Outside the Loop RADIO
Outside the Loop RADIO is Chicago's Almost Above-Ground Audio Magazine. Founded as a podcast in September 2006 and picked up for broadcast by Chicago Sound Alliance WLUW 88.7-FM in March 2007, "OTL" now airs on Chicago's Very Own 50,000-watt heritage powerhouse station WGN Radio 720-AM. Storyteller and urbanologist Mike Stephen hosts this weekly program featuring fun segments and interviews with local newsmakers, artists, musicians, and others doing cool stuff around the greater Chicago area. The show covers topics stories that don't always get mainstream media attention... and it's all presented with a strong and independent Chicago slant. Show co-founder Andy Hermann has returned to produce Phase III of OTL Radio. http://outsidetheloopradio.com

Mike Stephen talks with Chicago Justice Project executive director Tracy Siska about changes that need to be made within the Chicago Police Department, chats with Fulton Market Association executive director Roger Romanelli about fixing the treacherous stretch of Lake Street between Halsted and Ashland, and checks in with The Platoon of Power Squadron creator/ writer/ director Jake Jarvi about his long-running locally-produced web series that's coming to an end. Meanwhile, we discuss street musicians dodging a proposed ban on performing on Michigan Avenue, and we play a voicemail from #1 OTL fan Mrs. Stephen, who feels like she's been double-crossed by Mr. Fix-It himself... Lou Manfredini. This week's local music is provided by The Red Plastic Buddha.

Direct download: otl-ep541-170225.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #540: Rent control in Chicago, The Secret History of Queen Sylvia Embry, Assisting Chicago's immigrant community

Mike Stephen talks with Pilsen Alliance director Byron Sigcho about the displacement of some of our city's residents and the movement for rent control in Chicago, chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about singer and bassist Queen Sylvia Embry for this week's "Winter Blues" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music, and checks in with Centro Romero executive director Daysi Funes about how her organization is helping with the challenges facing Chicago's immigrant community. Meanwhile, we discuss Billy Dec, the recent insanity between Mayor Emanuel and Governor Rauner, the Thompson Center's food court, and wacky bass players. This week's local music is provided by The Sweet Maries.

Direct download: otl-ep540-170218.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #539: Protecting high school journalism, Chicago Plant Rescue, Inside the Read/Write Library

Mike Stephen talks with Illinois Journalism Education Association board member Stan Zoller about the continuing importance of teaching journalists at the high school level; checks in with Chicago Plant Rescue community outreach director Nora Bryne about what her organization is doing to save orphaned greenery; and visits with Read/Write Library Chicago executive director Nell Taylor about the importance of documenting local history via books, zines, and periodicals. Meanwhile, we discuss the upcoming #RumpsAgainstTrump protest and the growing sanctuary restaurants movement. This week's local music is provided by The Real Gone.

Direct download: otl-ep539-170211.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #538: Revitalizing the Pedway, Changes for Newcity, The Secret History of Little Brother Montgomery

Mike Stephen talks with Environmental Law & Policy Center president and executive director Howard Learner about ideas to improve Chicago's vast pedway system, checks in with Newcity editor/publisher Brian Hieggelke about changes in store for his venerable Chicago alternative newspaper, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about influential self-taught pianist Little Brother Montgomery for this week's "Winter Blues" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, Mike reveals what the Chicago bag tax is really about right before making a surprise political announcement! This week's local music is provided by Cafe Racer.

Direct download: otl-ep538-170204.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #537: Living with lead in Chicago, Fatal crashes and cell phone privacy, Is Restaurant Week a good deal?

Mike Stephen talks with City Bureau co-founder/editorial director Darryl Holliday about his news organization's special issue "Living With Lead: How Generations of Chicagoans Carry the Weight of a Toxin Hiding in Plain Sight," checks in with Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield about his Chicago Reader column on whether or not police should be checking drivers' phone records after serious crashes, and chats with Chicagoist food editor Anthony Todd about how not to get screwed by Restaurant Week 2017. Meanwhile, Mike explains why he turned down Portillo's this week! This week's local music is provided by Go Time!.

Direct download: otl-ep537-170128.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #536: Dodging the minimum wage increase, The Secret History of Johnnie Temple, Rocking Chicken Wings at Wing Fling

Mike Stephen talks with reporter Stephanie Grimoldby about how some Cook County suburbs are not complying with the new minimum wage and sick time requirements, chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about obscure singer/guitarist Johnnie Temple for this week's "Winter Blues" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music, and visits with Toons Bar & Grill owner Danny Beck for a preview of the Toons 6th Annual Wing Fling. Meanwhile, we celebrate the best burritos in ChicagoThis week's local music is provided by Black Bolts.

Direct download: otl-ep536-170121.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #535: Camera violation review notices, The Sanctuary Restaurant Movement, Plastic in Lake Michigan

Mike Stephen chats with The Expired Meter blogger The Parking Ticket Geek about how Chicagoans can challenge some old red light camera violations, talks with Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) Chicago co-director Felipe Tendick-Matesanz about local efforts to protect minority workers by establishing sanctuary restaurants, and checks in with Rochester Institute of Technology mathematical sciences assistant professor Matt Hoffman about his study on the massive amounts of plastic debris in the Great Lakes. Meanwhile, OTL celebrates the MANuary Beard Season! This week's local music is provided by Railway Gamblers.

Direct download: otl-ep535-170114.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #534: Will tougher sentencing reduce violence?, Writers Resist preview, The Secret History of Barrelhouse Chuck

Mike Stephen talks with UIC Criminology, Law and Justice professor John Hagedorn about whether or not tougher sentencing can stop Chicago's violent crime epidemic; checks in with Chicago#WritersResist co-event manager Brian Kornell about resisting intolerance within the local literary community; and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about recently deceased pianist Barrelhouse Chuck for this week's "Winter Blues" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we discuss the "camera violation review notice" Mike received in the mail this week. Apparently it's part of the city's last-ditch effort to wriggle free of refunding improperly-issued red light camera violations. This week's local music is provided by Steve Dawson.

Direct download: otl-ep534-170107.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #533: A look back on 2016 Chicago entertainment, food, and politics

Mike Stephen takes a look back at 2016 and peeks into 2017... with Chicago Reader associate editor Brianna Wellen about women in the local comedy sceneChicagoist food editor Anthony Todd about some recent restaurant openings and closings, and Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Mick Dumke about the local political landscape. Meanwhile, the OTL crew wishes you a HAPPY NEW YEAR! This week's local music is provided by The Flat Five.

Direct download: otl-ep533-161231.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #532: Chicago's new streetlights, Fighting street harassment, The Secret History of Trouble Boys

Mike Stephen talks with DNAinfo Chicago reporter/producer Sam Cholke about the new and more efficient LED streetlights being tested around the city; checks in with Streetsblog Chicago writer Jean Khut about creating a safe space from street harassment for female bicyclists via the For Women Only, Duh rides; and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about obscure, loud, stupid, and fun band the Trouble Boys for this week's "The Fall Winter of Punk" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we play yet another voicemail from #1 OTL fan Mrs. Stephen... who heard Mike and his son mentioned on the 12/10 edition of The Kathy & Judy Show! This week's local music is provided by Bleach Party (featuring drummer Kaylee Preston, who was profiled in OTL #448).

Direct download: otl-ep532-161224.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #531: Women in politics, The new IL energy bill, Reviving soggy fries

Mike Stephen talks with Rodham Consulting founder Anne Szkatulski about how her brand new start-up is focusing on getting women to run for public office, chats with Midwest Energy News staff writer Kari Lydersen about Illinois' just-passed sweeping energy bill and what it means for energy and the environment, and checks in with The A.V. Club "Food Science" columnist (and University of Chicago physics instructor!) Dave McCowan about how to successfully revive soggy french fries at home. Meanwhile, we play a voicemail from #1 OTL fan Mrs. Stephen... who continues to look out for her son's safety in dangerous winter weather! This week's local music is provided by Teds Dancin.

Direct download: otl-ep531-161217.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #530: High School Bound, The Secret History of 6 Feet Under, The Fooditor 99

Mike Stephen talks with UChicago Impact co-CEO Elliot Ransom about how students and parents can take a look at every Chicago public high school via their new High School Bound website, chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about influential proto-hardcore band 6 Feet Under for this week's "The Fall of Punk" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music, and checks in with Fooditor editor Michael Gebert about a brand new food guide that profiles everyday restaurants -- The Fooditor 99: Where To Eat (And What To Eat There) In Chicago. Meanwhile, we discuss how Chicago food trucks lost a 4-year court battle against the city and the industry's reaction to the ruling. This week's local music is provided by The Way Down Wanderers.

Direct download: otl-ep530-161210.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #529: The solution to IL's money problems, The Night Ministry does great work, Cocktails for Ding Dongs

Mike Stephen talks with The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois professor David Merriman about the Fiscal Futures Project plan for getting Illinois back on the path to financial stability, chats with The Night Ministry advocacy and community affairs manager Tedd Peso about working with the local homeless community and the "Covers for Cover 8" concert benefiting the Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program (RAPPP), and visits with Cocktails for Ding Dongs illustrator Alexandra Ensign about putting together a unique guide to making awesome drinks. Meanwhile, we reminisce about work holiday parties past as we enter the season of office-related debauchery! This week's local music is provided by Donnie Biggins.

Direct download: otl-ep529-161203.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #528: Arts in the classroom, Feral cats help with rat control, The Secret History of Silver Abuse

Mike Stephen talks with Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) executive director Amy Rasmussen about bringing art to public school classrooms and making a positive impact on the lives of students, checks in with Tree House Humane Society Cats at Work program manager Paul Nickerson about how feral cats can help control the local rat population, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about protopunk weirdos Silver Abuse for this week's "The Fall of Punk" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we discuss throwing your trash in the garbage bins -- whether they're "your" bins or not. Just don't contaminate our recycling! This week's local music is provided by The Artist Formerly Known as Vince.

Direct download: otl-ep528-161126.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #527: The Resurrection Project, Volunteering makes a difference, Learning how to recycle

Mike Stephen talks with The Resurrection Project VP of Community Ownership Jose Munoz about protecting immigrants in uncertain political times, talks with Chicago Cares CEO Jenné Myers about how to cause change in the community through volunteering, and chats with Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) lead organizer Seva Gandhi about efforts to improve recycling in Chicago. Meanwhile, we reminisce about the time when Mike, as a young radio intern, drove to Indiana for a ridiculous hamburger. This week's local music is provided by wellthen.

Direct download: otl-ep527-161119.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #526: Film crew parking, Funding charter schools, The Secret History of The Imports

Mike Stephen talks with Chicago's 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins about media production companies paying for lost parking and extending The 606 past the Kennedy and the river, checks in with 33rd Ward Working Families spokesman Nick Burt about his organization's successful referendum against charter schools in the election, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about moody Hyde Park band The Imports for this week's "The Fall of Punk" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, let's take action. Now is the time to get your skin in the game. This week's local music is provided by The Claudettes.

Direct download: otl-ep526-161112.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #525: The CTA gets new buses, Preparing to vote with BallotReady, A proposed Chicago River Bike Trail

Mike Stephen checks in with DNAinfo Chicago City Hall reporter Heather Cherone about the CTA's upcoming new buses and improved service and why Chicago aldermen were upset about not getting World Series tickets, talks with BallotReady co-founder Alex Niemczewski about educating ourselves about political candidates and how she's helping to make voting easier, and chats with Active Transportation Alliance advocacy director Jim Merrell about proposing a riverfront bike trail for Chicago... with some of it possibly floating! Meanwhile, we realize that the city is still standing after the Cubs won the World Series, and we warn our listeners that businesses rewarding voters on election day is an illegal act. This week's local music is provided by Pool Holograph.

Direct download: otl-ep525-161105.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:30am CST

OTL #524: Cook Co. back-taxing local music venues, Press START to Drink, The Secret History of Rude Guest

Mike Stephen checks in with independent journalist Lee V. Gaines for an update on Cook County's ruling on what is "fine art" and their pursuit of back taxes from small music venues; talks with Chicago Loot Drop chairman Mike Chuck about "Press START To Drink," their 7th annual holiday fundraiser for University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital; and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about early '80s ska band Rude Guest for this week's "The Fall of Punk" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we play a voicemail from #1 OTL fan Mrs. Stephen... who's always looking out for her son's safety! This week's local music is provided by Gramps The Vamp.

Direct download: otl-ep524-161029.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #523: Chicago's Equality Index score, Local parking and transit roundup, A new fun kids book inspired by the CTA

Mike Stephen talks with Human Rights Campaign legislative counsel Xavier Persad about how Chicago ranks in the fifth annual Municipal Equality Index, a nationwide rating system of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy; chats with The Expired Meter blogger The Parking Ticket Geek about Wrigleyville parking restrictions, raising parking meter rates around Wrigley Field, and the closing of all the Chicago vehicle emissions test facilities; and welcomes local author Patrick McBriarty to the studio to discuss City Railways Go Above and Below, his latest children's book about riding public transportation. Meanwhile, we learn how long you should #FlyTheW flag after a Cubs win! This week's local music is provided by riverhorse.

Direct download: otl-ep523-161022.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #522: Vacant buildings in Chicago, It's Filmed There, The Secret History of Savage Beliefs

Mike Stephen talks with Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce president Brian Nadig about the Vacancy Fraud Investigative Unit Act and how some Chicago landlords are exploiting a tax reduction for vacant buildings, checks in with It's Filmed There website creator Chas Demster about researching and meticulously documenting television and movie filming locations around Chicago, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about early local hardcore band Savage Beliefs for this week's "The Fall of Punk" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we share the feel-good story of Toons Bar & Grill recovering its beloved smoker Black Pearl! This week's local music is provided by i.e. kokoro.

Direct download: otl-ep522-161015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #521: Religion and politics, Ruckus Entrepreneurs, Chicago food truck struggles

Mike Stephen talks with U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom chair Fr. Thomas J. Reese, SJ about his upcoming "Religion & Politics 2016" Albertus Magnus Lecture at Dominican University, chats with Concordia Place teen program manager Gwyndolyn Siebert Moss and teen program instructor Rene Pineda about teaching kids to run a business via the Ruckus Entrepreneurs program, and checks in with Illinois Food Truck Association head Gabe Wiesen about the struggles to run a food truck business (like his very own Beavers Donuts) in the city of Chicago. Meanwhile, we celebrate the CTA testing non-fabric plastic seats on its buses and trains! This week's local music is provided by The Gold Web.

Direct download: otl-ep521-161008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #520: Hunting bobcats in IL, The Secret History of The Crucified, Getting personal with Therapy Sessions

Mike Stephen talks with Marc Ayers, Illinois State Director of The Humane Society of the United States about why Illinois' first bobcat hunting season in decades is a bad idea; checks in with former Homeroom program director Seth Vanek about his new venture hosting "Therapy Sessions" at the Hungry Brain; and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about Chicago's very own '70s protopunk band The Crucified for this week's "The Fall of Punk" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we tell the tale of eating, drinking, and being merry with our friend Lou Manfredini last night at the Hofbräuhaus Chicago; and Mike recaps breakfast with his parents after OTL's 10th anniversary show! This week's local music is provided by Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquestra.

Direct download: otl-ep520-161001.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #519 (10th Anniversary Edition): Inner-City Education, Preventing violence with ALSO, Potts and Pans Steelband

It's the Outside the Loop 10th Anniversary Show... live from the United Center in Chicago! [photos]

In this very special episode, Mike Stephen talks with Inner-City Education (ICE) Program founder and executive director Brad Erickson about providing educational and hockey opportunities for low-income kids in Chicago, catches up with ALSO (Alliance of Local Service Organizations) executive director Lori Crowder about working to end violence in the city and beyond, and chats with Potts & Pans Steelband members and executives Matt Potts and Anthony Jay Houston about the magic of the steel drums and vibraphone. Meanwhile, we reflect on Outside the Loop RADIO's 10th year of pod/broadcasting and how we got to where we are today. This week's live local music is provided by the aforementioned Potts & Pans Steelband.

 

 

Direct download: otl-ep519-160924.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #518: Suburban Unity Alliance, DIY Musician Conference, The Secret History of George and Gerry Armstrong

It's the Outside the Loop 10th Anniversary Show... live from the United Center in Chicago!

In this very special episode, Mike Stephen talks with Inner-City Education (ICE) Program founder and executive director Brad Erickson about providing educational and hockey opportunities for low-income kids in Chicago, catches up with ALSO (Alliance of Local Service Organizations) executive director Lori Crowder about working to end violence in the city and beyond, and chats with Potts & Pans Steelband members and executives Matt Potts and Anthony Jay Houston about the magic of the steel drums and vibraphone. Meanwhile, we reflect on Outside the Loop RADIO's 10th year of pod/broadcasting and how we got to where we are today. This week's live local music is provided by the aforementioned Potts & Pans Steelband.

Direct download: otl-ep518-160917.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST

OTL #517: Building a better peace, Positive work in local education, Chicago Greeter

Mike Stephen talks with The Catholic University of America associate professor Maryann Cusimano Love about her Albertus Magnus Lecture at Dominican University about Building a Better Peace, catches up with Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep math and science teacher Alex Kmicikewycz about receiving a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant to Singapore, and chats with Choose Chicago manager of greeter services Katie Law about the Chicago Greeter program and how she's celebrating International Greeter Day this year. Meanwhile, we reveal the hottest new band to play the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival! This week's local music is provided by Pearls Mahone.

Direct download: otl-ep517-160910.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CST