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Reintroducing Steve Edwards

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Monday WBEZ is doing something it hasn’t done in a long time. We’re launching a new daily talk show. It’s called Afternoon Shift with Steve Edwards and for long-time listeners the second half of that name is far more important than the first (of course, “afternoon” does serve to indicate when it’s on the air: 2-4 P.M. Monday through Friday). The point is: Steve Edwards is the real draw here.

Steve Edwards, right, interning at NPR in 1992. (Courtesy of Steve Edwards)

Around these parts he’s nearly a living legend- probably second only to Ira Glass in admiration among his colleagues. Though we’re all aware of Steve’s talents here in the office, it is possible that some in our audience weren’t listening back in 2007, when he left his regular hosting gig on Eight Forty-Eight. So to set the stage for his new show, here are some of the greatest hits from his tenure on the morning shift.

Barack Obama October 22, 2004

After being named the Democratic candidate for the Illinois US Senate seat, Barack discussed a topic that would become a defining issue during his eventual presidency: healthcare. He told Edwards that his three priorities were being progressive with medical technology, bringing down the costs of prescription drugs, and emphasizing preventative care. Obama even made a reference to his future first daughter Malia, who has asthma.

Jack Ryan June 18, 2004

In 2004, Senate candidate Jack Ryan was seen as the best chance for the Republican party to beat then Illinois State Senator (and future President) Barack Obama. But a sex scandal involving his ex-wife, Star Trek actress Jeri Ryan, derailed Ryan’s campaign enough that he dropped out of the race a month after his interview with Steve. After members of the press pushed for Ryan to release his sealed divorce records, the case went to court, and Ryan lost. Those records revealed that he had pushed Jeri to participate in “sex clubs” and other scandalous activities. In an extensive interview days after the records were released, Ryan told Edwards that there was nothing out there that would “keep me from being a good US Senator.” He also asserted that he would not be dropping out of the race, and that he thought the story would “go away on its own.”

Jeff Tweedy October 29, 2004

Before Wilco was firmly entrenched as one of America’s most beloved bands, they were simply one of Chicago’s best rock bands. The album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was a triumph that marked a shift in the band’s long career. As the group completed their follow-up, A Ghost Is Born, bandleader Jeff Tweedy went to rehab to deal with an addiction to painkillers. Despite the shortened promotional cycle the ensued, Tweedy spoke with Edwards on Eight Forty-Eight candidly about his experiences in rehab.

Sufjan Stevens July 5, 2005

The reclusive precursor of the Etsy aesthetic once had an ambitious plan to celebrate all 50 states in song. Sufjan Stevens began by focusing on his birth state of Michigan, then turned his sights to the Land of Lincoln. At the beginning of his surge in popularity, Edwards spoke with Stevens about his artistic process and experiences in Illinois that inspired his most acclaimed album.

Do you remember any great interviews by Steve Edwards? Share them in the comments.
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