“About?!?” Hmmm .. where to begin?
OK, let’s start with the basics…
We’ve been hanging out/dating/married/doing radio and, occasionally, TV/organizing garage sales/collecting guitars and frogs/going to early door buster events/sharing our enthusiasm for Sherlock Holmes, Walt Disney, just about every kind of music and interesting things on wheels/agreeing and disagreeing with Simon Cowell, politicians and even more pompous “talking heads” together since the early 1980’s.
We’re still having fun!!
Up until December of 2011, almost 27 years of the radio part of our relationship were spent co-hosting, what became, Chicago’s #1 overnight radio show on WGN. Although we no longer face the demands of a daily radio show schedule, we still maintain our residence as part of the WGN Radio family with occasional “drive-by” shows and guest appearances.
The year 2015 also marked, what would have been, the 100th birthday for a dear friend, the legendary Les Paul. As a part of the year long celebration, our first book, “A Little More Les“, containing conversations, photos and memories from our treasured friendship is now available.
Along with our love of music, we continue our love of interesting things on wheels and you can regularly find our Video Road Tests posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.
Here’s a link to our personal homepage, SteveAndJohnnie.com and links to some of the other places we hang out in cyberspace like our Facebook page, our Twitter page, our YouTube Channel, our WGN radio page, and, of course, the main page of our “Both Sides Now” blog.
Our time spent in the legendary WGN studios has provided a lot of good memories…
Ranking high among them was the night in 2010 when the Governor of the State of Illinois, Pat Quinn, paid a visit to our studio to issue a proclamation for “Steve & Johnnie Day.”
Another highlight was winning the 2011 Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Award for Best Local Broadcast Team.
When we ended our five night a week schedule we were honored and humbled by some of the nice things that were said about us from respected sources like Chicagoland Radio and Media and surprising sources like The Sh*t.
As for our present & future, both include a lot of “Someday, we’re going to …” things.
Some of those things include a few more books (Like Johnnie’s Gluten-Free Cookbook) that have been in the works for a while, a long-overdue CD, sharing our insatiable love of all forms of music and the discovery of new artists with you, sharing our enthusiasm for and criticism of the automobile world and, when the planets align, occasionally spending a little time back inside your radio speaker or TV screen.
We’re also not ruling out the possibility of waking up some mornings and saying “let’s just go for a walk and smell some roses.”
“SOMEDAY” is here and our steps down this blogging path are a part of it. We’ll leave some bread crumbs now and then in case you feel like following along.
Before we finish this “About” page…
Just in case you stumbled across us by accident and are still in need of a bit more information to completely answer the question “Who the heck are these people who’s blog has taken over my computer screen,” here is a little about “His” past and “Her” past from our individual WGN Radio broadcast biographies.
A native of Chicago’s south side, Steve’s initial career path did not include radio. Instead, he used his musical talent to establish himself as a singer/songwriter and musician winning a Downbeat magazine jazz contest and recording as a rock singer/guitarist for various labels including one of the industry giants, Mercury Records. Along the way, Steve counted among his band members now famed chamber/blues composer Corky Siegel, Peter Cetera and Marty Grebb. Peter later went on to gain fame with the group Chicago and as a solo artist, Marty became well-known for his work with the Buckinghams and artists such as Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Nicks.
After ten years in recording studios and on the road, Steve decided it was time for a change in direction. In 1966, having taken a course at Midwestern Broadcasting School in Chicago, Steve joined WJOB-AM, in Hammond, IN. One year later he moved to WLTH-AM, in Gary IN, eventually becoming that station’s Afternoon Drive Personality and Program Director. Next, he moved downstate to Indianapolis where he joined the staff of the flagship station of the worldwide Indianapolis 500 race, WIBC-AM/WNAP-FM. After two years in “naptown,” having added the responsibilities of FM music director to his on-air duties, Steve returned home to do afternoon drive at Chicago’s WBBM-FM.
In 1973, Steve’s commanding lead with the FM afternoon drive audience brought him to the attention of WLS-AM who hired him away for a five year run as their 10pm-2am personality. In 1978, Steve got into talk radio when he joined WIND-AM. After a short stint with WDAI-FM, where he did first afternoon drive and then morning drive, Steve returned to WIND and talk radio until 1984. While at WIND one of Steve’s favorite “subjects” soon became Johnnie Putman. The duo was thrown together a lot for station promotions culminating with the ultimate “promotion”… their wedding.
Even though it sounds like a plot line that would be rejected because it sounds too implausible, it is absolutely true that on Christmas Eve, 1984, Steve made his debut on WGN and on Valentines Day of 1985, Johnnie joined Steve in the WGN studios. The couple’s pairing soon resulted in “The Steve & Johnnie Show” spending the better part of 27 years as Chicago’s #1 nightly radio habit.
King’s broadcast experience is not limited to radio alone. For three years, he hosted the program, “Chicago,” which aired on WFLD-TV. During Steve’s final season as host (with Johnnie producing), the show received an Emmy nomination. For several years, Steve and Johnnie co-hosted WGN-TV’s MDA Telethon and in 1987 hosted WGN-TV’s eleven hour salute to Elvis Presley (which they also co-wrote). Steve and Johnnie have also been featured on NBC-TV’s “Today” as well as providing their voices for an episode of NBC-TV’s ” ER.”
Steve and Johnnie quite frequently found themselves on stage or doing a special project to help raise money for a worthy cause like The WGN Neediest Kids Fund. Hosting the “Street Carols” Christmas concerts and the sales of their “Life After Dark” CD (featuring live performances from Steve and Johnnie’s show) raised thousands of dollars for the fund. They were also honored to be asked to host and perform on the stage of the legendary Ryman Auditorium, in Nashville, TN to benefit the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame Foundation.
In addition, on a more personal level, since being diagnosed with Celiac Sprue (a complete intolerance to gluten), Steve has become very involved with local and national Celiac organizations in educating and helping others with the disease.
Steve’s interests (other than Johnnie) include guitars, writing, computers, comic books, cars, and not surprisingly, music. One of his “pet projects” is the construction of a home recording studio which, when completed, will be the site of sessions for a planned solo album.
Even off-air though, whether “skim-reading” multiple newspapers and news blogs a day (and countless magazines a week), working on show ideas, and potential guests, or answering e-mail, “snail mail” or off-air calls from listeners, Steve’s thoughts never strayed too far from the show. It’s this kind of commitment to his listeners that helped make WGN Radio’s “Steve and Johnnie Show” Chicago’s number one all-night radio program.
Johnnie Putman is a woman whose experience in broadcasting is as impressive as it is extensive. After graduating from Chicago’s Columbia College, in 1977, Johnnie joined the staff of WMRO-AM/WAUR-FM, in Aurora, IL. For five years she displayed her versatility hosting both a talk show on the AM and a contemporary music show on the FM. After her second year her success with both formats led to Johnnie being named the station’s Operations Director.
In 1982, Johnnie headed off to the “big time” in the Windy City. As the newest member of the staff of WIND-AM, she became one of Chicago’s first female talk show hosts. For promotional events, the station paired Johnnie with another one of their talents, Steve King. The match worked perfectly, not only for WIND, but for them, as well. They were married in 1984.
During this same year, Johnnie moved across town to WCLR-FM. While working as the station’s Morning and Afternoon Drive Traffic Reporter, she also produced Steve’s Emmy nominated program on WFLD-TV, “Chicago.” On Valentine’s Day in 1985, Johnnie sat in with her husband during one of his programs on WGN Radio. The favorable response which followed led her to move to WGN. Her work as a traffic reporter on the Wally Phillips and Bob Collins Shows, led to her position as Steve’s co-host on Chicago’s number one overnight radio program.
Although Johnnie’s career is clearly based in radio, she has not let go of her interest in television. Johnnie has hosted the Chicago Auto Show Television Preview for WGN-TV, and has spent many Labor Day weekends with Steve, co-hosting The MDA Telethon. In 1987, she and her husband wrote and co-hosted WGN-TV’s eleven hour memorial salute to Elvis Presley and in 1989, she appeared as a celebrity contestant on the TV game show “Win, Lose or Draw.” Johnnie and Steve have also been featured on NBC-TV’s “Today” and in 1995 their voices were heard on NBC-TV’s “ER.”
A native of Tennessee, Johnnie’s favorite hobby is going to the movies. Her love of film began in college with the production of her own three pieces, one of which became an award winner.
An avid reader who has been known to devour three hard back books a week, Johnnie’s other off air interests include a passion for gardening, decorating (listeners constantly request pictures of her year round holiday tree) and cooking. And, speaking of cooking, as a result of even more listener requests, Johnnie hopes to finish writing her Gluten-Free cookbook.
With all of her years of experience and professionalism, Johnnie is anything but jaded and still brings to any show she does a wonderful sense of excitement and awe that has been known to surface freely on special occasions such as when Paul Harvey, Bobby Sherman or Mickey Mouse called in to WGN just to sing “Happy Birthday” to her.
Johnnie’s involvement with listeners never ended when the show did. She has been known to spend hours off the air helping a listener solve a problem. Along with Steve, she has devoted much of her time to worthy causes such as WGN’s Neediest Kids campaign, or non-station events such Easter visits to Children’s Memorial Hospital to distribute toys for the kids.
For many years Johnnie and Steve, sometimes joined by Dick Clark, were the opening day hosts for the Les Turner ALS Foundation’s Mammoth Music Mart.
Johnnie Putman’s enthusiasm for her many on and off air activities makes the difficult look easy and sometimes makes you forget she has helped open doors for women in broadcasting in Chicago. Such enthusiasm came through the radio loud and clear to thousands of overnight listeners who made “The Steve and Johnnie show,” on WGN Radio their number one nightly habit.
OK, that’s “About” it!
There may or may not be a test on all of the above but, at least, as our friend Paul Harvey used to say … “Now you know the REST of the story.”