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IE Rewind: Remembering Lin Brehmer: Media – September 2018

| January 22, 2022

Lin Brehmer

WXRT morning man Lin Brehmer is more than just a friendly voice on 93.1 FM every day, he is your “best friend in the whole world,” a moniker he has used now for several years.  “But I usually say it in a pathetic ‘why don’t I have any friends at all’ whine,” he points out.

Don’t let his humility fool you. Brehmer is beloved by the 93XRT audience. They feel like they know him, because, they probably literally do. Brehmer is everywhere. We spoke a few days after Lollapalooza, and Brehmer had been burning the candle at both ends for four or five days in a row – Lolla by day, and private parties and additional concerts at night (including a Jack White party at the Metro). It may have been an extreme example, but it wasn’t unusual for him. He makes many charity appearances, seems to be at every concert, every Cubs game, and yet there is one thing waiting for him every time that he cannot escape.  “The alarm goes off at 4:00, or 4:30,” he says.

How is he still alive after maintaining a schedule like that all these years? “Everyone asks me that. I’m not sure. I’m naturally a night person I guess,” he explains. “Even when I don’t go out at night, I stay up until 10:30 or 11 or later if the Cubs are on the West Coast. I’m just wired that way. In the afternoons I take a nap, and that’s usually enough. But to be honest, I’m often a walking zombie.”

If you’ve ever seen Brehmer in public, you know that he is not one of those guys who sits in the corner and doesn’t want to be bothered. Even in his zombified state, he’s very approachable, like most of the XRT jocks. And the listeners aren’t shy about approaching. He thinks he has an explanation for why XRT listeners feel the way they do about the station’s air talent.
“We’re not stars,” he says. “We didn’t get into this for the attention or to say ‘look at me!’ We got into this for the music. We don’t sound like DJs. We sound like normal human beings. We sound just like the people who are listening, and we share a common bond. We like the same music.”

Brehmer started at WXRT as the music director. At the time, he wasn’t known for his on-air performance at all. But ever since a one-year stint in Minnesota, after which he came back to XRT to replace Terri Hemmert, he has been the morning guy. That’s a very impressive 27-year streak, nearly unheard of these days. “I’ve been very fortunate,” he admits. “This is a very cool job. I’ve met just about everyone I’ve ever wanted to meet. I met Robert Plant five or six times, spent long periods of time with Pete Townshend. Met Bob Dylan when he did a show at the Metro a few years ago.” I asked if there was anyone still on the list that he never got the chance to meet or interview.  “The only one I can think of that I’ve never met–and I wish I had–was Tom Petty. I was in the same room as him a few times, but I never got the opportunity to chat with him. That’s a regret. He was very important to me. The first record I ever played on the radio was a Tom Petty record.”

Part of Brehmer’s appeal is his knowledge of music (he was once known as “The Reverend of Rock and Roll”), but his show is much more than that. He is a rare combination. There have been some great ad-libbers in music radio history, and there have been a few who have had the writer’s heart. Very few can do both. Brehmer manages to walk that line. Go to his live remotes (like the one he and sidekick/newscaster Mary Dixon do every year on Opening Day at Wrigley Field), and you’ll see a guy who can improvise and think on his feet. Then listen to his regular feature Lin’s Bin and hear his other side. It’s essentially an elaborate written essay answer to a listener’s question, complete with sound effects, movie quotes, and musical tie-ins. And it’s not done on a whim. Brehmer spends a lot of time and effort on this feature.

“I’ve probably done a thousand of them or so by now,” he says. “But it is a lot of work. I usually spend a day or two letting it ruminate in my brain. Then we go through several drafts until I think I have it right. I send audio tracks to my old producer Pete Crozier, who lives in the Columbus area now, and he helps put it together. He was my producer the first ten years, so I really trust him with it. He does it as a labor of love. My current producer Chris Cwiak also helps out. By the time it airs, it’s been through the ringer, and I’m really proud of it.”

Lin’s Bin isn’t on as frequently as it once was, but it still airs weekly. To say it’s one of a kind is an understatement.  “It’s not exactly the way a program director would draw it up,” he concedes. “There aren’t a lot of PDs out there saying ‘Hey, we should have the morning guy do a four-minute written essay!’ I’m appreciative to XRT for allowing me to do it all these years.”

Lin Brehmer can be heard on the radio from 5:30-10am, Monday through Friday on WXRT 93.1 FM. He can also be seen at night at a concert venue, ballpark, restaurant, or charity event near you.

-Rick Kaempfer

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