On the radio
One of my favorite distractions as a college student in the late 70s and early 80s was to stay up late at night and listen to Chicago-based talk radio.
My favorites were “Chicago Ed” Schwartz and the husband & wife duo of Steve King and Johnnie Putnam, first on WIND and later on WGN. They would feature guests like Chicagoland ghosthunter Richard Crowe, psychic “The Amazing Elizabeth,” and various trivia experts.
“Chicago Ed” would take calls from Chicagoans of all walks of life, and the conversations would vary between the informative, the funny, and the poignant. He was especially good at talking up the city’s late-night gastronomic delights, and my mouth would water over descriptions of overstuffed sandwiches, Chicago hotdogs, and deep dish pizza. He also hosted on-air charity drives that became annual events.
The talk was warm, informed, and civil. The hosts cared about their listeners. It was an on-air community of night owls, and I loved it. For me, listening to talk radio was a much more engaging pleasure than, say, channel surfing in front of the TV.
Today, Steve & Johnnie have stepped away from their talk show after over 25 years on the air, and Chicago Ed sadly has passed on. In the meantime, “talk radio” today is commonly associated with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Co. What a shame. If more folks could listen to the likes of these “Chicago-style” talk radio hosts, they’d understand what we’re all missing.
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