Posts Tagged ‘WXRX’

Rock Star In Rockford

June 30, 2014

Friday June 27th, 2014 – Rockford, IL

Ah, a flash of the good old days. For at least one day I got to be in the comedian groove again. I’ve been out of it for a while, and it felt very much at home to be back. This is what I was born to do – at least the performance part. I got to work in a nice venue in front of a receptive crowd, and there were no long drives to make. This is exactly how I picture my comedy future to look.

Long time Chicago comedian Ken Sevara books monthly comedy shows at a wonderful Italian restaurant in Rockford, IL called Franchesco’s. I was the headliner for their opening night a few years ago, and it’s been a while since I’ve been back. I never bugged Ken about it, and that’s one of my problems. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get lost in the mix because there are so many comics.

He knew I did a killer job, and so did the staff. That was never the question. Quite a few of the staff that remembered me from that night walked up and said hello within ten seconds of walking in the door. I know they weren’t faking, because it’s a busy restaurant with lots of people coming and going all the time. They were sincere, and it felt very satisfying to have them remember me.

There was also a table of people that were there a full 45 minutes before the show that had seen me perform at a place called L.T.’s that ran weekly comedy shows for years. They said they had been waiting for me to come back to town, and didn’t want to miss it. I almost felt like a big star.

I also got to be on the radio this morning with “Stone and Double T” on WXRX, and they have always been fans and treat me great. Their station is probably not my demographic, but it’s still a lot of fun to be on with them so I always say yes whenever they ask. They’re both real people on the radio, and that is SO refreshing. If they were Bob and Tom, I would be a millionaire by now.

They’re not Bob and Tom, and Rockford isn’t Las Vegas – even though the actual room where they do the shows could easily be in Vegas. It’s a gorgeous facility, and has a separate and sound proof entrance from the bar and restaurant area so as to keep the showroom quiet during shows.

They have big screen TVs all over the room that say ‘Comedy Night’, and it’s a perfectly sized and proportioned room that seats probably 150ish. They can show clips of upcoming acts if they like, or list drink and food specials. Everything about this particular space is how it should be for all standup comedy shows, but rarely is. It’s a pleasure to work rooms like this whenever I can.

It’s EXACTLY the kind of venue I’d want to promote my own shows on a consistent basis, but they’re almost nonexistent. This one has just about everything anyone could want, including tons of free parking and a liquor license plus full menu of delicious food. There’s a lot to work with.

I would never infringe on Ken’s room, and that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m just saying it has all the features I’d be looking for to do my own shows. Rockford may be a bit small to shoot for a weekly show anyway, and that’s important to know. It’s easy to burn out in a smaller town.

I’d love a place similar to this in Milwaukee to do ‘Schlitz Happened!’ more regularly, and one in the Chicago area wouldn’t hurt either. Even if I did weekends once a month and promoted the hell out of them I bet I’d develop a following sooner than later. This is the future of the business.

Franchesco's Ristorante in Rockford, IL is a great place to have dinner and see a comedy show. If it's a 'bistro' or a 'ristorante', it's hard to go wrong. www.franchescos.com.

Franchesco’s Ristorante in Rockford, IL is a great place to have dinner and see a comedy show. If it’s a ‘bistro’ or a ‘ristorante’, it’s hard to go wrong. http://www.franchescos.com.

Ken Sevara books the shows, does comedy himself and also hosts a radio show on WIND called 'Fly By Night'. Find him at www.kensevara.com.

Ken Sevara books the shows, does comedy himself and also hosts a radio show on WIND called ‘Fly By Night’. Find him at http://www.kensevara.com.

'Stone and Double T' are two of the nicest - and most competent - radio people I have ever met. I'd do anything for those guys. www.wxrx.com.

‘Stone and Double T’ are two of the nicest – and most competent – radio people I have ever met. I’d do anything for those guys anytime. http://www.wxrx.com.

Tuesday Tradition

November 1, 2013

Tuesday October 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

It’s Tuesday, and that means I make my weekly appearance with “Stone and Double T” on the “Low Budget Morning Show” on 104.9 “The X” in Rockford, IL. I’ve been a regular with them for a few years now, going back to when they used to be on in the afternoon. They’re great guys, and totally get it on many levels. The only negative about being on with them is where they are.

No offense to Rockford or anyone who lives there, but it’s never going to be an entertainment Mecca, or a Mecca for anything else. It’s a depressed town that most people 500 miles or farther from it have probably never even heard of. It’s just one town, and that’s not how to get famous.

On the upside, it’s cheap to live there and if someone wanted to be in Chicago or Milwaukee to experience city life it’s a little over an hour away and easy to get to both places. It wouldn’t be a horrible place to live I suppose. They have some nice suburbs, but the city itself is rather seedy.

A lot of places are like that these days. The city of Milwaukee is getting pretty funky, whereas when I grew up there it was always very clean and well kept. Maybe it was the German influence of freakish neatness that made it that way then, but it’s not there now. Most cities are in disarray, but there are always at least a few nicer areas for those who are fortunate enough to have a job.

My first radio job was in Lansing, MI which is an absolute toilet. I lived right on the border of Lansing and East Lansing, and it wasn’t bad at all. I had about a ten minute drive to work if that, and I got used to living there. I was making money, so the stench of the town wasn’t as pungent.

I’m sure the same is true with Stone and Double T. They are both employed, but neither one is originally from there. They’re paid mercenaries, but they have grown to be a part of local fabric over time and now I’m sure they both call Rockford home. That’s the tradeoff of being in radio.

Very few ever get to become media stars in their home town, just as most pro athletes don’t get to play for their hometown teams very often. Michael Jordan was not born in Chicago and Aaron Rodgers surely wasn’t born in Green Bay. Fate, destiny or whatever one wants to call it is where people end up settling and becoming local fixtures. That’s what Stone and Double T have done.

Radio is full of those stories. Steve Dahl is not from Chicago but that’s where his success was. Bob and Tom are not from Indianapolis, but they’ve worked there for more than 30 years. I have always wanted to find a town where I could do that, but try as I might it just hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve got a little bit of a name in Chicago, and my hometown of Milwaukee too. I would hope I also have at least some recognition in Rockford with all the times I’ve been on the air both with Stone and Double T and also filling in at the news/talk station WNTA. I hope someone listens.

Even if they don’t, I am still flattered Stone and Double T have me on the air every week. They are both as real and friendly as it gets in radio or anywhere else, and their personalities could not fit that town any better. It’s a perfect match, and hopefully they can make a solid living for years. The only problem for me is that they’re not on in more markets. I’ve said it before, but it’s a fact – if Stone and Double T were Bob and Tom, we’d all be millionaires by now. http://www.wxrx.com.

You can catch me every Tuesday morning on the 'Stone and Double T' show on WXRX 'The X' in Rockford, IL www.wxrx.com

You can catch me every Tuesday morning on the ‘Stone and Double T’ show on WXRX ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL http://www.wxrx.com

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.

The Maven Of Mondays

October 9, 2012

Monday October 8th, 2012 – Chicago, IL

   When things go like they did today, Monday is probably my favorite day of the week. I haven’t had one like this in a while, and it reminded me how much I’ve been missing. I used to have stuff to do lined up on a consistent weekly basis from early morning until midnight, and I loved it all.

I still do some of those things, but the schedule is not as rigid as it once was. Getting home late after The Mothership Connection radio show on WLIP in Kenosha, WI can make it a bit stressful especially if I had a busy weekend doing shows before that. By the time I get home and unwind a little it’s already Monday morning and after only a few short hours of sleep I’m back at it again.

What usually wakes me around 7:30 on Monday mornings is a phone call from the ‘Stone and Double T’ radio show on WXRX ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL. We’ve done a weekly bit for a while, and it’s always fun. They let me do what I want, and it’s refreshing to have someone trust me to know what I’m doing and deliver a weekly bit. I appreciate that. Find them at www.wxrx.com.

After that, I sit down at my computer and Skype Jeff Schneider in Pittsburgh and we record our podcast ‘The Unshow’. We’ve got more than 100 thirty minute episodes in the can, even though we haven’t figured out a way to carve out an audience much less monetize it. Jeff used to be a lot more excited about trying to promote it, but now I think he’s finding out how hard this game is.

Still, they’re fun to do, and we usually try to crank out at least two episodes if we can. Once in a while if we’re on a roll, we’ll do three. Some are better than others, but they all have a least one riff that I would think is worth listening to. Jeff is a very interesting and well read guy, and we’re both so familiar with each other it’s like two jazz musicians exploring new turf. We have a vibe.

I’m not sure exactly where we’re going with this, but since it’s only an hour a week and all that needs to be invested is sitting at the computer and talking I feel I want to keep going. Who listens to it now, who knows? It’s part of the cosmic foot print I’m leaving to prove I was on this planet.

After the podcast, I got out and took a nice long walk on a beautiful autumn day. I worked up a full sweat, and then had a healthy breakfast at a diner in town. It’s filled with odd characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the continuous freak show as I ate my poached eggs and oatmeal.

After that, I cranked out two articles for my www.maxwellmethodcomedy.wordpress.com blog and it made me feel like I accomplished something worthwhile. One would have been great, but I was on a roll so I kept going. I’ve been very productive with those of late, and I’m not done yet.

To top it off, I received a call late this afternoon from Pat McGann asking if I could fill in as the host of the Rising Star Showcase at Zanies in Chicago. That was unexpected but appreciated, so I scrubbed up and headed to Chicago. I needed a haircut so I squeezed that in too. It all fell in line.

I wish I’d be able to control this vibe like a thermostat, as that’s where I’d set my life and leave it for good. I’m exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to do. I’d call that success.