Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Loop Files: Byrd


 I'm working on a special project this year about a certain radio station, so I've been going back into my files and pulling out some old interviews with former Loop colleagues and pals. I'll feature one a week here on the blog. This week, it's Byrd. Byrd came to the Loop in the days between the two Johnny B eras, arriving in 2003. He worked there until 2012. During that time he did mornings twice (once after the Morning Loop Guys left, once after Johnny B left again). He also worked middays, afternoons, and nights. I interviewed him for the first time in 2007.

Rick: Just looking at the list of cities and the stations you've worked at is pretty impressive--but you've been at the Loop now for a few years. Do you see Chicago as your final destination or are you just a wandering man?

Byrd: Time sure flies when you're having fun. As a kid, I grew up listening to the great radio in Chicago, dreaming that I might someday get the opportunity to work here. Chicago has the most intelligent and loyal radio audiences anywhere... and therefore the best radio in my opinion. People here are very appreciative and supportive of radio as an art form. So to answer your question, I am where I have always hoped and aspired to be... in Chicago and at the Loop, no less! I don't want to be anywhere else, so I would like to stay as long as the fine citizens of Chicago will have me.

Rick: You're the night guy now, but they've moved you around a little bit as far as day-parts, and you even did the morning show for a while there between the Morning Loop Guys departure and the arrival of Johnny B. You seem more like a night owl than an early riser to me. Am I right about that? And what are the pros and cons of each shift?

Byrd: I enjoy each equally. I enjoy doing mornings or afternoons because it plays to my humorous/comedic side, and I enjoy doing nights because it plays to my love of and knowledge of the music. In other words, I go both ways! (laughs) A true Gemini... two different personalities. Convenient and handy in this business!

Rick: You are quite an accomplished interviewer, especially when it comes to rock and rollers, including interviews with the likes of Eddie Vedder, Roger Waters, and Sammy Hagar. Are there any that you've enjoyed more than the others?

Byrd: Thank you Rick, that's very kind of you. Having Robert Plant tell me how much he enjoyed our conversation, and having Paul McCartney spontaneously sing for me stand out in my memory.  There have been many other highlights, too. Chatting with and getting to know members of the Rolling Stones, Guns n' Roses, The Who, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Stone Temple Pilots, Black Sabbath, Van Halen (photo: Byrd with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony), Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, Pearl Jam, Styx and well, you get the picture. Some very talented, wonderful and fascinating people.

I circled back to Byrd this week and asked him one last question. He is still on the air in Chicago, working down the dial a bit at 97.1FM, the Drive.

Rick: Looking back on it now, what are your fondest memories from your time at the Loop? 

Byrd: As a big Beatles fan/aficionado, being invited by the Beatles to do my show live from Abbey Road, studio 2 (where the Beatles AND Pink Floyd recorded all of their big stuff at) in London was a particular thrill. Being a part of one of/if not the most storied and iconic rock stations in North America for a decade, the Loop. Embrace of the Loop and Chicago radio audience. Very tough to acquire their endorsement. They've heard the best of the best! All the great colleagues, amazing guests and crazy/fun times, like going drinking with Brian Johnson of AC/DC, being invited to a private rehearsal of the surviving Doors members, being asked by Rush to jump onstage and surprise their concert attendees at their rescheduled concert with a gift Rush was giving each of one of them: a commemorative Rush baseball cap as a special thank you, being asked by Paul Stanley of KISS to be the voice of the movie trailer for his first ever solo concert film, experiencing and then getting to attend as a special guest the championship rallies of the White Sox, Blackhawks (and later the Cubs at the Drive!), MC-ing countless big rock concerts, all the live broadcasts, etc. All the great music, tv, film and comedy artists and sports figures that appeared on my show, and all the music artists that played live on my show. Like... pinch me! 

Next week: Cara Carriveau