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
OTL #519: Inner City Education, Preventing violence with ALSO, Potts and Pans Steelband

On the special 10th anniversary show,  Mike Stephen discusses providing educational and hockey opportunities for low-income kids in Chicago, learns about ALSO’s violence prevention programs, and jams to the live music of the Potts and Pans Steelband.

Direct download: otl-ep519-160924.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:22am CDT

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

Mike Stephen visits with Oak Park and River Forest High School special education teacher Anthony Clark about bringing people together around racial equity via the Suburban Unity Alliance, talks with CD Baby vice president of marketing Kevin Breuner about the DIY Musician Conference coming to Chicago the weekend of September 30, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about Chicago's first family of folk George & Gerry Armstrong for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we reset Outside the Loop RADIO's mission of being "Chicago's Almost Above-Ground Audio Magazine" and announce our 10th anniversary remote next week at the United Center! This week's local music is provided by 13-Monsters.

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

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 CDT

OTL #516: Is Riot Fest a good thing?, More government transparency hurdles, The Secret History of Hamid Drake

Mike Stephen talks with Concerned Citizens of Riot Fest in Douglas Park co-founder Sharaya Tindal about her organization's concerns about the annual music festival in their neighborhood, checks in with Chicago Justice Project executive director Tracy Siska about filing suit against the Chicago Emergency Management and Communications office for more government transparency, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about world-renowned drummer Hamid Drake for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we discuss real estate prices around CTA stops. This week's local music is provided by Law of Keanu.

Direct download: otl-ep516-160903.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #515: Back taxes for Chicago music venues?, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Visiting Studio Gang's rooftop garden

Mike Stephen talks with freelance reporter Lee V. Gaines about Cook County attempting to define "fine art" while going after small venues for supposed back amusement taxes, chats with Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project executive director Dave Benjamin about how his organization is working to prevent drownings in Lake Michigan through education, and stops by a landmark building in Chicago to chat with Studio Gang model shop co-workers Schuyler Smith and Lydia Meyer about the wheat they're growing in their rooftop garden and where it ends up in the community. Meanwhile, via a listener tip, we run through some of the Chicago Transit Authority sounds featured on the Chicago "L".org website. This week's local music is provided by The FeverTones.

Direct download: otl-ep515-160827.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #514: The Secret History of Charley Organaire, Mick Dumke on the Chicago violence epidemic

Mike Stephen chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about reggae and ska harmonica innovator Charley Organaire for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music, and welcomes Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Mick Dumke to the studio to talk about his special report on Chicago's murder victims in first half of 2016 and addressing the crime problem at a community level. Meanwhile, we discuss how Cook County is going after small venues for back amusement taxes. This week's local music is provided by Yellōjaket.

Direct download: otl-ep514-160820.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #513: Guided Meditation VR, Another way to fund CPS, A local Syrian-American sings his heart out

Mike Stephen chats with Cubicle Ninjas CEO Josh Farkas about transporting yourself to exotic locations without leaving your home via the brand new Guided Meditation VR app, talks with Center for Tax and Budget Accountability executive director Ralph Martire about funding Chicago Public Schools via taxes on services, and checks in with local musician Bassel Almadani about his smooth funky tunes and his experiences as a Syrian-American artist. Meanwhile, we discuss what it's like running into a genuine "Chi-lebrity." This week's local music is provided by the aforementioned Bassel & The Supernaturals.

Direct download: otl-ep513-160813.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #512: Turning the Page Chicago, Saving the monarch butterfly, The Secret History of Sunshine Sequence

Mike Stephen talks with Turning the Page Chicago managing director Kylia Kummer about engaging families with public schools to ensure a high-quality public education, chats with Keller Science Action Center at the The Field Museum social science coordinator Alexis Winter about "A Monarch's View of the City" and the conservation efforts to save this important pollinator, and checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about 1960s all-girl garage band The Sunshine Sequence for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we discuss the fact that O'Hare International Airport is really stepping up its food game. This week's local music is provided by Jaime Rojo.

Direct download: otl-ep512-160806.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

Mike Stephen stops by Fort Knox Studios on the northwest side of Chicago to talk with Amor Montes de Oca about the arts business incubator 2112 and with Dan Mahoney about the massive studio that is changing the face of the local entertainment industry. He then chats with Chicago Free For All tour guide Lynn Neils about finding cool free stuff to do around the city... often at places where you wouldn't expect it. And finally, he checks in with Homegrown Arts and Music Festival organizer Aaron Williams about the 4th annual independent day-long celebration of music, art, and community in Lisle. Meanwhile, we share some red light camera ticket advice received from The Expired Meter blogger The Parking Ticket Geek. This week's local music is provided by Jackson Mud.

Direct download: otl-ep511-160730.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #510: Divvy bike equity, Legendary Dudas, The Secret History of Joe Daley

Mike Stephen talks with Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield about the Divvy bike sharing system investing in Chicago's west and south sides via their Divvy for Everyone outreach effort, chats with Batavia-born multimedia writer Kevin Jakubowski about creating the live-action Legendary Dudas kids television show for Nickelodeon, and checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about free jazz pioneer saxman Joe Daley for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we update OTL #503 with the news that the Chicago City Council ruled to protect our urban coyotes. This week's local music is provided by The Socialists.

Direct download: otl-ep510-160723.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #509: Chicago Monumental, The Chicago property tax makes some IL politicians richer, The North Branch Trail grows

Mike Stephen chats with local photographer Larry Broutman about Chicago Monumental, his new coffee table book tribute to the city's monuments; talks with Illinois Policy Institute writer Austin Berg about the political twists and turns in Chicago's property-tax hike; and checks in with Forest Preserve District of Cook County general superintendent Arnold Randall about nature, cycling, wildlife, and the North Branch Trail System extension. Meanwhile, we spread the word that Chicago street festivals are technically free! This week's local music is provided by The Black Oil Brothers.

Direct download: otl-ep509-160716.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #508: New tobacco laws, Preserving Chicago bungalows, The Secret History of T.L. Barrett

Mike Stephen talks with Illinois Retail Merchants Association vice president Tanya Triche about how changes in Chicago's tobacco-selling laws impact local businesses, chats with Historic Chicago Bungalow Association deputy director Gillian Wiescher about protecting and preserving an important part of the city's architecture and character, and checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about influential gospel funk musician Pastor T.L. Barrett for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we aspire to build a better future by simply listening to each other. This week's local music is provided by the ions.

Direct download: otl-ep508-160709.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #507: BookClub Chicago, The Chicago Sketch Seminar, Spoiler Alert: Fireworks are illegal in Chicago

Mike Stephen visits with BookClub Chicago co-owners Amanda Love and Kyra Termini at their Wicker Park studio to learn about loving literature and the art of making books, chats with Urban Sketchers Chicago co-administrator Wes Douglas to get a preview of the Chicago Sketch Seminar 2016 next weekend, and checks in with DNAinfo Chicago reporter Patty Wetli about which fireworks are legal in the city of Chicago. Meanwhile, we discuss the recent police stings in Chicago to catch drivers who don't yield to pedestrians. This week's local music is provided by CrashDive.

Direct download: otl-ep507-160702.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #506: City Council oversight from Project Six, Re-imagining city garages, The Secret History of Off Broadway

Mike Stephen talks with former Chicago Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan about Project Six, a new independent organization created to provide City Council oversight; chats with Future Firm architects and partners Ann Lui and Craig Reschke about their "Rebel Garages" plan to remake our city alleys into places of commerce and meeting spaces; and checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about power poppers Off Broadway for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we celebrate the new "towing bill of rights" recently passed by the Chicago City Council. This week's local music is provided by James Rawson.

Direct download: otl-ep506-160625.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #505: Chicago storyteller Jack Zimmerman, Visiting the Bike a Bee apiary

Mike Stephen welcomes local renaissance man and raconteur Jack Zimmerman to the studio to share Chicago tales and to preview his latest show FAMILY PHOTOS -- six stories of fathers, sons, barkeeps, and philosophers, and visits with Bike a Bee creator and head beekeeper Jana Kinsman at the apiary at Plant Chicago about starting a business and keeping honeybees in the city. Meanwhile, we discuss inequities in the dress code at an upscale pizza joint in ChicagoThis week's local music is provided by Jackie Islands.

Direct download: otl-ep505-160618.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #504: A journalist's Chicago taco journey, Anne Elizabeth Moore wins a house in Detroit, The Secret History of John Gilmore

Mike Stephen visits with Chicago Tribune writer Nick Kindelsperger at La Lagartija Taqueria about his monthlong taco-eating journey and why and how Chicago is a taco town, catches up with writer and cultural critic Anne Elizabeth Moore about her new book Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking and how she won a house Detroit via the Write A House program, and checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about Sun Ra saxophonist John Gilmore for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we update the House Bill 5902 (aka Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act) story from OTL #499, and we actually side with Mayor Rahm Emanuel... when WTTW's Paris Schutz broke the "off-the-record" journalism rule! This week's local music is provided by Early Autumn Station.

Direct download: otl-ep504-160611.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #503: Coyotes in Chicago, Wilson Underline project, Visiting the Near North Farmessori

Mike Stephen talks with Urban Coyote Research Program principal investigator Stanley Gehrt about wildlife ecology and the upswing of the Chicago coyote population, chats with Wilson L Public Space Committee co-chair Julianne Scherer about the proposed Wilson Underline plan to beautify CTA space in Uptown, and visits with The Farmessori urban farm coordinator Joe Phillips about teaching sustainability to students of the Near North Montessori School. Meanwhile, we play a voicemail from #1 OTL fan Mrs. Stephen... who was looking for her son at the Cubs game! This week's local music is provided by Gallery-81.

Direct download: otl-ep503-160604.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #502: Draining Chicago, Turning Asian carp into pet food, The Secret History of The Bare Facts

Mike Stephen talks with Richard Lanyon, former executive director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, about the history of Chicago's sewer system as detailed in the second book in his four-book series Draining Chicago: The Early City and the North Area; chats with BareItAll Petfoods co-founders Logan Honeycutt and Michael Cody about saving the environment by turning invasive Asian carp into dog treats; and checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about 1960s Indiana-based horn rockers The Bare Facts for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we discuss how the CTA is renting parking spaces under the Brown Line. This week's local music is provided by Walcot.

Direct download: otl-ep502-160528.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #501: Sister Donna Quinn on her life of activism, Run Domestic Violence Out of Town, Dina Bach performs live

Mike Stephen chats with activist nun Donna Quinn about fighting for gender equality as detailed in her new book Chicago Catholic Women: Its Role in Founding the Catholic Women's Movement, talks with Run Domestic Violence Out of Town marathon campaign coordinator Bethany Gomillion Thompson about how running the Chicago Marathon can benefit the fight against domestic violence, and welcomes local singer-songwriter Dina Bach back to the studio to play live for the hour and to tell us about her new EP Kiss Me Like That. Meanwhile, we discuss Melissa's Pal Crépes... the city's first officially licensed food cart.

Direct download: otl-ep501-160521.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

Mike Stephen chats with writer and foodie Ron Faiola about a unique aspect of Midwest culture as detailed in his Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round book, checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about obscure garage rockers Evening's Breezes for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music, and welcomes Culture_Content guru Brian Ferber to the studio to preview the Bloody Mary Fest taking place at the Logan Square Auditorium and to explain why the Bloody Mary is a perfect way to bring people together. Meanwhile, we play a clip of celebrity chef Alton Brown conducting an Italian Beef blind taste test... and we celebrate the 500th episode of Outside the Loop RADIO!

Direct download: otl-ep500-160514.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30am CDT

OTL #499: Protecting high school journalists, Oak Park's newest theater productions, The Mini Maker Faire preview

Mike Stephen talks with Illinois Journalism Education Association board member Stan Zoller about Illinois House Bill 5902 (aka the Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act) and how the proposed law would give some legal protections to high school students, visits with Surging Film & Theatrics artistic director Billy Surges about the Oak Park theater company's 2016 season (featuring walk-ons by Tracers actors Patrick McGrath and Tony Calkins), and checks in with Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire founder Christina Pei about the fifth annual celebration of DIY and all the amazing and innovative stuff we create. Meanwhile, we play yet another voicemail from #1 OTL (and Lou Manfredini) fan Mrs. Stephen! This week's local music is provided by THEDEADWOODS.

Direct download: otl-ep499-160507.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:30am CDT

OTL #498: My Comic Grader app, The fight for paid sick days, The Secret History of

Mike Stephen chats with MyComicGrader owner/creator Mike Sukow and head of social media Josh Sukow about their new way to learn estimated values of your comic books, talks with Women Employed executive director and Working Families Task Force co-chair Anne Ladky about the fight for mandatory time off via the Earned Sick Time Chicago Coalition, and checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about prolific soul percussionist "Master" Henry Gibson for this week's edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we prepare to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Aloha movie billboard in Logan Square. This week's local music is provided by Kerosene Stars.

Direct download: otl-ep498-160430.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:30am CDT

Mike Stephen chats with Chicago Pen Show partner Paul Conterato about their mutual love of pens and the popularity of writing utensils, catches up with Chicago Writers Conference founder Mare Swallow about what to expect from this year's spectacular Bad Poetry Night event, and visits with jorsTAP Chicago artistic director and founder Kendra Jorstad about pushing the creative barriers in tap dancing and their new show Abstraction. Meanwhile, we discuss Mike's experience speaking at the NISPA (Northern Illinois Scholastic Press Association) Conference yesterday. This week's local music is provided by Ryland Foxx.

Direct download: otl-ep497-160423.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:30am CDT

OTL #496: Secret History of Detroit Junior, Where can I protest?, The Owls Seem What They Are Not perform live

Mike Stephen checks in with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about R&B-influenced pianist Detroit Junior for this week's "Post-Winter Blues" edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music; chats with Scrappers Film Group journalism producer Yana Kunichoff about Where Can I Protest?, the fourth episode of the "Rights Lab" web series that's screening at Comfort Station; and welcomes experimental rock band The Owls Seem What They Are Not (featuring OTL #463 musical guest Reade Wildman) to the studio to play live for the hour and to talk about their new record Whirl Around The Whirr Rider Riding A Whale Down a Waterfall. Meanwhile, we discuss the questionable legality of a political sign at a busy Chicago intersection.

Direct download: otl-ep496-160416.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:30am CDT

OTL #495: Chicagoland’s growing footprint, Taco Takedown Chicago, Equal Pay Day Chicago

Mike Stephen chats with Openlands president and CEO Jerry Adelmann about Chicagoland's open spaces in decline and what our area could look like in the future, checks in with The Takedown impresario Matt Timms about the upcoming 2nd Annual Chicago Taco Takedown at Lincoln Hall, and talks with Equal Pay Day Chicago chair Barbara Yong about efforts to finally eliminate the gender pay gap between men and women. Meanwhile, we discuss the fact that the city of Chicago is failing to warn its citizens about lead risks in tap waterThis week's local music is provided by The Peace Exchange co-founder and The Chicago International Youth Peace Movement founder Jessica Disu (aka FM Supreme).

Direct download: otl-ep495-160409.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:30am CDT