Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Loop Files: Cara Carriveau


 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 Cara Carriveau. Cara started at the Loop during the station's second heyday during the 90s, doing traffic and news for Kevin Matthews show. She later was given her own DJ shift during the return to the black T-shirt Loop rock and roll era, and stayed there until she wrote a letter to Robert Feder in 2006 lamenting the unemployment of a few disc jockey greats. That wasn't appreciated by her bosses, and she was shown the door. Cara later re-emerged at several other stations on the dial. This is my chat with her for Chicago Radio Spotlight about her Loop days in 2007, shortly after the controversy.

Rick: Recently you were in the middle of a media controversy because of a letter you sent to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Feder lamenting the unemployment of great radio stars. The Loop fired you for writing that letter. What did you learn about yourself and/or the business from that experience?

Cara: I lamented the unemployment of radio personalities even more when I suddenly became one! The first thing I learned was how printed words can easily be misinterpreted. It's another reason I love radio, because being able to add inflection certainly helps convey your intended message much more clearly. I also learned that what I wrote couldn't be any more true. My letter and subsequent termination got national coverage and I received several hundred messages from radio listeners & non-listeners, friends, colleagues and even radio industry employees I've never met. The letter certainly struck a chord with many disenchanted radio listeners. The vast outpouring of support was touching and the opinions expressed to me could very well be priceless information for Program Directors who want to know what's going on inside peoples head's regarding their relationship to the voices they hear on the radio. And I learned that it's important not to define myself by my job. My family is so much more important to me than any gig and having the opportunity to spend more time with my young son has been a blessing...even if it wasn't by choice.

Rick: You have been a Chicago radio fixture for years now. Looking back on all those years, what are some of the moments that you remember most fondly?

Cara: It was a honor working with the legendary Jonathon Brandmeier. That was my radio dream since I first heard The Loop in 1986: Working there, middays after Brandmeier. Actually living that dream was awesome. I admire a lot of great radio personalities I have worked with over the years - but I'm not going to list any more names since I'll probably inadvertently miss somebody. Meeting John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page was a thrill of a lifetime for me since I am a huge Zep fan.

A very surreal moment occurred at a record store appearance a couple of years ago with Styx, when tons of people asked Tommy Shaw, JY and the rest of the band for their autograph and then asked me for mine...that was just plain weird! Speaking of Styx, Dennis DeYoung once sat in on the "Rock & Roll Diner" with me and I had the most amazing experience of being alone in a room with him while he sang "Come Sail Away" live on the air.

Also, becoming a fan of Chicago's Marty Casey on Rockstar INXS and eventually striking up a friendship with him and (his band) The Lovehammers is very cool. Best of all, I've truly enjoyed every job I have ever had which is not something a lot of people can say. I also have amazing listeners who have followed me around for a long time (some for decades) - every time I'm on the air I get several "not-so-Loyal-Loopers" checking in.

Rick: Not many people know that your brother runs the Rosemont Theater. There must have been a few perks over the years. What are some of the most memorable?

Cara: I took my daughter to see Roger Waters at The Rosemont Theater when she was just three years old. She was the only kid there, dancing in the isles to the amusement of everybody around us. I was backstage at a Sammy Hagar show and got to see the frightening sight of one of his "hot waitresses" from his concert take off her wig and makeup...it was an unbelievably scary transformation. My brother Ron also works on other big shows like Farm Aid - I've got lots of fond memories from several Farm Aids, like the time Roger Clinton (the former President's brother) told me a bunch of really funny dirty jokes backstage. I kept thinking, "your brother is the president - maybe you should watch your mouth!".

Next week: Carla Leonardo