Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No. 282 – I Want to Make the World Turn Around

Performer: The Steve Miller Band
Songwriter: Steve Miller
Original Release: Living in the 20th Century
Year: 1986
Definitive Version: None.

In Fall 1986, my radio-listening habits changed forever when I found Steve and Garry. Before, I listened to radio for the music. After, I listened for anything but the music, although I suppose I did listen to music radio after I moved back to Columbus—mostly because there was no more personality radio.

That isn’t to say that I never listened to music on the radio; it just wasn’t specifically for that reason. As I mentioned, I got into a lot of songs through Steve and Garry and the rest of the personalities on the Loop. This song was one of them.

When I listened to the radio, I didn’t want to listen to the same songs over and over. Led Zeppelin had more than four songs, you know. If I wanted to listen to music, I’d just pop in one of my tapes. When I listened to the radio, I wanted to be entertained and maybe informed.

Steve and Garry made radio entertaining. It all started during the flooding of the Des Plaines River soon after I began at Northwestern. It rained solid for about three weeks and flooded the western suburbs. As I drove out west in search of a story for my Boot Camp class, I turned on the radio.

I had remembered Steve and Garry from my drive into the city, so I dialed them in on the Loop. They were mocking one of the local weathermen, cranking up the volume on their teletype sound effect. It was funny, and I remember at one point, Frank, who was in the car with me, said, “They can’t say that on the air, can they?” They could and did.

But the thing that really got me into Steve and Garry was the Bears. As I mentioned, I was a huge Bears fan by the time I hit Chicago, and I listened to every game. Of course, in 1986, my guy from Ohio State, Mike Tomczak, took over for the injured Jim McMahon as quarterback for the Bears, and the same thing started to happen to Tomczak as happened at Ohio State.

A little back story: I loved Tomczak, or T-zak as he became known in Chicago, because he was the anti-Art Schlichter. Everyone in Columbus loved Art Schlichter—everyone, that is, except me. My friend Jim interviewed Schlichter for the high-school newspaper, because Schlichter was pursuing Jim’s older sister, and Jim said he was a real d-bag—unnecessarily arrogant and snide. (Of course, we all know how Schlichter’s story ended—my assessment was vindicated.)

Tomczak was the opposite—quiet, unassuming, humble—but because he was the first quarterback to follow Schlichter, OSU fans held him to an impossible standard. Maybe he wasn’t as good while at college, but he was plenty good enough to get the job done.

Now the same thing was happening in Chicago. The fans and the media hated Tomczak, because he wasn’t Jim McMahon. No one was Jim McMahon, whom I also loved. Well, that wasn’t universally true: Steve and Garry loved Tomczak and had him on the show a lot. Hey, that’s cool. We both like the same guy. Then I began to notice they had a lot of other Bears on, Tom Thayer, Jay Hilgenberg, Gary Fencik, Otis Wilson. Well, if the Bears like these guys …

It got so every time Steve and Garry had a Bear player on, I would stick a tape into the boombox and record for myself but also Scott. Before long, I let the tape run, even after the Bears were gone. Soon, I was tuning in just to hear Steve and Garry. I was hooked.

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