Posts Tagged ‘Howard Bailey Murray’

Fill In Fun

September 5, 2013

Tuesday September 3rd, 2013 – Rockford,IL/Chicago, IL

   The fill in fairy has been waving a wand in my direction the last few days, and I’m delighted to be included in the mix. I received calls from Jim Stone in Rockford, IL asking me to fill in on the radio at WNTA the rest of the week and from Bert Haas at Zanies in Chicago asking me to fill in tonight as their headliner. There was also a TV appearance included, and I said yes to everything.

   It feels great to be on somebody’s go to list, as I can use some work right about now. The radio gig is easy – only a two hour shift from 3 to 5pm today through Friday. I can do that in my sleep. The hardest part is getting to the station. There’s no easy route from where I live and it’s a hassle trying to guess when to leave. I don’t want to be too early, but I don’t want to cut it close either.

   Today I left at a reasonable hour and had no problems. There’s construction everywhere, but it wasn’t close to being as bad as I’ve seen it at times. I drove west on Illinois Highway 176 all the way to Marengo, and then it’s US Highway 20 all the way to Rockford. I arrived relaxed at 2:40.

   Everyone at the radio station is very laid back and easy to deal with. Howard Bailey Murray is the producer, and about as cool a customer as there is. He’s been there for a long time and knows what he’s doing and knows the town in case I have any questions. He makes my job really easy.

   I’m getting to be a much better talk show host also. I used to be petrified to have zero guests or callers to bounce off of, but today I went right into a solo rant about a couple of things that I was thinking about, and had no trouble whatsoever making it to the commercials with time to spare.

   After the radio show I drove right to Zanies on Wells Street in Chicago’s Old Town. There was a TV show called “Urban Grind TV” that wanted to interview me and film part of my show. I try hard to be an interesting interview, as I’ve been on the other side and know what I’d like to hear.

   The guy in charge is named Wally, and he was extremely professional as he explained what the show was about on the phone. It airs on Chicago’s Comcast three times a week, and they’ve built a loyal following in more than four years on the air. Their website is

   There was a crew of four including Wally, and they went out of their way to make sure it was a pleasant experience. They were thanking me for being willing to do it, and I thanked them for the chance to be on. It all worked perfectly without a glitch, and I wish the rest of life was that easy.

   The crowd tonight wasn’t large, and they weren’t the ideal TV audience but I didn’t mind a bit. I was thankful for the work, and did my best to lean in to it and do what I do. They came around eventually, but they didn’t realize what a solid show they saw all the way through. The host was Vince Maranto who is one of Chicago’s best comedians. He works often as an emcee for Zanies.

   The feature act was another Chicago act named Kevin Williams. I’ve worked with him before, and found him to be both competent and friendly off stage. It’s been several years since I’ve seen him work, and he’s grown by leaps and bounds. He had me laughing out loud several times. That takes a lot from an old battle scarred war horse like me. Today was a fun day from start to finish.


Out Of Body

December 12, 2012

Tuesday December 11th, 2012 – Rockford, IL

   As crazy and frustrating as my life has been and even with the high degree of disappointment I tend to feel on a regular basis, the one constant I can hang my hat on is that I love what I do on a consistent basis. I may not love the financial compensation, but my creative hunger is satisfied.

I know there aren’t many people who can say that, and I love that part of my life. It’s probably the only thing that keeps me from jumping into an active volcano – that and not knowing of any active volcanoes in my immediate vicinity. The point is that without this passion I’d be history.

I thought of it today as I was on the radio on WNTA in Rockford, IL. My friend Jim McHugh tagged along, and it’s even more fun doing the show when he’s in the studio. We were bantering back and forth and having a blast, and I had an out of body experience and saw the big picture.

Jay Leno talked about that in an interview many years ago. He said he knew his act so well that at a certain point he could think about something completely different like what he might have to eat after the show or his dry cleaning while he was on stage performing. That concept fascinated me, even though I couldn’t comprehend it then. I was still trying to master the basics of comedy.

Then one night out of nowhere, I was doing the exact same thing. It’s like I jumped right out of my body and was in my own audience as I was performing. I was free to think about anything or nothing, and knowing that took everything to a much higher level. I felt I was finally “getting it”.

Radio can be like that too. It’s a performance, and there’s a buzz attached to it just like comedy – although it’s not as intense. Comedy is a short powerful jolt that’s an hour or less while radio is longer and steadier. A good radio show buzz can last up to four hours and be quite the intoxicant.

Today it was only a two hour shift, but we were firing on all cylinders and it was tremendously fun on several levels. It’s great to hang out with Jim, and the producer Howard Bailey Murray is both competent and a genuinely nice person. The vibe in the studio could not have been better.

We took it even higher by inviting our friend and fellow Chicago comedian Dwayne Kennedy on to plug the TV show he’s writing for and to get some air time. Dwayne is a comedic genius of the highest order, and Jim and I are both fans. Dwayne doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves.

Jim also invited singer Emily Hurd to join us. She’s from Rockford originally, and an amazing talent in her own right. She writes her own material and has a powerful voice, and any time I am able to promote somebody locally I always will. Her work is available at

As we were on the air, I had one of those out of body experiences and was able to see just how cool it was to be doing what we were doing. I was in a studio with friends that I like and respect, talking to others I like and respect on the phone. I have no idea who was listening, but I know at least somebody was because we got calls the entire time we were on the air. I didn’t get rich, but I did get paid and have been asked to come back tomorrow. I’m on the right track. More of this.