Category Archives: News

The Ravine by Ray Bradbury – Coming August 30!

The Forthcoming Release from SmorgShow Productions

We are excited to announce that we have completed post production on our latest installment of ‘SmorgShow Theater’.   Our next radio play will be released with Episode 85 of the SmorgShow Podcast on August 30, 2014.  This time around we have re-enacted Ray Bradbury’s short story classic, The Ravine.   It will be a chilling episode!

We had a great time recording this, our first full-length radio play production since 2011’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.   This is our second Ray Bradbury re-enactment, the last one being ‘Zero Hour’ that was published in May 2011.

The SmorgShow Podcast has been on a lengthy hiatus since August 2013, so this upcoming episode will be the first show Chris and Ally have done in a year.

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Where Did Everybody Go?

I thought it would be a good time to re-introduce myself.   I am Chris Bockay, webmaster of this site, and I realize I have some explaining to do.   I have been off the scene for a good year now, and even when you go back a year, my creative contributions were starting to become just a light trickle.   I recently came back to this site and realized just how stale some of the material had become.   I have been working on updating things to give it a better feel.   The videos in the SmorgTube section should now all be playable by any Internet Browser now that they have been posted to YouTube.    But besides all that, let’s go back and figure out where I went off the tracks.

Back in January of 2010, I set out to recreate the old high school radio show I did with Dave Jackson.   Only this time around, it would be with my 11-year old daughter.   I had heard about podcasting and the concept really intrigued me.    It started out as a fun little hobby for us that would create some fond memories for us when we got older.  But then it caught fire.   A creative spark had hit me like no other time over the past 25 years.   For nearly 3 years we cranked out 85 episodes of the new show, culminating in September of 2012 when we did the 30th anniversary celebration of the original show from Carlisle Banquets.    That show took the life out of me.   I poured everything into that episode and when it was over I really felt there was nothing else to do with the show.  Over the next year, we put out only two more episodes.    We never officially said goodbye and we technically never canceled the show.   We just faded away.

Along the 3-year journey, the podcast became an obsession with me.   I gave it as much energy as I possibly could.  My radio broadcasting ambitions that I had since I was 7 years old started to come alive again.   Along the way, what started out using only a 1979 Radio Shack mixer and microphone gradually grew into a very expensive venture.  Before I knew it, I had invested several thousands of dollars into new broadcast quality equipment as well as a dedicated space in my basement for a recording studio.    Given that the SmorgShow itself wasn’t generating any income, I thought I would try and make some of the money back by jumping into the voiceover business.   For about 18 months, I was finding little projects here and there, but the money I made from that came no where near what I needed to leave my day job that paid in the six figures.

That leads me to my professional career.   I had hit a point in my career where I was completely miserable.   I desperately wanted to make the voiceover thing work out so that I could leave that job.     In November of 2012, my company did the best thing I could ask for – they laid me off.    I decided that this was my lucky break – I figured I would spend 50% of my time doing a traditional job search and the other 50% of my time doing voiceover work.   Whatever path succeeded would be my next life phase.    Well, just 3 months later I landed an AWESOME job with a company that I have had my sights on since college.   I took the job and I closed the door on my voiceover ambitions and all things related to the SmorgShow.

Well, another year has passed and I am now writing this latest blog entry.    My daughter is now 16 and as I type this, she has taken the car out for her very first independent drive.  I am becoming extremely sensitive to the passage of time.  In just two years she could be leaving home.   I really treasure the time we spent together doing the SmorgShow.

So what is next for us and the show?    Personally, I would like to do one more season of the show before she begins college.   I think I could muster the strength and creative energy to do another 10-20 episodes before officially killing off the program.    Whether that happens this fall, next summer, or two summers from now, I don’t know.    However, I can tell you this – we have started to lay down the tracks for our next old-time radio drama, our first in nearly two years!    This will be another Ray Bradbury original called ‘The Ravine’.    We are targeting a September 2014 release.    It’s possible that this will be a new spark to get the show going again.   Continue to check back here for new updates on this project and the future state of the SmorgShow.  Thanks for checking in!

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Podcast Update – End of Summer Programming

Greetings SmorgShow Listeners! We hope you are enjoying the last few weeks of summer.   This is always a busy time of year, especially if you or your kids are going back to school.    I just wanted to give everyone an update on what is happening out at SmorgShow Studios.   Even though our production schedule has slowed down a bit in recent weeks, we have been quite busy working on some special upcoming programming events that we think you will agree was worth the wait.   Here’s what you can expect from us over the next couple months:

Episode 80 – Campfire S’morgs ’12:  Last year at this time, we took the remote equipment out to the woods to do a live streaming podcast event.   We called it ‘Campfire S’morgs’, a clever play on words if you didn’t figure it out.   If you missed it, you can head over to Episode 57 and listen to us do the show from around the campfire.    We are getting ready to do it again this year.   Weather permitting, we are planning to do the show again from Waa Kee Sha Park in Oswego, IL on Saturday August 25.   This will be another live streaming event.

Episode 81: September 8, 2012 – Just a plain old, regular in-studio show.   We will be debuting Ally’s new song, an original composition that she is excited to play for our audience.   As her father, I am really proud of what she has written and I really hope you enjoy it.

Episode 82: Smorgasbord Radio Show 30th Anniversary Celebration.   I really think this will be the crown jewel of our show to date.   We have some really amazing things lined up for this show.   As loyal followers know, back in September 1982 I began my high school radio show with partner Dave Jackson.   Dave has made several appearances on the new SmorgShow and we could not let this special milestone date pass without some formal acknowledgment.

For this show we have booked the Oak Brook Room at Carlisle Banquets in Lombard, Illinois.    This is where Dave and I originally hosted “The Taste of the Smorg”, back in June of 1984.   For this time around we have lined up over 40 restaurants from around the country, each of which will have their own stations where you can sample selections from their menu.   Baba Gonesh’s “Hidden Palace, A Taste of Baba” will be one of the featured restaurants.     We also have some special live entertainment planned.    As of this writing, we have confirmed the following talent:

  • Hawaii’s ‘David Kamakahi & Ikaika Brown’
  • Favorite Lounge Performer ‘Richard Cheese’
  • The SmorgShow’s very own Phillip Donald
  • Iceland’s ‘Sjonni’s Friends’

After the Carlisle 30-year anniversary show, Ally and I will be taking some time off from producing the SmorgShow Podcast as we begin to roll out a brand new program, scheduled to debut in October.  The show will focus on the teen years and specifically the challenges that come along with the high school years.   Important Note: This will NOT be the end of the SmorgShow.   We will just need some time to launch the new show, so we will need to take some time off from producing the Smorgasbord Show.   More details will follow as we know more.

That’s it for now!    Thanks again for listening!

-SmorgShow Chris

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SmorgShow 30th Anniversary Approaching

It’s hard to believe, but this September will mark the 30-year anniversary of the Smorgasbord radio show.    To celebrate this event, we will be taking our show live on the road to the Carlisle Banquet Hall in Lombard, Illinois.   Loyal fans may remember that we first hosted our live radio show at the Carlisle back in 1984, where we were joined by 40 restaurants from around the world in an event that we called “Taste of the Smorg”.

We are still sorting out all the details of the new event, currently scheduled for September 15, 2012.   As we firm up the details, we will share them here.    Original Smorgasbord Co-Host Dave Jackson has already agreed to join Chris and Ally for this special live-streaming podcast.

Listen to the original Chris and Dave show – Live at the Carlisle from back on 6-29-84.

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Phillip Donald – New Single!

Phillip Donald’s New CD, “For the Kiddies” will be released this fall.  In the meantime, enjoy the brand new single “Hide and Seek”.

This is the first original work from Phillip Donald since 2011’s classic “Such a Good Ugly Thing”, which debuted at #671 on the Bulgaria pop charts and yielded such hits as “Revenge Time”, “Shut Your Face” and “I’d Rather Eat All Day”.  Now Phillip has returned to the scene with a collection of children’s songs which will certainly join the ranks of other classics by Peet Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Burl Ives.

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SmorgShow Now on the Stitcher Radio Network

Download the Free App Now

We have some great news to kick off 2012!  Smorgasbord Radio is now a part of the Stitcher lineup.   We are excited to be a part of this growing network of news and talk radio shows.  This allows our show to be heard all over the world on virtually all listening platforms – mobile phones, tablets, SONOS systems, and even in-car dashboards (via Ford SYNC)!   It is exciting to be on the cutting edge of an entirely new way to share our content.

Stitcher allows you to listen to the SmorgShow and your other favorite shows directly from your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android devices, Kindle Fire, Blackberry or WebOS phones!  On Demand, On-the-Go!    The latest episode is always available for you – no synching needed…and no memory or storage wasted.

Don’t have Stitcher?   Download it free today at Stitcher.com or in the iTunes or Android app stores.

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Connecting with Fred Moore, 2011

Chris and Dave with Fred Moore, 2011

I’ve made it an annual tradition to meet up with former WDGC-FM General Manager Fred Moore as he comes through our area each summer with his production company.   This time Dave came along for the ride.    We watched Fred perform as John Wesley (founder of the Methodist movement) at First United Methodist Church in Downers Grove.  It was the first time since high school that Dave saw Fred in person.

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Insanity Workout!

My family and I started the Insanity workout program back in June.   It is a completely insane way to get in shape.   I’m not sure if you ever saw the infomercials for it, but it is a 60-day DVD fitness program that really digs deep to give you those really ripped abs.   The exercises in the warm-up period alone is more than I ever did in previous workouts!    We talk about surviving month one of the program on Episode 56 of the SmorgShow Podcast.

Here’s a photo of me after only 5 weeks of the Insanity workout program.   Can you imagine what I will look like after 60 days???

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Chris and Dave at Voiceover Acting Class

Dave Jackson and I hit the road this past weekend and headed out 70 miles west of Chicago to a small town called Malta, just a few miles from our old NIU stomping grounds.   We decided to attend a voiceover acting class at Kishwaukee College.   It was only a two-hour class, so I really didn’t really expect to learn that much.  However, there was a ton of information packed into the session and the class got to read from various commercial scripts which were recorded and will be later used for the evaluation they will provide back to each of us.

The class was more of a launching point for those who want to pursue a career in voiceovers.    Dave was an excellent student:  He brought a notebook and writing utensil and took very detailed notes.   The notebook had just about 12 pages remaining as if he ripped out all used pages from the last college class he took over 20 years ago.   Following the class, we headed back to the SmorgShow Studio to record our first show in over 25 years.   Check out episode 49 of the show in the podcast episode section of this site.

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Chris and Dave Live at Starbucks!

Well, it happened.   I found Dave Jackson after so many years and we met up at the Downers Grove Omega restaurant on Ogden Avenue.   It was the same place where we used to unwind after our radio show.   The place looked identical to how I remembered it.  The big difference for me is that this time around I didn’t have to worry about the $2.00 minimum.   So Dave and I had lunch and we caught up on the years that have passed since we last connected.   I made a few CDs of the shows that Ally and I have done over the past year and gave those to him.

Once lunch was over, we took a drive over to Downers Grove North High and snapped a few pictures in front of the WDGC radio station door.   We decided not to ring the doorbell.   It was already obvious that many years have gone by that we didn’t need to be reminded of it by having a 15-year old give us a tour of the studio.    Then we drove over to Starbucks just across the street from the Tivoli Theater and Bowling Alley.  We chose Starbucks because they had free Wi-Fi where we could fire up the laptop and explore some of the old videos that we did back in the day.   We rounded off the afternoon with Dave recording some taglines that we can use for our new show.     Take a listen and hear more on episode #43 when Dave Jackson joins us by phone and shares the challenges he has faced with his radio career.    We agreed that he would come out to our studio in the springtime and do a real episode with us.    Meanwhile, Peet is trying connect with Dave now.   Peet wants to finance high speed internet for Dave so that he can do shows with us remotely.    We’ll see how that goes.    So there it is, the Chris and Dave reunion.  Very low key, but an extremely enjoyable afternoon.

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Dave Jackson Found Alive…AGAIN!

BREAKING NEWS: Just received a Christmas Card from Dave Jackson with a very long letter enclosed.   Could this be the start of a reunion?   Developing…

Update:  12/21/10: Yes, it is true.  It was quite exciting yesterday getting a call from my wife who had just picked up the day’s mail and saw a card with a return address label indicating Dave Jackson was finally in contact with me again.   One of the earliest blogs here from almost 4 years ago had us finding Dave after many years of being out of touch.   Since Dave has had some health issues over the years, we have always been concerned about him when time passes without any contact.   However, these last several years were much different.   We were getting our letters returned with no forwarding address, all phone numbers we had for him and his family were inoperable, and Dave has absolutely no digital footprint to speak of.   On top of all that, no People Finder could ever guarantee we were actually finding the right Dave Jackson.   So when I received the 4-page letter from Dave yesterday with all the details on his situation, I was quite relieved to say the least.   I immediately phoned him and we talked for at least an hour.

It was a very good conversation and we will be hooking up over the Christmas holiday in person, most likely at one of our old favorite hangouts, the Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove.  We used to go there regularly after our radio show each week.    Perhaps the timing of receiving contact from Dave again is somehow connected to the Winter Solstice coinciding with the lunar eclipse for the first time in 456 years.  I don’t want to make it sound like this is the start of another Chris and Dave Smorgasbord Show run, as I don’t think that will be possible on many levels.   But I truly believe Dave will have something to contribute to the new SmorgShow Podcast and I look forward to whatever contribution he can make.     This is truly exciting news to have my old friend and radio partner back in my life.

I’ll continue to provide updates here as I have them to share.   In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all!

-Webmaster Chris

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A SmorgShow Christmas Carol

We are currently undertaking a major recording production of the classic Charles Dickens story, “A Christmas Carol”.   This will be our fifth staging of an old-time drama since we began the SmorgShow Podcast in January 2010.  We are hoping to have it released on our 41st episode, currently targeted for Sunday, December 19.   This will be our final podcast in 2010 and we plan to be back up and running on a weekly schedule beginning January 2, 2011.

“A Christmas Carol” has been presented countless times, yet it always finds a warm place in our hearts during this time of the year.  We brought in a pretty wide cast of actors for this version and we are having a blast pulling it all together.    I personally think this will top any previous production we have done to date and we hope you enjoy it.

Update 12/19/10 – The production is complete and you can listen to it using the media player below.

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40 Episodes and Counting

Wow, I just realized my last official post to this blog was late January 2010.  I guess I am trying to figure out when it makes sense to blog.  It’s not like I have been without anything to say.  To the contrary, this has been the most creative year I have had since dissolving the original Chris and Dave show over 25 years ago.  When I last posted an update here, I had just launched my first podcast episode with my daughter, Ally.  At the time I wondered if it would last beyond just a couple of episodes.   We have been on quite a journey since then.  Quite honestly, it has been tough to come up with brand new material each week with all of life’s other priorities and challenges, but I must say that some of our current shows surpass what we were able to do back in the 80’s during the original SmorShow run.   It’s been our goal from the beginning to make each and every show better than the last one.  I’ve invested a good amount of cash into our revamped studio and broadcast quality equipment along the way.  I’ve attended webinars and consulted with the Podcast Answerman, Cliff Ravenscraft who has coached many podcasters on how to take their show to the next level.  I must say this has not been just a casual hobby of ours, but something that has grown into a big part of our lives.   We are grateful to all the listeners who have downloaded our shows or called into our hotline.  We have connected with many up and coming artists who we have featured on our show.  Overall it has been a great experience to build a community using 21st century technology.  

When we first started doing this early this year, I wondered if it was something Ally would even be interested in after a while.  Well, we just finished our 40th episode.   With the exception of only a few weeks where we had vacations, we have been consistent with putting out a show every week.   Ally is very much the same level of partner that I had with Dave.  She is an equal contributor and producer of the show.  Her confidence has grown along with mine during the time we have been at this.   You can hear the difference if you compare our first episode with the most recent one.  We have made a great father-daughter team and I am grateful for the bond that we will always share from this hobby of ours.   As a parent I have often wondered what legacy or impression I would leave behind for her, and I guess only time will tell.   But I am confident in saying that this will be a very memorable period that we will both look back on with fond memories.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year if I don’t get around to submitting another post before then!

-Webmaster Chris

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SmorgShow ‘10

Yes, after a 25-year hiatus, I am resurrecting the old Smorg brand name for a new project. My daughter and I are teaming up to do a weekly podcast together. The premier episode has been completed and the series can be found in the podcast section of this site, as well as at iTunes (just search for SmorgShow). This is a work in progress, so I expect this thing will grow over time. Since we aren’t broadcasting live, we can’t really take live phone calls, but we do have a special hotline to our studios: (312) 95-SMORG. Leave us a voicemail and we might include it in an upcoming show.

Our plan at this point is to have the new weekly episode up by late Sunday evening. Follow us on Twitter @SmorgShow for updates when new episodes are available.

It was quite a chore getting the studio put together again after all these years. Some of the old equipment still functions surprisingly well, given that it has been in the crawlspace for nearly 25 years. I even have my original Radio Shack Stereo Disco Mixer that I purchased back in 1979. Other things are just obsolete – no need to use cart machines or turntables when you have an iPod. However, despite having what I thought was every possible combination of audio connection wires, somehow I still needed additional ones to get the entire operation up and running. Good thing Radio Shack is still around. Where else can you find a 1/8” to 1/4” stereo male to stereo female Y-adapter at a moment’s notice? They have their old geeky customer back after all these years.

Looking forward to doing this again. Let’s see how long it lasts.

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25th High School Reunion

In a blog posting over the summer I mentioned that I had re-connected with a good friend of mine from high school, Daryl Woltman. We both had a passion for radio and were on the WDGC staff together. We were pretty close during our freshman and sophomore years and we even had done a few shows together in those early days. Something changed after that point. Once I teamed up with Dave Jackson, all my creative energies went into writing and producing those shows and Daryl and I kind of went our separate ways. Plus Daryl was appointed to station manager, so he was essentially a second set of eyes and ears to Fred Moore, our station’s General Manager. I felt like I had to be on my best behavior around Daryl, so obviously our relationship changed a bit. After 25 years, it was great to see Daryl again over the summer. I wrote previously about how we discovered that we became dads for the first time within two hours of each other. Our daughters share the same birthday. Daryl also revealed that I was somewhat responsible for him and his wife Bev hooking up. Bev was the DJ who came on after the last season of the Smorgasbord show. Apparently Daryl asked Bev on a date and she supposedly asked me whether Daryl was a good (read: safe) guy. I gave him a positive endorsement and Bev ended up going out with him. I guess you never really know how much impact you have on other people’s lives.

So during a recent blog posting I had mentioned that I was unaware of anything being planned for our 25th high school reunion. However, with the magic of Facebook, a grassroots effort to have a reunion grew quickly and we indeed had our reunion this past weekend. It was a pretty informal affair, basically just meeting up at a local brewpub after the DGN homecoming game. I showed up and when I walked into the room, I thought I was in the wrong place. I thought I had mistakenly entered another school’s 40th year reunion or something, but no – it was my 25th year class reunion! Man did we ever get old. Some people obviously weathered better than others. I guess in comparison to many I saw there, I didn’t feel quite as broken down as I had written about in my last blog when I referred to needing a mouthguard for mouth clenching and something to treat my sensitive scalp.

The great thing about these get-togethers is that everyone is on equal footing. The days of cliques are over. Cheerleaders and jocks actually mingle with the burnouts and radio geeks. It was a respectable showing, but came nowhere near to bringing the roughly 600 or so graduates from my class together. It was a good time overall, and people seemed sorry to see it end. But I left as I did at my 10-year reunion 15 years ago – without exchanging any contact information with anyone. I guess that is the nature of reunions. Really, the only thing that brings such a diverse group of individuals together is something they shared many many years ago. I do hope to keep in contact with Daryl. I think we have more in common than just having attended the same school a lifetime ago.

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A Mouthguard and Loprox

It’s been a while since my last blog posting, so it’s time to catch you up on a few recent happenings. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was starting to fall apart. I had my annual physical, and everything came up roses. My cholesterol reading was the lowest since my early 30’s, my blood pressure was normal, and all other stats were within normal range. But lately I’ve been plagued with dull headaches, sore jaw, sensitive scalp, and nothing in my blood report indicated anything was wrong. Then it dawned on me…at my last dentist appointment earlier this year, my dentist asked me if I was under a lot of stress because she saw signs of mouth clenching. At the time I said no. I didn’t think I was under any stress, and I wasn’t showing any visible physical signs, other than with my back teeth which was only visible to my dentist. Flash forward about six months, and everything started to make sense with the headaches and sore jaw. I went back to the dentist and she confirmed the situation got noticeably worse and she recommended that I be fitted with a night time mouthguards to stop the clenching. I thought I would have to be fitted with one of those molds that covers the entire top of the mouth, but with recent medical advances I got this little custom-fitted plastic device that fits only over the two front teeth. I found a picture of what it looks and posted it here. So no, I’m sorry to say this is not my mouth, although I am envious of this individual as it appears he/she has a very healthy gum line. Anyway, the cost of this little plastic thing was $640.00!! I am definitely in the wrong business. Fortunately my insurance picked up a good portion of this. I’ve been wearing it for about 3 weeks now, and headaches and jaw aches are pretty much gone.

As far as the sensitive scalp goes, my dentist didn’t think the pressure being caused by the mouth clenching would necessarily lead to what I was encountering there, so she referred me to a dermatologist who prescribed a special shampoo called Loprox. I picked it up at the drugstore and had to pay $30 for a 120ml bottle that should last about a month. You think that is expensive for a shampoo? The bag said that my insurance saved me $170.00, so it would have cost me $200.00. So why am I telling the world about this? I have no idea. Other than this whole health incident has consumed me for the past couple months. I guess this is what happens when you start getting up there in age. Fortunately I am still young enough for there to be solutions to these problems. I guess the duration between these types of things will shorten over time, and the seriousness will grow. This all has happened leading up to my 25th high school reunion which I will write about afterwards. I’m sure those folks have their own health stories to tell. Meanwhile, I will just have to live with looking like a buck-toothed beaver at night. But at least I have the most expensive hair to get me through the day.

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25 Years

It’s been a while since my last post. I don’t know what has been up with me lately, but I have had zero inspiration for anything remotely creative. All this new technology that allows us to communicate the status of our lives to the rest of the world in a nano second, and yet I have nothing to say. “57 Channels and Nothing On”, I suppose.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of my high school graduation. And on this very day, I heard from a long lost radio partner – someone that pre-dates the Smorgasbord show. Daryl Woltman and I connected by phone. We did a few shows together when we first started out on WDGC, I’m guessing 1981 or so. I think we did primarily a music show together. During our call today, I learned that we share a significant milestone date in our lives – we became dads on the very same day and year. Only three hours separate the births of our daughters. Pretty cool if I do say so myself. That alone is reason enough to get the girls together. They can gather around and listen to their old fart dads relive the old days of high school radio. Here’s to you, Daryl! It’s good to be in touch with you again.

As for recognizing the actual anniversary of graduation day, I guess I don’t really have that much to say. There is no official reunion in the works to my knowledge. I went to the 10-year reunion in 1994. That was too fresh. I hadn’t really missed anyone yet. No one had done anything except maybe complete college and find their first job. I skipped the 20-year reunion and didn’t really miss it. So I wonder whether I would really get anything out of seeing everyone now, this far down the road. I guess the interesting stuff begins to happen to someone by 25 years after high school. By that time people usually have significant life milestones under their belt. In retrospect, I am happy with how my last 25 years turned out. I have no regrets, really…only experiences and accomplishments that I wouldn’t trade for the world. That alone is worth celebrating.

–Webmaster Chris

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About You Now

My daughter Allison on the eve of her 11th birthday. We decorated the basement for her birthday party and this is her jamming to Miranda Cosgrove’s hit song “About You Now”. This brings back memories of me when I had disco parties back in the true day of disco.

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Sponsor an Executive

Here’s a way to make a difference during the very difficult economic downturn of 2008.

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End of an Era – Last VHS Tape Shipped

Happy New Year! The holidays are behind us and I must say that it was one of the best in recent memory. For one, Peet came out to stay with us for the week. But also, with the downturn of the economy and everyone supposedly “cutting back”, I felt the pressure was off this year in terms of making sure just the right gift was purchased for everyone. In reality, I think we really did end up cutting back and focusing on the important things. It was a time to reflect on all the things we are thankful for – and there is plenty. I am very fortunate not to be one of the many out there looking for work at this time of year. I’ve been there before – in fact 5 years ago this month I was out of work for about a 6-month period. In hindsight, that was one of the best periods of my life. Setting aside the pressure of trying to find a job before my severance pay ran out, I was with my family all around the clock. I spent quality time with my daughter during those formative years that would have otherwise been lost had I been consumed with my career priorities. So the lesson in all of this for me is “less is more”.

So I start this year feeling thankful as well as optimistic, despite the news media’s best efforts to make me feel hopeless. Some people are looking forward to the new year and feeling that we are ending one era and beginning a new one in terms of a new administration in Washington. But I instead was drawn to a headline today that said we are finally at the end of another era – the death of the VHS tape! Apparently there was only one remaining U.S. manufacturer still making blank VHS tapes and the last shipment was sent to retailers this past week. There are apparently only 2 million unsold VHS tapes left out there to be purchased and after that batch is gone, that is it. Gone … in the dustbins of history. Joining its ancestors…the BetaMax tape, the 8-track tape, the floppy disk…the Laserdisk. But for some reason, the VHS is more personal to me. It was the primary form of media that I used from my teenage years on. All our videos that are now being digitized for this website started out on VHS. It was the first way to cheaply capture videos of ourselves and family…and soon, not long after the last tape is sold, the magnetic recordings on these tapes will soon begin to fade into history unless they are transferred to something more permanent. But now I am just rambling, so I will sign off for now.

Here’s to the VHS and to a great 2009! Actually, I could care less about the VHS. They take up way too much room.

—Webmaster Chris

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I Smell Like a Woman

The Christmas shopping season has finally begun for me. Like many others this year I am cutting back on my purchases and being very selective of what I actually do buy. I typically dread heading to the malls. I get quickly irritated by the process of finding a parking spot – usually getting behind someone who sits there waiting for a family of six to load up their car and pull out just so they can get a spot really close to the doors. I decided to take a different approach this year. I made it a point not to be in a hurry, not to expect to be done in an hour, and not to worry about the mobs of people pushing and shoving through the store aisles. You know what? It actually worked this year. I was happy. I was patient. I left the malls accomplishing everything I needed to buy and I still had a happy face.

About an hour into my shopping spree, I passed through a section of a particular store that had perfume testers. I sampled two of the fragrances – you know, spraying the little paper strip that they provide. I sniffed both but at the time I thought they were too strong so I kept going. I finished up all my shopping elsewhere in the mall, headed back to my car and proceeded to leave the mall parking lot and go home. When I rubbed my nose, I smelled a bit of one of the fragrances that I sampled and it smelled really nice. Apparently I had missed the strip of paper and some of it got onto my hand. I decided to go back and buy it. This was a mistake. By this time the mall was more crowded and parking was very difficult to find. An ice storm had started and the wind had picked up. I reminded myself that I was going to have a happy face and made it a point not to get irritated.

I went back to the store with the perfume samples. I could not remember which of the two fragrances was the one I liked. I sprayed the strips again, but like the first time they seemed a bit strong. I waited a few minutes, but still they never smelled like my hand did after an hour. The salesgirl came over to find out if I needed help. I explained my situation. She asked to smell my hand…which I thought was beyond the call of duty. She couldn’t say for sure but told me that the fragrances can smell different on the skin versus the paper strip and suggested I spray my hand and wait a bit. I sprayed my left hand with one and my right hand with the other. I was so confused with all the scents so I waited a few minutes and thought it was the left hand. I got into the very long line with my selection and just waited my turn. I started to have doubts about the one I selected. I decided right then and there that it was my right hand that was the one I liked. So I went back to make the switch. This time, the salesgirl came back and told me I could get the lotion of the same scent for only $10 more. I agreed to buy that as well and went back into line. I then decided to open the lotion, and puff a bit of the air out of the tube so that I could smell it. By doing so, I also squeezed out about 3 inches of lotion which I had no choice but to rub it into my hands.

And that is how I ended up smelling like a woman. No wonder I still had a happy face.

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Interview with Garry Meier

Growing up in the Chicago area in the 1970’s meant that if you listened to radio, you likely tuned in to hear Larry Lujack, John Landecker, Bob Sirott, and a bit later – Steve Dahl and Garry Meier. Steve and Garry were the pioneers of the “two-on-mic” conversational radio format. Here is a recording of me from 1981 interviewing Garry Meier for my high school radio project. I was the envy of my class. This was recorded in my home basement recording studio.

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The Car Wash Skit (1976)

Every now and then I work up the courage to venture into my crawl space. I ran out of lazy things to do over the Thanksgiving holiday, so I decided to get productive and clean out some old junk that I have been holding onto for years. So in the process of doing just that, I came across this gem of a recording. It is the very first audio recording of me – recorded Friday July 23, 1976. This is a skit that my dad and I put together over summer vacation that year. I guess in some ways this was the official launch of my interest in broadcasting and tape recordings. I can still remember my first tape recorder.

I was fortunate enough to be able to make a digital copy of this recording because two of my tape decks didn’t even recognize the recording any longer since magnetic recordings don’t last much longer than 25 years. However, one of my tape decks came through so I was able to do the digital transfer and preserve these early memories a bit longer. Enjoy this very personal look into my childhood years.

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Stand-Up Ally

She’s been all over Europe. She’s been on Comedy Central. And tonight…yes, tonight, she is here at the Babylon Club. Buckle up – it’s going to be a “laughy” ride. Put your hands together and welcome…

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Re-Connecting with Fred Moore

About 22 years have passed since I last saw Fred Moore, my high school Radio and TV teacher and General Manager of Downers Grove, IL radio station WDGC-FM. I caught up with Fred in Ottawa, IL over the weekend as his production “Seventh Inning Stretch” came through the area. I was so impressed to see what Fred has done in his post-teaching days and how much energy the “ol’ guy” still has! His production company, Programs Unlimited, consists of Fred and his wife of 50 years, Sharon. They travel across Florida, New York, Colorado, and the Midwest each year and do 200+ shows. “Seventh Inning Stretch” is one of 15 of their programs and is all about baseball – the history, its legends, and its music. I was also surprised to hear that Fred still has a great set of pipes! It was great to see Fred again after so many years. Enjoy the attached video clip of Fred singing.

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