Last Minute Times Two


Tuesday March 27th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Chicago, IL

   Last minute substitute smart ass to the rescue. I received a late night text asking if I could fill in on WNTA in Rockford, IL from noon to 3pm. The news director Ken DeCoster needed a day off as his wife went into labor at 2am, and apparently I was the go to guy. I just wish I had known so I could plan for it. I don’t mind helping out in a pinch, but living last minute is not the way to go.

I’ve lived a life of doing things last minute, but in the entertainment world it’s a must. One has to be ready when an opportunity arises on short notice – and in fact hope for it. Many times that’s the way careers are made. In sports it has happened frequently. Someone goes down with a nasty injury, and the next guy steps in. Brett Favre filled in for Don Majkowski and never looked back.

This is a different situation, but the process is the same. I’ve now filled in for three completely different shifts on the station, and they wouldn’t keep calling if someone didn’t think I was doing at least a halfway competent job. Usually my friend Jim McHugh tags along, but today he didn’t because he was in Indiana watching his son’s baseball team in a tournament. I was flying solo.

Talk radio by myself is a different skill set than I’m used to, and it can be intimidating. I’m fine when I have someone to bounce off of, but sitting alone in a room with a microphone and several minutes to fill is a lot more difficult than it appears. There’s a method to it, like any other craft.

I don’t claim to be a news junkie, and especially not a Rockford, IL news junkie. I can’t just go on the air and start spouting off street names or commonly known local figures like I easily could in Milwaukee or even Chicago. I haven’t spent much time in Rockford, and I don’t want to insult the locals by pretending I have. It’s a challenge to both fill the time and still make it interesting.

When Jim is in the studio, we just have a conversation pretty much like we do in real life. He’s a smart guy, and we’ve known each other for years so we have a long history of common events and experiences we can refer to. We’re both long time comedians, but we’ve also been through a lot of other things that can relate to listeners. Being in there by myself takes away that advantage.

Today I just got out my cell phone and went through my list of contacts to see who I could call that might be interesting on the radio. I had no trouble at all filling the three hours, and could do it again for several days if necessary. I do know a lot of interesting people so why not give them some air time and entertain people in Rockford? I don’t need to always be the center of attention.

Tonight I filled in as the headliner at Zanies in Chicago. There was a schedule situation where there happened to be three open days this week – tonight, tomorrow and Sunday. I was again the go to guy, and was delighted to get the call. Not a lot of people could do both of these jobs well.

One would think with a diverse skill set like that I’d be rich by now, and that one would be me. I guess I was wrong, as I’m still struggling to pay my bills but at least I’ve got those two skills so when the phone does ring I can have something to offer. I just hope the phone keeps on ringing.

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