The Lin Brehmer Interview

Today's interviewee would like to remind you that it's great to be alive. Late last month, 93.1 WXRT-FM  threw him a party to celebrate 20 years of rockin' morning broadcasts. He got his professional start as a DJ at Albany, NY's WQBK-FM in January 1977, where he worked for over seven and a half years. After that, he moved to XRT to work as Music Director for six years. During that time, FMQB named him as "Music Director of the Year" three of those years. After an interlude at Minneapolis, MN's KTCZ-FM, he rejoined XRT in 1991, eventually ending up as the morning host where he's been your best friend in the whole wide world ever since.

What's a group or style of music your listeners would be surprised to hear you're into?
We've gotten to know each other pretty well, the listeners and me.  They've heard me fall into raptures over the sound of bagpipes.  I've shared the mesmerizing musical mantra of John Fahey's American primitive guitar.  They may not know how much my brothers and I enjoy sitting on a porch together with David on banjo, John on mandolin, and yours truly on a 1972 Guild D-25 singing bluegrass and folk music.  You haven't lived until you've heard us butcher "The Johnson Boys."

What do you predict for the Cubs this season?
An enchanting season of stunted aspiration.

Who are some musicians you'd love to chat with but haven't had the chance to so far?
Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt.  I've never interviewed Bob Dylan, but I have the feeling it would not be much fun.

Who have been some of your toughest interviews?
Phone interviews are usually the worst.  I spoke with Lenny Kravitz on the phone once and I did not feel a love connection.  In those situations I always blame myself.  My interview last summer with Emmylou Harris went well, but it was tough because I like her so much.  I was in danger of fainting.

What are your favorite places in Chicagoland to see live music?
Metro, Park West, Old Town School, SPACE, Lincoln Hall, Schubas.  Small is usually best.

What was your favorite moment from your big 20th anniversary celebration?
When I walked into South Branch someone tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned around and my brother John had surprised me by flying in from Oregon.  While I was reacting to that, my other brother David came up behind me and tapped me on the other shoulder.  Only time in my life that anyone has pulled off the old surprise arrival on me.

Do you have time to listen to podcasts ever, and if so, which ones?
I don't even have time to listen to podcasts of my own Lin's Bins.

What's your process for listening to and keeping up with new music? Where and when do you listen and how do you access it? (IE is it sent to you, like homework?)
When I was the music director of WXRT in the 1980's, I would receive an unimaginable collection of recorded material to review.  I would listen from dawn to dusk and beyond.  These days I find it a little more difficult to keep up.  I listen in my office when I'm off the air.  I listen in my car when I'm not listening to the radio.  The challenge for me is finding time to listen to old favorites. I don't own an iPod.  Hate them.  I put CD's in CD players or records on turntables.

What have been some of your favorite Friday features?
Not by the Original Artist is a feature that gives me a chance to find some pretty weird stuff.  A whole day devoted to The Rolling Stones animates my soul.

Content or style aside, who are some of your favorite radio voices, past or present?
Jean Shepherd.  Alison Steele, the Nightbird. Ken Nordine. Dick Buckley. Karl Haas. Terri Hemmert.

What and where was the best restaurant meal you've enjoyed lately?
North Pond CafĂ©.  Chef Bruce Sherman works his magic in a beautiful setting.

Whether you're retiring or simply fade away in your sleep that following night, what do you think you'd like to be the last song you ever play on-air?
From the double album Live at CBGB's, The Tuff Darts "All For The Love of Rock and Roll" which features Robert Gordon on lead vocals.

Today, right at this moment, what do you love most about Chicago?
60 degree days at the end of January.  This is a tropical paradise.

How does it feel to be the 303rd person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?
Had I been the 304th, I would have been miserable.  303rd person interviewed is just perfect.

PS On an unrelated note, you may like to check out an interesting discussion on the AV Club today on the topic of "Profoundest piece of comedy." And in case you are one of there mere 20 million people still tuning in for American Idol, I am covering that.