Back In The Loop

Saturday March 21st, 2009 – Rosemont, IL/Chicago, IL

    I think by far the best reward I’ve received from my time in the radio business is the big list of lasting friends I’ve made no matter where I’ve been. I’ve had full time jobs all over the country from Lansing, MI to Fort Wayne, IN to Milwaukee to Reno to Salt Lake City to Chicago to Kenosha, WI and I’ve been a ‘friend of the show’ in several other places.

   I’m proud to say I am still in contact with at least one person from every place I’ve ever had a job and usually it‘s quite a few. My first radio job was in Lansing, MI at WMMQ in 1990. I still occasionally hear from several of those people all these years later and I even became friends with the guy I replaced, Jaz McKay. He’s still on the air out in California.

   93QFM in Milwaukee was a horrible place to work because it was owned by the biggest bunch of halfwits this side of a NASCAR race but the on air staff was filled with absolute gems like Mark ‘The Mangy Man’ Krueger. He and his wife Amy come to see me when I play in Milwaukee and he’s one of the funniest humans I’ve ever met. He‘s a true genius.

   David Lee ‘The Lee Monster’ did middays when I was there and he’s got absolutely the most powerful voice in existence. You’ve heard him all over the place doing commercials for monster truck shows and on Monday Night Football on the Westwood One network. I have been friends with David and his wife Karen since we worked together back in 1991.

   Tim ‘The Rock And Roll Animal’ was also a great guy to work with. He was a big time talent rock jock and also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Staff meetings were as funny as it gets and we needed it at the time because management were such imbeciles to work for that morale was always in need of a boost. Those guys sure provided a big one.

   John Perry did overnights then and he now runs WIIL and WLIP in Kenosha. He’s also a great guy and he’s the one who asked me to do the Mothership Connection show I have been doing on Sunday nights for a year. He was one of the people I met back at 93QFM. There was a sense of family and togetherness there with the air staff and we still have it.

   The problems I’ve had in radio were with management. They come in and blow us out for no real reason other than to manufacture change just to make change. Usually it’s not the answer they think it is and then a few months later they get blown out themselves but it’s too late. Everybody loses. Then all the good people have to go find a job yet again.

   I am very fond of people from all the stations I’ve worked but I have to say the very best air staff by far I’ve ever worked with as a whole was at ‘The Loop’ in Chicago. There was no weak link on that staff as far as talent goes and they were all wonderfully nice people.

   Cara Carriveau followed us doing middays and was really strong. She got fired too after we did and it was stupid and uncalled for. She’s got a husband with his own business and two beautiful kids and works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. She breathed and slept the radio business and to fire her made NO sense. Now she’s working at WTMX in Chicago.

   Seaver did afternoons when I worked there and he was made for rock radio. He’s got an amazing set of pipes and knows the format inside and out as did Cara and they both made the station sound like a major market legendary rock powerhouse. Of course he got blown out as well but he landed on his feet and is back on the air again on WDRV ‘The Drive’.

   Jimmy Novack did nights when I first got there and he’s still one of my all time favorite people in the radio business and he’s now doing a successful morning show on WXLC in Waukegan. He got fired a few months after I got there and I still don’t know exactly why.

   Replacing Jimmy was my friend Byrd who is as good as a rock jock gets. He has a huge voice like David Lee from 93QFM and kicks ass anytime he cracks a mike. He’s also one of the hardest working jocks I’ve ever met and he prepares for his show like few others. I still see him from time to time and he’s still at the Loop. He should be. He‘s excellent.

   The morning show I was on was called ‘The Morning Loop Guys’. Stupid name, super guys. Spike Manton is a comic friend of mine and he got me in with the program director Greg Solk. Max Bumgardner was working in Omaha and he was our third guy. We were also on with Bruce Wolf but he was a morning TV sports guy and never sat in with us.

   Spike, Max and I were the main guys and despite all our growing pains we got along as well as any three guys who were thrown together and told to be entertaining at 5am every morning for four hours. That situation could have ended up ugly but we were all friends.

   We still are and that’s what made today so special. I got to see both of them in a single day and it was a blast both times. Spike has a son Mickey who’s about 10 and totally into sports cards. There was a big card show in Rosemont, IL today and Mickey wanted to go.

   I hadn’t seen Spike so we all decided to go together and it was a lot of fun for everyone. Mickey and Spike got to have father and son time and I saw some card friends and we did all fun things all day and hung out. Spike is still struggling from getting fired but he is not quitting and we all have to just keep slugging. Still, we’d be doing SO well right now.

   I dropped Spike off and went to have dinner with Max who was in town attending a big convention for his new job. He works for a company that rebuilds damage after tornadoes and he’s doing well at it. Max has major skills in business and he loves it but deep down I know he would like to be back doing mornings in Chicago radio. All three of us would.

   Max and I had a great visit and I told him I saw Spike and we remembered some funny stories only the three of us would appreciate because we lived it. Morning radio can be a very intense grind, especially in a major market. It’s not easy to keep cranking out funny day after day and there was a lot of pressure on us. Still, we never fought. That’s amazing.

   Whatever nightmare memories I have of radio (and there are several) the good ones of a bunch of great friends far outweigh those bad ones. Seeing Spike and Max in one day was a real treat. I didn’t get much work done but it recharged my batteries and I need it today.


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