Posts Tagged ‘WGN Radio’

A Kindred Spirit

September 12, 2012

Tuesday September 11th, 2012 – Rosemont, IL

   I had lunch with Mike Preston today, and good things usually come from that. Mike and I are a similar breed in that we both love to conceive and execute creative projects that excite us, but we both fall painfully short when it comes to the business end of things. It’s not an enviable position to be in, but at least we both admit we’re in it. We’re well aware of where we need improvement.

Mike has been the host of a cable access show called ‘Psychobabble’ for years. I’ve been on as several characters, as have a lot of other Chicago area comedians. It’s great fun, and Mike allows us to be creatively free and basically do what we want. There have been some talented people on the show, and I totally think there’s a place for it in the TV cosmos. The only question is where.

The show is an eclectic mix of interviews, comedy, characters and goes in many directions. It’s never boring, that’s for sure. Mike and the crew run the gamut from strippers and porn stars to an impressive list of A, B, C and lower celebrities of all genres and the result is always entertaining.

Mike’s co-host is a comedian named Marge Tackes. Marge is a total sweetheart and extremely intelligent, but she can come across with some as being a bit coarse. She tells it like it is and that often includes colorful language. I’ve been around foul language my whole life, so nothing could ever shock me but some people tend to get offended. This is a major issue in the showbiz world.

Mike and Marge aren’t looking to get on the PTL Network with this show. It’s an R to X rated show, and that’s what it is. They shouldn’t have to apologize for that, and they don’t. I think they should have a huge cult following by now, but like me their marketing has been severely lacking.

That’s not an insult, and Mike didn’t take it that way as we talked about it over lunch. We both love what we’re doing, but no matter how talented or funny we may be the Chinese buffet we ate at demanded to be paid. Life works like that, and we know it. We have to find a way to get paid.

Mike has been putting the show together on a shoestring budget for years. That’s not easy with a TV show, but for what he’s got to work with he’s worked miracles. He’s not only a very skilled cameraman and editor, he really is an outstanding host. I’ve seen him interview celebrities on all levels and he does his homework and always nails it. The guy really has a gift in several areas.

Too bad one of those isn’t marketing and finance. He keeps telling me how much he likes what I’m doing, and I feel the same way about him. Whenever we work together, we always have a lot of fun but we always get good work done too. It’s like George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. When they worked together it was a perfect fit, but they also both had their own separate things as well.

I love working with Mike, and I wish I had a reason to do it more. It’s fun now, but if there was pay involved it would be off the charts. I don’t know how that will happen though, and that’s the question that stumps Mike too. We could both use offstage management, but where does anyone find that – especially in Chicago? I have no idea, and I’ve been so busy trying to juggle my own projects I don’t have time to look. I guess it’s a quality problem to have, but it’s still a problem.

Mike’s website is and there are a lot of really funny clips on it with everyone from Mike Ditka to Seka to people nobody has ever heard of and never will again. He’s the ring leader, and the cast of characters he’s put together has turned out to be one hell of a mix.

I’d love to see the show get some exposure on Comedy Central or maybe even overseas for the British or Australian markets. The problem is, how does one get that kind of connection started? If I knew that, I’d be doing it myself. I’ve got a few projects of my own that could use some help getting seen. The good news is there’s a lot of product there. The bad news is, it’s not marketed.

There are always hoops to jump through and pride to swallow, and that’s where Mike and I are at our worst. We’re the artistic type who creates what we create without concern for how it might need to fit a certain format or adhere to a parameter and that’s just not a smart way to do things.

Well, I for one want to get smart in a hurry. I’m willing to make adjustments in my Mothership Connection paranormal radio show, and I’ve been doing exactly that in the last few weeks. I can feel major improvement, and there’s more to come. I’m going to get a website redo and make up a sales package and attempt to get it on a real network of some sort where I can turn a real profit.

I think Mike needs to do the same thing, but I don’t think he’s up for doing it himself. I for one would LOVE to work behind the scenes for the show, but he needs someone way bigger than me with a lot more contacts than I have. I don’t have the time for my own stuff much less take on the mammoth project of marketing Psychobabble, but I sure think someone could do it and do well.

At lunch Mike mentioned a movie club hosted by WGN radio’s Nick Digilio at a theatre out in Rosemont in an entertainment complex right across from the new Zanies there. The showing was ‘Capricorn One’, a movie I saw when it came out in the ‘70s and had wanted to see again since I started hosting the Mothership Connection. The theme of a faked Mars landing is up my alley.

Mike and I were joined by Cyndi Nelson who is the manager of the Zanies in Rosemont. She’d seen the movie in the theatre like I did and like me wondered how it would hold up after all these years. It was odd that we all came together on short notice, but it worked perfectly so we did it.

I met Nick a while back at Zanies in Chicago, and he’s a very eclectic guy himself. He’s on the air on weekends, but also is a film critic and does a lot of other things. He dabbles in comedy and that’s how we met. He also has directed plays and acts, and there could be more for all I know.

I like people who have a lot of interests, but it sure can be a bitch keeping up with them all. It’s hard enough keeping one knife sharpened, much less a whole drawer full. Sometimes it’s just not possible to pick only one thing to pursue and stick with it exclusively. There are many options.

The movie was a lot different than I remembered it, and pretty farfetched and corny. That made it fun to watch, and it really was enjoyable. There were all kinds of stars from the ‘70s, and all of us are from that generation so we got all the references and knew who the stars were. It was a fun diversion, but now it’s back to work. Maybe Mike and I can start writing a ‘Capricorn Two’ script.


A Sixty Minute Success

July 4, 2010

Saturday July 3rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Dyer, IN

Jerry Agar called and asked if I wanted to be on the air with him today as he had a shift on the radio. We weren’t able to do a Kidders show because Ken Sevara’s voice is acting up and Tim Slagle was preparing for his yearly 4th of July weekend party he likes to host.

Any time I have a chance to spend an hour on WGN radio in Chicago, I take it. That’s a monster station, and it’s always worth being on it because of the exposure to hundreds of thousands of people all over the Midwest I’d likely never get in front of any other way.

That truly is a broadcast, going out all over the place to all different types of people. It’s an opportunity to do a sixty minute commercial for myself I’d never be able to pay for, so that’s a chance I had to take. I know I have projects going, but this was worth my time.

Jerry decided it would be a good topic to talk about traveling America for the 4th of July week so he picked the right person to kick it off. I bet I’ve seen more of the United States than 99.999% of anyone other than truck drivers or hitch hikers. I’ve spent my entire life on the road, and seen all four corners of the continent and most every crevice in between.

We had a fun segment, and it lit up the phones. That’s the great thing about a big station like that, virtually ANY subject will light up the phones because it relates to someone that happens to have a radio on. We didn’t need phones though, Jerry and I know what to do.

We used to go off on stuff like this all the time when we first met twenty years ago back at AM 1480 WFXW, the tiny station he worked at in St. Charles, IL. That station isn’t on the air anymore, but we sure had fun while it was. We knew nobody was listening, but we still tried to do entertaining radio anyway. We used to dream of being on WGN someday.

Neither one of us are rich or famous on a large scale, but we sure did live our dreams of being on WGN. Had someone told either one of us twenty years ago we’d achieve that, it probably would have blown our minds right out of our ear. I enjoyed every minute of our time on the air today, even if it wasn’t exactly the way we thought it would be. It was fun.

Jerry has to be back in Toronto and I am doing what I’m doing, but for an hour we were exactly where we dreamed of twenty years ago. Yes, the Kidders were and are a blast, but this is what we both wanted back then – the two of us bantering back and forth on WGN.

Jerry had to be on the air until 9pm, but I left and went to Tim Slagle’s house in Indiana for his yearly blowing up of mass quantities of legal fireworks. Ken Sevara also came out with his wife Lori and Jerry showed up after his shift. We had a Kidders reunion anyway.

We all know we could probably be doing better, but we could all be doing worse too. It was great to be together as a group, and we enjoyed blowing up all the heavy artillery Tim bought. Good times with good friends are never a bad investment. I spent this day well.