As many of you know, we’re working on our second book.  The working title is “Life After Dark.”  At this point, the game plan is for the book not to be just about us but, to largely focus on, our interactions with some of the interesting people and events that have been a part of our adventures in broadcasting.

We would be remiss, of course, if we didn’t spend a little time covering the individual journeys that brought us together inside your radio speakers and, occasionally, on your TV screens.  To that end, along with the writing and listening to our audio archives, we’ve been spending a significant amount of time going through photographs.  Neither of us realized just how many boxes of pre-digital photos we had.  Trust us, there are a lot!

Most of you know that we didn’t land on this planet at the same time.  We don’t think Krypton was involved in either of our arrivals, but we’re still going through stuff, so who knows.

Anyhow, point is, one of us has been around this galaxy longer than the other.  That point was underscored when we uncovered some photographs from 1975.  By that point HE was working at WLS radio, in Chicago, and took a vacation to join his Dad and see the Grand Canyon.

Sadly, we haven’t found photographs of the two of them, yet, because his Dad was taking most of the pictures, including this one of a very intense long-haired guy studying the chess board in their room.

However most of the time was not spent in their room because this was in the days before the Grand Canyon became as over-populated with tourists as it is now and the two of them were able to spend a week just driving through this amazing natural wonder by themselves.

When the week was over HE strongly felt that the week in the Grand Canyon was possibly the best adventure he’d ever experienced.

Little did he know that his greatest adventure was yet to come.

That same year, 1975, SHE was working as a, not yet 21 year old, cocktail waitress at the Holiday Inn on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive.

Sadly, HE rarely went to that lounge so, in 1975, He didn’t know SHE existed, nor She, HE.

Spoiler alert: They got together and, happily, the adventure continues.

But, that’s the way they were, in 1975.

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Happy Birthday, Rhubarb Red!

Today, June 9, 2020, would have been Les Paul‘s 105th birthday.

“The Wizard Of Waukesha” or “Rhubarb Red” (One of his stage names) spent his life chasing sound and, along the way, cast a long shadow over popular culture while he changed the music industry.

Yes, he was a genius but, we also knew him to be, a wonderful rascal and always a night owl who liked to wind down after a show with a beer (The colder, the better.  Holding the bottle was good for his arthritic fingers.) and popcorn as he shared stories with friends.

The evening the picture above was taken is just one of many special moments and behind the scenes stories and memories that are recounted in our book “A Little More Les.”

As happens each year around his birthday, we’ve received several messages asking if the book is still available.  Yes, it is.

If you’d like to order a copy, just click on this link.

Les Paul was one of a very special breed and we treasure the gift of his friendship.

All these years later, we still miss him.

Happy Birthday, Les!

Posted in Guitar Related, Les Paul, Music, Partly Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Johnnie’s Taco Pasta Salad

If you’d like a tasty twist on a Summer salad, try this yummy new recipe!

Johnnie’s Taco Pasta Salad

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 packet taco seasoning (Gluten-Free taco seasoning is readily available)

Mix well let sit while prepping

– box elbow pasta, cooked according to package directions
-1 cup corn kernels or a can of whole kernel corn drained
– grape tomatoes, halved
-1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded(optional)
-sliced black olives, drained
-avocados diced(optional)
-4 green onions, thinly sliced or chopped onion to taste
Drain pasta mix in veggies and cover with dressing.

Mix well.

It’s so good I had to give half to our neighbor to get it out of the house!

I think you’ll like it, too.


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5 Years on the Walk!

For whatever reason, it seems that a number of anniversaries have been filling up our calendar lately.  One made itself known today (May 29) and it’s one we’ll never forget.

Five years ago we were honored and humbled to be inducted into the WGN radio Walk Of Fame.

Johnnie & Steve standing by their WGN Radio Walk Of Fame plaques

The 2015 WGN Radio Walk of Fame inductee class included Steve Bertrand, Lyle Dean, Dave Eanet, Franklyn MacCormackEddie Schwartz, Lou Manfredini, Ward Quaal, Ron Santo and us.

One of the many things we remember about that day is how hot it was out on Pioneer Court and how touched we were to see the size of the crowd of people and friends like Ronnie Rice, Clark Weber and Bob Collins‘ wife, Christine, who braved the temperatures to show their support.

Just a slice of the crown including Third Row: Ronnie Rice, Second Row: Clark Weber, Christine Collins & Johnnie’s Dad

When time came for our part of the ceremony, in spite of all our years in broadcasting, we both found it a bit of a daunting task to answer questions from Bob Sirott & Steve Cochran and try to summarize our time at this legendary radio station and get it all in before the next commercial break.  But, hey, that’s radio!

First Row: Steve, Johnnie, Rick Kogan (Inducting Franklyn MacCormack), Lyle Dean, Steve Cochran  Second Row: Dave Eanet, Vicki Santo (Ron Santo’s wife), Lou Manfredini, Orion Samuelson (Inducting Ward Quall)

So much has changed in the past 5 years, including WGN radio’s new studios, which are no longer located in the Tribune Tower.

The time may have passed quickly, but our appreciation for this incredible honor will and what it represents about our time spent at this legendary station will never fade.



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Nick Digilio 35th Anniversary Podcast

It’s always fun when we get to hang out with Nick Digilio, but Wednesday morning was particularly enjoyable.  Not only did we reminisce with Nick about the past 35 years but, an extra treat was having Dan Sugrue, an incredible producer and dear friend who spent many years producing both our shows, join us.

Steve & Johnnie with Dan Sugrue

As we said in our previous blog post, “It’s really hard to believe it’s been that long.”  Taking a little time to look back on some of the highlights with Nick & Dan was a good time that we were happy to be a part of.

In case you didn’t get to hear the show, the podcast is now available on WGN radio’s website.  To hear it, just click this link.

Posted in Appearances, Events, Partly Personal, Radio, WGN | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Congratulations, Nick Digilio!

In case you didn’t see the post on our Events page, we’re very happy to join in a celebration of something pretty cool.  Nick Digilio is celebrating his 35th year with WGN radio!

It’s really hard to believe it’s been that long since we first had this young, enthusiastic, creative, movie critic on our show.  At that time, Nick was still juggling his career directing several successful shows in Chicago with his time spent with us and Roy Leonard on WGN.

We’d heard Nick on with Roy, really liked what we heard, and, since Roy was on during the middle of the day and we were on in the middle of the night, we asked Roy if he would mind if we talked to Nick about joining us on a regular basis, too.  Roy was more than enthusiastic about Nick getting some more air time.

We knew from the first time we talked with Nick that he didn’t just enjoy movies, he was, and still is, passionate about them.  Even on those nights he joined us and, having just come from directing one of his shows, might have seemed a little tired when he first walked in the studio, once he started talking about movies, the adrenaline kicked in and he was thoroughly in the moment.

Along with directing and critiquing movies, continuing to join Roy Leonard and us, Nick’s expertise saw him called on to be a guest on several WGN Radio programs with increasing regularity.  Ultimately, after co-hosting a show with Garry Lee Wright and filling in for us during the 5 months illness forced us off the air, Nick started his own show at WGN and never looked back.

While his passion for movies and various forms of pop culture still shines through, over the years, Nick has mastered the art of moving with the moment if a breaking event dictates a change in direction for his show.  He has also mastered the art of talking to and with his listeners, not at them.  Nick has found, as we did, that the overnight radio audience is a special breed and, if you really connect with them, they will respond by welcoming you in to their family.  Trust us, although his Mom & Dad may be his most loyal fans, Nick has a ton of extended family members.

Pardon us if we seem like proud parents, but we really are proud to see how far Nick has come from his early days at WGN to being inducted into the WGN Radio Walk Of Fame.  By the way, you have no idea how rare it is for anyone to have the kind of successful career in broadcasting Nick has achieved and to have done it all at one radio station.

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, (5/26/20-5/27/20) at Midnight (Central Time) we’ll be hanging out on The Nick Digilio Show to look back on some of the more memorable “moments” from Nick’s past THREE AND A HALF DECADES!

Johnnie & Steve with Nick Digilio

Boy, that time went fast.  But, it tends to do that when you’re having fun.

Congratulations, Nick!

Here’s to 35 more … and then some.

Don’t forget, you can tune in to 720 AM but, if you’re not in the Chicago area, you can still listen by clicking this link to WGN Radio’s live stream.

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Johnnie’s Memorial Day Tree (And the Legend of the Wonderful Tree Lady)!

Depending on how long you’ve been hanging out with us, you may not be aware of this year round tree thing that goes on at our house.  I (Steve) don’t remember exactly when it started.  Although, even in the days after we first got married, it wasn’t that unusual for us to leave our Christmas tree up significantly longer than the holiday called for.  I think we used our nocturnal schedule and constant sleep-deprived state as a partial excuse but, the truth was, we just liked having a decorated tree to brighten our days, particularly on days that may not have been so bright.

Those were the days when we had a real tree and, like many of you, we made an event out of going to find the perfect tree.  And we always did.  Well, there was that one year when we got a tree that acted like it was made of rubber.  Of course, it had to wait until we’d spent hours decorating it to begin its bobbing and weaving routine.  It may have even bounced a bit when, after spending hours removing the decorations, we opened the window and threw it out.

It was probably not long after the rubber tree incident that we decided that we might be tempting fate by leaving a live tree up as long as was our norm.  We’d never had a tree catch on fire and wanted to keep it that way.  So, after a long search to find the perfect tree that didn’t need to be watered and wouldn’t shed, we made the switch.

By the way, has anyone else found that “wouldn’t shed” part of the equation not to always be true?  We’re constantly surprised at the trail we leave behind each year when we bring the Christmas tree up from the basement.  Well, we did want one that was as close to real as possible.

But, that’s the Christmas tree and this post is about the Memorial Day tree … and others.

See, we didn’t just have one Christmas tree.  There was the tree in our living room and the tree on the landing and the little tree in the kitchen and the little tree on the downstairs landing and the tree downstairs at Johnnie’s parents house and most of them were being decorated by the wonderful tree lady I’m married to.

So, somewhere along the way, probably after we moved into the Chicago area house we now own, after we took down our living room Christmas tree and I was expecting to begin helping Johnnie dismantle the tree on the landing, I was surprised to see the Christmas motif on that tree had been replaced by other decorations.  That first year, I believe, it was for St. Patrick’s Day.

I loved it, Johnnie’s Dad and Mom love it, our friends love it  and, after hearing how much we all enjoyed her creation, and seeing that her magical spell had worked on all of us, the tree lady smiled and thought to herself, “Hmm, I might be on to something here.”  And so began, what has turned into, a year round celebration of whatever season or event seems to spark the tree lady’s muse.

We occasionally talked about the trees on the air and some wonderful listeners have been nice enough to send us some hand made ornaments that are part of the tree decorations.

We’ve shared some of the tree lady’s creations on our other social media sites but they haven’t found their way into this blog before.  So, with all of the preamble and the “Legend Of The Tree Lady” behind us, may we present the Memorial Day tree.

Memorial Day Tree

As I said earlier “we just liked having a decorated tree to brighten our days, particularly on days that may not have been so bright.”  Many of the days we’re all going through right now easily fit in to that “not so bright” category.  So, we hope sharing a bit of the tree lady’s magic in this forum serves to brighten your day a bit.

But now, boys and girls, before we leave you, although she flies around so fast, it’s hard to capture her on film … or pixels … here’s a rare photo of the tree lady and her little friend, LiBear-ty.

The Wonderful Tree Lady & her little friend, LiBear-ty.

Now, remember boys and girls, if you’re good, stay safe and wash your hands, you may see more of The Wonderful Tree Lady’s adventures in future posts.

Posted in Johnnie's Trees, Partly Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

10 Years Already?!?!?

Has it really been 10 years since we started this blog?  Well, according to the calendar and double checking it back to the date of our very first blog post, the answer is … Yep!

It kind of snuck up on us too but, it turns out, it was on May 19th of 2010 this blog first saw the light of day and dark of night.  As the Grateful Dead once said, “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been!”

We’d been doing, what we called, our “Blog After Dark” for WGN radio.  In fact, back in the comparative stone age of cyberspace, long before Facebook, Twitter and the rest, we were the first show on WGN to really embrace and regularly talk about computer technology.  At the time, that embrace led to us being the recipients of messages from management questioning why on earth we would devote time to something nobody would care about.  The powers that were, changed their tune when they saw that our “Website Wednesday Night” computer feature was turning into one of our most popular segments bringing in new listeners from a very wide gathering of demographics that ranged from listeners in their teens to those 90 plus.  And, trust us, that’s not an easy feat for any broadcast to achieve.  So, we had the feeling we were on to something.

We also had the feeling that nothing lasts forever and, since our “Blog After Dark” was on the station’s website and their property, should the day come when we were not with WGN on a regular basis, a blog that we controlled would be one way of maintaining our cyberspace presence and staying in touch with our listeners.  That day came and, although we are very actively involved with Facebook, Twitter and our other social media sites, this blog has allowed us to continue our conversation with you and do it in a longer form than is the norm for those forums.

Now and then you just need to “Go Long” and have room for a few more words!

And so, here we are.

We thought this might be an appropriate occasion, hopefully interesting and possibly informative to those of you who have recently joined us, to answer a question or two and show you what doors you might want to look behind to find stuff.

So, why is “Both Sides Now” the name of this blog?

Well, “Both Sides Now” refers to a couple of things.  First, just as we approach any shows we do, we both contribute to this blog and share posts about things that both of us feel are worth spending a little time on.  Sure, now and then one of us goes solo but, for the most part, this is a team effort.  Second, when we stopped doing a regularly scheduled overnight radio show, among other things, it meant that now we were going to be able to spend some time on both sides of the clock.  Also, if you look at the photo on this blog’s homepage, it could be a sunrise or a sunset and, depending on the day, we like to see a bit of both.

What’s with this “Life After Dark” reference we see in the upper right hand corner of this blogs home page?

Although the name of our show was always the Steve & Johnnie show. Some people think that “Life After Dark” was the name of our show on WGN.  Actually, “Life After Dark” was a catch phrase we came up with to describe what we were doing with the show.  Even though we were on in the overnight hours, our agreement with management was that we were NOT going to program for people who were sleeping. WGN radio’s promotion department loved our description and ran with it.

How do I find more of Johnnie’s recipes or one of your posts about music or something specific from your past posts?

If you look on the right side of the page and scroll down below the dated archives, you’ll find the Categories listing.  As we do each post, we try our best to make sure it is archived in an appropriate category.  So, just click on the category that resembles what you’re looking for.  If you’re new to our blog, you might want to thumb through some of the category listings to see what we’ve been up to in this space for the past ten years.

How do I find out when you’ll be doing an event appearance or radio show?

All of our appearances are listed on our Events page that is linked on our sunrise/sunset picture and in the Categories listing.  For the moment, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, all of our personal appearances have been put on hold.  If we have an upcoming radio appearance and/or when our personal appearances resume, that’s where to look.

Can I make a comment about one of your posts?

Yes and please do!  The best way to do it is to click on the title of an individual post, then scroll to the bottom where it says “Leave A Reply.”  Just say whatever is on your mind and submit it.  Don’t be concerned if you don’t see your reply immediately because we moderate them to make sure we and you don’t get any spam mixed in.  You wouldn’t believe the amount of spam you don’t see.  Well, yeah, you probably would.  Anyhow, the point is, we love hearing from you and answering any questions you may have, so have at it.

How do I subscribe to this blog?

Well, thank you for asking.  Just scroll down the right side of the page below Categories & Meta and you’ll see “Follow Blog via Email.”  Click on that, let us know where to send it and you’ll receive a notification any time we post a new blog.  Don’t worry, we don’t spam.  REALLY!

A friend sent me a link to a page on your blog, but I don’t know who you are.  So, who are you?

Again, look at that sunrise/sunset picture and click on the About link.  You’ll find more about our respective backgrounds than anyone should be subjected to.  Don’t worry, there won’t be a test.

And now?

Well, hopefully we’ve answered some questions you may have had.  If you have more, just ask.

Y’know, when we started this blog ten years ago, no one would have envisioned the world we find ourselves living in thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic.  One of the many things the pandemic has taught us is that the computer technology that makes this blog possible has become an even more vital part of our daily existence than when we ever thought it would.   A virtual walk outside into cyberspace communication is at least one form of staying in touch with each other at a time when that touch can make a difference in our day.

We plan to keep on posting and keep our fingers crossed.  You have no idea how hard it is to type with crossed fingers!!

10 years … and counting!  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Stay safe.

Steve & Johnnie

Posted in Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Partly Personal, Radio, WGN | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Here’s Johnnie’s Dutch (Deutsch) Baby, Baby!

A Dutch baby pancake, sometimes called a German pancake, or a Dutch puff, is a large American popover.  If you’re in the Chicago area, chances are you may have visited one of the Walker Bros. Original Pancake House locations to get their version of this treat.  This is my own version of this classic, made gluten-free.  

Preheat oven to 425 with 10″-12″ iron skillet in oven

-3 extra large or jumbo eggs

(4 if you are using large eggs)

-1/2 cup milk

-1/2 cup all purpose flour

(I use King Arthur measure for measure gluten free flour)

-1 TB sugar

-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

-1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)

-1/4 tsp salt (eliminate if using salted butter)

-2 TB butter

*Toppings: confectioner’s sugar(powdered sugar) and lemon wedges OR warm maple syrup

While the oven is pre-heating to 425 with the skillet inside, mix all ingredients but butter and toppings.

When oven is heated remove the skillet and put the butter in the hot skillet. It will sizzle. Carefully hold the hot skillet and roll the butter around to coat.  Then, immediately pour in batter.

Bake at 425 for 12-15 mins

It will puff up and turn golden

Dutch baby puffed up

Remove from the oven and it will soon deflate

Dutch baby deflated

Sprinkle powdered sugar over it and serve from the skillet or in slices with lemon wedges to squeeze over the sugar (or serve with warm syrup)

Dutch baby served



Posted in Gluten-Free Diet, Partly Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

R.I.P. Little Richard

Here’s Little Richard Album Cover

That original album (Vinyl, thank you very much!) is safely ensconced in our music room.

When it first landed, there was nothing safe about it.

It was scary!  At least, that’s what a lot of 50s mid-America’s adults thought about “Long Tall Sally,” “Tutti Frutti” and some of Little Richard’s other singles that made up a large part of the album’s contents when they were first released.  Many mainstream radio stations only played Little Richard’s songs when Pat Boone covered them in a much gentler fashion that made them palatable to the mass audience of the time.  In later years, Little Richard would thank Pat Boone for the royalties he received and the resulting attention he got from teenagers curious enough to seek out the source of the songs.

It’s a huge testament to the impact he had on Rock & Roll that, in his first recording sessions for RCA, Elvis Presley covered 4 of Little Richard’s records, “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “Ready Teddy” and “Tutti Frutti.”  Additionally, on his 1956 TV appearances on both the Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show and The Ed Sullivan Show Elvis, again, showed his respect for, and the influence of, Little Richard with live performances of “Tutti Frutti” and “Ready Teddy.”

Long Tall Sally” and “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey” are just two examples of Little Richard’s influence on The Beatles and every time you hear Paul McCartney scream, you’re hearing how well he followed, and still follows, Little Richard’s teachings.

Little Richard with The Beatles

It really is impossible to overstate the impact of this man on, not only the record industry but, the pop culture he helped define and, quite frequently throughout his off and on again career, struggled to live with.

Little Richard was quite open about his struggles with his life in show-business, his sexuality, religion and a lot more in Charles White’s authorized biography, “The Life And Times Of Little Richard.”

Life And Times Of Little Richard

Richard’s retreat from and return to his recording/show-business career and his religious calling were constant and ongoing battles throughout his life.  One of his later career highlights was really sort of a melding of the two when he performed the gospel-tinged “Great Gosh A’Mighty” in the film “Down and Out in Beverly Hills.”  This song was Richard’s last charted hit.

In his final years Little Richard lived a mostly reclusive life in Nashville that, quite frequently, found him in the news with rumors surrounding the state of his health or, yet another, possible return to the recording studio, stage or pulpit.

Along with Charles White’s book, we’re sure you’ll be able to find far more scholarly writings about Little Richard than this blog provides, but we wanted to share a personal example of just one night in this amazing man’s career and the impact and memory it left with us and the others who were there to witness it.

In August of 1995, WGN radio sponsored a night at the Ravinia Festival with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.  WGN’s legendary morning man, Bob Collins, emceed the event and, along with several other members of the WGN radio family in attendance, we were eagerly anticipating the show.  As was the case on many tours involving large egos, Jerry Lee and Little Richard rotated who opened and who closed the show on any given night.  We’re not sure if Jerry Lee was in a snit because he wasn’t that night’s closer or what but, that night, “The Killer” gave far less than his usual “Killer” performance both in time spent on stage and energy expended and left many in the audience disappointed.

No matter.

When Little Richard hit the stage we all got a lesson in how it’s done, who did it first, how it was built and how to keep on keepin’ on from the, self described, “Quasar Of Rock & Roll” his own bad self!

Yes, he did the hits but, that night, Richard, felt like giving us a little history in between songs.  He talked about his beginnings and influences.  We heard his stripped down mastery of boogie woogie piano.  We had the rare experience of seeing and hearing Little Richard sing country AND DO IT WELL!  We  saw a master entertainer making sure the net he was casting included ALL of his audience, even the youngest, when he did his “Richardized” version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”  We saw one of the original Rock & Roll wildmen tick off Ravinia security when he invited the audience to join him on stage.

That night, the “architect of rock ‘n’ roll” showed us what made it ROCK & ROLL!  And we LOVED it!!

Awop-Bop-a-Loo-Mop Alop-Bam-Boom!  Great Gosh A’Mighty!

He sure loved to ball!

(Photo credit: ANDRE DURAND/AFP via Getty Images)

R.I.P Little Richard

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