Posts Tagged ‘WNTA’

R.I.P. WNTA

February 26, 2014

Tuesday February 25th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I heard sad news from my friend Jimmy McHugh today that radio station WNTA in Rockford, IL has changed formats from news/talk to “classic hits” – and everyone who worked there got the boot from the entire on air staff to the producers. It’s yet another example of the cruelty of radio.

I’ve been through that scenario myself, and it’s sickening. It always comes out of the blue, but one day the boss asks to see the air staff one by one and the purge is on. Word spreads around the building, but it’s too late by then. Everyone gets their pink slips, and then it’s all an afterthought.

The people that get shown the door are out of the building within minutes, and the rest of those that kept their jobs feel sad – in a way – but also relieved that it wasn’t them. The radio guillotine can fall at any time, and few are fortunate enough to escape the blade at some point in a career.

This news really hit home, as I had done quite a bit of fill in work on WNTA the last couple of years and learned a lot. I was never a talk radio host before – at least not a news/talk station. I did my Sunday night paranormal show “The Mothership Connection”, but that was a different vibe.

WNTA had a current events format, and it forced me to grow by leaps and bounds from a radio standpoint like no other job I ever had. My first radio gig was a classic rock morning show, and I took to that immediately. I had music to play, and all I had to do was fill in the cracks. I was able to do that without thinking. It’s what I do. Talk radio is a different animal, and one that can bite.

The first hour I did it, I knew I was in for some growing pains. I’m fine with being the side guy and throwing in a smart ass comment when needed. That’s way too easy. I’m great at reacting to situations and adding a punch line, I’ve been doing it since grade school. Hosting is a lot harder.

Most people don’t appreciate just how frighteningly difficult it is to sit alone in a room in front of a microphone and just talk much less be interesting for eight to ten minutes. That can feel like eternity. I thought I was relatively witty and a quick thinker on my feet, but those first few feeble attempts to do talk radio were embarrassing. I flat out stunk, and I’m not too proud to admit that.

But without the chance to stink repeatedly, there can’t be growth. Everyone stinks at first in all creative and artistic endeavors, but those willing to press on and pay dues become masters of the craft. WNTA had a long standing staff of talented professionals, and I was fortunate to fill in for all of them during my tenure. I filled in on every shift, and it was an education. I respect them all.

Doug McDuff was the morning show host, and then there was Ken DeCoster, Mark Mayhew, Paul Youngblood and Dean Ervin. Every one of them treated me great, and made me feel like I was part of the station even though I was just filling in. Producers Howard Bailey-Murray and a guy I only knew as Tim were also easy to work with. My entire experience there was pleasant.

Jim Stone is the Operations Manager, and I feel sorry for him because he had to fire everybody as per company orders. He’s got a heart and is a great guy, and I’m sure it was no picnic for him to have to do that. It was sad news all around, but I wanted to pay respects to all those people for being so nice to me when I was there. WNTA will live on in my heart, and I wish them all well.

I'm, grateful for the air time I had on WNTA in Rockford, IL. I'm very sorry to hear the station is changing formats.

I’m, grateful for the air time I had on WNTA in Rockford, IL. I’m very sorry to hear the station is changing formats.

Breathing Room

November 2, 2013

Friday November 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I said at the beginning of the year I wanted this to be my best year ever. I don’t know if I made it, but I’m pretty close. Yes there were some disappointments, but for the most part I had a stellar 2013. A lot of exciting things happened this year, some of which have never happened before.

Off the top of my head, I made the ‘Schlitz Happened!’ show a reality and performed it several times in a fantastic venue, appeared on local, regional and cable television, had a speaking role in a legitimate Hollywood movie and got to meet and hang out with one of my heroes Bob Uecker.

Those are all highlights in my book, and I enjoyed every one of them. I also went to Atlanta to participate in the Laughing Skull Festival and got to hang out with the great James Gregory at his home there. James is also a hero of mine for how he has built his career, and getting to hang with him for an afternoon was a privilege. He treated me like a peer, and I’m an even bigger fan now.

Another feather in my cap this year was getting to be ‘The King of Uranus’ on March 13th at the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game. That was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, and it went over extremely well. I know there’s something there, and I want to keep working on it.

I got to host some talk radio shows at WNTA in Rockford, IL and I really grew as a host in that format. It was a great opportunity to practice. I took full advantage of it as often as I could. I also hosted ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal talk show on WLIP in Kenosha, WI for half the year, and at some point I’d love to get that back on the air somewhere though I need to get paid.

Money was tight again this year, but it is for almost everyone. Summer was a complete disaster financially, but I’ve had a nice run of late and at least have a bit of breathing room. I’ve worked a lot of fun places in the last month and November and December look solid. The money I make is spent before I receive it, but at least my rent is paid with a few bucks left over for the other bills.

Living week to week is SO not what I want to be doing anymore. It’s hectic and a huge energy drain I’d rather not have in my life. Robbing Peter is bad enough, but then not paying Paul makes life a constant shell game. I don’t want to be dodging anybody, I just want to pay up what I owe.

For a while there, I was really in a tizzy. I don’t know how I scraped by this summer, but I sure don’t want that to happen in 2014. The key is to plan ahead, but that’s a lot easier said than done when it’s the end of the month and there’s goose eggs in the bank account. Money is the cushion.

If I can find a way to get some legitimate steady income, it won’t take that long to turn my life completely around in a very short time. I’ve put in my time, and I’m ready for a break. I have no idea what that break will be, but I know I’m ready for something. Nobody I know works as hard as I do for as little a payoff, but I can’t give up now. If anything, I’m going to work even harder.

I know the year’s not over yet, but I’m already planning for 2014 and even beyond. That’s just smart business, and I have to make at least some long term plans even though nothing is going to be guaranteed. I have a much better chance of success if I’m planning for it months or even years ahead, and that’s what I need to do. Money gives me some breathing room to look at my options.

2014 will be here sooner than later. Time to plan ahead.

2014 will be here sooner than later. Time to plan ahead.

Detour To Janesville

September 9, 2013

Friday September 6th, 2013 – Rockford, IL

   Today was my last official day filling in on the air at FM 100.5 WNTA in Rockford, IL. I have fun doing it whenever I get a call, but as I’m saying much more often these days fun doesn’t pay the bills. It’s not like I don’t want to chase all of my passion projects, but I have to make a living.

   As fun as it is doing the radio show, I barely break even after paying for gas not to mention the outlay of time it takes to get to the station. It used to be bad enough, but now with the especially inconvenient ripped up road situation it makes it almost impossible to say yes if they ask again.

   I really do like helping people out whenever I can, but right now I have to help myself. There’s got to be a steady source of income out there somewhere, but I’m having a hell of a time locating it. Every week is still a struggle, and after all these years I thought I’d have it figured out by now. 

   I don’t, but I’m still out here trying and at least the things I’m doing are mostly fun. Today was a perfect example as circumstances worked out so that I could have comedian Brad Tassell come to the studio and sit in for the entire two hours as he was on his way to a show in Janesville, WI. 

   Janesville is right up the road from Rockford, and it worked out perfectly. I had heard he would be coming through town from Harry Hickstein, another act on the show. Harry was running a bit late and couldn’t sit in, but Brad did and it was a win/win for everyone. That’s how it should be.

   Besides doing comedy – which is more than difficult enough for anyone – Brad got his degree in counseling and does workshops around the country for schools on bullying of all things, and is also a published author of several books including one about his comedy road stories called ‘Hell Gig’ which is basically an early version of what I do here. It’s a peek behind the comedy curtain.   

   Brad is very intelligent and handles his business with an impeccable efficiency. He’s one of the few road dogs who has done it right, up to and including the process of becoming an LLC. I have always respected Brad, and he continues to flourish when many of us are barely staying afloat.

   His backup plan was his degree, and kudos to him for getting it. The bullying issue isn’t going anywhere for a while, and he does great work that helps people. Quite a few kids have told him if it wasn’t for his program they’d have committed suicide. Now THAT’S work that has meaning.    

   We were able to keep it light and fun on the radio, but also delve into some deeper issues and it made the time fly by. We had callers chime in, and for a while I felt like an actual talk show host. Brad was an outstanding guest, and some of the office staff at the station mentioned it as we left.   

   After the show, I followed Brad to Janesville where we met Harry Hickstein for an absolutely delicious dinner at the venue called The Armory. They have a top notch restaurant, and feed the comedians as part of the deal. I volunteered to host the show, and my meal was included as well.

   They didn’t have to do that, and I greatly appreciated it. They got a quality host for their show, and I hung out with two really good guys and had fun. There are worse ways to spend a Friday.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

A Symphony Of One

September 8, 2013

Thursday September 5th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL/Des Plaines, IL/Rockford, IL

   If there’s anyone else anywhere who has as many projects going as I do with little to no payoff, I’d love to meet them belly to belly and have lunch if for no other reason than to assure myself it isn’t just me out here trying to be a one man symphony orchestra. Sometimes I feel totally alone.

   I love doing what I do, but I don’t love the hectic nature of how I do it. At least a little stability would sure be nice, but one of the reasons I have so many things going is to hopefully hit on one idea so I can back off of the others and focus. That’s easier said than done, and I’m wearing thin.

   Today I had another jam packed day as I got up at 4am to work on organizing my comedy class notes and lesson plans for the coming fall schedule. There is still a solid possibility of Bill Gorgo and me getting a publishing deal, and we’ve been working out our sample chapter in the last few weeks. It’s a LOT of work – which I don’t mind – but also a major sucker of valuable free time.

   It’s a gamble, but one that has to be taken. Getting a publishing deal would add immeasurable credibility to what we’re already doing, and allow us to hopefully become the standard bearers in the teaching of standup comedy techniques. I’ve got this much time and energy already invested, why not take it to the absolute pinnacle? That’s what we’re shooting for, but it takes a full effort.

   Next on the list was getting to a location near O’Hare Airport to record some video rants in full regal splendor as The King of Uranus. This was the last thing I wanted to do today, but there was a camera person on the clock and studio set up involved. There was no way I would blow it off.

   What made it much more difficult was that I had problems with my computer printer and could not print out the revisions I made to the material. They’re basically the rants I did on the radio on 97.9 The Loop in Chicago in 2004 reworked and updated, but not having scripts made it harder.

   Even harder than that, there was a power outage at the location where we recorded and that put even more pressure on cranking it out. We’d all invested time and energy to make this date work, so not having anything to show for it would have been a huge downer. Fortunately, we worked it out and ended up putting six rants in the can to be edited for insertion on the site by next month.

    I’ll have my own King of Uranus channel, and will get to crank out content that hopefully will get hits for both the site and the character. Again, it’s a risk for us all but one we agreed was well worth taking. It requires time and energy to roll all these dice, and that’s why I’m spread so thin.

   It was physically and mentally draining to do the rants, as I had to stand in costume in front of hot lights and by the time it was done I was a sweaty pig. We took and retook shots, but felt they turned out well. It’s all part of the process, and today was the day to put in all of the grunt work.

   After that it was back to Rockford to fill in on WNTA from 3 to 5pm. I knew I-90 was going to be brutal with construction, and it absolutely was. That drains more energy, not to mention doing the actual radio show. That went well too, as I continue to feel more comfortable in the talk radio format. It was another full productive day, but I don’t know long I can keep up this manic pace.

The Illinois Highway Massacre

September 5, 2013

Wednesday September 4th, 2013 – Rockford, IL/Chicago, IL

   My worst fears came true and then some today as I got sucked deep into a traffic black hole on my way to host the radio show at WNTA in Rockford, IL. I ended up taking I-90 which I hadn’t been on in quite a while, and that was a constipated convoluted construction clogged nightmare.

   I left a little later than I wanted to today, and that’s often my problem when I do the fill in work at the station. It’s not all that far physically, but there’s no fast way to get there. If I end up taking one of a few possible routes from where I live, it’s about 65 miles one way. If I take the Tollway on I-90 it’s about 80 miles one way but it’s technically faster because it’s a freeway. Technically.

   There was nothing free about it today, as it’s being hacked up like a serial killer’s victim. They should call this project The Illinois Highway Massacre, as there is literally forty miles of horrific conditions that made me wish I was dead just a few minutes after I got on. It was constant stress as I clutched the steering wheel in my hands and tap danced on my brake pedal the entire trip.

   There was a construction zone for forty miles, and that’s longer than I’ve ever seen. The speed limit the whole way was 45, and it was loaded with trucks hauling everything from wide loads to hay bales that made passing anyone next to impossible. I almost had a heart attack, aneurism and stroke all on the same day trying to twist my Toyota through the two lane trail of traffic torture.

   I’ve never been a fan of toll roads anyway, but this sent me over the edge. Who has any idea of where any of that money goes? I don’t trust anyone in government as it is, but the state of Illinois is in a class by themselves when it comes to corruption. It’s one of the only states that has a three headed monster of toll roads, casino gambling and a lottery yet they’re constantly out of money.

   I called Jim Stone from the radio station to tell him I’d be cutting it close, and I ended up doing exactly that. I made it with about fifteen seconds to spare as the last commercial was ending, and I thought I was going to explode the last five miles as I raced through city streets to arrive before I was to go on. This is not how life is supposed to be, but I’ve been in this situation many times.

   When I got on the air I teed off on the toll road system and all the corrupt idiots behind it, and I got a couple of calls agreeing with me wholeheartedly. People have often told me I’m at my very funniest when I’m at my angriest, but that’s when I fail to see humor as I am too busy venting.

   I really went off on several topics today, and I saw people from the station walk past the studio and look in at me through the glass to see if I was alright. Jim Stone walked past and had a smile on his face, and I could tell he was digging what I was doing. Or maybe I got the wrong message and he was just glad I showed up on time or he’d have to do the show. Either way, I did the job.

   After the show I needed to be in Chicago for a fantasy football draft that some comedians were having. That was the last thing I wanted to do, but I made the commitment so I showed up. I was still stressing from the ride in, and it got higher as their computer crapped out halfway through it. I politely bugged out, and drove home to hopefully get a little sleep. Tomorrow is even busier.

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 www.urbangrindtv.com.

   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 www.emilyhurd.com.

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.

Air Waves

December 11, 2012

Monday December 10th, 2012 – Rockford, IL

   Back in the radio groove. I received a text message from Jim Stone asking if I’d be available to fill in this week on the 3pm to 5pm shift on WNTA in Rockford, IL, and although I was still tired to the bone from my stress riddled epic drive through the elements yesterday I said yes anyway.

I really like and respect Jim, and whatever I can do to help I will. He’s the Operations Manager for all the stations at Maverick Media in Rockford, and that’s not an easy job. He has all kinds of annoying details to look after in addition to hosting his own morning show on WXRX ‘The X’.

Whatever Jim gets paid isn’t enough, but that’s radio for 99.999% of those who ever get in it as a career. Dreams of signing a bazillion dollar Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh type deal are just that – dreams. Howard and Rush do fine, but everyone else has to squeak out whatever they can.

So many insane cuts have been made in the radio business in the last several years that anyone who still has a job actually has about three as that’s how much work they’re doing. Every station I know of is a skeleton crew, and nobody knows when those next cuts will come – but they will.

I heard from some of my radio friends that the Clear Channel evil empire executed yet another round of nationwide cuts last week – just in time for Christmas. If there is indeed a hell and those heartless reptiles aren’t occupying ringside seats next to Satan along with Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer and my father, then I don’t want to go to heaven. I don’t see how they can live with themselves.

It’s not just Clear Channel either, but they’re the big one. They’ve got stations in markets of all sizes from coast to coast, and I’ve felt their wrath myself. I was shown the door in Salt Lake City in 2001, and I still don’t see the reason for it other than they want to exist on the extreme cheap.

Pesky details like putting out a quality product have never been the issue. All they look for are ways to continually trim the budget and eliminate the presence of human beings. It’s beyond my comprehension how they can continue to be allowed to butcher what used to be a business filled with creative, intelligent and interesting people, but they totally do. Can someone please stop it?

I saw the list of some of the talent that got gassed in this latest purge, and it made my stomach turn to see how out of control it’s getting. Local icons that have been at the same station for years or even decades are being flushed like truck stop toilets all over the country and it disgusts me.

I’ve been on that chopping block myself, and it usually happens around the holidays to make it all the more excruciating. My heart goes out to all those people who gave of themselves for years only to be tossed away like chewed gum. Radio itself is the ultimate loser for it, but doesn’t care.

Good people with talent are getting screwed over, but I don’t see it stopping any time soon. I’d love to have a full time job with decent pay in a big market, but I don’t see it happening to me or very many others in the near future. I’ll continue to get my radio fix whenever Jim Stone decides to call, but it’s only a part time proposition. He’s lucky to have a job himself, and he knows that.

Circle Of Friends

September 8, 2012

Thursday September 6th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Oak Park, IL/St. Charles, IL

   All kinds of surprises today but each one was wonderfully pleasant. First, I got the call to fill in on the morning show on WNTA in Rockford, IL. Jim Stone often calls on short notice, but that’s not a problem. I always try to do it if I can, as it both helps Jim and gives me on air practice time.

It’s kind of like the bat signal. I never know when I’ll get the call, but when it comes I’m ready to drop what I’m doing and show up at a moment’s notice. Hopefully it builds good karma in the long run, and it really is worthwhile as far as building talk host chops. I am steadily improving.

Today was a perfect example. I was on from 6-10am and I didn’t have a guest in the 6 o’clock hour on purpose. One, I wouldn’t call my friends on short notice to be on that early, and two – it forced me to learn the craft of filling the time by myself. With commercials and news, the hours consist of four segments of about 9 minutes each. That’s a lot of time to babble alone in a room.

The first time I did it, I was really intimidated. I didn’t expect to be by myself, as I’ve become used to being the smart ass sidekick that reacts to everything. Being the source is not the same at all, and I had to make a big adjustment the first time I did it. Now, it’s no sweat. I can handle it.

I made it through that first hour with no problems at all, and even had stuff left over I could’ve talked about if I needed to. It may not have been riveting radio, but it wasn’t some halfwit off the street embarrassing himself and the radio station either. There has been significant improvement.

In the 7 o’clock hour I had Jeff Schneider on as my telephone sidekick. We’re used to riffing at length from doing ‘The Unshow’ podcasts, and he really is an interesting guy with a much better grasp of current events than I have. I’m pretty out there with the stuff I like, but he’s into subject matter more palatable to the public. Talking about George Clinton and Uranus wouldn’t be a fit.

I also had comedian Tim Walkoe on to talk about the Democratic National Convention. Tim is very passionate to say the least, and really knows his stuff politically and can voice his viewpoint in an entertaining way. It fit perfectly with what should have been on the radio on a day like this.

Dale Irvin came on the next hour, and he’s great too. Dale is a ‘professional summarizer’ and is in the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. He’s always entertaining on the air and did it on short notice which I totally appreciate. Dale is an amazing marketer too. He’s got books and a free weekly humor video service called ‘The Friday Funnies’.  Find Dale at www.daleirvin.com.

After the radio show I received a call from Jim McHugh. Jim and I have been on WNTA many times together as a team, but the budget only allows for one these days and splitting the pay isn’t good for anyone. It’s not that much to begin with, but I don’t do it strictly for the cash. I enjoy it.

I haven’t seen Jim in a while, and we hung out at his house for a couple of hours to catch up on a lot of things. Jim is trying to promote comedy show fundraiser events with a group he’s calling ‘The Chicago Comedy All Stars’, and I totally think there’s a market for what he’s trying to do.

The website is www.chicagocomedyallstars.com and is done by Mark Huelskamp who is doing my King of Uranus website. Jim has been really great in pushing me to get the site up, but trying to make time for everything just isn’t easy. I’ve dropped the ball, but only because I’ve had to do what I can to just stay afloat. There’s no excuse for either of us, and we know it. We need action.

It was good to hang out and talk about both of these projects. I’m helping him with what he is doing and he’s helping me. Together, we’re both struggling to survive but at least we’ve got each other’s back. Jim has two kids in college, so his problems are different than mine but both have a need to make a living and that was our focus. It was a productive session but we also had a blast.

After that it was on to Oak Park, IL to visit Cara Carriveau, my former co-worker at The Loop. Cara did the midday shift when I was on the morning show, and we got along very well. ALL of us did, and that’s why it’s so frustrating we’re still not there. What an outstanding staff that was assembled by Greg Solk including Cara, Seaver, Byrd, Mark Zander and Jimmy Novack. Wow.

All of those people were easy to get along with and very good on the air as well. I loved being a part of that team, and most of us still stay in touch at least once in a while. I hadn’t seen Cara in way too long, and she invited me over for dinner with her and her kids who I also enjoy seeing.

Cara is a total pro, and I can learn from how thorough she is. She’s been doing a podcast a long time before it was cool, and I was her first guest. She interviews rock stars mainly, but she asked if I wouldn’t mind being her first interview to work the bugs out and of course I had to say yes.

It’s called ‘Cara’s Basement’, and it really is recorded in her basement in a studio she had built. She said the interview we did still gets hits, and that along with all the others can be heard at her website www.carasbasement.com. She does a fantastic job with it, and has had some big names.

I can learn from Cara’s way of handling her business. She’s extremely sharp, and really keeps her focus not only on her career but on her family too. Being a single mom is brutal enough, but add working in major market radio to that and it’s about as rough as rough gets. But she nails it.

Cara does the midday shift at 101.9 WTMX ‘The Mix’ in Chicago and does it extremely well. I always thought she sounded great at The Loop, and still does on The Mix. She’s major market all the way, and one of my very favorite people. This was a day I got to spend hanging with the best.

My final stop was Zanies in St. Charles at the Pheasant Run Resort. I don’t know why I had an urge to go there, but that little voice inside told me to go and am I glad I did. I didn’t have a clue who was there this week, but to my pleasant surprise it was Eddie Brill. Eddie was the booker of the David Letterman show for years, and still is the regular audience warm up act. What a peach.

Eddie is just a flat out nice man. He knows what it’s like to be a comedian, and is very kind to everyone who wants to be on the Letterman show – who is everyone on Earth. Rick Gieser is the P.R. person for Zanies and he was there too, and we ended up hanging out for an hour afterward exchanging stories and talking sports. I wish every day was like this. I have some super friends.