Rolling To Rockford

Monday September 19th, 2011 – Rockford, IL

I never know quite what to think when people say “You were the first person I thought of” in a given situation. Sometimes it’s a refreshing compliment, but others it’s an insult. This time it turned out to be a compliment, or at least that’s how I’m choosing to take it.

My radio friend Jim Stone in Rockford, IL called to ask if I’d be willing to fill in on the AM news/talk station in his building. He’s the operations manager and is in charge of the on air programming departments of several stations, and was searching for backup hosts.

I’d never hosted in a news/talk format before, and I thought it would be a win/win to go do it. Jim is very easy to deal with, and not the typical two faced backstabbing radio snake I’ve dealt with so often in the past. He made no pretenses about anything, this was just an opportunity to gain a little experience and a few bucks for gas. I thought it would be fun.

To make it even more fun, Jim also called our mutual friend Jim McHugh and made the same offer. Jim McHugh said he’d do it, but only if he could be on with me. We ended up riding out to Rockford together and made it an adventure. He hasn’t done much radio and wasn’t comfortable hosting a show himself just yet. That’s actually a very smart decision.

I’ve been on both sides of comedy and radio, and too often people on each side seem to think they can cross over to the other without a hitch. WRONG. Each one is a skill and it takes a different mind set to do it well. I’ve been doing each for years, and understand the subtleties of both. Neither one is easy, and it becomes obvious when one is done poorly.

This was an ideal chance to practice in an actual on air situation. Jim Stone wouldn’t be breathing down our neck, and Jim McHugh and I know each other very well. He’s a smart funny, well spoken guy, and has strong opinions. Those are the requirements of talk radio.

In my opinion, funny is what helps keep it interesting. There are a lot of boring nuts and bolts that need oiling in that genre, and a sense of humor helps make it digestible to many who aren’t that interested in the topics. I know I’m not. I just wanted to be an entertainer.

Neither one of us knows Rockford politics, and couldn’t care less. We wanted to throw a different twist into it, and make things fun. Jim Stone gave us bare bones instructios and told us other than swear or do something completely stupid, to go in there and have fun.

That’s exactly what we did. I’ve had a lot of practical hosting experience from my days on the Mothership Connection which came in handy. I know how to drive a talk show and I know Jim McHugh so there was nothing to be afraid of. We started out fine and kept the flow going for two hours without any glitches. We even got a steady flow of callers too.

The station is AM 1330 WNTA, yet another set of call letters to add to the extensive list of places I’ve been across the radio dial and across the country. We’re scheduled to return tomorrow, and after that who knows? I’m flattered to get the call, and I’m glad I said yes.


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