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Media: September 2020

| August 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

Fred Weintraub, co-host of The Hannah & Fred show on WCGO-AM 1590 and executive producer of sports at Weigel Broadcasting (WCIU-TV), lives a life that is very different from your average broadcaster.

“I’m a Chicago-born and bred kid,” Fred says, “But for the last 13 years I’ve been living between London and Singapore and Chicago. I’ve been doing that because my wife works for British Petroleum and she keeps getting transferred from place to place. As long as I can do my job from anywhere in the world, I’ve been fortunate and able to do that.”

The radio show can be done from anywhere, but Fred still has to fly into Chicago (in a non-COVID world) to handle his duties for Weigel Broadcasting.

“I joke that I have the longest commute to work in the world. When I’m coming in from Singapore it can be 19 hours. From London, it’s 8 hours, which seems like a drop in the bucket by comparison. Because the management has been as generous as they’ve been, and the loyalty goes two ways, I’ve been able to continue my broadcasting career even under these unusual circumstances.”

The high school sports schedule (he produces the High School Game of the Week for WCIU) required him to be in Chicago for four months or so a year, but Fred wasn’t satisfied doing nothing for the rest of the year. Shortly after his move to London, that restlessness led him in a totally new direction.

“I tried to find something to do outside of my sports responsibilities to keep me busy,” Weintraub explains. “I decided to pitch myself as ‘Chicago’s Royal Watcher.’ It’s really just a matter of figuring out where the queen or royal family will be at certain events, and then going there to report on it. I still remember the thrill I felt the first time I saw the Queen walking down the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It gave me the chills.”

At first it was just a lark, but soon he was a regular guest on radio shows in Chicago.

“I developed a niche. I began to call radio stations and say that I was there and could report on the royals, and before long, they began calling me. There was luck too. I was in London for Will and Kate’s wedding. At the time, everyone believed that only women were interested in that story, but when the bells rang at Westminster Abbey, there was no one in the pubs. Every eyeball was glued to the television: men, women, and children.”

Weintraub parlayed that royal watcher role into his current radio show, The Hannah & Fred Show, currently airing from 11 AM—1 PM WCGO 1590AM.

“I was on with Hannah Stanley on WGN as a royal expert, and what started out as 15 minutes, turned into an hour. We had a meeting with (then WGN-General Manager) Todd Manley and he asked if we wanted to do a show together. By then we had figured out that we were good radio partners. We had the same interests. I realized that I couldn’t do it on WGN every week because of my schedule, but I pitched to Hannah that we should form our own company and we shopped the show. Hannah is a great partner because she has a different skill set than me, but we sound good on the radio together, and through WCGO and the Talk Radio Network, we found a way of making it work.”

The biggest challenge is the time of day they call each other to plan out the shows because of time-zone differences, especially while Fred is in Singapore.

“We probably talk about five times a week while we plan out the shows. A lot of people ask us if we really do like each other as much as it seems we do, and the answer is yes. We like each other off the air too. We come to our editorial decisions in two different ways, but it works. She lives in the suburbs with her kids and works in a school system, and I live a very different kind of life, but as long as we can communicate, it’s not very hard.”

Fred describes the show as follows.

“If you tune into The Hannah and Fred Show on a Sunday morning, our vision is that you’ll grab a cup of coffee and listen to us talk with interesting and informative people. We’ll have celebrity guests, politicians, and experts, and by the end of the show, you’ll leave with more chips in your pocket because you’ll have more information about things that are happening in the world. Sometimes it’s more of a serious news show, and sometimes it’s just really entertaining. We are curious about a lot of different things, so it just comes out in our conversations. Hannah is really smooth and great—a pro’s pro. Meanwhile, I’m not afraid to ask any question at any time, for better or worse. Our personalities mesh well.”

And yes, they do it live, despite the time difference.

“The radio show is from midnight to 2 AM for me. If you want to do it, you find a way. I feel fortunate to do what I do, so it works for me. It takes a little extra stamina sometimes, but that seems like a small price to pay. It’s important to support your spouse, which is what I am doing.”

– Rick Kaempfer

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