Whenever I hear some expression that includes the phrase “your dreams come true”, I always think of a Disney movie…and cringe a little. Maybe it’s because, after all these years on this planet, I have become somewhat cynical. Maybe I have had too many dreams that couldn’t possibly come true. Or maybe I just haven’t paid enough attention to the ones that have come true. There are literally too many blessings to count in my life…and today, I experienced another dream come true.
When I was growing up, the radio station that I listened to more than any other was WLS in Chicago. It was a clear-channel AM rocker that blasted top 40 hits from coast to coast. And they not only played the best music, but they also had the best on-air personalities…Tommy Edwards, Fred Winston, John “Records” Landekker, Jeff Davis, and the all-time best (in my opinion), Larry Lujack. Sure, every once in awhile we would switch over to WCFL, especially when Lujack jumped over to afternoons on CFL in the mid-70s’, but for the most part, every car radio was tuned to the Big 89. WLS was literally the reason I got into radio. I listened to the station from the time I could remember, and I always dreamed that one day my voice would be on WLS. It’s the equivalent of a young opera singer dreaming that someday they would be performing at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Even though I haven’t been in radio full-time for several years, I still do quite a bit of freelance voicework. One of my freelance clients is the Illinois Farm Bureau Radio Network, which is in the same building where I work. This afternoon, they wanted me to come down and cut a couple of commercials for them. As usual, I didn’t pay too much attention to the content, because with the Farm Bureau, just about every commercial I cut has to do with farm chemicals or seed or something like that. They just about always include the word “Monsanto” somewhere in the copy. Today was no exception…two commercials, one for Monsanto seed corn, and one for Monsanto soybeans. Then Al, who always records me, said, “We have one more for you…a 15 second political spot.” It was for some guy running for Cook County Assessor. The Farm Bureau was put in charge of recording it because the Cook County Farm Bureau was endorsing this particular candidate.
I read through it a couple of times because the copy was pretty heavy, but finally got it to 15 seconds. Then Al said a few words that made my ears perk up like a curious puppy…”This one’s going to run on ‘LS.” As soon as my brain could fully translate what he said, I responded, “You mean, WLS?” The answer was affirmative.
Now let’s put a couple of things into perspective. First of all, WLS is far from being the powerhouse it used to be. It adopted a talk format clear back in the early 80’s, and remains a talk station today. Since it’s on the AM dial, listenership has gone down steadily over the years. Anyone under 25 probably doesn’t even know that AM radio exists, and it’s doubtful that they go there just to listen to talk radio. But 890 still has a strong signal and, for a talk station, still has some pretty respectable numbers.
Also, it’s not like I’m pulling an airshift or anything. I’m on a 15 second radio ad for a political candidate that I’ve never heard of, and most listeners will probably tune it out mentally, if not physically.
But in the grand scheme of things, a dream came true. It’s one that I can scratch off the list. At some point, probably starting next week, my voice will be on The Big 89, WLS. It will be heard over the same radio frequency that has transmitted Dick Biondi, newsman Lyle Dean…and (gulp) Larry Lujack. For some reason, I keep picturing a 6-year-old kid on a farm outside of Rutland, Illinois listening to a white RCA Victor table radio and dreaming of one day being the voice that’s on the radio. I want him to know that it’s going to happen one day for real.
But maybe it’s better to just let him keep on dreaming.