5 Questions with...FM News 101.1's Ed Curran

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5 Questions with...FM News 101.1's Ed Curran

CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

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 everyones favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, 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 weeks guesta Chicago broadcasting veteran whos been major presence on the local media scene since the late-70s believe it or notthis guy has done just about everything in the biz from hosting radio talk shows to being a TV weatherman (sorrymeteorologist!) but hes probably best known as being one the nations premier technology reportersplus - you can now hear him every weekday afternoon on the new FM News 101.1hes also one of the most likable media personalities aroundlets get to it already, its "5 Questions withED CURRAN!

BIO: Ed Curran has a varied background in broadcasting and is comfortable covering a news story, doing a talk show or forecasting the weather.A native Chicagoan, Eds entire career has been right here in his home town. Although hes done a wide range of stories for radio and TV, Eds specialties are science and technology. A meteorologist, hes been awarded the American Meteorological Societys Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) designation.

Ed is honored to be the afternoon drive news anchor on FM News 101.1, Chicagos exciting new station for news and information. He joined the station in July of 2011. Ed brings his long background of Chicago news and talk experience to WIQI, 101.1 FM, and more than 20 years of experience covering technology along with 15 years of weather expertise.

Eds technology reporting began while he was at WGN Radio, coining and trademarking the term Technogadgets. For more than two decades, hes covered the high-tech lifestyle beat and has been featured on television and radio stations nationwide. Eds humorous approach and unpredictable style make his segments entertaining for techno-wizards and the techno-clueless alike. Among his accomplishments at WGN Radio, Ed Curran was the first host to combine a live radio broadcast with an AOL chatroom. Digital lifestyle author Howard Rheingold, who wrote The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, called Ed a pioneer on the electronic frontier the hippest guy in radioland!

Along with many successful years in radio at WIND, WGN, WLS and WGCI, Ed has also been a versatile television broadcaster. His high-tech reports were seen on WGN-TVs Morning News, where he also filled in as weather forecaster. He later served as CNNs high-tech correspondent and joined NBC-owned station in Chicago as a meteorologist. In 2002, Ed joined the CBS-owned and operated station in Chicago, WBBM, as a meteorologist and tech reporter.

A lifelong Chicagoan, Ed graduated from Columbia College with a BA in Broadcast Communications. He earned a certificate in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University in 1996 and hes been awarded the American Meteorological Societys Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) seal. To earn the CBM, broadcasters must hold a degree in meteorology or equivalent from an accredited college or university, pass a rigorous written exam and have their on-air work reviewed to assess technical competence, informational value, explanatory value and communication skills.

Ed lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife Monica, daughter Jessica, son Jeff and their dogs, Ricky and Shelby.

1) CSNChicago.com: Ed, your 30 career in the Chicago media landscape and continuous fan following certainly speaks for itselfto use Sally Fields line from the Oscars: they like you, they really like you! Since this summer, fans can now hear you weekday afternoons on the new FM News 101.1. As a primary personality for the new all-news station, did you have to make any adjustments to your on-air style to fit the stations format and, a follow-up questiondo you see FM News 101.1 as a viable competitor to WBBM News Radio or as more of an alternative in your opinion?

Curran: Anyone who's listened in the past few weeks knows that FM News 101.1 is a great way to get a news update. Ten minutes of non-stop news at :00, :20 and :40 really sets us apart. It's a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, non-stop news station with outstanding local coverage.

When I joined the station in July, they were still building the physical newsroom. I'm surrounded by a group of passionate radio professionals who have literally built this station from the ground up! Chicago is a big place and there's room for more than one excellent all-news radio station. As for your question about adjusting my on-air style, I always say that the best thing you can do in this business is to just "be yourself." That's all I can ever be, a kid from the west side of Chicago who's been lucky to enjoy a broadcasting career right here at home.

2) CSNChicago.com: As everyones favorite Technogadgets guru, youre naturally very familiar with arguably THE hottest item on the market this holiday season: Apples iPhone 4S. To help out those consumers looking to plunk down at least 200 for this latest model of the revolutionary communications tool, give us your reasons why we should buy the 4Sandor your advice on why we should steer clear (at least for now) of this enticing purchase.

Curran: I've been an iPhone user from Day 1. Mine was the third one out the door at the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue. I gave CASH to two guys who were first in line. They went in to buy theirs and I nervously waited for them to come out with mine. So, I'm sold on the iPhone. I've covered technology since 1988 and it's one of the finest items I've laid my hands on. As for the iPhone 4S, I think it's a great item that I'd step up to without hesitation. The speed is improved, the antenna technology is better, the camera is improved and the video quality is amazing. But, I expect the iPhone 5 to be a huge step up - if you can wait. I think it'll have a lot of stuff that's on my iPhone wish list and it'll be cosmetically improved as well.

I'm still using an iPhone 3GS because it works better than the iPhone 4 with some custom built accessories I use for audio and video recording. I've been recording and editing on the iPhone since January of 2009. However, I'll move up to the 4S this week and the iPhone 5 when it appears.

3) CSNChicago.com: Speaking of Apple, the world lost the face of modern technology with the passing of Steve Jobs this past October. As you well know, Jobs was not only a tech genius, but a marketing genius as well. How much will the loss of his vision for the company affect Apples future in the short and long term?

Curran: I was doing a TV interview in the Apple store one day. I tried to stray a bit from what was planned and the store manager stopped me. They had to call Cupertino to get the OK. I was told by one staffer, "Ed, you have to understand, Apple is one man...and nobody wants to get his attention." Steve Jobs was a smart guy, a marketing whiz, and a genius when it came to knowing what people wanted. He was sick for a long time and I think he put the people and plans in place to carry Apple for quite some time. I've been using Apple machines since 1987. I have both platforms in the house, but I use my MacBook Pro 99.5 of the time.

4) CSNChicago.com: Youve been blogging extensively lately about the growing popularity of electric automobiles. We are a stubborn society that is just so used to filling up our cars at the pump, while maybe not truly knowing the financial benefits of owning an electric vehicle in the long run. Do you think the entire auto industry will realistically head in this direction one day?

Curran: I'm a car enthusiast and an electric car is a great choice for commuting. I recently spent some time driving a Nissan LEAF, which is 100 electric, did a radio piece and wrote about it in my test drive blog at http:fmnewschicago.comtestdrive. I also spent some time with a Chevy Volt and will report on it soon. I was impressed by both cars and look forward to driving the Ford Focus EV. There's something really wonderful about passing by gas stations in a zero emissions vehicle. You can plug into your garage and, while at work, I plug into the 240 volt public charger in the parking garage. The cool thing is that most of these public chargers are currently free because they're new. I even get a text message on my phone that tells me when the car finishes charging. With better battery technology, improved battery management, faster charging, longer range and a decrease in price, electric cars will be a great alternative. I also find natural gas a very interesting alternative as well. We have to embrace these alternates so we're not so dependent on foreign oil.Does this mean gas powered cars will disappear? Not anytime soon.

5) CSNChicago.com: Lets close with a sports-related question hereas a long-time Cubs fan and season ticket holder, are you optimistic about the future of the franchise now that Chairman Tom Ricketts has brought in a brilliant, young baseball mind a la Theo Epstein?

Curran: I started going to Wrigley Field in 1969...and what a year I picked to start. Since then, I've had my heart broken many times. I sat there the night of the Bartman ball and the night after for the Game 7 loss. All Tom Ricketts can do is bring in the best people to make magic happen. He's showing a commitment to that and I'm quite optimistic about the Cubs' future.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything youd like to promote Ed? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it

Curran: It's an exciting time for me. The Consumer Electronics Show is coming up in Las Vegas and I'll be there, for about the 20th year in a row! Follow me on Twitter (@edcurran) to learn about new technology as I roam the floor of CES. I'll be reporting on FM News 101.1 and posting at technogadgets.com as well. I'll begin with pre-CES coverage Jan. 9, 2012, so start following me on Twitter now!

Curran LINKS:

Official Ed Curran website

Ed Currans Technogadgets.com official site

FM News 101.1 Chicago website

Ed Curran on Facebook

Ed Curran on Twitter

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

The deadline for underclassmen to pull their names out of the NBA Draft passed on Wednesday at midnight.

There were a few surprises, and a handful of decisions had an effect on how the Bulls will go about next month's draft.

Staying in the draft

Caleb Swangian, PF, Purdue: The sophomore All-American surprised many by keeping his name in the draft. Swanigan actually tested the waters after his freshman season but returned to the Boilermakers in 2016. He averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 games, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors and was a National Player of the Year candidate. It's no secret the 6-foot-9 Swangian can score  - he had 15 games of 20 or more points - and showed some ability to shoot from deep, making nearly 45 percent of his 85 3-point attempts. Quickness and conditioning will be the real test for the 245-pound Swanigan, who has already lost significant weight since high school. Questions about his defense (he had just 27 steals and 36 blocks in two seasons) also stand out. With Nikola Mirotic's future in Chicago unknown, the Bulls could be in the market for depth at power forward. He wouldn't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14, but if he slides out of the first round he could be an option at No. 38.

D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan: After averaging just 6.1 minutes as a sophomore, Wilson burst onto the scene as a junior, averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes for the Wolverines. He did his best work during the postseason; during Michigan's Big Ten Championship run and Sweet 16 appearance, Wilson averaged 15.6 points on 54 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Standing 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Wilson leaves some to be desired on the defensive end but has the ability to play as a combo forward - he had a 3-inch growth spurt after high school. Like Swanigan, Wilson won't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14 but could be a second-round option. He'd give the Bulls a similar look to what Bobby Portis does with a little more versatility on the wing.

Going back to college

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: The NBA Draft's biggest mystery could have been a home-run selection for the Bulls in the first round. Alas, Diallo has decided to play a year under John Calipari at Kentucky and likely boost his draft stock. Having not played since December, where he played at a prep academy in Connecticut, so there wasn't much film of the 6-foot-5 leaper. Still, after Thon Maker went No. 10 to the Bucks last year there was thought that a team would take a gamble on a high-upside mystery.

Andrew Jones, PG, Texas: There was little surprise that Jones, a five-star recruit who put together a solid freshman season, returned. He's still a bit raw as a prospect despite having elite size (6-foot-4) and solid athleticism, and another year running the point with incoming five-star recruit Mo Bomba could really improve his draft stock. The Bulls clearly have a need at the point (less if Rajon Rondo returns) and if Jones had made the leap he likely would have been around at No. 38. Even still, Jones is a player to keep an eye on during next year's draft, assuming Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant don't make significant improvements.

Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan: There's a need on every NBA team for a stretch forward with 3-point potential. But those teams will have to wait at least another year after Wagner decided to return to Michigan for his junior season. Like Wilson, who kept his name in the draft, Wagner had an excellent postseason run for the Wolverines. That stretch included a 17-point effort against Minnesota and a career-high 26-point outing in a win over Louisville. He weighed in at just 231 pounds and only averaged 4.2 rebounds per game, so adding some strength to his game will help his draft prospect for next year. He could have been an option for the Bulls at No. 38.

White Sox: Jose Abreu's five-week tear filled with hard contact, fewer strikeouts

White Sox: Jose Abreu's five-week tear filled with hard contact, fewer strikeouts

Jose Abreu has made quite a turnaround from being a guy who was admittedly lost to bashing the ball like Abreu of old.

From April 19th on, Abreu has hit at another level, reminiscent of the performances he put on throughout an eye-opening 2014 campaign in which he was the unanimous American League rookie of the year winner. Over that stretch, Abreu has slashed at an absurd .347/.404/.677 clip with nine doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in 136 plate appearances.

Earlier this week, Abreu said the run is the product of trusting his tireless preparation.

"I struggled in the first few weeks of the season but I kept working," Abreu said through an interpreter. "Now I'm at this point where I feel very good and confident with my offense and things are going well for me. That's part of what you work for and if you work hard, you know the results will be there at the end of the day."

Two numbers that have improved significantly during Abreu's five-week tear are his average exit velocity and strikeout rate.

Abreu entered Wednesday 39th in the the majors with an average exit velocity of 90.5 mph this season, according to Baseball Savant.

But Abreu wasn't hitting the ball nearly as hard early this season, which was littered with weak contact. Abreu stumbled out of the gate with a .157 average, one extra-base hit and only five RBIs in his first 54 plate appearances. Through the first two weeks, Abreu's average exit velocity was 89.0 mph on 31 batted-ball events, which was slightly down from last season's 89.6 mph average and significantly down from 2015, when he averaged 90.9 mph.

Since then, however, Abreu has seen a significant increase in hard contact. Over his last 92 batted-ball events, Abreu is averaging 92.6 mph, a total that would qualify for 15th in the majors this season. Included in that span is 35 balls hit 100 mph or more.

But Abreu's success isn't just related to how hard he has hit the ball. He's also made much better contact this season and is striking out less than ever. Abreu struck out 14 times in his first 54 plate appearances (25.9 percent). But since then, he has whiffed only 17 times in 136 plate appearances, good for a 12.5 percent strikeout rate.

His season K-rate of 16.3 percent, according to Fangraphs.com, is down from a career mark of 19.6 percent.

"You have started to see him heat up a little," manager Rick Renteria said earlier this week. "He's given us solid at-bats. He's in a good place right now."

Actually, it's a great place and one Abreu hasn't done with consistency since 2015. He once again looks like the hitting machine he was for most of his first two seasons and the final two months of 2016.

Abreu is on pace to hit 36 home runs this season, which would match his 2014 total. His current wRC+ of 138 is his highest since he finished 2014 at 167.

Last season, Abreu didn't hit his 10th home run until June 18. He hit his 11th homer on June 23 and then didn't hit another until August 4. That stretch raised myriad questions both inside the organization and externally about whether or not Abreu would return to prominence as a hitter. Perhaps inspired by the August arrival of his son, Dariel, Abreu finished 2016 with a flurry, hitting .340/.402/.572 with 14 home runs in his final 241 plate appearances.

General manager Rick Hahn said last September that the stretch was important for White Sox evaluators to see.

"It certainly makes you more confident as you see him over the last six weeks, projecting out that he's going to be that same player that he was for the first two years of his career," Hahn said. "Earlier, when he was scuffling, you looked at some of the things he was doing from his approach or some of the mechanical issues he might have been having and you felt confident he was going to be able to get back. But in all candor, you like seeing the performance match what you're projecting and we've certainly seen that over the last six weeks."

The White Sox offense has benefitted from Abreu's leap back into prominence. The team has averaged 4.53 runs per game this season and is 9th in the American League with 204 runs scored and 17th overall in the majors. But the increase in offense still hasn't helped the White Sox improve in the standings. While Abreu is glad to be on the roll he is, he'd prefer if his team is along for the ride.

"We're are passing through a tough moment, a rough stretch," Abreu said. "For me as I've always said the team is first. I want to thank God for how I've performed through this rough stretch. But it's not something makes me feel happy because we didn't win as many games as we wanted to win. It's tough."