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Media: September 2017

| September 1, 2017

Fred Huebner

Fred Huebner is certainly not a newcomer on the local sports radio scene. His roots go back four decades. “Like a lot of those guys on the Score, I started working at Sportsphone,” he explains. “I was there beginning in 1976. We would do reports that were exactly 59 seconds–and people called the number to get the most recent reports.”

Sportsphone was the pre-curser to sports talk radio, but Fred was there at the beginning of that trend too. Just a few months after the Score signed on as Chicago’s first sports-talk radio station, Huebner was on the staff. At first, he was just a weekend producer, but it wasn’t long before he was doing sports updates.

“My big break was when (Mike) Murphy was doing nights at the Score,” Fred recalls. “I was his update guy, but he needed someone to bounce things off of, so he really made me part of the show. When Murph moved to mornings, I went with him. During the time Murphy and I did mornings, we routinely beat Mike and Mike (ESPN) because we were doing local sports talk.”

It was during his decade-long stint as a morning sidekick/update anchor for Murphy and later Mike North that Huebner became a well-known name in Chicago. Both morning hosts had a reputation of being a little difficult, but Huebner never had an issue with either man. “Murph only had two rules. When he asked you to do something, you do it. And if he asks if you’ve done something, don’t lie to him if you haven’t done it. Once you follow those rules, you don’t have any issues with Murph. I only had one semi-run in with Mike North, and it wasn’t that big of a deal. We had a 4:30 am meeting, and I got stuck in traffic and showed up at 4:35, and he wasn’t happy. But other than that, no issues. He’s a happy-go-lucky Chicago guy who just wants to do a good show, and if you’re also dedicated to that, there are no issues.”

In one way, Huebner is a man on an island in the Chicago sports-talk world. He may be the medium’s only 60-year-old non-ethnic unabashed soccer fan. “I got introduced to soccer when I went to Morton East (in Cicero),” he told me. “Our team went downstate, and even though I wasn’t a fan at the time, I hopped on the bus and tagged along. But honestly, it wasn’t until 1990 during the World Cup that I really became a fan. I watched all the games–and they were tape delayed because that World Cup was in Italy. The American announcers really took the time to explain the game to the ignorant fans like me, and I really immersed myself in it. By the time the 1994 World Cup rolled into America, I knew the backup players on Cameroon. That’s how into it I was.”

Being one of the only soccer fans in sports radio led to some opportunities for Huebner.  “I got a press pass because I was at the Score and got to know the Fire–the general manager at the time was Peter Wilt. And because I would hang around and talk to the folks there, in 2007 when they aired a few games on My 50 T (television), I was asked to broadcast a couple of games. The first one I did was a David Beckham game.” Huebner is now on staff at ESPN Radio (AM 1000) in Chicago, and his soccer interest followed him there.

“For three years I did Chicago Fire Weekly on the radio. We did it for a little while live from the Fire pitch. It was always at a time when nobody was there. Well, one time the cops showed up because (co-host and former Fire player/coach) Frank Klopas used the wrong code. This year I got a call saying that the radio show wasn’t going to air anymore. I was very bummed –but that disappointment didn’t last long. Next thing I knew they were telling me that it was going to be a television show instead (on Comcast Sports Network) and that I was going to host it. It’s been a great opportunity.”

On the other hand, the last few years have been incredibly difficult for Huebner on the home front. Our phone conversation took place on his drive to the hospital.

“My wife has recurring ovarian cancer right now, and I’ve just recently recovered from lymphoma. My spleen had to be removed. A normal spleen is only a few ounces. Mine was 3½ pounds. So I’ve been going through chemo, and had to miss a few months of work.”

Recently his soccer world and medical world collided. “When Bastian Schweinsteiger was signed, I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to get a jersey. One of the people at the Fire saw that and told me he’d get me one. Well, I didn’t hear anything for a while, so I was starting to think they had forgotten me. But when I had Schweinsteiger on the show, at the end of the second segment, he said ‘I know you’ve been going through a lot, so I wanted to give you this’ and it was an autographed jersey. Such a nice gesture. It meant a lot to me.”

Fred Huebner can be seen on Chicago Fire Weekly on CSN and can be heard on ESPN Radio with Mike Murphy on Saturday mornings and before Chicago Bears games on Sundays.

– Rick Kaempfer

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  1. Fred Huebner says:

    After years of reading it, I finally made it!