Thursday, April 07, 2016

For the Kevheads

The Kevhead blog (at contacted me last week and asked if I would contribute an essay to their blog about what it was like working with Kevin Matthews. I said I'd be happy to. Below is my contribution...

Hey Kevheads,

Kevin Matthews and I started at the Loop the same week. They broke him in slowly, first letting him fill in on the Loop FM overnight show. I was a peon—working as an unpaid intern in the Loop promotion department. I met Kevin when Greg Solk brought him to a concert at the Hard Rock CafĂ© to see a group I can’t recall for the life of me. Suffice it to say, Kevin ended up being a bigger star than the group.

I worked pretty closely with Kevin for the next few years; initially as a worker in his manager’s office (he shared a manager with Steve & Garry for a few years). In that role, I attended virtually all of Kevin’s Comedy Jams—working backstage, procuring props (like the bladeless chainsaw Kevin liked to ram up his crotch during his set), shuffling comedians to and from the gigs, or whatever else was needed. Kevin also had me record a few voices for production bits he was creating during his stint in the 7-Midnight slot on the Loop AM.

By the next year Kevin was doing middays, and I was Steve & Garry’s producer. Every day as I prepped for Steve & Garry’s show, I had to make periodic visits to the air studio to get something during Kevin’s show, and he often asked me to go to the microphone and participate in whatever was going on at that moment.

The only proviso was that I wasn’t allowed to speak English. Seriously.

Kevin knew that I grew up in Germany, so he asked me to conduct every on-air segment with him in German. Of course, Kevin didn’t speak German, but Jimmy Shorts spoke it “fluently”. Jimmy would say some German-sounding gibberish, and I responded as if we were conducting a completely normal German conversation. This is when Kevin started referring to me as “Rick the German Boy”, a moniker that would follow me for the next fifteen years (including my years with John Landecker at a different radio station).

When I was given my own show (with Stan Lawrence called “Ebony & Ivory”), Kevin tried to convince me to do the whole show in German. I didn’t, of course, but we always did at least one German bit as an homage to Kevin. When the Loop started up a magazine called “Loop Scoop” and I was named one of the primary writers, one of my first interview subjects was Jimmy Shorts.

We did the interview in German.

People used to ask me what it was like talking to Jimmy face to face on the air: Was it weird seeing Kevin do the voice? I always gave the same answer to that question.

“I didn’t speak to Kevin. I spoke to Jim.”

And that’s a totally true statement.

If you like to see how Jim Shorts responded to this, click on the Kevhead blog and see for yourself. At least it's in English.