The Planets Have Been Re-Aligned

By Jocelyn Geboy in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 3, 2007 5:09PM

We were headed south on Western Avenue Friday night, on the way to view our fellow Chicagoista's photography opening, when we heard a familiar voice playing a song off the request lines. It was Johnny Mars, doing his first shift back at XRT since he was "squeezed out" back in 2001 (Feder).

2007_03radio.jpgPersonally, we think Norm Winer is a bad combination of too much ego and not enough "with the times." And the way he decides to treat his staff is really beyond us, much less not too favorable with Chicago radio listeners — that is, listeners of his radio station. Sometimes, we think he operates like it's opposite day. He gets rid of really great DJs, and then he hires people we are left scratching our heads about. We like to give people a chance, and we're not trying to be dicks, but we think if you're working at one of the top mainstream radio stations in the country (yeah, we know they're not as good anymore, but they still are a go-to on our dial), you've got to sound like you actually looked at your setlist before you turn on your microphone. We're looking at you, kid.

But we're digressing from our happiness. It was such a gleeful moment to hear Johnny on the air tonight. Yay! And that's the thing. No matter how much you (and we) might love our iPods, or you dig the satellite radio, or how much you are going between the lines with HD radio or eagerly awaiting your iPhone, the fact of the matter is this: nothing will ever compare to the immediate and magical accessibility of radio.

Radio will always have the possibility for local personalities who know and love this city playing songs over the airwaves, and the absolute freedom of anyone and everyone to turn on a receiver and hear them. Not to mention the special moments that happen when just the right song comes on at just the right moment to create another part of the soundtrack of our lives. We know that sort of radio is a dying animal, but you can still find completely great radio on the left of the dial.

Maybe we're just old-fashioned. But we remember the days when we would sit next to the radio, waiting for our new favorite song to come on, with our tape recorder (!!) in breathless anticipation, hoping to capture it on tape, so we could listen to it over and over again on command. Hoping that the DJ wouldn't talk over the intro and that our mom wouldn't call us to dinner. Hoping that it would come on the radio just one more time.

Welcome back, Johnny. It's good to have you home.

"High Fidelity" by drp.