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Media: April 2019

| April 1, 2019 | 0 Comments

Brandon Herman (Photo by Matt Begeman)

If you listen to the veterans of the radio world, you begin to hear a few common themes. One is that there is a dearth of young talent. Another is that the young talent that has emerged doesn’t know and appreciate radio history, and are therefore unappreciative of what radio was and what it can be at its best.

Those radio veterans probably have not met Brandon Herman. Until recently he was the station manager and show host at WONC in Naperville (North Central College). He is about to branch out and launch a non-commercial network to syndicate his show. This 21-year-old kid is already a grizzled veteran with more than five years of experience. It began at his high school radio station at WLTL in LaGrange (Lyons Township).

From the very beginning, he didn’t think small.

“I was surprised that nobody had done anything with the people who lived in the area. There’s a goldmine of music people. The first people I reached out to were musicians. The first guy I had on was Jimmy Sohns, the front-man from Shadows of Knight. Doing research on local music, I learned there were so many great bands from here.   Tons of them. Bands from the ’60s and ’70s and a lot of them came on my show.”

As he did more research about the music that came out before he was born, he discovered a little concert recently featured in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.

“I did a special one year about the history of Live Aid – and was fascinated by the concert. I ordered it from the library and watched it in its entirety. At first, I thought the special would be about two hours long, but I reached out to as many people as I could that performed in it, or were involved in some aspect of it. It ended up being an 8 ½ hour special. We played songs from every set, and we even had Graham Nash on the show. That blew away my general manager Chris Thomas. He was incredibly supportive.”

Then Herman began to learn about the rich history that we have here on the Chicago radio dial.

“I knew Steve Dahl lived nearby, and he came out to the studio on a Saturday night and spent two hours on the show. I had listened to him on WLS, and my parents were big fans – they had listened to him since they were young adults. That was incredible. I got the whole WLUP lineup on my high school show, and that got me into the history of the Loop. I went to Jonathon Brandmeier’s studio to interview him, and I was never so nervous in my life. Kevin Matthews invited me out to his home studio, and I did an interview there. Garry Meier invited me out to his podcast studio, and I was a guest on his podcast, too. And Chet Coppock too.”

For those of you keeping score at home – a high school kid was able to get the full line up from the classic Loop on the air to pay tribute – something even the Loop itself couldn’t do for their last show on the air. Learning about the Loop sent him even further back, and he discovered more of the incredible talent we still have in the Chicago area.

“The more I learned about the Loop, and the more I heard the old archival shows, the more I realized that the Loop was a game changer. They really influenced me from the talk radio perspective, and from the disc jockey point of view, I loved the guys on the Drive and WLS-FM. But I must say, I was dumbfounded that WLS had this incredible lineup of talent. And I had researched them and heard their earlier work, and they were among the greatest of all-time. The incredible line up of talent – Robert Murphy, John Landecker, Dick Biondi – and they weren’t allowed to speak more than ten seconds at a time. So that’s what inspired me to reach out to them, and I had them on my show.”

After he graduated high school, Herman brought his show to his college station WONC in Naperville and continued to hone and improve his skills. All the while he kept scoring these incredible guests, and he started developing a following.

“I learned a lot when I worked at WONC under the direction of John Madormo,” Herman explains. “They gave me the chance to really try new things.”

Brandon not only rose through the ranks at WONC, becoming the station manager, but he was also becoming noticed in the college radio world. That culminated recently in his being asked to be a presenter at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s annual conference in New York City, where he talked about interviewing and show prep.

After that experience, he decided it was time to launch the network. At press time there were about a dozen non-commercial stations in the Midwest interested in carrying The Herman Show.

“I have begun working as a supervisor at WLTL 88.1 FM (Lyons Township High School in La Grange), where I am mentoring students in an advisory role, and as such, it made sense to move The Herman Show to WLTL. So our home station is WLTL.”

Keep an eye on this kid. If he’s accomplished all of this before going pro, imagine what he can do when someone actually pays him to do it.

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Category: Columns, Media, Monthly

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