Friday September 22nd 2017

ChicagoLive! with Rick Kogan

For those of you unfamiliar with a live radio show being taped before a live studio audience,  we have, in Chicago, a rare treat. Rick Kogan, who one can hear every Sunday morning on WGN Radio ( 720AM) is now doing what is termed a “LIVE” radio show called “ChicagoLive!”. This is a series of weekly shows in 6 week segments. During the six weeks, Rick and his production people , partnered with Second City, put on a one hour show that is taped for broadcast on Saturday nights at 11 p.m. The taping is done on the previous Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m. in the very intimate downstairs theater in the Chicago Theatre building ( State at Lake) so workers downtown can leave their office, have an experience and then head on home.

This is an hour of true variety, and they say “variety is the spice of life”! Tonight’s show, week two of this segment which will continue through August 25th, featured  the comedy of Second City (  Jimmy Carlson, Matt Hovde and the adorable Andel Sudik). They do little pieces between guests. Very topical and current and thoroughly enjoyable. Who doesn’t need a good laugh at the end of the working day? Tonight’s program featured two of the understudies in the current Broadway In Chicago production of “West Side Story” Kathryn Lin Terza ( who plays Fernanda) and Cary Tedder( Snowboy) doing “Tonight” and I found their performance equal , if not better, than the couple who play the roles in this touring company. These are young talents who will be rising in the years to come.

As I said, Kogan loves variety, so after a “news” bit by 2nd City, we were witness to a marvelous interview of David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama ( and now leading his re-election campaign) by Tribune political writer Rick Pearson. While this seemed a bit longer than most acts on this show, it was of great import as they discussed the world we live in today and what could take place in the very near future. I could have listened to these men for hours- both very knowledgeable and yet, very real in their attitudes about what our country needs.

The next portion of the show was  Word Alert (from Germany) and SpeakEasy ( United States) who performed poetry together. Yes, performed, not read! Poetry Slam ( which was founded here in Chicago by Marc Smith, who in fact was interviewed and later performed) is what they did, but in two languages at the same time. A very interesting concept. And while it will not appeal to everyone, it did keep our interest. Smith, by the way, ended the evening with a marvelous poem about climbing to the top of a mountain- truly a masterpiece. For more info about this “art form” visit www.chicagoslamworks.com.

One of the highlights of these evenings is Kogan doing his “Almanac”. He selects a year and then talks about some of the things that make the date very memorable. He is an author and a newspaperman and so newspapers always creep into this portion. The year he chose tonight- 1984, so of course George Orwell entered into the year. This was the year that Michael Jordan made his debut, not as a bull, but as an NBA player. This was the year that also saw the Sun-Times being sold to Rupert Murdoch and a number of newspaper people moving over to the Tribune, so a lot was mentioned about Mike Royko. Part of the almanac was to remind us all that despite what naysayers express, the printed newspaper will never be gone. Yes, there may be fewer and less pages, but there will always be those who enjoy having that paper in their hands. Boy, I sure hope he is right!

The portion that followed was a strange interview by Lauren Viera, who had attended a conference in New Orleans on “Booze”. What a perfect place for this conference. The women she interviewed, Sonja Kassebaum ( who owns North Shore Distillery) and Lynn House ( chief Mixologist at Blackbird) and each expressed how this is not a party/conference, but in fact a learning experience about  alcohol and drinks that are far more than drinks. As I said- variety!

Coming up- August 4th a preview of Lollapalooza, the Guitar duo of Goran Ivanovic and Andreas Kapsalis and of course Second City; August 11th, Classic bluegrass harmony, the comedy of the Famous Brothers, Filmmakers Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz and Night Ministry president Paul Hamann; August 18th, Mr. Fix-It , Lou Manfredini ( this will be a sell out), music of Candy Golde, the game show show and more; August 25th- to finish this segment all sports, a salute to the players and fans that make Chicago the sports-lover mecca that it is.

If you can’t get to the taping and are unable to listen on a Saturday night, WGN does podcast at their website. For tickets and more info,   visit  www.chicagolive.com.  Once  you attend one of these tapings, you might just get hooked. I know that whenever I have a free Thursday evening, I put this on my calendar.

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