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5 Questions with...97.1 FM The Drive's Bob Stroud

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5 Questions with...97.1 FM The Drive's Bob Stroud

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

December 9, 2009

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with a new weekly feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeka true pioneer in Chicagos storied rock n roll radio historyhes been a fixture on the local airwaves for thirty years and his Rock N Roll Roots program continues to entertain both old and new listeners to this dayhe can be heard weekdays from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM on WDRV 97.1 FM The Drivehere are 5 Questions withBOB STROUD!

BIO: Born in Kalamazoo, MI, Bob Stroud's first radio gig in Chicago was with WMET in 1979. Since then he has truly become a Chicago radio icon, and considered to be the most respected voice of rock & roll in the city.

An acknowledged music junkie, Stroud's non-radio musical past includes playing his grandmother's Perry Como 78's on her Victrola in 1957; buying his first four 45's in 1962; getting his first transistor radio in 1963; buying "Meet the Beatles" in 1964; and fronting an 11-piece rock and R&B band called Rockestra from 1990 2000. In late 2003 Bob was contacted by Cryan' Shames percussionist, Jim Pilster, aka, J.C. Hooke, and invited to become the new lead singer of this legendary Chicago band. When Bob bought his first Cryan' Shames record at 15, he never dreamed he'd join the band at 51.

His understated presentation combined with WDRV's focus on the music has resulted in WDRV being a top ranked station during midday's since the day WDRV launched. In fact, it was Bob's voice that introduced Chicagoan's to 97.1 FM The Drive on April 2, 2001, the day it launched.

In 1980, Stroud created the popular Rock & Roll Roots show. "Roots", as it is commonly referred to, spotlights different artists and groups from 1964 to the early 70's, and has become a radio staple for classic rock fans. It airs on WDRV-FM every Sunday from 7a-10a.

1) CSNChicago.com: Bob, calling you a rock n roll historian would be an understatement to say the least and your Rock N Roll Roots show (Sundays from 7:00-10:00 AM on WDRV) has been a Chicago institution for years. What is it about music from the 60s and 70s that has such a grip on our culture to this day?

Stroud: I don't know that it does, or if it's just gripping to those of us who lived through it in the first place. If you look at ratings, for example, The Drive doesn't have an overwhelming number of 18 to 34 year old listeners. Yet 45 to 64 year old listeners flock to the station. There are some elements of the era that do transcend the ages, like The Beatles. They'll never go out of style, they'll never go out of fashion because, as we like to say at The Drive, their music is timeless. Back to your original question, the music of those decades continues to grip the population who lived it because it's legitimately good music and it carries those oh so important memories that mean as much to us as the music does. Every generation will experience this phenomenon with the music they grew up loving.

2) CSNChicago.com: It was recently announced that The Who will be performing live at halftime of the Super Bowl in February. The bands legendary lead singer Roger Daltrey has been on a solo tour of late to keep his voice in tact for The Whos next project, but its also been reported that Daltrey has struggled a bit on his tour and that his brilliant voice is no where near what it once was. Do you think both he and partner Pete Townshend may be a bit concerned that Daltreys voice come Super Bowl Sunday may become an issue in their performance? Were talking the Super Bowl here with millions of old andpotentially new fans watching.

Stroud: Being a singer of some note myself, I can tell you first hand that vocal chords are a very temperamental instrument. They've got to be babied, coddled and taken care of as much, if not more than any other muscle in your system. It's got to be tough for Daltrey after singing with such intensity for this side of 50 years to come close to sounding like he did in his classic era. Nobody sounds exactly like they did in their 20's. That said, the truly great ones always rise to the occasion and I've got to believe that, one way or another, Daltrey will find a way to pull it off.

3) CSNChicago.com: Youve no doubt been to hundreds and hundreds of concerts in your lifetime. Certainly not an easy question here, but tell us the best concert you have ever seen?

Stroud: Impossibly tough question as I can't begin to remember all the concerts I've seen. Seems like I lived at the Park West in the '80's. In no particular order, here are a few that standout in my memory:

- Paul McCartney at the United Center circa '02: Great staging, spot on sound, and how often are you in the same room with true legends?

- My first Springsteen concert, Orlando, FL circa '77: Wow! I was just so pumped and he just so delivered!

- Roy Orbison at the Riviera circa '88: Huge fan and those songs just kill me. Watching the audience surge towards the stage at the end of every operatic finish and then have Orbison standing there with one hand on his hip soaking in the adulation will forever be imprinted in my mind.

- Raspberries at House of Blues circa '07: Never saw them first time around, but bought all their records. They sounded so good on this reunion tour it was sick. Absolutely sardine-packed house sweating to every last power-pop nugget.

- First Elvis Costello tour of the states with Nick Lowe and Mink Deville in Tampa, FL. circa '78: I was a ravenous fan of all three acts and to see them all on the same bill was a "died and gone to heaven" experience.

4) CSNChicago.com: There have been many debates over the years on whats the best band to ever come out of our fine city. Bands like Cheap Trick, Styx and, of course, Chicago immediately comes to mind. Who would be your personal pick?
Stroud: I have trouble with "best" and "favorite." "Best" is so subjective, so I've got to go with "favorite. I have many and being as old school as I am, I have to start with the 60's era bands that came out of Chicago. As a kid, I bought anything that came out of Chicago...Cryan' Shames, Buckinghams, Ides of March, New Colony Six, Shadows of Knight, American Breed, Mauds, Riddles, Flock, etc. Couldn't get enough of it. I thought the first couple of Chicago albums were revelatory. Some really ingenious stuff. And even though they were miles west of here, I'm a huge fan of Cheap Trick as well.

5) CSNChicago.com: Your popularity, along with The Drives overall popularity, continues to bring in big audiences to the station 247. Do you think thats a factor of a rising older demographic that is attracted to the music of their generation or, is it simply that the music stands the test of time no matter how young or old you may be?

Stroud: Well as I stated earlier, I think our popularity is mainly with the fans that lived the music the first time around. That said, we do receive a good percentage of e-mail from listeners who are teens and 20-somethings who are into the music because they recognize there is a level of musicianship and songwriting that doesn't exist in a lot of today's efforts. That and the fact that they were raised on it because of their parents can also certainly be a factor. And again, there is an element to much of it that does and will stand the test of time.

Weather it's the Beatles or Stones, Motown or Styx, a lot of this will never fade away.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: What is else going on Bob, anything you would like to promote? CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it

Stroud: I'm an animal lover. I give regularly to PAWS (www.paws.org), the no-kill shelter, and I encourage others to look into giving to the organization of their choice. Animals are so often the thread that holds our lives together. Think of them this holiday season when you've got a few extra bucks laying around.

Stroud LINKS:

WDRV 97.1 FM The DriveBob Stroud page

WDRV 97.1 FM The DriveRock N Roll Roots page

Bobs Rock n Roll Roots blog

Bobs Ten at 10 link on WDRV.com

Bobs One 45 at 1:45 link on WDRV.com

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

There hasn't been a more dynamic duo in the NHL so far this season than Kucherov and Stamkos, who have combined for 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) through 20 games, and sit first and second in the scoring race.

They've each recorded a point in every game except three — which coincidentally have been the same games — and they've lost all three of those contests. Kucherov has also scored a goal in 15 of 20 games this season. That's absurd when you consider he's scoring on a consistent basis; it's not like they're coming in spurts.

To put all that into perspective, he reached the 17-goal mark in his 36th game last year and still finished second in the league with 40 goals. He hit the 17-goal mark in 16 fewer games this season. How many can he realistically finish with? 60?

2. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Tampa Bay knows how dangerous Chicago's dynamic duo can be as well, as evidenced in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks' superstars know how to get up for a big game.

In 13 career regular-season games against the Lightning, Kane has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). Toews has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 14 games.

They're both producing at or above a point-per-game pace, and they're going to need more of that against this powerhouse Lightning team.

3. Something's gotta give.

Tampa Bay's offensive prowess is off the charts up and down the lineup. It has four lines that can come at you at waves, and a strong, active blue line led by potential Norris Trophy finalist Viktor Hedman and Calder Trophy candidate Mikhail Sergachev.

Although Chicago allows the fourth-most shots per game (34.0), it actually hasn't been bad at preventing goals — a large reason for that is Corey Crawford. 

The Lightning rank first in goals per game (3.95) and first in power play percentage (28.0) while the Blackhawks rank sixth in goals against per game (2.65) and four in penalty kill percentage (84.9).

Who's going to crack first?

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

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USA TODAY

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

The news on Tuesday wasn’t really any sort of surprise: Brian Urlacher being selected as a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Some of the immediate thoughts were, however, for one writer who covered Brian from the day he was drafted on through the unpleasant end of his 13-year career as a Bear.

Good thoughts, though. Definitely good.

The first was a flashback, to a Tuesday in late August 2000 when the ninth-overall pick of the draft, who’d been anointed the starting strong-side linebacker by coach Dick Jauron on draft day, was benched.

It happened up at Halas Hall when Urlacher all of a sudden wasn’t running with the 1’s. Rosie Colvin was in Urlacher’s spot with the starters and would be for a few games into the 2000 season. I caught up with Brian before he walked, in a daze, into Halas Hall after practice and asked about what I’d just seen.

"I'm unhappy with the way I'm playing and I'm sure they are, too," Urlacher said. "I don't think I've been playing very well so that's probably the cause for it right there. I just don't have any technique. I need to work on my technique, hands and feet mostly. I've got to get those down, figure out what I'm doing. I know the defense pretty good now, just don't know how to use my hands and feet."

Urlacher, an All-American safety at New Mexico but MVP of the Senior Bowl in his first game at middle linebacker, had been starting at strong side, over the tight end, because coaches considered it a simpler position for Urlacher to master. But he was not always correctly aligned before the snap, did not use his hands against blockers effectively and occasionally led with his head on tackles. His benching cost him the chance to be the first Bears rookie linebacker since Dick Butkus to start an Opening Day.

It also was the first time in his football life that Urlacher could remember being demoted.

"It's not a good feeling," he said. "I definitely don't like getting demoted but I know why I am. I just have to get better."

Coaches understood what they were really attempting, subsequently acknowledged privately that the SLB experiment was a mistake. While the strong-side slot may have been simpler than the other two principally because of coverage duties, "we're trying to force-feed the kid an elephant," then-defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

"So you see him gag and what do you do? You give him the Heimlich maneuver, you take some of it out of his mouth, try to chop it up into smaller pieces. He's going to devour it and be a great football player. But he wouldn't be if we choked him to death."

Urlacher didn’t choke and eventually became the starter, not outside, but at middle linebacker when Barry Minter was injured week two at Tampa Bay.

We sometimes don’t fully know the import or significance at the time we’re witnessing something. Urlacher stepping in at middle linebacker was not one of those times – you knew, watching him pick up four tackles in basically just the fourth quarter of a 41-0 blowout by the Bucs.

That was the beginning. Over the years came moments like Urlacher scooping up a Michael Vick fumble in the 2001 Atlanta game and going 90 yards with Vick giving chase but not catching him. Lots of those kinds of moments.

And then cutting to the ending, in 2013, when he and the organization came to an acrimonious parting after GM Phil Emery managed to alienate the face of the franchise both with the one-year contract offer and the way it was handled. Butkus had a nasty separation at the end of his Bears years, too, and Bill George finished his career as a Los Angeles Ram after creating the middle linebacker position as a Bear. Maybe that’s just how Bears and some of their linebackers wind up their relationships.

In any case, while there is no cheering in the pressbox, the hope here is that Brian goes into the Hall in a class with Ray Lewis in their first years of eligibility. Somehow that just seems like it all should close out for that confused kid from New Mexico who lost his first job out of college, but responded to that by becoming one of the all-time greats in his sport.