The Loop, 1977-2018


The Loop FM98


The Loop. WLUP-FM. FM98. Later, 97.9 FM.

As of this week, The Loop is gone from our radio dials. I rarely feel sad for dead celebrities, but I am a bit heartbroken over the passing of The Loop. For those of you not in the Chicago area, it was the greatest rock station in the universe. More on that debate later.

Sure, The Loop hasn’t really been “The Loop” for a decade or two. I’ve lost track of the ownership changes and lately it’s been programmed by some automated robot, or even worse, a Millennial who wouldn’t know the difference between Bon Scott and Brian Johnson.

There’s no Steve Dahl, Johnny B, or breaking cool Tom Petty records anymore. It’s pretty much full of 30-year-old Def Leppard songs lately like every other lame classic rock station owned by a failing conglomerate in America. I haven’t bothered to tune in for many years. And you haven’t tuned in either; if we had, The Loop may have survived. It’s just another underperforming media property being sold and dismantled.


Influence on My Life

The Loop was the most influential radio station in the universe from ’79 until about ’84. Well, in my universe anyway! My biggest influencers from the world of radio in my childhood were:

  1. The iconic one: WLS
  2. The fictional one: WKRP
  3. The real one: The Loop

The Loop influenced me in many ways from adolescence through adulthood. It was my friend in times when I had no friends. The Loop was a factor in my wanting to work in (and my obsession with) radio. Without The Loop, I would not have wanted to be a rock jock, and therefore would never have met my wife and therefore we would not have our daughter! Wow!

Without The Loop, there would be no Steve Dahl. Without Dahl, there would be no Howard Stern. Without Stern, there would be no Social Geek Radio. Okay, that last one is a stretch, but throw me a bone.


The Best?

Many people in Chicago will tell you that WXRT was much more influential and far superior to The Loop. Don’t get me wrong – someday when XRT inevitably folds, I’ll be writing about that brilliantly-programmed entity too.

As far as the availability of the Loop’s or XRT’s music, a few channels on Sirius XM currently fill that void for most of us Gen Xers who are not dead or have not relocated to Texas or Florida.

The Loop hadn’t been cool for many years and wasn’t yet old enough to be retro chic. But now that it’s officially gone, perhaps it will be cool to wear The Loop t-shirt again. I just hope it still fits.


Happy Thanksgiving! Oh My God, They’re Turkeys!

Les WKRP 2

Theatre of the Mind

In 1978, television give a big Hat Tip to radio’s “theatre of the mind.” On WKRP in Cincinnati, you “saw” the whole horrific turkey drop, but you never actually saw a single turkey! 

Arthur Carlson WKRP
Art Carlson: “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

The art and science of radio allows for intriguing storytelling due to the need to describe in detail the events and subjects.


I recently listened to a fascinating interview with President Ronald Reagan from the mid-1980s discussing his early stint broadcasting University of Iowa football games on WHO-AM Des Moines. When asked if he would have moved into TV sports broadcasting if he hadn’t gotten into film and eventually politics, he surprisingly said no. He felt that his strength was verbally telling the story and painting a picture of the action. Radio needed that, but Television didn’t.

Podcast Storytelling

All marketers talk about storytelling, but most have bypassed content marketing in audio form. Podcasting may be the simplest and most cost effective way to reach a targeted (and potentially large) group of customers. You share industry news, discuss relevant topics to your customers, and tell your brand’s story. And you don’t need studios in Cincinnati, Des Moines, or anywhere else to get the word out.

Mass versus Niche

One of the issues with terrestrial radio that lead to today’s listenership challenges was the race to appeal to too broad of an audience. The strategy of least offensive programming where stations and groups played content that neither turned off nor inspired listeners created a universal blandness up and down the dial.  

With podcasts, no niche is too small and no subject is too inside. Podcasters aren’t aiming for mass audiences; they’re connecting with smaller, specific audiences.  

For more on content marketing and social media, please join me on the Social Geek Radio podcast. The show airs Wednesday evenings, and is free via download here or on iTunes

WKRP Closing Theme

dr johnny fever

One of the all-time best TV theme songs is not an opening theme, but a closing theme.  

WKRP’s closing theme
was written and performed on a shoestring budget and a whim by series music director Tom Wells.

While the opening theme which hit the Top 40 charts for Steve Carlisle is far more well-known (“Baby, if you’ve ever wondered…”), I always preferred Wells’ crunchy garage band jam. It sounds like experimental 70s FM radio in the middle of the night – a perfect contrast to the opening theme’s jingly AM daytime Radio pop sound.  

I also always tried to understand the lyrics each week in the days before DVRs and Googling lyrics.  Don’t bother – Wells intentionally sang nonsense. But it sounded good!


5 Reasons to Jump on Facebook Ads NOW

Facebook Dollar 11

Some marketers are hesitant about the need to spend marketing budget on Facebook advertising and why / how / where they should find those dollars. A sensible Three Step Process for succeeding in the new Facebook landscape includes creating content most likely to be shared by consumers, putting ad dollars behind it to boost it, and enabling your community to make you part of their community.

Here are 5 reasons why this small investment will pay off.

1. Impressions rule. We talk a lot about interactivity and engagement. But don’t underestimate the plain ol’ audience impressions you’re gaining with Facebook ads. We may not know how great the positive effect of social media impressions are on your brand for years.

Look at TV advertising: buying habits in 2014 are influenced by TV ads from many years ago. If you want to influence the brand of beer I buy today, you should go back in time to 1989 and make better beer ads. That Spuds MacKenzie…he was rad.


2. The cost per impression for Facebook ads is almost nothing compared to that of television or newspapers. And your Facebook ad may actually interact with a consumer as opposed to getting skipped on DVR or never read.


Media Sales guru Herb Tarlek says,
“Newspapers: Kids today don’t read.
And Television: Stinkerino.
Facebook: where your ad dollars buy more!” 


3. Even better news is that your competitors may now be on their way off of consumers’ radar. Let your competitors complain about the lack of organic reach and wish for the glory days of 2012. Meanwhile, you can spend a few bucks, target ads to your demo, and be where your competitors’ customers live in 2014.


4. He with the best creative wins. Facebook may be like the Super Bowl in that all of the best content will be paid advertising.


5. You’re proving your product’s value.

Brands behave now on Facebook like record labels or recording artists have always been with radio – looking for free airtime or spins of their content on media that someone else owns and controls.

There’s a lot of competition and limited amount of space and time for your fans. If you want to guarantee exposure, you will need to pay. If you’re not willing to do an inexpensive add buy, then how confident are you about your business?

henry ford

The Greatest Thanksgiving PR Stunt of All Time: WKRP

The holiday reruns start now! Here’s a re-posting of last year’s Thanksgiving post, with a new list… 

Arthur Carlson WKRP
"As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." Click image for video clip.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Gordon Jump, aka Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson of WKRP in Cincinnati. He was passing through town on a PR tour for Maytag (he was the Maytag Repairman in the commercial campaign at the time) and did a live studio interview at the radio station I was programming.
What a pro! Mr. Jump was a PR person’s AND a media outlet’s perfect interviewee: he promoted the Maytag event for which he was the guest, and also was open to reminiscing about his WKRP glory days. It was near Thanksgiving, so he gave us his best on-air recreation of his classic quote from the WKRP turkey massacre episode. He was thankful for having such a good run and for still acting and portraying fun characters.
In honor of the late Mr. Jump’s spirit of thankfulness for lasting in his chosen industry, here’s a new list of just a few of the folks in the PR and Social Media Marketing industry I am thankful for meeting, collaborating with, or working with in 2010:

@PaulaBerg                  @kamichat                       @geoffliving

@cldegoede                 @_LaurenShapiro_      @cgflood

@Engage121                @JackSerpa                     @nperold

@reynmorgan            @evelyntimson             @emailfray

@kristinepfeiff            @AllisonB023                @PaulSegreto

@jeswal06                    @terrimcculloch           @StoryAssistant

@chuckhester             @JessicaNorthey          @jillianmk

@rebeccafoss              @brandjournalist         @prsachicago

@acappellamedia       @shashib                        @shelholtz