At ‘XRT we still hear from people who tell us they’ve been listening since we were a part-time, underground station. Tom says he’s been listening longer than that. His first personal contact with ‘XRT was when he met John Platt. He invited Tom to visit him while on the air at WGLD, a one-time progressive rock station based in Oak Park. Tom thought, “cool job.” John went on to be one of the founders of the rock programming on ‘XRT, our first program director, and one of the stations first DJs. Tom became a DJ and worked in Hastings, Michigan and Beaufort, South Carolina for a couple of years. John was a nice guy and all, and helped Tom land his job at WJKL, “The Fox”, in Elgin where Tom worked from 1975 to 1980, but he never hired Tom at work at ‘XRT. Lucky for Tom, soon after Norm Winer became ‘XRT’s program director in 1979 Tom was one of his first hires and Norm remains Tom’s favorite program director of all time.
A mid 80s trip to Memphis and New Orleans helped to stoke Tom’s interest in the Blues just as the position of host for ‘XRT’s Blues Breakers became open. Tom has now been hosting the show for over 25 years, is the mainstage emcee of the Chicago Blues Festival each summer, has talked about the blues on radio stations in Sweden, Japan, China and Australia and is the recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award from the Blues Foundation, in Memphis.
So, we know Tom loves the blues, but what’s Tom’s favorite kind of music? “Live music,” he says. “And the smaller venues are the best.” Second favorite kind of music? “New music. I love to hear the old favorites and some of the best songs take some time to grow on you, but there’s nothing like hearing a song for the first or second time. I also love to hear old music for the first time. It can even be a song from the forties or fifties, but when I hear it for the first time it counts as new to me. This is part of why I like Blues Breakers so much; I’m always finding old songs I’ve never heard before and Chicago’s blues clubs are some of the best places to hear live music. And it’s why I love doing New Noise at Nine on ‘XRT on Thursday nights.”
Tom’s currently working the evening shift at ‘XRT. He also does vacation relief for the other DJs and, seeing as so many of the ‘XRT staff are such longtime veterans of the station, they’ve earned a lot of vacation time, so you might hear Tom at just about any hour.
You can reach Tom by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Allen Toussaint at S.P.A.C.E.
- Mavis Staples at The Hideout
- Ivan Neville Neville and Dumpstaphunk at Martyr’s
- Billy Branch at Artis’
- Alejandro Escovedo at Old Town School.
- James Brown at Park West
- Etta James at House of Blues
- Sonny Landreth at Sutton’s Bay Blues Festival
- Buddy Guy Buddy Guy’s Legends
- Dave Alvin Fitzgerald’s
- Muddy Waters Harry Hopes
- Bob Marley Auditorium Theater
- Los Lobos Biddy Mulliagan’s
- Rolling Stones International Amphitheater
- Luther Allison Chicago Blues Festival
- Lyle Lovett Chicago Theater
- Iguanas Mid City Lanes
- Patti Smith Group Riviera
- Iggy Pop Metro
- Specials B’ginnings
- Tom Waits Ivanhoe
- Bonnie Raitt Mill Run
- Ramones Haymakers
- Bruce Springsteen Uptown