Three Years Of ‘Outside The Loop’
Mike Stephen and Andy Hermann launched “Outside The Loop” radio on September 28th, 2006 as a way to “create an independent program that featured stories and discussions about local issues that weren’t always getting media attention,” says Stephen. At the time, they were producers at WGN, and launched the weekly audio magazine as a podcast. It started airing on Loyola’s WLUW-FM (88.7) in March 2007, where it’s heard Thursday mornings from 10 to 11 a.m. (and online at outsidetheloopradio.com).
Hermann co-hosted and produced “OTL” until last March; he currently serves as producer for the “Nick Digilio Show.” Stephen, now an audio producer for a local multimedia production company, says, “I’m trying to produce a platform for local issues to be discussed and to even have some fun in the process. I’m a huge fan of NPR, but occasionally I’m irked by how scripted the programming is. There is lots of good content but sometimes it sounds like their hosts/anchors are falling asleep while reading the news! On ‘OTL’ I like to think that I make more of a personal human connection with the listeners.
“I’m a Chicagoan who’s talking about Chicago issues that are important to our community and I’m having fun along the way.”
A recent third-anniversary show taped at a Lakeview bar featured Chicago Reader writer and editor Mike Dumke, Time Out Chicago “The Get” writer Jessica Herman, performance artist and “Feast Of Fools” podcast host Fausto Fernós, and local food blogger Andrea Newberry as well as a long chat with the Parking Ticket Geek (expiredmeter.com), about how to get out of parking tickets.
Although Stephen has some help from an intern, he puts five or six hours into the show each week, booking guests, recording and editing interviews, and updating the Web site. He doesn’t get paid to do the show, which averages about 1,000 downloads per month.
“I keep doing the show because I love doing radio, working with sound, and telling the stories of Chicago on a weekly basis. I feel that ‘OTL’ is a way for people to learn about their community of Chicago and to get informed. I believe that community media outlets are vital to our city and I’m happy to foster local discussions.”
To that end, he invites listeners to post comments at outsidtheloopradio.com or e-mail him, email@example.com.
ODDS N SODS: Emmis Communications’ WLUP-FM (97.9) released Jonathon Brandmeier with three months left in his contract, and replaced him with Canada-born rock jock John “The Byrd” Kempf — which seems to be part of a plan to go more rock, less talk. Johnny B joins a who’s-who of off-the-air local talent, including Steve Dahl, Kathy And Judy, Eddie And JoBo, and Dan Jiggetts and Mike North. The latter will start a new gig February 1st on CBS 2 as part of its new “Monsters And Money In The Morning” weekday mornings from 7 to 9; the money part will be covered by author/Sun-Times money expert Terry Savage and former CNBC business reporter Mike Hegedus. But as media columnist Robert Feder said in his Vocalo.org blog, “What’s missing in the mix is a substantial news presence” . . . Speaking of blogs, Tribuneco’s Chicagonow.com, “created by Chicagoans for Chicagoans,” boasted 148 blogs as of press time, including contributions by Bruce Wolf, Steve Dale (on pets, of course), and Amy Guth. There are also three music blogs — by songwriter and jingle-singer Nikki Lynette, Brian Mazzaferri of the Nintendo pop band I Fight Dragons, and a 22-year-old architecture student and local hip-hop enthusiast from Buffalo Grove who calls himself Sgt Tibbs. Chicagonow recently launched a radio show that airs Saturdays from 9 to 1 on Tribune-owned WGN-AM (720) . . . The magazine Bitch: Feminist Response To Pop Culture needs money again. The 14-year-old publication’s mission “is to provide a feminist critique and analysis of pop culture, to encourage discussion about how the media influences us, and to promote the connection between cultural critique and social-justice activism,” although it’s a lot more hip and fun than that sounds. There’s also a podcast and some really great blogs; more info at bitchmedia.org . . . Former Sun-Times city-hall reporter and local comedian Ray Hanania recently announced he is running for Mayor of Palestine on the “quid pro quo” peace party ticket, saying he opposes violence of any kind. The syndicated columnist, who is a Christian Palestinian-American, supports a two-state solution and said, ” I think what Palestine and Israel need is a candidate who is unequivocal on a vision for peace.” More at www.themediaoasis.com . . . Kudos to Representatives Danny Davis, Luis Guiterrez, and Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) for co-sponsoring the Community Access Preservation (CAP) Act (H.R. 3745), which would “prohibit discriminatory treatment of PEG channels and removes unfair restrictions from funding.” PEG channels are public, educational, and governmental stations that serve and provide important information to local communities. Eroded regulations and lax enforcement of existing PEG protections have led to some cable companies reducing quality and functionality of existing PEGs and/or reducing public cable drops to schools, libraries and other public centers — even though the Illinois’ Cable And Video Competition law of 2007 states that companies with state video franchises must deliver PEG channels with equivalent signal quality and functionality to that of commercial channels. For the latest, visit keepusconnected.org.
— Cara Jepsen