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Media: November 2023: The Loop Files: An Oral History

| October 31, 2023

Steve and Garry


I’ve written a new book called The Loop Files: An Oral History of the Most Outrageous Radio Station Ever. The book comes out officially at the end of this month, but this month’s media column is a free preview.

 All the biggest stars who helped make the Loop (FM 98) so memorable tell the radio station’s history in their own words. In the late 70s, Mitch Michaels and Garry Meier were two of those stars.

Mitch Michaels

From the moment we started, the atmosphere was all about forward-thinking. Right out of the box, we wanted to be more than just a radio station; we wanted to be a movement, and we were. The Loop was an attitude; it was a cool friend. It was the thing every teenager and twenty-something wanted to connect with. On air, we were much more upbeat, much more in your face than any other station ever had been. It didn’t matter if it was a wet t-shirt night at a bar or a Van Halen concert at The Aragon; we were there.

Garry Meier

The moment I knew we had really started clicking was when we started that anti-disco thing. We had a membership card you had to get to become an official member of the anti-disco army. I’ll never forget this. One day, sacks and sacks and sacks of mail were brought into this conference room. Every card or letter was asking to become a member of the anti-disco army. It was akin to that scene in Miracle on 34th Street where they brought sacks of mail in for Kris Kringle. That’s what it reminded me of. We had tapped into something there with the kids of Chicago.

After Steve and Garry were fired, the station went through some dark days. The person they brought in to rescue the Loop was not exactly welcomed with open arms…


Jonathon Brandmeier

I went into “Keep the Fire Burning” by Kenny Loggins as my first song, that’s after 55 minutes of heavy metal. Well, what do you think they’re gonna say to me? They’re not gonna give me a chance. I’m already dead.

You know, the story of the first call – “Hello, the Loop.”

“Fuck you, go home.”

Just four years later, Brandmeier ruled Chicago. The Loop bought an AM station (AM 1000), and for the next 10 years, The Loop AM/FM might have been the most culturally significant radio station in Chicago history.

Kevin Matthews

AM 1000 was more than just a radio station. It was this ball of culture.  People listened day and night. If you wanted to hear and know what was happening in Chicago, you had to listen to AM 1000. We even carried the Chicago Bulls, with this new kid called Michael Jordan.  The ’85 Bears – they were on this station—all the time. There was so much happening in advertising, the economy, and the birth of the internet and the ’80s, and it was this ball of energy. This volcano of talent and fun.  It was a perfect storm. That’s what AM 1000 was; it was a perfect storm that happens once in a lifetime.

Bob Stroud

If I could use one word to describe what it was like to work there in those days, it would be: Dangerous. At any given moment, anything at all could happen.

One day, Chicago Bears Tom Thayer and Steve McMichael came into the studio and duct-taped Kevin Matthews to a chair. While Thayer rolled Kevin down Michigan Avenue, McMichael literally took over the show. Stuff like that happened all the time.

Danny Bonaduce

I remember I was with Jonathan Brandmeier on one of my first days on the radio, and we had a broadcast. We were out at some bar or some such thing. People just came up and kept giving me drugs all night, and I kept taking them.

Brandmeier goes, “Are you gonna die?”

I said, “Not tonight!”

It was my first real radio gig, and I was getting promoted, not fired, for my behavior. One day, I fell asleep at the control board on a TON of drugs. Somebody noticed there were no sounds coming out of the radio, so they sent an ambulance for me. I figured, “That’s it. I’m fired.”

Larry Wert came in the studio.

“So, you’re the man who passed out on drugs on the radio? Okay, try not to do that anymore.”

Chet Coppock

I think it took a lot of years away from The Loop before we realized that, you know, son of a gun… we really were gosh darn unique. I remember seeing Steve Dahl in a Blackhawks screening. It might have been 2015. I was in a screening for the Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship video. And Steve and I began talking about the station. He said, “You know, we might have been the best station in America.” And there is a lot of merit to that because, again, we spawned so many imitators. But nobody, and I mean nobody, could do it because nobody had the lineup of talent The Loop enjoyed.

For that period of time when all the stars aligned, when rock and roll and comedy and radio were all simultaneously kings (1977-1998), when the 1927 Yankees of Radio all gathered in the same hallway at the same time, the Loop created something that will never be forgotten. 

The Loop Files is available at

-Rick Kaempfer

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