[pullquote quote=”Mary Dixon sits me down in a comfy chair. I only manage to ask if the roasting spit will spin before the microphone is taken from me.” credit=”Lin Brehmer”]If you work in the trenches and keep your head down, you are less likely to catch a bullet, but after 20 years, you poke your head up and people say, “He’s been down in that hole for 20 years. I guess we better DO something.” For weeks clandestine machinations whirred in the offices of WXRT. Norm Winer said, “We’ll be doing a live broadcast for your 20th Anniversary and all you have to do is show up.”
Saturday, January 21st.
8:30am- Alarm goes off. I need to be at South Branch for the live broadcast about an hour before the noon show time. Jump in the shower to make myself beautiful. Throw on a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
Normally, my stomach would be inside out as I mentally checked off all the things I had promised to do for a live broadcast, but this was different. All I had to do was show up. And make some closing comments.
Trapped in my home watching the snow fall on Friday night, I had pieced together some gracious acknowledgements. At 9am I am unable to leave well enough alone. I pull out the laptop and start re-writing the whole thing. My comments are gathering mass like the frozen clouds of a Grand Teton avalanche.
I had a whole section on how much I loved watching the XRT kids grow up over those 20 years. Tom Marker’s daughter and son, Lucia and Daniel. Frank E. Lee’s two girls, Kara and Jane. Leslie Witt’s Kay and Kurt. Norm Winer and Wendy Rice’s triumvirate of cuteness. From snugglies and strollers to college classes and rock concerts. I have been so proud of all the XRT kids surviving their parents’ pernicious influences.
I start to run down all the general managers whose preternatural wisdom prevented them from replacing me. I want to talk about XRT’s original owner, Danny Lee, who kept a corner office at 4949 W. Belmont Ave. He may have been the owner, but I could walk into his office at any time and tell some jokes, trade some insults, and walk away. Alive. These are good memories, but I have to fillet my remarks down to the sole of attempted wit. Cut. Save As. Print. Fold. Pocket.
There was enough general anxiety by that time that my announcement to my family of our departure was, perhaps, strident. I had enough time to shovel snow off the sidewalk and clear the car for a quick getaway.
Continue Reading Lin Brehmer’s Diary
[photogallerylink id=114127 align=left]South Branch, the restaurant that graciously hosted our broadcast, was surrounded by ongoing construction. Were pneumatic drills on Monroe going to punctuate the stories told on the air? There are so many variables, so little time.
I walked into South Branch to hugs and high fives to staff members already in place. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see my nice brother John in an orange long-sleeved XRT shirt standing there. Blind-sided. No idea he would fly from Oregon for a two day weekend. Another tap on the shoulder. Evil brother David and his wife Megan from North Carolina. The conspiracy of surprise had been hatched weeks earlier. And whatever humiliations or triumphs were scheduled to follow meant a great day was now unforgettable.
It took me a while to wade through the invited guests and performers. The Waco Brothers were doing a sound check. I run into writer Robert Feder, who had just published an interview surrounding this event. All my former news anchors are there. Michelle Damico, Kathy Voltmer, and Susan Wiencek.
Longtime XRT supporter and Congressman Mike Quigley is there. Christopher Borelli from the Chicago Tribune is talking to my evil brother David and taking lots of notes. Uh-oh.
I talk to air staff and sales staff and some of my favorite clients. Some close friends. Lola, aged 4, gives me a homemade card and a Pez dispenser. Andy Cirzan from Jam thoughtfully puts together a gift package from my friends at The Spice House. Ravinia sends a bottle of Champagne.
These wonderful distractions lead to an introductory video cleverly shot while I drove a Volvo from Oak Park Volvo. Product placement. In the video, I tell some stories. First morning radio show. Sneaking into the Double Door to see The Rolling Stones. That sort of thing. And then, it’s show time.
Mary Dixon sits me down in a comfy chair. I only manage to ask if the roasting spit will spin before the microphone is taken from me. Hey, all you have to do, Brehmer, is show up.
Continue Reading Lin Brehmer’s Diary
Mary, Marty, and Terri introduce a woven tapestry of interviews, fake commercials, and Lin’s Bins that embellish the music they’ve chosen. Jason Thomas is the first DJ to provide a gracious answer to the question, “What is Lin Brehmer really like?”
What is Lin Brehmer really like?
We hear a good deal about my passion for the holy trinity: music, food, and baseball. There are far too many references to my invention, ‘eatin’ pants.’
Lin Brehmer on Food
We have a chance to hear an ad for my fake theater project: Lin Brehmer is Lee Elia.
XRT Morning Show — Lin Brehmer is Lee Elia
They play a portion of my favorite Lin’s Bin, the one where I answer the question, “Where does the time go?”
XRT Morning Show — Lin’s Bin
The Waco Brothers tear it up. They finish with their cover of “I Fought The Law.” I provide some impromptu dirty dancing.
And just like that, those two hours have slipped by and I am left on the stage in a designated comfy chair listening to Norm Winer describe someone I don’t recognize. Whoever this guy is, he sounds like a pretty good guy to know. Norm reads a proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Mayor has declared Saturday, January 21st Lin Brehmer Day. This is a wonderful honor although you might not want to receive it the day your two brothers have come to visit. They will put it in perspective for you.
I finally I am granted the privilege of holding a microphone. I try to distill 20 years of riotous fun into a few minutes. Fail. I bring the broadcast to a close with a quotation from the Jimmy Stewart film, Harvey.
Everyone bellies up to the bar for bottles of Sam Adams. I even see a shot or two of tequila bite the dust. Michele, who works for the city, lets me try on her construction helmet. The way things are going I might need it. Mike Flannery, who used to fill-in for Mary Dixon and who now works for Fox News Chicago, shows up to say hi. Lois Gates and Kevin Connelly from Misericordia are talking to former WBBM News Radio reporter Mary Frances Braigel. Mary Frances has brought two lovely television reporters who are flying under radar. It’s all quite convivial. For another three hours. Erin Carroll of South Branch is a perfect host and no one breaks anything.
Just before 5, I gather up my brothers and my wife. Actually, my wife gathers us up because we have places to go. Dinner reservations at Don Juan’s of Edison Park.
I issue my standard margarita rule. These Don Juan’s margaritas are strong. Maximum of two. Really more of a guideline than a rule. David orders a third. And you wonder why he’s evil? Grilled calamari, seafood stuffed jalapenos, guacamole, fried oysters in a chipotle cream sauce, baked clams casino, duck taquitos in a barbecue sauce. And then we order dinner. My brothers keep raising glasses to toast, “Lin Brehmer Day.” We are forever indebted to our friends at Don Juan’s for not calling the constables. I am home asleep in my leather recliner by midnight because after midnight it’s no longer Lin Brehmer Day in the city of Chicago.
XRT Morning Show — Lin’s Closing Remarks