Tag Archives: radio

“It was twenty years ago today…”

One of the most exciting days of my career was Monday, December 14, 1998. Just two days prior, I loaded up my car with a few weeks’ worth of clothes and put Pittsburgh in my rearview. I was driving to my brand new job in Chicago! I’ll never forget the very first time I was behind the wheel on the Dan Ryan, watching the skyline of my soon-to-be favorite city rapidly approach. I still get those tingles when I see it today.

A month earlier, a brand new radio station signed-on called 92.7 Kiss-FM. This was the first true top 40 station here in the seven years since Hot 94.7 signed-off. (B96 may have called themselves “top 40” through the 1990’s, but it always favored dance/rhythmic music, ignoring most rock-leaning songs). Kiss-FM was going to do it right. Our slogan was “All The Hits, One Station.” How true that was. Finally, you didn’t have to listen to three different stations to hear them!

The big promotional kickoff for Kiss-FM was “10,000 songs, then $10,000!” The station would be commercial-free until that 10,000th song played. At that point, they would open the phones and give $10,000 to the 92nd caller. Nobody was sure exactly how long it would take to play those 10,000 songs. So, the brand new airstaff was hired and brought to town a few days early:

George McFly (mornings)
Harry Legg (middays)
Chris Shebel (early afternoons)
Shark (late afternoons)
Jeffrey T. Mason (evenings)

***George wasn’t here for the launch, but would arrive soon after. We brought Luis “2-Live” Lopez on for overnights a month or so later. Bill LaTour eventually replaced Chris Shebel on air when Chris focused exclusively on his role as program director. And last, but not least, Melissa Forman made her Chicago radio debut as George’s morning co-host about 5 months into the format.***

While waiting for that 10,000th song, I was listening at an Extended Stay America in Des Plaines. (At this point, the Kiss-FM studios were still in Arlington Heights with an impending move downtown soon.) Eventually, it became pretty clear everything would culminate on Monday. We just weren’t sure what time. Whoever was scheduled to be on the air at that point would be the very first DJ heard on Kiss-FM. That turned out to be me 🙂

I can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s been TWENTY years since this adrenaline rush began! While I’ve made so many friends throughout my career, I’ve never worked with a finer group of people than at 92.7 Kiss-FM…and eventually our sister station, The 80s Channel 103.1 WXXY.

Chris Shebel put together a video for our 1999 company Christmas party. It shows the good, the bad, and the ugly from our first year on the air. I’ll let YOU decide which is which.

Enjoy! And thank you so very much for being part of this story…just on the opposite side of the speakers.

Radio’s Revolving Door…And A Promise

As I have said on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I am SO grateful for the last four-and-a-half years you’ve listened to my show on (the now-former) 104.3 K-Hits! Sadly, that era has come to an end.

Hey, I’ve been doing this radio thing since 1990. November 23rd to be exact. So, I’m about to celebrate 27 years behind the microphone! The reality is losing my job to a format change has become “old hat.”

Listeners and friends have been extremely kind to reach out and ask if I’m OK. The answer is “YES!” These things don’t bring me down. In fact, it’s the nature of this business I chose. You know the old saying: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I know how this game plays out! With very few exceptions in my career, the experience has been worth the end result – whatever that may have been.

Nearly 15 years ago, I was in a similar predicament when the company that owned Energy 92-7 & 5 folded. I wanted desperately to stay on the radio here in Chicago. So, I stuck around. Eventually, the severance ran out. Then, the unemployment ran out. Finally, my savings and patience ran out. I had to find work elsewhere. That’s when I took a job doing mornings in Indianapolis.

I told myself it was only temporary…until something opened up in Chicago. I would only be three hours down the road and could just come back home. While the job DID turn out to be “temporary” (it lasted only one year), my next stop wasn’t Chicago. Nor was the next one…nor the following one…nor another four for that matter! It took TEN years for me to find the right opportunity in my favorite city on Earth. That, of course, was at 104.3 K-Hits.

I will NOT repeat this a second time! I have zero intention of leaving Chicago again. The key difference this time is that I’m 100% willing to walk away from radio. If no opportunities present themselves here in a timely manner, I’m “hanging up the headphones” as they say.  I’ve finally reached the point where quality of life trumps passion. I love this city so much, I’ll sacrifice a nearly 30 year career to stay.

This decision was not made hastily. I’ve had to pack my things, move to a new city, and basically uproot my life TWELVE times! While that was fun as a teenager in the early ’90s, the whole experience lost its luster many years ago. There won’t be a 13th time.

Sooooooo, you will either hear me on the radio soon…or find me packing boxes at Amazon! If it’s the latter, please subscribe to Amazon Prime. See? I’m already on the job! A.B.C. Always. Be. Closing.