Monday, December 5, 2011
Steve & Johnnie End 26-Year Run At WGN Radio!
So, there I was, half-asleep at around 2AM, with the radio on as always, when I thought I heard the words "Steve & Johnnie Farewell Tour" (or something to that effect) broadcast over the airwaves. I sat upright as if I'd heard a gunshot and listened for a few minutes, but all I heard was a song being played. Maybe I'd just imagined it, I thought to myself. After all, Steve & Johnnie were as much a part of my nights as anyone or anything. I'd been listening to them since the early '90s, stopping only when I loved to L.A., and resuming when the internet made listening to almost any radio station on the planet a possibility.
Of course, when I moved back to the Windy City a few years ago, I was able to catch Steve & Johnnie via my trusty, albeit dusty, clock radio. Sure, it was the same show I'd been listening to via my high-speed connection, but there was just something a little more special about listening to them on the radio.
When they weren't showcasing new artists, or catching up with musical friends like Jim Peterik, Tommy Emmanuel, and Cathy Richardson - to name but a few - they were helping out the technologically-challenged each Website Wednesday, or reviewing the latest digital cameras and compiling listener photos with Will Crockett, or raving about the latest episode of "Dancing With The Stars" with ABC7 meteorologist Tracy Butler.
What kept me glued to the radio, though, was the radio duo's commitment to promoting a metric shit-ton (pardon my French) of music, both locally and from around the world, as well as paying constant homage to Les Paul. In doing so, they seemed more cut out for a spot on the FM dial, but it was a refreshing change from the non-stop news chatter normally found on WGN.
It wasn't until I actually heard again, minutes later, that Steve & Johnnie were indeed leaving the station that I began trying to wrap my head around the idea. Nearly ten hours later, I'm no closer to doing so now than I was then. The simple truth is that Steve & Johnnie have made the nights bearable for thousands of kindred, sleepless souls who found something to hold onto in the wee hours when the rest of the world was fast asleep, completely oblivious to the radio duo (and real life couple) whose voices illuminated the hours leading to dawn.
Thanks to Steve & Johnnie, I've come to know and love artists like Robbie Fulks, Les Paul (whose guitar prowess and extensive discography I had been completely unaware of), Kate Miller-Heidke, and the Yellowhammers. I've also become quite fond of not only Tommy Emmanuel's magical talents as a guitarist, but also his humility and constant visits with Steve & Johnnie that have made him a recent addition, but no less loved, to my "radio family".
Sadly, like most real-life families, circumstances conspire to take certain members in new directions. At the moment, I am quite uncertain how I will fill those hours that Steve & Johnnie helped fill, but, most importantly, I seem forced to say goodbye to two friends I've come to love like my own flesh and blood, but have yet to meet in person.
Of course, when they finally walk off into the sunset in the wee hours of Friday, December 9th, Chicago radio will incur yet another serious blow to their musical identity, as gone will be two of the biggest musical cheerleaders this city has ever had.