On Thursday, I ride my bike to Greektown to do the Ken Davis Show, which is not a good idea. The biking part, I mean — love the Ken Davis show — cause by the time I get to the studio, I'm sweating like a horse....
Actually, it's not called the Ken Davis show. It's the Chicago Newsroom show. I just call it the Ken Davis show cause Ken's the guy who hosts it. Get it?
Of course, you know Ken — he's been around town even longer than I have, if that's possible. A former talk-show host at WBEZ, he's been hosting Chicago Newsroom on CAN TV for the last year or so.
It's a great show — everyone's so friendly. At the door, I'm met by a nice young woman who ushers me into the makeup room where they apply the pancake.
Oh, wait, wrong show. There is no makeup room, this being public access TV.
Instead, we go into the control room where they confiscate my cell phone.
Ken's got this thing about cell phones on his show. Probably cause he doesn't want them ringing while the show's being taped.
Confession time: I have a particularly strong affinity for my cell phone — I like to hold it at all times. This is not something I'm proud of — may need a therapist for this one.
More confession: Once I secretly kept my cell phone while I taped Ken's show. It's true. Had it in my pocket the whole time.
Please don't tell Ken....
On the show with me is Kate Grossman, who writes editorials for the Sun-Times. That's a pretty mainstream guest for Chicago Newsroom.
Unlike the other talk show hosts in Chicago, Ken's not afraid to bring on people from the fringes. Which is why he's had me on four times.
On one show, he even included George Schmidt — who edits Substance News and just might know more about the Chicago Public Schools than anyone else town. You'll hardly ever see George on mainstream TV cause, you know — you wouldn't want someone who actually knows something about the schools to be talking about them. At least, not on mainstream TV....
After confiscating our cell phones, they lead us to the set, cue the cameras and start the show. A balloon falls from the ceiling. Turns out, it's the first anniversary of Chicago Newsroom. Happy Birthday!
Don't worry, Ken says — the balloon's not filled with helium.
Kate and I blankly stare....
You know, Ken continues, cause of the world-wide helium shortage....
Outside, I'm like — oh, yes, the helium shortage. Ha, ha, ha....
Inside, I'm wondering: There's a world-wide shortage of helium? Who knew?
First question Ken asks me is about the TIFs. Thank goodness for TIFs. If it wasn't for TIFs, no one would ever have me on TV. Well, except for Ken, of course.
I launch into a learned recitation. By the time it's over, pretty much everyone in the control room is soundly sleeping.
Hey, TIF talk's not for everyone.
Then Ken asks Kate about the whole brouhaha over lengthening the school day.
Another confession. As nice as she is — and she's really, really nice — Kate and I don't see eye to eye on how Mayor Rahm's treating the public school teachers.
I'm like a little to the left of George Schmidt on these things.
Kate's from the two-handed school. Well, on one hand this, on the other hand that....
Which is big step up from the editorial writers over at the Tribune, whose attitude toward non-charter school public school teachers runs something like: Flog the fuckers!
When we're done talking about the schools, Ken asks — oh, just watch the show yourself.
After the taping, I hang around the control room with Ken and Greg Boozell, the show's producer, talking about this that and the other thing. Now, that's the good stuff. You wouldn't believe the outrageous shit we say when the camera's aren't running.
Anyway, congratulations on the anniversary, Ken. May there be many more to come....