I was born my father had already been on television for several years. In fact, both of my older brothers' births were announced on my dad's weather segment. It was so normal to us that my brother, Jerry actually asked a kindergarten classmate, "What channel is your dad on?" High School was a little tougher. As an athlete, opposing teams would yell things like "Are you puttin' on the High Pressure Defense?". I'd shut 'em up by "raining" 3-pointers! You have to remember, in the 70's & 80's--pre-cable days--the channel 2 or channel 9 news had higher ratings than "American Idol" or other hit shows these days. The recognition factor was pretty high. (Photo: Jerry, Eddie & Harry)

Rick: You and Jobo have been together now for twenty years--which is unheard of in this business. What is the secret to your long-time partnership?

Eddie: We're opposites in many ways. We both often say "I can't do what he does". Jobo's a polished host who claims not to be funny (but he is!), who gets from point A to point B with surgical precision. I tend to be a scatterbrained comedian, actor, singer, impressionist, etc. I keep things lighhearted and funny even during more serious discussions on the show.

Rick: There is something I've always wondered about you guys. Obviously a ton of work goes into your show every day. How do you divide up the show prep duties?

Eddie: As a kid, I tended to follow the lead of a year-older brother. Jobo was more of an independent thinker, and by his own admission is rather obsessive/compulsive about show topics, preparation and scheduling. Although the show's content is somewhat of a committee decision (there are 6 of us in there each morning), I've learned to trust Jobo's instincts and almost Freudian approach to every program--you can never lose when you talk about sex, food, or relationships. I pride myself on being able to run with any topic that comes up. It's like improv for me.

Rick: Any show that's been around for twenty years has to evolve and goes through highs and lows. What do you consider your highest high and your lowest low?

Well, to be perfectly shallow, the bidding war between CBS Radio and Clear Channel for our services back in 2002 was quite a boost for our egos as well as bank accounts, but of course the most rewarding times are when ratings are highest. You don't want to be All-Pro on a last-place team. Our best ratings were in the early to mid-90's before the proliferation of iPods, Spanish radio stations and other factors that have since fragmented the audience. The lowest low obviously would be when we were fired in May of 1994 over a libel lawsuit that anyone can Google--we still don't talk about it much. Although we were picked up by WIOQ-FM in Philladelphia a few months later, our hearts were still in Chicago, hometown to us both. That situation cost me my house, my marriage and my kids moving to Arizona. Count being re-hired at the end of 1996 as the other greatest high point!

Rick: I was working for the same company on another morning show (Landecker at WJMK) when you were forced to have management approve every single word you said before it aired. I can't speak for the other shows in the company, but we were petrified that would become a company wide policy. How did you make it through those years, and did you learn anything about yourselves through that process?

Eddie: The libel lawsuit that lost us the job in 1994 had the company on edge when we were hired the second time. Our General Manger, Don Marion was quite worried about lawsuits, and was under the gun to do whatever was necessary to prevent that situation from ever happening again. I think there was actually way too much precaution involved, but his job was on the line if anything went wrong. Don and our Program Director, Todd Cavanah would alternate weeks sitting in the studio. Jobo refers to us as "being pre-recorded" back then, I preferred to say we were on a two-minute delay, not unlike the 10 or 20-second delay most morning shows have anyway. The only real pain was having to record something, then have it ready by the time a song was over.

Rick: I've previously interviewed Karen Hand who was a big part of your show for many years. That female component to the show has always been there in some shape or form (currently with Erica Cobb). How important is it to have the female perspective?

Eddie: One weakness Jobo and I both have is growing up in families of jocks ("athletic", not "disc"). We can tend to get caught up in talking too much sports, drinking, and male humor if we're not careful. On a station that targets women 18 to 34 and teens, that's not a good thing. Also, as I mentioned, we talk a lot about relationships. If a woman-caller to the show says she's in an abusive relationship and we tell her she's crazy to remain there, we sound like male bullies with no clue as to the dynamics of her situation. Coming from Karen Hand or our more recent co-host, Erica Cobb (photo), it sounds much more like advice from a girlfriend, and hence much more comfortable and credible.And of course, a female perspective is always appreciated on issues of fashion, politics, food--you name it!

Rick: One of the challenges for your show is that you guys are not in the same demo as the audience you're trying to attract. How do you manage to stay so young and relate to that younger audience?

Eddie: It's just a matter of reading what they read, keeping up with their interests and technology, and even watching the shows they watch. It's become so natural that I actually find myself somewhat bored with my own peers, sad to say. My high school buddies golf and have riding mowers--I play basketball and video games. Whatever we're doing works, I guess. Our teen and young adult ratings are about the same as twenty years ago.

Rick: If my math is correct, the seven year contract you signed back in 2002 is ending next year. When you signed that contract, Kiss-FM made a huge push to steal you--and when they couldn't get you, they signed DreX to come into the market. Will we be experiencing a similar situation next year?

Eddie: Well, financial times are different. We're well-aware of the revenue situation in radio these days compared to 7 years ago. We believe there is interest in our services at B96 and other outlets beyond our current contract, but at what price I don't know. The situation that occurred with Mike North at co-owned CBS station WSCR is an example.of the salary adjustments you have to be realistic about. I guess we'll see!

Rick: They say that mixed marriages don't work, but you and JoBo have managed to stay together despite the fact that JoBo is a Sox fan, and you're a Cubs fan. What will happen if those teams play each other in the World Series this year. Will the partnership survive?

Eddie: Oh yeah...In fact, as the Cubs fan on the show I, of course, want to see my team win the World Series, but I also want it to be against the White Sox! It would mean so much more than beating, say, the Tampa Bay Rays. Even their own fans don't care about that team! As a former college baseball player, I am a fan of the game as much as anything. On-air I'm brutal to the Sox, as Jobo is to the Cubs but, truth be known, I have always followed and cheered for both teams. It's just a good Chicago-like, on-air bit (although Jobo genuinely hates the Cubs!). Our "brotherhood" goes deep enough, however that nothing much ever gets between us!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

John Jurkovic

I recently conducted this mini-interview of John Jurkovic for SHORE Magazine...

Ivan John Jurkovic // ESPN Radio, Chicago

Jurko, as he’s known to his radio fans, is the cohost of the #1 rated afternoon show in Chicago, the Mac, Jurko & Harry show on sports-talk radio ESPN (AM 1000). Before beginning his radio career, he was a professional football player in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cleveland Browns. He grew up in Calumet City, and currently lives in Northwest Indiana.

Radio Philosophy

To inform and entertain. If you keep those two things in mind, you can never go wrong.

Favorite Brush with Greatness

I’ve met just about everyone in the world of sports without really being affected by it, but the day we had Dale Earnhardt, Jr., on the show at McCormick Place before the 2003 All-Star Game at Comiskey Park had to be the biggest moment for me. I’m a huge NASCAR fan, and that was unbelievable. I was so nervous, I was shaking . . . I had to settle myself down. For me, that was the cat’s meow.

Least Favorite Brush with Greatness

Some of the bad ones are with young college kids that are about to turn pro, like Julius Peppers. I don’t want to pick on him; I’m just using him as an example. We interviewed him down at the Super Bowl a few years ago, and it was amazing to me to see how little he had to say and how unaware he was of what he was getting into. His lack of preparedness was stunning. He’s not alone in that regard. These guys really need some coaching before they deal with the media. The first guy that sat me down was Dick Blasczyk. He was a coach when I was with the Green Bay Packers. He sat me down and said, “Do you know how often you say ‘you know’? Slow down and think. It’s better to have silence than to fill the silence with ‘you know.’”

Better Perks: Radio or NFL

The NFL has better perks because they treat you like a king, but I get to do more interesting stuff in radio. Now I get to go to the Super Bowl, and All-Star games, and the World Series, and the draft. I never got to do any of that stuff when I was player.

Something Listeners Don’t Know about You

I really think I’ve shared it all. How about this: I have a mole on my left butt cheek. It’s true.

Best thing about doing radio here

I’ve always had opinions and thoughts about Chicago sports growing up, and now having an outlet to share that with people more than just the corner bar is fun and interesting. I love to hear the views coming in from everywhere. It’s like hanging out at the world’s biggest tavern.