This year WGN radio is carrying the Indianapolis 500 and, for whatever reason, some people have whipped themselves into a dither about this race, or any race for that matter, being on the radio. Most of these are the same people who have no problem listening to baseball, football, hockey, soccer, or any of a number of sporting events on the radio even though most of them are available to watch on some channel.
I’ve got a few thoughts about this.
Full disclosure: In the late 60s and early 70s, I was very fortunate to spend several years working in Indianapolis for Fairbanks Broadcasting, the company who owned, what was then, the flagship station for the “Greatest spectacle in racing,” WIBC-AM. During that time I worked with and developed lasting friendships with two broadcast legends, Sid Collins (“The voice of the Indianapolis 500”) and Lou Palmer (“The voice of victory lane”). It was also during those years that the Indy 500 broadcast rivaled Paul Harvey‘s broadcast as the most listened to IN THE WORLD!!
While I had been a fan of the race before, that experience along with many visits to “the old brickyard” to see the race, in person, cemented my love of the Indy 500. Every year, Johnnie and I can be found watching AND listening to the race. We were genuinely excited when it was announced that WGN radio would be carrying the race this year. So, yeah, it’s a fair point to say I’m biased in favor of the race.
Her & Him did a road test of the 1998 Indianapolis Pace Car.
Having said that, ANY sporting event broadcast is enhanced or diminished by the broadcasters covering it, regardless of what form of media the broadcast is on. If the announcer is doing their job well, you’ll get backstories and insights during baseball and the rest that enhance your listening and/or watching experience. Look at the number of people at Wrigley Field listening to the Cubs broadcast while they are AT the game. The same is true of the Indy 500.
I know this little rant isn’t going to convince some, but I just wanted to put it out there because, my experience with the Indy 500 RADIO broadcast has been that IT’S GREAT RADIO! If it’s not your cup of tea, turn the dial. But, if you stick around, you’ll be joining millions of listeners in a Memorial Day weekend tradition that really is something special.
By the way, since you’ve stuck around this far, as your reward, here’s a little bit of WGN Radio/Indy 500 trivia. The first major broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 took place in 1924 on Chicago station WDAP. Just a few days later, WDAP’s call letters were changed to WGN.
Quite often, to keep our minds off the slings and arrows of outrageous potholes that are so plenty-full on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, while he drives, she clicks the vistas along our route. This past weekend, they were doing their best to impress.
So, of course, we had to share a few with the class.
Even at night, this is one of the prettiest drives of any big city.
And the closer you get the more it inspires smiles.
Even crossing the lower level bridge has its charms.
It’s easy to see why Batman liked this route.
Once we arrived at our appointed destination, because of the NCAA Tournament, not surprisingly, last Saturday night’s show started a little later than we’d planned.
Our monitor’s screen, we could see that, in the newsroom, Steve Ruxton was ready and waiting … and waiting … and waiting.
As we got ready to fast forward our clocks ahead one hour to Daylight Saving Time we filled the hours by driving to the WGN Radio studios and, once there, “wound up” introducing you to some wonderful food that’s made in Chicago along with the history behind it, got a showbiz report from Gino Salomone, shared some pre-Oscar show picks from brother Lee, demonstrated AI Voice Cloning with Patrick Crispen and a whole lot more.
It was spitting rain as we closed in on Chicago’s downtown and the drops on our windshield enhanced an already pretty view that we happily soaked up.
A little rain, but a lot of pretty!
Once we settled in to the “friendly confines” of the WGN Radio complex, we began the show, as we usually do, with a “round robin,” checking in with all the usual suspects.
One of our favorite “usual suspects,” Gabe Salgado, who mans the news desk in the wee hours.
Our apologies for lagging behind on posting podcast links to this blog. Because we know not everyone who follows this blog follows us on Facebook, Twitter or our other social media sites, even though we post podcasts on those sites, we do our best to also post them in this space. But, now and then, we get a little behinder in our work, so this post will be a podcast twofer!
First up, our Feb. 26th show.
We knew our first show back in Chicago, on Sunday morning Feb. 26th, after our visit to the Panhandle would be a short one, but the Chicago Blackhawks game going into overtime made it even shorter. “The Musical Mentalist,” Sidney Friedman, made the moments we had left mystifying and entertaining.
Our March 4th show on ran the gamut from Girl Scout cookies to computers to The Beatles to The Big Bang Theory and behind the scenes TV stories to … well, since the podcast is now posted, just click this link and hear for yourself.
Our 2nd WGN Radio show from Florida is in the books! This time, fortunately, there were no technical problems, just a ton of fun with a lot of great guests.
Once again we were broadcasting from Studio 812, in Lynn Haven, Fl. This is a state of the art recording studio that is used to hosting musicians and singers but, thanks to our friend Tom Hoots, it was reconfigured to accommodate our needs for a radio broadcast.
Johnnie during a commercial break at Studio 812
This past Saturday night we slid back into your radio speakers with a combination of new and old friends.
Two of our, Panhandle based, in-studio guests were …
In spite of some weather related technical problems, we had a great time Saturday night (2/11/23) during our first live broadcast from Studio 812, in Lynn Haven Florida.
Studio 812 is roughly a half hour drive from our Panama City Beach home and, because it was a windy, rainy, night, our trip across the Hathaway Bridge was, as Bob Collins use to say, “a character builder.”
Our windshield wipers did their best while Steve drove and Johnnie took pics.
When we finally got to our Lynn Haven destination, along with Studio 812’s Tom Hoots, we connected with our crew at the WGN Radio studios, in Chicago, to go over our show’s “game plan.”
Tom Hoots and Steve doing a pre-show check. (Photo: Michael Lister)
Along with the usual suspects, our special guest was New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Michael Lister, who is celebrating 25 years of his acclaimed John Jordan “Blood” mystery thriller series and the release of his first single, “A Certain Age.”
Johnnie, Michael Lister & Steve
“A Certain Age” is Michael’s beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Dave Lloyd, an extraordinary talent and human being who Michael, Tom Hoots and the two of us were fortunate to know and count as a friend.
Michael Lister’s video of “A Certain Age.”
Due to a Chicago Blackhawks game, we had a short show so, if you blinked and missed it or, if you’d like to hear it again, the podcast is now available, just click this link and it’s all yours.