Memo to Randy Michaels: It's time for Chicago radio to go 'Nostalgic'
The former Clear Channel executive and Tribune CEO has purchased the Chicago radio stations Q101 (101.1FM) and WLUP (97.9FM). And now all eyes will shift to what Michaels will be doing with a new format at Q101.
Staffers of the alternative rock station will learn their fate within the next month and Michaels has already leaked that the new format will be more of the news and talk variety, possibly even all news.
Might I make a suggestion? Chicago has news radio. It has talk radio. We have conservative and liberal formats, and we are deluged with sports. Music channels run the gamut. But you know what we don't have? A one-to-one connection to our radio past.
Mr. Michaels, I would like to pitch you on a no-risk, guaranteed winner format. I call it "Nostalgic Radio."
All too often, the DJs and personalities get older and have to adapt to keep working. This means you get some of the better radio personalities adhering to awkward formats or developing political opinions to stay relevant.
Chicago radio was built on the backs of the zoo-crew. We bring back oldies and disco music. I implore you to hire all of the out of work Chicago jocks to do their shows once again. And not new shows. The same old shows.
Q101 has a great history of morning zoos. Here is what I would do to the new Has-Been radio line-up. Ready?
M-F 6am-10am: Mancow's Morning Madhouse
Mancow was at his best when he was running amok weekday mornings on Q101. His brand of free speech radio included stunts, fake callers, a hot weather girl and the infamous Turd (sidekick). Bring him back and let him do the same shtick again. He was a controversial hire when he was brought into Q101 back in the day, so bringing him back to helm mornings would controversial all over again. But as we all know, Michaels thrives on controversy.
Bring Mancow back and break the chains, Randy!
10-2pm: Kevin Matthews Show
Return of the Kev-Heads! Free Bird!
Kevin Matthews was arguably the best mid-day show in Chicago radio history. His assembled crew included his own brand of characters, including Jim Shorts. Even his famous sidekick sports announcer Bruce Wolf had an alter-ego. This show has to come back. And so does Shorts and Chet Chit-chat.
2pm-6pm: Johnny B. on the Loose!!!!
Johnny B has been rumored to be back on the airwaves soon. But let's be honest - they would be putting him in some slot to talk about the Middle East and why Obama is ruining this country. No. That's not the Johnny B Chicago is nostalgic for. Bring back Brandmeier, Buzz and the rest of this famed zoo-crew. Randy, hire away Jimmy "Bud" Wiser from WGN and invest in a horn section. We want more "We're All Crazy in Chicago."
6pm-10pm Steve & Garry
Dahl. Meier. Everyone else. This would be a no-brainer. Randy, you have to pay these guys. Everyone in radio management has tried to reunite these two pioneers. Can you do it? Throw some of that Trib-like money at them and see what happens. If they aren't avail, I guess you could get Bonaduce.
10pm-2am: Crazy Howard McGee
Let's mix it up: Go ahead and bring back Crazy Howard McGee. Howard was a mainstay morning voice at WGCI-FM. He is probably best known for his morning show, but he might find a space to flourish in the nighttime hours. McGee never really did zoo-crews, but that form of African-American radio (there's a party in the studio!!!!) is as nostalgic as they come. Give Crazy Howard the microphone and let him invite three or four friends in studio. Best party in Chicago radio.
2am-6am: Eddie & Jobo
Best overnight? Hmmm, this is tough. But I gotta go with my guys Eddie & Jobo. Eddie & Jobo are probably the most notorious morning radio music team in Chicago history. They did talk radio, but they did it interspersed with top 40 hits. And I figure they could have the overnight spot so if they slip up and talk about Joan Esposito or Horace Grant, it will be at an hour where the FCC will not be listening. Now, they are already back on commercial radio (104.3FM), but you are Randy Michaels! Steal these guys away.
Weekends are usually a dead time for commercial radio, but this might be a great opportunity for you to bring out the best zoo-crew to have ever roamed the Chicago market. Z95's Paul Barsky should be brought back to the area. His zoo-crew was very popular and it also gave rise to some of Chicago's biggest radio names: Eric Ferguson was a producer and Wayne Messmer was the news guy.
Now I'm sure I have omitted some great names and you have your own opinions of who should be featured on "nostalgia radio," but in the end it's not our call. It's Randy's call and Chicago is listening.
And whatever you do, please bring back the radio commercial. We need to see more of this on Chicago television: