Saturday, January 30, 2010

Steve Fisher

Steve Fisher is the morning man at Fresh-FM, 105.9

Rick: It's like the Godfather isn't it? Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in. You were out of the business for two years. How is it to be back on the air again?

Steve: I feel rejuvenated, rehabilitated, renovated and refreshed. ;) I was actually nervous again which is a good sign. Radio has been and always will be my first love. She still looks great and I know her well. Radio is where I get to use the left side of my brain!

Rick: Obviously, there must be some sort of a comfort level here. The program director, Bill Gamble, is somebody you've worked with now at three different radio stations. You two must have a pretty good working relationship by now. What is he like to work for, and how has he changed over the years?

Steve: Bill has hired me three times and fired me twice! I'd like to insert this disclaimer that every time he fired me there was a format change less than six months later. Fire me and bad things will happen. ;)

When 94.7 The Zone had morphed into Extreme Rock, I was showing up wearing Khaki's and a polo shirt. "Freak" (photo) has the tattoos, the leather jacket, etc. Which one of these things do not go with the other? Uh, that would be me. While I love Metallica and Alice in Chains, etc. I didn't fit the format and Bill made the right decision. So he replaced me with Freak who was a perfect fit for the Zone.

Bill and I have a mutual respect that it's business first, friendship second. He's a great progam director to work for because he doesn't micro-manage his staff but usually sends out memos once a quarter to keep us focused. His philosophy at Q101 was to hire people with good personalities and teach them how to do great radio. Listen to Brian "Whipping Boy" Paruch who is a natural, James VanOsdol who is one of the best interviewers in the business and Brooke Hunter who is real and raw. He trusts his air staff's instincts and let's us do our thing.

Rick: Fresh-FM is targeted to the female audience. How does that factor into your show prep, your topics, and your content. Is it something that you always try to keep in mind, or are you just doing your thing and hoping it appeals to the female demo?

Steve: I watch Lifetime movies, I read Nicholas Sparks and I eat lots of chocolate. I live by the motto, WWOD? What would Oprah do? Actually, my wife is OUR audience. I talk to her and ask her, what do you think about Tiger Woods? Leno or Conan? She cried when she saw all the orphans in Haiti and wanted to adopt 10 kids. Plus, I have two daughters. I'll ask my 13 year old daughter, who do you like on American Idol? What movies have you seen lately, etc?

Rick: You've gotten a bit of press about your unusual double duty. In the morning, you're a disc jockey/morning host. In the afternoon, you're a real estate broker. That's difficult enough. But by night you're also a dad--father to four kids. Do you ever sleep? How do you do it?

Steve: Actually, I'm a real estate broker, morning, noon and night! That is my real job and you have to work twice as hard to get deals done these days. (VIDEO: Steve's real estate philosophy)

Radio is my play time. Six hours of sleep, plenty of coffee and I have to pray constantly. I'm blessed to have an incredible wife who takes care of twin boys at home by herself! She is the strongest woman I know.

Rick: I know your twin boys are very young, but what about your girls? Now that you had been out of it awhile and you're back on the air again, how do they react to hearing dad on the radio?

Steve: My three month old twin boys love Lady Gaga and Goo Goo Dolls, go figure. My 13 year old Kailie listens and thinks the radio station is cool and I'm not (I think she's bitter because I told her she couldn't start dating until she's thirty)! My eight year old, Grace still thinks of me as her hero and asks, " Do people know you? When I tell her I've talked about the kids on the air, she'll ask, "Are WE famous?"

Rick: You've been a part of the Chicago radio landscape now for nearly twenty years, and I've been following your career since the beginning. I remember I was writing a column for a magazine called "Chicago Advertising & Media" when you started at Q-101 in 1992. I just went back into my archives and read that again this morning. I called you "young, hip, and refreshingly normal." OK, so you're not quite as young anymore, but I still think that the basis of your appeal remains the same--you're a normal, regular guy. I'm guessing you must have faced some resistance to that in the beginning of your career. Did anyone ever try to change your style?

Steve: Is that your way of politely asking, "Have I hit puberty yet?" Ha! I think Jay Marvin once said, "Steve Fisher sounds like a twelve year old." (Photo: Q-101 airstaff in the early 90s. Steve is in the middle)

The other day a buddy from college sent me a message on Facebook and said, "Dude, you still sound like you're 24!" Now that's young, hip and refreshing! I think when I faced resistance, it was when I wasn't being myself early in my career. I was trying too hard to be hip. If you look at today's landscape of media personalities from Conan to Leno to Roe Conn, your voice shouldn't matter. Content is king.

Rick: I think one of the more interesting time periods of your radio career was your time as the sports anchor on Kevin Matthews show at WXCD. I've worked with Kevin before, and that definitely is a challenge. I think to work with anyone effectively on the air you have to be able to get inside their head, to figure out the way they think. I don't think anyone can think the way Kevin thinks (and that's not a shot--I love the guy. He's just waaaaaaay out there). Was that a challenge for you too?

Steve: Kevin (photo) was great. It was Jim Shorts that was the problem! Kevin is an original and let's be honest, Kev doesn't need four sidekicks on the air. He has multiple sidekicks in his head! I learned a lot from that experience and came to the conclusion, I'm not a good sidekick. I need to be in the driver's seat. That's not Kevin's fault. To his credit he tried to make it work at first but we didn't have that magic word..."chemistry." Off the air, he's a gentle soul and truly a good guy at heart.

Rick: You also worked as an account executive during those CD 94.7 days. That's often quite an eye opener for air talent. Has that experience made you more cooperative and appreciative to clients and sales people than you were before?

Steve: I have the utmost respect for anyone trying to sell radio advertising in today's economy. Without a doubt being on that side of the business opened my eyes to how much hard work is directly related to your successs. Radio sales executives deserve every commission they get for following up with leads, writing copy, creating marketing campaigns, hosting on-premise events, dealing with egomaniacal talent :) and taking care of high maintenance clients. I couldn't be a radio account executive because I'm too close to the action. I want to be on the air. However, I've taken a lot of what I learned as an A/E at CD94.7 and Kiss in San Antonio and incorporated it in my approach to real estate sales and marketing.

Rick: You're a Chicago guy, which I know endears you to the listeners. We're a very provincial town here, and being a Lane Tech grad certainly doesn't hurt. Part of the reason we tend to embrace our own is that we like our radio personalities to know about Chicago and it's history. We also like them to know Chicago radio history. When you were growing up in Chicago, which radio personalities were your favorites, and how have they influenced your approach?

Steve: Steve and Garry were my radio heroes. I met them at the Coho Lips Breakfast Club live broadcast at the old Carnegie Theatre. I also wanted to be the next Johnny B! So much so, I used the on air moniker Stevie J in college! Tom Joyner and Doug Banks were huge influences. Believe it or not, at one time I wanted to work at WGCI! I think what I learned from each personality is this: Be yourself. No one can ever take that away from you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Todd Ronczkowski

Todd Ronczkowski is the program director of WVON and the operations manager of WRLL. Before taking this position he was the long-time producer of the Roe & Garry show (and then the Roe Conn show) on WLS-AM 890.

Rick: First of all, congrats on the new gig at WVON. I've always said that producers make good program directors of talk stations--so prove me right. How has that transition from producer to program director gone for you so far?

Todd: Rick, first of all thank you on the congrats. After producing for 15 years on a top rated radio station, you become naturally groomed to program. My goal has always been to program a talk/news/interactive type of format in Chicago.

The transition has been very natural. Basically, I feel like I did my time in the minor leagues and got the call up to the big leagues. A year and a half ago I would have never imagined Programming WVON, let alone being named Operation Manager of 1450 WRLL Radio Latino. It has been a very smooth transition, almost surreal at times. (Photo: Todd with Rod Blagojevich)

Rick: WVON is obviously an iconic station in Chicago. It's been around in some form since the year I was born (1963), and it's been a talk station since 1986. What sort of a vision do you have for the station going forward from here?

Todd: I have a simple plan; it is to continue to super serve our core audience. At the same time, we plan discussions that are relevant to our listening audience in the suburban metro area and collar counties of Cook. 100% of our topic selection is targeted to the African-American community of Chicago. I think we can get more listeners if we plan more discussions about Americans. It is a work in progress. (Photo: Todd with Al Sharpton).

One of our most popular hosts on WVON is Charles Butler. His show comes from the perspective of a conservative African American. This type of programming is not what one would typically expect to hear on Liberal Urban Talk Radio. In a way, he is considered a shock jock to our core audience. They love to hate him but listen to every word. The same goes for our morning show with Matt McGill and Perri Small. Matt and Perri often disagree on topics close to the African-American community. Our younger listeners tend to agree and sometimes challenge them, but our older listeners find them edgy and dangerous. I like that.

Rick: I know the original owners of the station, the Chess Brothers, were white, but VON originally stood for Voice of the Negro. Has there been any backlash about you programming a station that is mainly aimed at the African-American community?

Todd: Rick this is a tough question. I know my name was mentioned negatively in an editorial in a community newspaper. I did not give it much credence because they spelled my name wrong. I try not to pay much attention to what people say. I do know that my presence at WVON has gotten the attention of many people who support the station. I know that doesn't really answer your question, so here is Melody Spann-Cooper, the President and owner of the station, to respond...

Melody: Hi Rick. Did we not just elect an African-American President? The world is changing and there is a lot of great talent out there. Black, White, Brown…if they can deliver excellence to your product, that is so irrelevant. While very community-based, I cannot allow the community to run the station. I have to make those calls on top talent. Todd has been one of the best I have hired. In fact, I get a big kick out of keeping people perplexed about my decisions. Got a white program director because Clear Channel demanded it, and Radio One’s Chairman Kathy Hughes owns the station. You confused yet? So are they, but it sure in hell keeps the heat off of me.

Todd: I hope that answers your question Rick. Like I said, some days are surreal.

Rick: You've obviously worked with quite a few program directors during your many years at WLS. Which PDs influenced you the most, either positively or negatively, and how did they influence you?

Todd: I can tell you that Mike Elder (photo) and Drew Hayes have been great positive influences. Mike was not afraid to take a chance, and stood his ground in the never ending battle that happens between the Sales Department and Programming. His programming philosophy was well planned out with the promotions department, and he was always great at communicating his vision to the staff. Drew taught me the art of self promotion, and the importance of making things sound larger than life. Both Drew and Mike taught me the golden rule of programming: Know your audience, give them what they want, tell them you are giving them what they want, and be visible in the community you serve.

Rick: People probably know you most for your years as the producer of the Roe & Garry show. You were there for the highest highs and the lowest lows, including the break up. Before I get to the break up, how about talking about some of those high highs--your favorite moments on the Roe & Garry show?

Todd: There are too many to list Rick. Almost every day when we were on top we caught lightning in a bottle. Some of that was evidenced in the series of CD’s I produced and gave away at all the remotes. We put a lot of effort into all the remotes. The remotes were first class with the invited listener’s, guests, and sponsors enjoyment in mind.

I got the most satisfaction from writing on the fly as discussions developed. I loved sharing my social commentary and satire that I was able to communicate to the hosts using IFB, and then hearing my thoughts on the air. I also really enjoyed the rush of breaking big stories and owning the story.

Rick: I've talked to both Roe and Garry about their break up, and I got slightly different stories. You were there for all of that. Let's put it this way; What are some of the biggest misconceptions about the breakup and how and why it went down?

Todd: Can I take the 5th on this question? Ha, I will tell you this, there are about 10-15 people who really know what happened. Each one of those people, including myself, has a different take on how and why it went down the way it did. (Photo from left to right: Garry, Roe, Jim Johnson, and Carnarble Wagon at Abbey Road.)

From my perspective, I can say I get why Roe took the money and decided to stay. I also understand where Garry was coming from as far as how he was treated by ABC management in the negotiation process. That’s all you will get from me Rick, until we collaborate on our new book “Steve and Garry, Roe and Garry: The Break up”.

Rick: To me, the oddest part of the whole thing for you, must have been to still be aboard after the breakup. What was it like during that first year, when the listeners were still clamoring for a reunion, and you had to calm them down on the phones?

Todd: At times I felt like a child of divorce sent to live with one parent even though I love the other parent equally. I had to really screen the calls tight. It was really difficult dealing with callers, who for months were told that Roe and Garry would be back on the air. When the realization hit that the show would not be on the air, listeners felt they were lied to. I honestly believe Roe thought they would be reunited. I had to tell the listeners “Yeah the situation sucks but we have to keep going. The show is different now, there is nothing we can do about it, and we have to play the cards we were dealt."

Rick: Roe and Garry are radio icons in Chicago. You must have picked up a few pointers from working with them (timing, structure, comedy, etc). Give us a few.

Todd: Most listeners of talk radio think hosts just sit there and wing it. Good hosts know the topic and the angle and the emotional buttons they are going to push. Good talk hosts know how listeners will respond on the phone before the first word is spoken on the issue.

Tragedy plus time equals comedy.

Connect with the audience. Know what people are watching on TV (Check the hourly ratings daily for the day before). Be aware of what the latest trends are, especially for children and teens. Try not to sound like the smartest person in the room. It is OK to be curious and learn from a guest or caller. Treat a guest like a guest, and let them talk. Be conversational.

Rick: You're one of those guys that I call radio lifers. That is, you started at the bottom (in high school even, I believe, right?), paid your dues over the years, and worked your way up to the position you're in today. What advice do you have for people who want to follow your lead in today's current marketplace?

Todd: Lifer Huh? When I was a senior in High School I was the station manager of a student run station that was on the air at 7am and went off at midnight in the summer months, and on til 10pm on school nights. (Photo: Todd with Tommy Chong)

I did everything from wiring a new TV studio, to ordering phone lines for remotes, play by play sports, scheduling, programming, technical maintenance, air shift, etc. In the early 80s the FCC decided educational radio stations could do advertising as long as there were no quantitative or qualitative statements in the ad. My senior year I billed over 10k for the radio station with traditional advertising and a promotion that partnered us with one of those coupon books that was mass marketed in the SW suburbs. We only got about 5k from the coupon book but the guy who ran it made 100s of thousands. The day after I graduated high school, I went for a job at WJRC in Joliet. The same guy that scammed us on the coupon book was the GM and he hired me on the spot. Funny thing is, I googled the guy the other day and he is doing time for a scam involving a radio station.

So I guess my advice would be find something you are good at, and like to do, and figure out how to get paid. You either hustle to achieve your goal, or meet a con man to give you a break. Find a mentor, get your foot in the door at a radio station, even if it is a small station.

Rick: If you were given an unlimited budget, the format of your choice, and a 50,000 watt blowtorch, what would be your dream lineup?

Todd: Unlimited budget huh? My plan would have to have an unlimited budget. The reality is I would have to pay out millions that I would never make back, but the radio would be interesting.
Morning: Howard Stern.
Mid-day: Rush Limbaugh local only, not syndicated.
Afternoon: Roe and Garry Local only
Evening: With an unlimited budget I would be able to team up Charles Butler and Cliff Kelley (photo) along with Carol Marin.
Overnight: Imagine Clyde, Turd and Piranha Man doing issue orientated radio as a team.

Rick: Yikes. By the way, speaking of teams, have you heard the new Roe & Cisco show?

Todd: A little.

Rick: Your thoughts?

Todd: I really haven't been able to sample enough to form an opinion. I'm sure like any other new show, it will take time to work out the chemistry and kinks.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Matt Spiegel

Matt Spiegel is the co-host of the Danny Mac Show, middays at the Score (670 AM).

Rick: OK, let’s start with the obvious one. Explain the origin of the nickname “Meatpants.”

Matt: Heh. When I was an intern for McNeil and Boers, circa 1994, I was a rock and roll singer, with limited income and limited wardrobe choices. I had a pair of black jeans that I loved, even though they had a rip in the inner left thigh. I convinced myself that the rip wasn’t that big of a deal, and that it was cool in some kind of grunge rock way. Boers said “our intern has a big flank of meat hanging out of his pants.” And there it was. I used to hate it…but it was memorable. Still with me, 16 years later.

I sometimes answer this flippantly, saying it’s a vestige of my career in the porn industry, befitting my prowess in certain capacities. That’s a better, and shorter, story.

Rick: The Danny Mac Show has been a nearly instant ratings hit for the Score, and you’re obviously a big part of that show. But with the responsibility and prestige (and hopefully money) also comes criticism. I think you’ve settled in nicely alongside Danny, but I’m guessing that long-time McNeil fans were pretty critical of you at first. Am I right about that, and if I am, how have you gone about trying to win them over?

Matt: Yes, the criticism was harsh…especially early, and it was omnipresent. Texting, and message boards, and other forms of immediate feedback can be vicious and distracting. I don’t fight back, meanly. I have exchanges…I let the texters know that I hear them, and calmly respond, standing up for myself if it’s warranted. Once people realize you’re actually a person and not a caricature, they think a bit differently.

People are entitled to hate you, and often they listen TO hate you. That’s a huge difference from doing national radio on a day to day basis. It took me a little while, but I stopped paying attention to the feedback, positive or negative, and concentrated on pleasing the guys in the room: myself first, and Mac, and our producers, and our bosses. As long as that core likes the effort and most of the results, then you’ve won. It’s so hilariously cliché in ways I’ve made fun of ballplayers in the past – don’t listen to the critics, whether they like you or not.

This has been a fascinating journey, frankly, and one that’s been psychologically beneficial on a greater level than just the show.

Rick: When I interviewed Mac and asked him about you, he described you this way: “Spiegel is all I thought he'd be and I had high expectations from the lad. He pushes when it's the right time and can 'drive' it from time to time. I've never had that from a partner and it's refreshing.” How would you describe him?

Matt: He’s amazing. First of all, his brain is astounding. Recall for days…like no one I’ve ever worked with. Also, and this I knew, his radio muscles are unparalleled. His skills in resets, in spinning plates between topics or elements, in staying calm amidst chaos; it’s all amazing to watch.

As a partner, he’s been remarkably gracious. Generous. He trusts me to take it somewhere interesting, trusts me to let him roll when he’s rolling, trusts me to let me roll when I’m rolling. We play pretty good ping pong.

As a man, and I’ve said this to him, he’s so much more evolved than I’d realized. He doesn’t let little things bother him, and we resolve conflict beautifully. We joke about being in the blissful “phase A” of our relationship, but I bet it continues for a long time.

Rick: I know you got your start as a producer, and you’ve produced for a lot of the talent at the Score. Sometimes talent gets a little uppity when producers get air time. They tend to always think of you as that kid that used to get coffee for them. Obviously McNeil doesn’t think of you that way or he wouldn’t have asked you to be his sidekick. Do you think it’s because Danny came up as a producer himself?

Matt: I stopped being thought of as a producer in his mind long ago. I was a host on the Score while producing him, then while producing Murph & Fred when Mac was already at ESPN 1000. And, he heard me for years, on and off, working national on Sporting News. I sat in with him, and Barry Rozner, one day on his old show up the dial about 5 years ago. So that transition took place in his mind long ago, but I’m sure you’re right; the fact that he traveled a similar path has benefited me in that way. That path is less and less frequent, and ought not to be. You have to learn good radio somewhere, either because you’re around it, or because you’re around bad radio and learn what you’d do differently.

Rick: I’ve always believed that air talent should experience life as a producer so they can understand what producers go through, but I also think that producers are helped immensely by being on the air—because they get a better feel of how lonely it is behind that mic when things aren’t running smoothly. What have you learned from doing both jobs over the years?

Matt: 100% agree in producers being helped by being on the air. Made me better as a producer, more understanding, more patient. You have a hard time getting a host to get on that side of course, but I see your thought process. Hosts would cut producers some slack if a rejoin isn’t edited perfectly, if a guest doesn’t answer the phone on time, if a call isn’t screened perfectly.

Rick: You were with the national network Sporting News Radio for almost ten years. That must have been a strange experience. For most of those years Sporting News Radio wasn’t even heard here in the town you were broadcasting from—but in some other markets it was the only sports game in town. How difficult was it to do a show for other markets?

Matt: It was a tremendous learning ground, and a very odd place. Being in Northbrook before I moved west to Santa Monica with them, I was often going nuts to not be able to talk Chicago sports to the extent I wanted to…being press at the Sox world series games 1 and 2, but doing just a couple of national shows about it is one memorable experience. I was working at XRT, singing so much here in town, but did not have a local sports voice…truly odd. Meanwhile, I was huge in certain markets. They love me in Portland, Maine. I can talk SEC football in the southeast with the best of them.

I loved certain shifts very much. I did the 5am-9am Central shift on Sunday mornings, which meant I worked the early rising churchgoers in the East, and the late night revelers in the West. I used to take one topic, and spin it two ways at once for each crowd…that was fun. While there, I was on 2 different morning shows, filled in on every shift imaginable, and did college football pre and post, and NFL pre and post. Invaluable experience. I covered the steroids hearings. I went to Super Bowl in Phoenix and did shows from radio row.

Sporting News was a place that was hemorrhaging money from the moment I got there until the moment I left. That environment is extremely tough to produce quality radio in, but it toughens you up for sure. I made some great friends, and worked with a few terrific people too.

Rick: You’re not just a sports fan—you’re also a huge music fan. That must have been especially fun in the old Score/XRT days, because you had the best of both worlds in the same hallway, and you got to work for both of them. Among the many duties you had with WXRT: producing Sound Opinions with Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis—the only rock and roll talk show in the country. What are some of your favorite memories doing that show?

Matt: Jim and Greg are the goods…great guys, true radio talents, in addition to being the smartest music people imaginable. We taught each other a lot about good radio, and did a couple years of TV together as well on channel 11.

The first thing that comes to mind is when Trey Anastasio of Phish came to be on the show, because my mom had taught him music as an 8th grader. The fact that he and I connected in that way is really valuable to me.

Here’s one for you…the week after 9/11, Wilco came to the little XRT studios on Belmont and played songs from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The version of “I’m The Man Who Loves You,” with Tweedy’s screaming, angsty guitar about 6 feet away from me is one of the great musical experiences of my life. Jeff was really broken up emotionally about 9/11 as we all were, and they did “War on War” after a conversation about it.

So many amazing experiences. Meeting John Paul Jones, Robyn Hitchcock, John Cale, Yoko Ono and more. Roger Ebert coming in for a movie criticism vs. music criticicsm show, when he was such a hero of Jim’s. SXSW as a show, seeing amazing bands in bizarre locales in Austin. Lots of great live 2 hour shows on Belmont, and then making the transition to a smoother, one hour prerecorded version on BEZ. I really feel like I know exactly what a good radio show can be, and a lot of that is due to lessons from SoundOps. Now whether or not I pull it off on my own is another story.

Rick: The demands of doing a daily talk show are immense. Are you still managing to find time to pursue your musical interests?

Matt: I’ve always been a guy doing a million things…the kid going from school to tennis practice to band practice to play rehearsal to a ballgame. The demands of this job have forced me to streamline nicely. I do this, and I do Tributosaurus. I do some gigs with my brother Jon and our band Brother Brother. And that’s it.

Tributosaurus is bliss…founded it 7 years ago, and it’s been far more popular than I’d ever imagined. The core of the band are all great friends, who do amazing work, and the extended family and community are my people. I’m such a lucky man, to get to sing and make music at such a high level. We’re an atypical cover band, learning an entire new set of material every month, playing it once, and letting it go away. Each show is unique, and will never be repeated. There’s an elegance to what we do that elevates it beyond a tribute band experience…no costumes, no makeup, just serving the music; the music is the star. I’m really proud of it.

Rick: What’s the best and worst thing about this gig?

Matt: The worst is that it’s relentless. You can’t fake watching the games, especially in my beloved baseball season. Also, I’m an over-preparer, so I’m always reading, or watching, and taking notes. It’s rare that I watch a game and just take it in. The psychological effect of that, and the intensity of the workday, makes it a bit more taxing than people realize. That said, those complaints are ridiculous, right? I GET TO WATCH GAMES AND TALK ABOUT THEM. I have to, in fact. Gratitude for miles.

The best thing is that I have an outlet for any thoughts I think are interesting. I’m essentially being paid for my ideas, and that has always been my professional goal.

I’ll also say this…and this is more palpable in local radio than in national. The community of people who listen, and interact with us, is a really special, odd place. Peoria Matt, Urblacker, Elmhurst Steve, Johnny Fontane; these listeners feel like friends. That’s awesome.

I’d like only 20 more years or so please.

Friday, January 08, 2010

A note from Rick

I just wanted to let you know that I'll be posting the first Chicago Radio Spotlight interview of 2010 on Saturday January 16th.

In the meantime, if you want something to read about local radio, I recommend this. It's an article in the Chicago Tribune about Eric and Kathy (written by Steve Johnson). I provided several quotes for the piece.

By the way, I've also interviewed all of the E&K principles over the past few years. If you want additional Eric and Kathy reading material, here's Eric, Kathy, Melissa, Mark Suppelsa, John "Swany" Swanson, and former E&K newsman Barry Keefe.

If you're looking for my other stuff, my daily blog is already up and running for this year, my Just One Bad Century website is starting back up January 11th, I have another article coming out in the next issue of Shore Magazine (details in a few weeks), and my Father Knows Nothing column posts every Sunday in NWI Parent.

In the meantime, thanks for checking in. See you next week.