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Media: February 2022 • “Call it a Comeback”

| January 31, 2022


For many years Nick Digilio held down the overnight fort at WGN Radio (720 AM). In that slot, he developed an enthusiastic following. He thinks the daypart itself was part of the reason for that.

“A lot of people who listened were at work,” Nick says, “and if you’re working overnights, you’re probably doing a job you aren’t really happy about it. It’s the middle of the night, let’s face it. So you become a companion. People who can’t sleep. Or they have babies, and they have to be up in the middle of the night. Some people are just lonely. Or depressed. Some people are having issues with substance abuse—something I understand as a recovering alcoholic. And to have that voice in the middle of the night to call you, and to call in, it’s a special time. And the connection you make with someone like that, who is lying in bed at 3:00 in the morning, you can’t create that in any other daypart. I really think that’s why my listeners were so passionate about the show. It’s an intimate time and you feel more connected because of that. I cared about those people. I never once took that for granted. It meant a lot to me.”

It’s one of the reasons why his departure from WGN was so traumatic for him.

“September 4, 2020,” he says, remembering the exact day. “I got canned on Labor Day weekend. I was with WGN for 35 years. I had been doing overnights and weekends for twenty years. WGN was a big part of my life. To suddenly have that taken away, and not even face to face. It was a five-minute phone call. When I got fired, I had a relapse. I felt hopeless, and this sort of thing happens. I ended up in the hospital and it took me a while to get my footing again. I’ve been laying low recovering and getting back on my feet. And this was all happening during a pandemic, and my parents are both still alive and both have pre-existing conditions. I’m an only child, and I wanted to make sure they were safe too. I didn’t want to get back out there until I was ready to jump back into this.”

But there were also moments in the dark times that made him smile.

“I got my WGN-Walk of Fame plaque,” he says. “They sent it to me. I was inducted in 2017, and I was honored at the time. They put my plaque right next to Roy Leonard’s, and Roy was the reason I had a career in radio at all. He was an unbelievable broadcaster and one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. He took me under his wing. Anyway, my plaque was right outside the window of the showcase studio, and I could see John Kass smoking cigarettes, and stamping out the butts on my name. That’s not figurative. I saw it with my own eyes. It was so cool, but then the Tribune moved, and the building was sold, and WGN moved, and they didn’t know what to do the Walk of Fame.

They took the plaques out and moved them to the transmitter in Elk Grove Village. Somebody took a picture of them, and it looked like a graveyard. Dean Richards posted the picture on social media. Then Kathy O’Malley saw it and she posted it. Then I posted it too, and [Robert] Feder put it in his column. So the powers that be, took them out and sent me mine. And mine is the kitchen now.”

This year Nick is ready to rejoin the media world. In January, he kicked off his new podcast on the Radio Misfits Podcast network.

“I’m really excited to be a part of Radio Misfits,” he says. “It seems like a good fit. The podcast will be a lot like the WGN show. Tons of guests that were regulars on my show on WGN, and we cover the world of pop culture. One of the partners on my show did traffic for me for many years on WGN, Esmeralda Leon, and she’s going to be a regular. We’ll do all the regular features that we did on the show. I’ll do movie reviews. And I get to swear a little. If you were a fan of the radio show, you’ll like this podcast. Instead of five days a week, five hours a show, it will be twice a week, two hours a show. We’re also talking about doing a live podcast. I have a friend who has volunteered space, and we’re working on lining up a live show as well.”

He’s really jumping back in with both feet.

“After a couple of months, I’m going to launch a second podcast about Saturday Night Live. It’s called ‘That Show Hasn’t Been Funny in Years,’ which is what everyone says, but I don’t believe it. I still watch it every week. There’s 47 years of material, and there is no end to the useless information I know about it. I’ve been watching it literally since the first episode.”

And what is the name of his flagship podcast?

“The Nick D Podcast,” he says with a laugh. “Took a lot of thinking. I called around and people said, why don’t you just use your name, jackass.”

The Nick D Podcast drops on Tuesdays and Fridays on the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.

-Rick Kaempfer




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