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Media – May 2020

| May 1, 2020

The Mix Morning show (WTMX, 101.9FM) is now officially called Eric in the Morning with Melissa and Whip. After an unprecedented run of success during morning drive time in Chicago, everyone knows Eric Ferguson, the star of the show. Most also know Melissa McGurren, a trusted co-host for many years. But who in the world is Whip?

He’s the newsman on the show, and yes, he really goes by the on-air name of Whip. His real name is Brian Paruch, but early in his career (on Q-101) he picked up the nickname Whipping Boy, which was officially shortened to Whip when he came aboard at the Mix (WTMX 101.9FM) a little over a decade ago, and it stuck. That’s just his name now.

“99% of my co-workers have called me Whip anyway for the past 10-15 years or so,” says Paruch. “Very few call me Brian.”

These days he has a very important role on the show. When the news is dominated by the biggest story we’ve ever seen, being the newsman on the top-rated show in the city suddenly takes on an additional burden. On this particular show, that’s a difficult balancing act, because it’s a personality show more than a news show, and it must remain true to its core mission.

“It became apparent to all of us pretty quickly that we can’t be all doom and gloom. Eric really tries to balance the actual news—the stuff you can get everywhere else—with the more lighthearted. We try very hard to make sure we don’t get anything wrong, while we also find the more upbeat elements of the story.”

But the moment in time we’re living through isn’t lost on Whip.

“Nothing has affected our daily lives like this,” he admits. “You have to go back to a World War when America’s daily life was disrupted more than this. I want to make sure that at least for my part, that I have the base of knowledge to be as up-to-date as humanly possible in a world where the facts are so fluid. It may not all come out on the show, but Eric will often mention something he heard, and I need to know what the facts are—they are looking to me for that information.”

The various incarnations of the Mix Morning show (which began as The Eric and Kathy Show) will go down in history as one of the most popular radio shows of all time in Chicago. There are several reasons for that, and Whip is very generous when it comes to assigning credit for that success.

“I always say this. I give all the credit in the world to Eric and (producers) Swany (John Swanson) and Cynthia (De Nicolo), and (co-host) Melissa, because they have been here for the long haul. They were huge before I got here, and if I left tomorrow, they would still be huge. Swany and Cynthia work their asses off. Melissa, I think, is our secret weapon. There’s something unique about her, something super appealing, that is so central to the show. I think (traffic reporter) Violeta (Podrumedic) has also brought fresh energy to the show, but it goes without saying that Eric is the most important reason. He’s one of the most driven people I’ve ever met. He is so focused and good at what he does. That template he has created has evolved when it’s needed to evolve. It’s as modern as it can get for new fans and remains comfortable for all of the longtime fans.”

One of the secrets to the show’s incredible long-term success remains a work ethic that is hard to rival. Everyone on the show goes above and beyond the call of duty even after the show ends.

“We have been working hard on expanding our digital presence,” Whip says, happy that their efforts have been noticed. “All of us make a point of doing videos and posts on social media. I have a weekly and a monthly video series that’s on-line called “‘Whip’s Good News’” (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), and the ladies do their own videos too. I think they are even better at it than I am. Eric is all over the place on social media too. That’s something we take very seriously to help build our online and digital presence. We aren’t just on the radio anymore. That’s been a big focus of our content director, Jimmy Steel, and we’re lucky to have a great social media manager Mel D (Melissa Dever). She’s amazing and does an incredible job.”

Another secret to the show’s continued success might just be the commitment of the promotions department. Since the earliest days of the show, they have invested heavily in billboards around Chicagoland. Whip’s even on them now.

“Honestly, I never pictured myself on a billboard. It was never even a thought, but I must say that’s what I hear about more than anything else. Kids on my son’s baseball team say, ‘Hey we saw you on the billboard.’”

Not that it gets him any street cred with his kids. “Only one of my three kids (ages 12, 8 & 5) really cared at all,” jokes Whip. Every parent can relate to that.

Eric In The Morning with Melissa and Whip can be heard every weekday morning on WTMX, 101.9FM. Look for their additional content on the morning show’s social media pages.

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