5 Questions with...K-HITS' Eddie Volkman

5 Questions with...K-HITS' Eddie Volkman
September 28, 2011, 3:15 pm
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CSN Chicago Sr. 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 radio veteran who has entertained millions of morning listeners for close to three decadesknown for his hilarious antics and cutting-edge comedy bits, hes back in action once again with his longtime on-air partner Joe JoBo Bohannon weekday mornings from 5:30-10:00 AM on the New 104.3 K-HITS FMone of the real good guys out there, here are 5 Questions withEDDIE VOLKMAN!

BIO: Chicago nativeradio veteran Eddie Volkman was raised in Glenview, IL and is the son of legendary Chicago TV meteorologist, Harry Volkman. Once Eddies early aspirations of a career as a pro baseball player faded, he was immediately drawn to the crazy world of broadcast media, eventually choosing radio over the many options of TV, production, advertising and acting. Radio has no doubt afforded Eddie to do all of these things.

After getting his big local radio break at WBBM-FM (B96) in 1986 hosting mornings, he was eventually teamed up with his long-time on-air partner Joe Bohannon two years later. It was off to the races after that as the wildly-popular morning duo of Eddie & JoBo dominated local morning radio for an unprecedented 22 years (1986-2008). Although the Eddie & JoBo brand was intact via various radio stints at other stations and commercial work following 08, Chicago radio listeners were thrilled to hear that the crazy antics of Eddie & JoBo were back in full force as they now host mornings from 5:30-10:00 AM on the New 104.3 FM K-Hits.

Eddie has been married to his wife Amber for 11 years, who recently delivered their first child in August, daughter Amethyst Star Volkman. He also has four children from two previous marriages, and, believe it or not, Eddie recently became a first-time grandfather this summer.

Eddie is also an insane workout freak as he plays basketball and softball weekly, typically with guys half his age. As they tell him, You dont stop playing because you get olderyou get older because you stop playing!

1) CSNChicago.com: Eddie, youre back in action once again where you belong: hosting morning radio in Chicago with your old pal JoBo. The longevity of your showon-air partnershipetc. just doesnt happen anymore on radio and probably wont happen again anytime soon. After close to 30 years together, how has the dynamic of your show changed and, a follow-up questionhow has your relationship with JoBo changed?

Volkman: Jobo and I both came from big families with multiple brothers. We learned early on in life that everything is a group decision and cooperation is a necessity. In that respect, we've been like brothers who give and take, and resolve our differences quickly and simply. We also both came from structured, respectful families with good work ethics--Jobo's father and other relatives were teachers, school superintendents and coaches. I would say the dynamic of our show is nearly identical today as it was the first day we were partnered in October of 1988.

I had been working morning drive on B96 (WBBM-FM) against the likes of Jonathan Brandmeier, Robert Murphy and Paul Barsky, and our Program Director, Buddy Scott, felt I needed a "kick-in-the-pants" and paired me with Jobo, who had been doing nights on the station. Jobo's energy and passion for radio and his feel for the psyche of the listener instantly complimented my playful and somewhat corny humor. We always tell people we each do what the other can't. Jobo claims he's not funny, but his quirky life and attitudes sometimes make us all laugh harder than any of my "punch lines". Whereas I'm probably a closet stand-up comedian, there's probably a Bill O'Reilly inside Jobo.

On a personal level, we've been friends off the air with little or no conflict as long as we've known each other. People compare us to an old married couple as far as how we playfully quabble and can nearly read each others' minds. I've said on the air many times, "Jobo has outlasted two-and-a-half wives. This, of course, goes over quite well with my current wife. When Jobo and I were fired from B96 in 1994 and took a job at WIOQ-FM in Philadelphia, we lived together in an apartment suite, although I flew back on weekends to see my then-wife and kids in Chicago. Upon returning to Chicago, I lived several months at Jobo's house in Freeport, IL while we waited to be rehired at CBS. And a few years back, we bought condos three floors apart in the same Lake Shore Drive building and cabbed to work together each morning.

Jobo has seen me through divorce and child custody turmoil, and I've been by his side through his drug and alcohol rehabilitation over ten years ago. He was Best Man at my wedding and gave what I consider the greatest toast-speech ever! About the only thing that has changed over the years is now when Jay Cutler gets sacked, we can swear about it through text messages instead of calling each other.

2) CSNChicago.com: Congrats again to you and your wife Amber on the recent birth of your daughter Amethystand another congrats to you on recently becoming a first-time grandfather as well! Wowa new dadAND a first-time grandfatherall within a couple of weeks of each other. How are you holding up with all of these big changes in your personal life?

Volkman: Unfortunately, I haven't been able to see my granddaughter, Haven Journee Marshall yet, as my daughter Carly lives in Los Angeles, but I'm planning a trip soon. Haven was born about three weeks before her "Aunt" Amethyst. I was actually rather shocked to learn my granddaughter's name, as it had been a possible name we had chosen if we had a boy. My father Harry's initials are HAV, for Harry Albert Volkman, and I thought HAVen would be a nice tribute as well as a cool name. Well, now we have one!

Many people questioned my becoming a father again, since my youngest child before Amethyst is my son Dallas who just turned 18 in August. Though Amber and I have been married nearly 12 years, we were in no hurry to have kids until it felt right, and now we're loving our little princess! I have to admit, I could probably be a bit more help with the new baby... okay, a LOT more help. I took two weeks of paternity leave and I try to do my share of feeding, diaper-changing and rocking, but first-time mom Amber tends to jump at the first middle-of-the-night whimper and beats me to the punch. I really don't even have to fake sleep! When I AM playing with, holding or rocking Amethyst, however, I have this almost granddad-like euphoria. I've been through this before and I don't have the first-time dad nervousness or worry. It all comes back to you, like riding a bike. Except a bike doesn't make deafening shrieks or need changing every hour.

The details of pregnancy, baby classes, birth, names, feeding, etc. have become a major part of our morning show, as what our bosses would term "character development. I don't know if there's a correlation, but our ratings for women in the 25-54 and 18-49 demographic are up to 2 in Chicago. Did I tell you the story about sterilizing bottles last night?

3) CSNChicago.com: Naturally, an interview with Eddie V. has to have a question about your legendary father, Harry. It goes without saying how much Chicago TV audiences loved and respected him for so many years as everyones favorite weatherman. What was the one bit of advice that Harry taught you about the media biz early on that you still hold onto today?

Volkman: I was the last of my father's three sons, and neither of the previous two had any broadcast aspirations as I eventually came to have. That's not to say that there wasn't a show-biz vibe in the family. The entire family played multiple musical instruments, sang in the church choir and participated in theater, musicals, etc. When I read about Bill Murray's family of jokesters around the dinner table, I'm reminded of the Volkman household.

I could tell my father took great pride when I began a radio career while still in college, and greater still when I arrived in Chicago after working in Austin, TX and San Francisco. My dad even did weather segments on my B96 morning show back in the late 80's. What could be greater?

The one thing my father said that has always stuck with me about my place in the radio and television business was, "Be confident enough in your own abilities that you know you will improve whatever station you go to." This was obviously a lesson he learned from his moves within the Chicago marketplace from WMAQ-TV to WBBM-TV to WGN-TV to WFLD-TV. I, of course, have been fortunate to have been mostly with the same station for so many years and even now work only a few feet from the old B96 studios; on the same floor, with the same bosses, the same elevators, the same restroom!

4) CSNChicago.com: As a huge sports fan and workout fanatic, give us a quick snapshot of your daily exercise routine?

Volkman: I tell people, before I was a jock...I was a jock. I played football, basketball and baseball in high school and walked-on at Illinois-Champaign my freshman year. Sports, for me, has always been a great outlet for daily life, my therapy, my relaxation. I also think anybody who has to work in a business environment with other people should have had to play some kind of team sport growing up. You can tell those who didn't, right?

Like a lot of guys, I've kept playing as many sports as possible as long as I can, and to this day, I run two solid hours of full-court basketball at least once a week. The hoops group has morphed over the years, but a recent check on my part has the average age of the guys down to about 27 years old. I played basketball several days a week throughout my 20's, 30's and even 40's, but eventually completely destroyed the cartilage in both knees. In the summer of 2007, I underwent double-knee replacement. I had studied different knee-replacement models and found that most doctors preferred the tried-and-true traditional "door-hinge" type of implant, but I searched until I found a doctor who used a newer, what I call "twist-o-flex" knee which has allowed me to run, jump (somewhat!) and otherwise resume playing as hard as I want.

The only way I can keep up is keeping in shape at the gym with my personal trainer, John Clark, who treats me like I'm 22. The birth of the baby has slowed my workout schedule, but normally I train with him 3 days a week, and he varies up the routine to hit all the muscle groups, as well as putting me through some grueling military-like cardio-push-up drills. Oh, and the kettle-bell stuff! Ouch! I told him I'd prefer Taco-Bell. He didn't laugh. John has won numerous Mixed Martial Arts titles, as well as a few body-building competitions. Once, when it was "Oblique Day," I asked him what the chances were I could look like him. He replied, "Oh, bleak."

5) CSNChicago.com: Music has also been a major love of your life as youve played records that touched many different genres over the years. For you personally, what was the bestand worstconcert youve ever seen in your life?

Volkman: I suppose we all romanticize about the past, and our favorite concert memories tend to be in our youthful years when we may have been somewhat pleasantly impaired. In my business, I've had the privilege, opportunity or even assignment to see so many shows it's nearly impossible to name the single best, but I can narrow it down.

The Rolling Stones in the early 80's at the Houston Astrodome with ZZ Top as the opening act ranks as high as anything. The energy and atmosphere was incredible! Also, a 1976 Electric Light Orchestra show in Tulsa, Oklahoma before lawsuits and safety measures prevented the incredible laser-light show (Have you seen what happens to a blue laser when reflected off a mirrored vibrating cello?)

More recently, the 1998 B96 Summer Bash at Joliet Raceway was an all-day array of musical acts including Ricky Martin, N'Sync, Beyonce with Destiny's Child and others while they were at the peak of their popularity. It wasn't so much the artists, rather a sell-out crowd of 60-thousand teens and 20-somethings pulsating to the music on a hot summer night was something to behold!

Worst concert? Hands-down decision. I mentioned some shows were almost "assignments. Jobo and I bought an entire box at the House of Blues for a mid-2000's "50 Cent" concert. We wanted to take the entire B96 air staff because 50 Cent was THE hot pop phenomenon at the time and the crowd was, interestingly, 30-ish and mostly white. Two shows were scheduled, an 8pm and a 10:30pm. Having an early wake-up time, we opted for the early show. Not surprisingly, the first show began late, as in just about 10pm, and lasted a total of about 20 minutes as the second show crowd was already gathering. The show itself consisted of multiple people onstage, mostly adorned with jewelry, hats, sunglasses and oversized shirts, prompting many in the crowd to ask, "Which one is 50 Cent?" The sound was a distorted mass of yelling and, as the Steve Harvey routine goes, "Ev'eybody got a microphone!"

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

Volkman: Well, I'm in a band! After Jobo and I left B96 in their cost-cutting moves, we were paid out of our contract for nearly a year, much the way Steve Dahl was. In the paid down time, my brother said, "Hey! While you're sitting on your butt getting paid, why don't you come and sing with our band?". .I jumped at the chance because, hey--What Rock'n'Roll DeeJay doesn't have that fantasy to actually BE the rock star of those songs we've played all our lives? So I joined Chef Dan and the Appetizers, or, C-DATA as we nickname it. Cheesy name? I suppose, but the band is fronted by Dan Coudreaut, the head chef and menu developer for McDonalds Corporation worldwide, and the band is comprised mostly of extremely musically talented McDonalds corporate employees. My brother, Jerry, who works alongside Dan, is our bass player. I dont play any instrumentsI split lead vocals with Dan and others.

Fittingly, our band raises money from our shows for Ronald McDonald House Charities, an amazing organization Im so proud to support. We take no pay personallywe all have day jobsbut rather contribute all money to RMHC. We have played shows all around Chicagoland as well as Santa Barbara, CA, Washington, D.C., and Orlando, FL. It's a ton of fun for me, especially now that most of our cover-band repertoire are songs that are played on K-HITS (I rehearse in-studio when the songs are playing!).

For booking information go to: https:www.facebook.compagesChef-Dan-and-the-Appetizers214024569065?ref=ts

Volkman LINKS:

Official 104-3 K-Hits Eddie & JoBo page:

Eddie Volkman on Facebook

Eddie Volkman on Twitter