Friday, June 28, 2013

Bring Out The Canarble Wagon...Jim Johnson

I have had nothing but the great fortunes to work with great radio legends, like Dick Biondi, John Records Landecker, Fred Winston, all while at 94-7 W-L-S!!!   The one that got away, who I would have also enjoyed working with, is 89 WLS newsman; Jim Johnson.

Why, if you haven't heard, Jim is retiring TODAY, (06-28-13), after working here for 45 continuous years!  The Chicago City Council honored Jim on his retirement.

I may have not actually had the chance to work with Jim, but I got to know him from seeing him here at the station, often just chatting in the halls about stuff like the many dead bodies he's buried up near his cabin in Wisconsin.

Jim enjoys his picnic table during another typical summer day in Wisconsin [WLS Photo]
Prior to that he made many appearances on my old TV show.  Ironically, his first time on, we talked about his longevity at a single station.  Below is the first 11 minutes from that interview, (This is only the audio, but as soon as I can technically bring you the entire piece, with video, I will update this blog).

I really enjoyed having Jim Johnson on as a guest.  He was a hoot.  During this episode, he was the guest announcer, (thus his own intro), he and another guest, the late great John Callaway, was throwing jabs at everyone, including at one another and even themselves.

Jim Johnson, John Callaway & Spike O'Dell with members of Nude Hippo
Below is actual video of John's appearance, followed by Jim's unnecessary, but very funny rebuttal.  One of my most favorite moments on my show.

Jim returned several more times after this, and then his daughter, Alexis Del Cid, joined my show as a field reporter.  This was her first time on television...which is pretty cool as she is now at the CBS-affiliated station, KCTV5 in Kansas City, as a co-host of their morning show and an anchor of the news at noon.

Gary Amble, Alexis Del Cid, Dave Hall and Natalie Puhr [KCTV Graphic]
Alexis reporting 1999 NYE special
Last week, I asked her about reporting on my show, she talked about her first report:
"My experience at Nude Hippo was hilariously random. I remember walking around Chicago asking people if they knew what "getting jiggy" meant... If I remember correctly I also held up a sign. And people seemed to be alternately frightened of me and confused. That is what sticks out most about my experience on The Nude Hippo Show!"
Here is a portion from her WORLD PREMIERE APPEARANCE ON TELEVISION, (hopefully you added some exciting sound effects and rock music in your head as you read that line).

Her dad, Jim, once told me that this first appearance on my show was going to ruin her chances on getting a career in television.

When I told this to Alexis, she just laughed and said;
"He did not mean that seriously!"
Normally, he has such a dead-pin delivery with his dark-wit humor, but I was pretty sure he was serious. I wasn't offended, if anything, I am proud of the fact that I didn't actually ruin her career.

Here is Alexis following her father's footsteps, doing what she truly sez is her dream job.
"I love it! I work with such a fun bunch of people and I love my job and my co-workers. I am thankful every day because my co-anchor is one of the funniest people I know-- along with the producers behind the scenes."

Now before Jim Johnson wanders back up to Wisconsin, be sure to listen to Roe & Roeper's special Jim Johnson farewell show,  Today, 2 pm-5 pm on 89WLS.

I'm not sure what Jim has planned for after today, besides spending time with his family, but whatever it is, I hope that he does something that we all can enjoy more of his talents again.  In his bio, Jim claims to be the only newsman whose childhood pets include a skunk and a porcupine.  Perhaps, this could be something he does again during his time off the air.

He has some great stories, like about The Daley's vacationing at his cabin, how he followed another car onto a runway to cover an airplane crash at O'Hare, how he ticked off a famous radio competitor after appearing on a local television show...and so much more.  I hope to see and hear more from Jim in the near future.  At the very least, he should write a book, but he told Rick Kaempfer, back in 2010:
"If I ever write a “tell all” book I will have to go into a witness protection program."
Oh, so that is why he is leaving the airwaves!

Tony Lossano & Jim Johnson
Today also marks the final day for the great professor Ed Glab, head engineer at WLS.  I doubt that this is the last time that we will see Ed, but what an immense job to kept these studios cranking out static-free noise on these frequencies.
Ed Glab began as John Landecker's Board Op...which is a position I now have. [Photo: John Gehron]
Ed actually started at WLS a few months before Jim, but then left to be a jock on another station.  He only returned when he was asked, but this was suppose to be a temporary gig.  43 years later, he too is retiring.

WLS celebrated 89 years on the air this year, and Ed & Jim are leaving with a combined accumulation of 88 years here.  Beyond their impressive length at a single station, they both are absolutely talented and amazing individuals!  It has been an honor working with these guys here at W-L-S!

"Life is change…either get with it our get out of the way." -Jim Johnson

Tony Lossano, Broadcast Producer (TV & Radio, Chicago), amateur bicyclist, a fantastic dog walker, and has never been married to Alyssa Milano.

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