This last week was one for the books. If you aren’t aware, I got a new job at WBEZ. I’m now in charge of talk shows. That means Eight Forty-Eight, Worldview and a new afternoon show with Steve Edwards. And this last week, we worked our butts off to get Tony Sarabia up to speed as the new host of Eight Forty-Eight. We are working on a gradual transition to a new show and format. Essentially, the news magazine is out and the live talk show is in. Alison Cuddy is moving to a more reporter/feature
roll role with the City Room, focusing on arts & culture.
The biggest change isn’t really what you’ll hear on the radio, but how we make that radio. That part is really a reorganization of the WBEZ talk staff. Pretty tough to do. But hopefully we’ll kill it when the shows get underway in early February. The best part of this whole process? I get to work and throw off ideas to some of the smartest people in radio. I’m not just saying that and then sending them the link to see nice things I wrote. No. I mean it. This is a very experienced radio crew. There’s such great shorthand in our meetings because everyone has done this job before. So great ideas can flow.
One of the reasons WBEZ chose me to lead this job is because I’ve done this before. Starting radio shows is sort of my skill set (that, and softball coach). I’ve probably produced a handful of talk show pilots for WBEZ, including being a founding producer for Eight Forty-Eight. Before I moved to web, my last radio project was Schadenfreude, the half-hour original comedy show. We did 61 episodes in two years.
Anyway, this week is the first week back for Eight Forty-Eight. Sarabia is in, hosting. The goal is for us to try some live experiments in the next month. So I’ll let you know what I’m trying here, cool? Figure it might help me with some ideas. And I like it here. Today, all we are doing is experimenting with the first couple minutes. Instead of a written “billboard” that sets up the show, we are going with a much more casual approach. Tony will just converse with Lisa at the 9am hour and that will serve as what we are talking about on the show that day. It is still up in the air if we’ll even have a theme song. The current Eight Forty-Eight theme has served us well (This is my Chicago!!! Holy Cow!) but it might be a time for a change. Or maybe not.
If you listen today - go ahead and let me know if any of these changes strike your fancy!
B story: Mayor Emanuel and schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard are together this morning touting the CPS’s longer day. Why? Because more schools have signed on and today they are starting the new hours for the first time. So essentially, students will miss the 3 p.m. Heathcliff & Friends and have to settle for starting their afternoon TV time with Transformers at 3:30 p.m. Tough break.
C story: Mayor Emanuel is blaming the unions for the weekday closings of city libraries. No more books on Mondays. Great. I guess. I don’t really know if this matters. Do kids even use libraries anymore or are they just expensive shelters for homeless readers?
D story: The Illinois Lottery bounced some checks. Um, don’t they have overdraft protection?
Weather: So a fisherman told me that the perch were a month behind schedule. Does that mean winter is too? So are we being spared now but come March, it’s blizzard time? Cause I don’t trust this.
Sports: It was funny watching the Lions implode against the Saints in this weekend’s playoff game. Why? Because the Lions are in the spot that should have been reserved for the Bears. And that second half implosion would have inevitably happened to us. So our mediocre season deprived us of embarrassing ourselves on national TV in our one and only playoff game.
What is most disconcerting about the Bears is that they believe Lovie Smith can win it all. So much so, that instead of realizing this is the team of record and we need someone to take us to the next level, we fire everyone but the head coach. Why? It’s obvious that the Lovie Smith/Tony Dungy tree has a hard time winning the big one. Dungy got one, but heck, it was against the Bears. Dungy was a great coach when he had a great quarterback. In Tampa, they replaced him THEN won their championship with Gruden. What does that say? I think Lovie needs to go so we can get in a coach who has won and will take us to the next level.
Kicker: Hey, Chicago. Time to take down your tree. Seriously, the Daley Plaza Christmas tree is still up. Is this how you plan to run the city, Rahm? Like my neighbor who never takes down his Xmas lights? What’s next, are you going to put a CTA bus up on blocks in our front yard?