Radio! Yes, radio can be a theatrical experience. How you might ask? Well first of all, you need the right moderator and with The Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan ( probably the most noted authority on Chicago) as the host of their new “Chicago Live!” program that is being taped at The Chicago Theater, LIVE!, they have found perfection. This is a one hour radio show filled with numerous guests who either perform or are interviewed by guest hosts to a full audience in the intimate Chicago Theatre Downstairs located at 175 N. State Street ( at Lake). Every Thursday evening, or at least through November 18th, Rick plays host to a number of celebrities and we, the audience get to watch the process and afterword, meet and mingle with the guests. All this for a mere $25.
Tonight, I was able to witness this taping and what a line-up! First Rick started off with a story ( a very funny one about the infamous Chicago journalist Mike Royko). Between guests and interviews, Second City’s Tim Baltz, Jim Carlson and the adorable Brooke Breit did their “thing”- take current situations and add a comical twist- hilarious! Eric Zorn , another Tribune person then led a discussion on “Election Day Fallout” that made light of the political situation of this week’s election while at the same time bringing to bear the fact that if the State of Illinois is going to get back on track, both parties have to work together- Great idea! If that wasn’t funny enough, Second City went to work again.
Next on the bill was The Sports Desk led by Balitz who had on the couch David Haugh and Steve Rosenbloom ( sports guys all the way) and the , on a more serious note, Dawn Turner Trice interviewed Dr. Richard Garner relative to a program to make teen age boys learn to discuss sex and disease with their peers ( closely supervised) and the came Kogan’s “Almanac”- the year 1986. A very clever reading with video ( of course listeners on the radio will not see these, but Kogan’s powerful voice and great knowledge will get his point accross).
The next part of the program was Jenniffer Weigel ( yes, she has two f’s) interviewing Jacqueline Edelberg, a mother ( and now a book writer) who changed the whole neighborhood public school because she had had enough of trying to get her child into a “magnet” and so she enlisted the help of many other mothers faced with the same fears-Why they couldn’t have a decent school in the area- and with their help took this low performance school into the top 50 in the state of Illinois. This was an inspirational story that lets us know that instead of avoiding life’s challenges, we can meet them head on and with work and conviction, be victorious. Her book- ” How To Walk To School:Blueprint For A Neighborhood School Renaissance”.
David Haugh came back onstage to interview Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville and we as an audience got to learn more about this quiet man who came out of what appears to be nowhere to lead Chicago to the Stanley Cup. This was followed by another Second City skit and then Entertainment writer Steve Johnson brought out Folk Singer Robbie Fulks to get a little more insight into who he is and he even gave us a song. This was a solid hour, filled to the brim with interesting people and stories and a bit of music and lots of comedy. “Chicago,Live!” is only on a test right now, but based on what I saw and the reaction from the filled house, I cannot believe that this will not become a regular show- not just a radio show that airs on WGN-AM ( 720) on Friday nights from 11 a.m.-Midnight, but a live performance evening such as the one experienced tonight.
Each week is different- next week, November 11th, David Daniels the star of the Lyric Opera’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream ( which I will be reviewing ) will sing from the opera. Best selling author Attorney Scott Turow will talk about his new book “Innocent” the follow-up to his best seller “Presumed Innocent”, Comedian Greg Proops a Zanie’s regular will talk about being funny with Chris Jones, the latest in sports will be discussed by Haugh and Rosenbloom, Kyra Kyles will sit down withJoe Russo and talk about the “pop culture scene”, Second City will be on hand to tickle your funny bone and of course host Rick Kogan will lead the way for another action packed hour of entertainment.
On November 18th, the entire show ( well, almost) will be dedicated to “foodies” with celebrity chefs and one of the best theme’s Chicago “foodies” can get in on- “The Great American Dog Debate” with Doug Sohn of Hot Dougs ( have yoiuever waited in line on Kedzie for one of these special meals?)- Get ready Chicago, it’s only just begun!
To order your chance to be a part of Chicago history, visit www.chicagolive.com or you can visit the Chicago Theatre box office ( upstairs) while supplies last. This is an intimate space and after the show, you can meet and mingle with the cast. There is a cash bar for your enjoyment while you meet and greet, so com on down ( and I mean downstairs) for a great time and an entertaining evening. Want to hear the show? You can catch the podcast at www.chicagolive.com. Hear the loud laughter? Guess what. That’s me! By the way, if you are up early on a Sunday morning, catch Rikc Kogan’s “Morning Papers” on WGN Radio as well- always a fun show.