Show cover of Outside the Loop RADIO

Outside the Loop RADIO

Outside the Loop RADIO is Chicago's Almost Above-Ground Audio Magazine. Founded as a podcast in September 2006 and picked up for broadcast by Chicago Sound Alliance WLUW 88.7-FM in March 2007, "OTL" now airs on Chicago's Very Own 50,000-watt heritage powerhouse station WGN Radio 720-AM. Storyteller and urbanologist Mike Stephen hosts this weekly program featuring fun segments and interviews with local newsmakers, artists, musicians, and others doing cool stuff around the greater Chicago area. The show covers topics stories that don't always get mainstream media attention... and it's all presented with a strong and independent Chicago slant. Show co-founder Andy Hermann has returned to produce Phase III of OTL Radio.


OTL #832: Assisting with your neighbor’s utility bill, The Push Puppets’ new music, The Secret History of Erwin Helfer
Mike Stephen learns about Community Utility’s neighborly efforts to bring us together through mutual aid from co-founder Anson Tong, previews Palatine’s The Push Puppets’ new music with frontman Erich Specht, and discovers the Secret History of Chicago blues pianist Erwin Helfer.
36:07 09/24/2022
OTL #831: Student gun violence trauma, Disparities in school discipline, Illinois Muslims assets and needs
Mike Stephen discusses the residual trauma for students impacted by gun violence with Mauricio Pena of Chalkbeat Chicago, learns about the disparities in school discipline in the northwest suburbs from Jennifer Richards of the Chicago Tribune, and explores a new report detailing Illinois Muslims assets and needs with Dr. Joe Hoereth, director of the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement at UIC.
36:55 09/19/2022
OTL #830: Local immigrant assistance, The Secret History of The Kelderons
Mike Stephen talks to Cristina De La Rosa, executive director of Chicago’s Erie Neighborhood House, and learns how that organization helps immigrants arriving to Chicago and then discovers the Secret History of the 1970s Chicago soul group The Kelderons.
32:03 09/10/2022
OTL #829: Celebrating local labor history, Teflon Softball, Andy Pratt’s new music
Mike Stephen discusses the importance of learning labor history with Larry Spivack, president of the Illinois Labor History Society, learns how Teflon Softball provides a positive impact in Pullman with founder India Steward, and talks to local singer-songwriter Andy Pratt about his new music.
39:07 09/03/2022
OTL #828: Coaching Chicago’s creative community, Beekeeping in Chicago, The Secret History of Richard Davis
Sharon Woodhouse, discusses the importance of local beekeeping with Chicago Honey Co-Op founder and farm manager Michael Thompson, and discovers the Secret History of local bass phenom Richard Davis.
38:36 08/27/2022
OTL #827: Guaranteed income pilot program, Pre-trial assistance, Boosting rural arts & culture in Illinois
Mike Stephen learns about Chicago’s new guaranteed income pilot program from Sky Patterson, reporting fellow at City Bureau, discusses pre-trial assistance with Cliff Nellis of the Lawndale Christian Legal Center, and explores how Illinois Humanities works to boost arts and culture across the state with Matt Meacham, program manager for statewide engagement.
35:08 08/20/2022
OTL #826: Chicago’s education funding, Bourbon County Stout preview, The Secret History of Young-Holt Unlimited
Mike Stephen discusses this year’s education funding for Chicago Public Schools with Becky Vevea, bureau chief of Chalkbeat Chicago, gets a preview of the 2022 Bourbon County Stout line with Chicago Tribune reporter Josh Noel, and discovers the Secret History of funky jazz dudes Young-Holt Unlimited.
39:16 08/13/2022
OTL #825: Sailing the Race to Mackinac, Joe Policastro’s new music, Celebrating Black art
Mike Stephen learns what it’s like sailing the Race to Mackinac with Pam Jacknow, who was a sailor on one of the winning boats this year, dives into the Joe Policastro Trio’s new album, and discusses the importance of Black art in Chicago and beyond with Patricia Andrews-Keenan, founder of Pigment International.
37:36 08/06/2022
OTL #824: What is the future of local journalism?, The Secret History of Paradoxx
Mike Stephen discusses the future of local journalism with Tim Franklin, director of the Medill Local News Initiative, and then discovers the Secret History of the 1980s metal band Paradoxx. Let's also not forget to give some love to the Thompson Center Food Court.
35:02 07/30/2022
OTL #823: Semi-pro football impacts Chicago, Appraising trading cards online, Funding the fight against homelessness
Mike Stephen visits Columbus Park and sits down with Tom Robinson, the head coach of the Chicago Falcons semi-pro football team, learns about a new local business called Ludex that appraises trading cards through your phone from co-founders Brian Ludden and Heather Denniston, and gets an update on funding the fight against homelessness in Chicago from grassroots leader Harry Williams.
37:42 07/23/2022
OTL #822: Movie magic in Chicago, Walcot’s new music, The Secret History of Paul Cotton
Mike Stephen visits the set of an upcoming local indie film called Twain: Cancelled, learns about new music from Asher George and his project known as Walcot, and discovers the Secret History of country-rocker from Illinois Paul Cotton.
37:44 07/16/2022
OTL #821: Does CPS value school librarians?, Unreliable crime data
Schools and then discusses the impact of the lack of crime data reported to the FBI with Weihua Li of The Marshall Project.
36:28 07/09/2022
OTL #820: Diversity in Chicago theater, The Secret History of Stations
Mike Stephen learns about Perception Theatre’s work to include more diverse voices in the local theater community from founder and artistic director Myesha Tiara and then discovers the Secret History of 1970s & 80s postpunk rockers Stations.
38:05 07/02/2022
OTL #819: Are Chicago students struggling?, The Chicago Tool Library expands, “Tagged”
Mike Stephen discusses the preliminary results of Chicago student test data with Mila Koumpilova of Chalkbeat Chicago, gets the lowdown on the expansion of the Chicago Tool Library from co-founder Tessa Vierk, and learns about a new locally-produced film featuring Chicago street artists called Tagged from writer and executive producer Grant Troyer.
37:37 06/25/2022
OTL #818: Chicago’s broken housing promises, Al Rose’s new music, The Secret History of Barbara Livsey
Mike Stephen discusses Chicago’s affordable housing issues with ProPublica reporter Mick Dumke, talks to local musician Al Rose about his new album, and discovers the mysterious Secret History of R&B singer Barbara Livsey.
39:48 06/18/2022
OTL #817: Organizing for economic and social justice, The Legacy Project educates about LGBTQ history
Mike Stephen gets an update on organizing for a more fair Chicago, especially with regard to TIF districts, with civic educator and co-founder of The CivicLab Tom Tresser and discusses the important educational work of The Legacy Project with its founder and executive director Victor Salvo.
37:38 06/11/2022
OTL #816: The Old Town School of Folk Music teachers organize, The Secret History of Denny Zeitlin
Mike Stephen talks to local musician and music teacher Bill Brickey about why the Old Town School of Folk Music teachers have unionized and discovers the Secret History of cosmic jazz prodigy Denny Zeitlin.
35:33 06/04/2022
OTL #815: Art rejuvenates neighborhoods, Police reform recommendations, Mark Lofgren’s new music
Rejuvenation Project, discusses recommendations for local police reform with Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project, and talks with local musician Mark Lofgren about his new music.
39:59 05/28/2022
OTL #814: Living conditions in Illinois prisons, The Secret History of The Devil Bell Hippies
Mike Stephen discusses a plan to address inhumane living conditions in Illinois correctional facilities with Jennifer Vollen-Katz, the executive director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, and learns the story of the Chicago avant-garde band The Devil Bell Hippies.
34:23 05/21/2022
OTL #813: The original Chicago canned water, Chicago Bird Collision Monitors
Mike Stephen learns about the first company to produce canned water in Chicago called Open Water from CEO and co-founder Nicole Doucet and then discusses the rise in local bird migration this week and the dangers for those birds with Annette Prince, the director of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. Also, check out Mike on the latest edition of the Album Rebrews podcast!
35:55 05/14/2022
OTL #812: Neighborhood rail issues, Girls on the Run empowers, The Secret History of The Three Souls
Mike Stephen learns about local neighborhood rail issues from Streetsblog Chicago reporter Igor Studenkov, discusses empowering young girls with Girls on the Run executive director Jill Eid, and discovers the Secret History of the local tavern jazz group the Three Souls.
37:47 05/07/2022
OTL #811: Education legislation update, Black history in the North Shore community
Mike Stephen gets an update on education legislation in Springfield from Chalkbeat Chicago state education reporter Samantha Smylie and learns about Shorefront, an organization working to tell the story of Black history in the North Shore community, from its founder and executive director Dino Robinson. Also, it's pothole season in Chicago!
35:24 04/30/2022
OTL #810: Chicago Covenants Project, Local power pop jams, The Secret History of Apocalypse
Mike Stephen learns about the history of racial covenants in Chicago from Virginia Tech history professor LaDale Winling, talks power pop with William Giricz, the vocalist of the Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, and discovers the Secret History of local prog-rockers Apocalypse.
42:45 04/23/2022
OTL #809: Chicago In Maps, The El Milagro workers organize
Mike Stephen learns about the importance of current, historical, and thematic maps of Chicago from local historian and geographer Dennis McClendon and then discusses the effects of the El Milagro Tortilla factory workers' organizing efforts with Jose Uribe, the Workplace Justice Campaigns Organizer for Arise Chicago.
36:05 04/16/2022
OTL #808: International Pop Overthrow Fest, The Secret History of Byther Smith
Mike Stephen previews the upcoming International Pop Overthrow Festival in Chicago with founder and CEO David Bash and discovers the Secret History of blues guitarist Byther Smith.
36:31 04/09/2022