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Media: January 2021

| December 31, 2020 | 1 Comment

 

Melissa Forman

After twenty-plus high-profile years in radio and television, Melissa Forman is an important part of the Chicago media landscape. “Twenty-plus years?” she responds. “Yikes. It’s going fast. My Dad always said to me: ‘Life is like a roll of toilet paper. In the beginning, it moves slowly, and in the end, it moves very fast.’”

This is her third go-round as the morning host at The Lite, 93.9 FM. “I always wonder if they’re thinking. Oh boy, we can’t let her go again, can we? (laughs). It just goes to show you that when you leave somewhere, be gracious. You never know when they’ll ask you back. I’m working with a great group of people this time. My producer Jim (Gronemann) and I have been together now for twenty years. Jimmy is the best. He’s like my brother. He’s Lenny to my Squiggy. We have a true and real friendship. He’s so smart and good at what he does. He owns more than twenty Dominos restaurants, but he still does this because we have fun. He loves radio as much as I do.”

The management crew has also been very welcoming. “My program director Mick Lee is a good guy who gets it. He’s an on-air guy himself, so he has the same perspective as Jim and me. This crew is welcoming and strong. I’m glad I came back. Matt Scarano is the president of the Chicago region. James Howard is the regional VP of programming. It’s a great management crew. They’ll send e-mails out of the blue as fans, as fellow Chicagoans. That’s been great.”

This time of year is always a highlight for Melissa and the Lite. After spending November and December playing Christmas music and granting Christmas wishes, they usually find themselves at (or near) the top of the rating ladder. “There’s just something about hearing Christmas through your radio that brings that magic back,” she admits. “When you’re driving through your neighborhood, seeing the sights of your life, and this Christmas music comes on, it just sounds like home. This past year I was ready to play it in July (laughs). This year people needed it more than ever.”

They also needed goodwill and kindness. Though the station has been granting Christmas wishes for a while, those gifts really packed a punch during the very difficult 2020 season. It was obvious in Melissa’s delivery that it had a big impact on her. She often got emotional. “These Christmas wishes are so meaningful to me,” Melissa agrees. “I’m so appreciative that I’m allowed to do this. I really mean it. We’re all going through this time together. When things seem hard or difficult, I keep telling myself that I’m so blessed to be able to grant wishes to people. I mean, who gets to do that? The people are so joyous, so grateful, and it’s so meaningful to them. You can’t help but get emotional. It makes me feel so good; it’s like I’m the one that gets a gift.”

The gifts weren’t just selfish asks. Often people asked for things to be given to others. “We had wished, upon wish, upon wish for other people. A husband to a wife. A teacher to her students. A mother-in-law to her son-in-law. The expression of love from one person to another is so incredible. How many times have you wished you could do that for a special person in your life? Even my own family got into it this year. We’re all quarantined together, so I played these wishes back to my family at dinner sometimes. It just made us all feel good.”

Another thing that makes her feel good is being back on the radio. For eight years, she worked in television at WCIU-TV. “I loved TV, but radio is in my blood. The calls that come through. The moments with listeners. The immediate feedback. It’s special. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working in TV, and (WCIU-TV co-host) Jeanne Sparrow will remain my friend forever, but when you do TV, you are speaking out, speaking at someone. Radio is a two-way medium with interaction. These listeners are so engaged. People say that radio is dead, but they should come in and listen to these people every day. They are intelligent; they have a point of view; they are creative; they are hilarious. I leave my show every day in a better mood because I got to talk to them. There’s magic in radio. Local radio. These people have the same experiences that you do, growing up in the same town. Trudging through the snow. Visiting the zoo. Whatever. We have a common history. We tell the same stories. We know the same people. I just love it.”

Melissa’s listeners feel like they know her. There’s a good reason for that, of course. Forman is a genuine person, and her listeners can sense that. “I’m not a perfect person, for sure,” she says, “but being genuine is important. People know. Listeners know. I feel like I’m just talking to my friends.”

And she no longer has to sit in a make-up chair and spend time worrying about looking good either. “You should see me now,” she admits with a laugh. “I’ve been in a bathrobe for nine months. Showering is overrated.”

Melissa Forman can be heard every morning on WLIT-FM (93.9 FM) from 6-10 am.

-Rick Kaempfer

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Category: Columns, Media, Monthly

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