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 #744: Is our democracy healthy?, The Secret History of Alejandro Morales
Mike Stephen discusses the health of our democracy in the wake of recent events with Dr. Joel Ostrow, professor of political science and an expert in the rise and fall of democracies. Then we learn about the life of the late Alejandro Morales, a beloved local musician who recently passed away, from OTL contributor Steve Krakow (aka: Plastic Crimewave). And in the OTL Wrap Party, Mike and Producer Collin encourage us, the people, to get our act together when it comes to supporting our democracy. The local pandemic tunez come from Moss Grows.
OTL #743: Life as an undocumented immigrant, WXMR-FM serves Marengo, IL
Mike Stephen talks to Giselle Rodriguez, the co-founder of the Center for Immigrant Progress, about advocating for immigration reform locally and what life is like as an undocumented immigrant. Then we learn how community radio station WXMR-FM (94.3) serves Marengo, IL, from station president Tim Sebastian. And in the OTL Wrap Party, Mike and Producer Collin offer some takeaways from the show. The local pandemic tunez come from Possum Lungs.
OTL #742: Why did Chicago stop growing?, Saving our local venues, The Secret History of Kokomo Arnold
Mike Stephen discusses why the geography of Chicago stopped growing with Chicago Magazine contributor Ted McClelland, learns about efforts to save local performance venues with CIVL board member and venue owner Billy Helmkamp, and uncovers the history of 1930s bluesman Kokomo Arnold. The local pandemic tunez come from Alpha Colors.
OTL #741: Legal coach houses in Chicago, COVID-19 in IL prisons, The pandemic’s impact on housing
Mike Stephen learns about a new city ordinance legalizing coach houses with Chicago Cityscape founder & CEO Steven Vance, discusses the impact of COVID-19 in state prisons with Illinois Prison Project executive director Jennifer Soble, and explores the pandemic’s impact on housing with Geoff Smith of the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University. And in the OTL Wrap Party segment, Mike and Producer Collin reflect on the show and offer some takeaways. The local pandemic tunez come from Phillip Otto.
OTL #740: Fighting pollution on the southeast side, The Fooditor 33, The Secret History of Frank Garvey
Mike Stephen learns about the fight against pollution on the southeast side of Chicago with Peggy Salazar of the Southeast Environmental Task Force, gets the skinny on The Fooditor 33, a new local food guidebook that’s adapted for the pandemic, with author Mike Gebert, and discovers the Secret History of avant-garde musician Frank Garvey. And in the OTL Wrap Party segment, Mike and Producer Collin reflect on the show and give each other Christmas gifts. The local pandemic tunez come from Derek Clegg.
OTL #739: Chicago’s Chief Equity Officer, Anxiety in Youth, Teamwork Englewood
Mike Stephen talks to Chicago’s Chief Equity Officer, Candace Moore, about a new citywide initiative to help racial dialogue called Together We Heal, learns about the uptick in anxiety in youth with Dr. Orson Morrison of DePaul Family and Community Services, and gets the lowdown on the great work of Teamwork Englewood with program associate Lashawn Evans. And in the OTL Wrap Party segment, Mike and Producer Collin reflect on the show and plan to drink Malort hot toddies together. The local pandemic tunez come from Eggnog Queen.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great way to experience Chicago
Love listening to this show, it’s a great way to learn about one of the best cities in the world!
What a Blast
Truman's Ridge, Chicagoland's up and coming bluegrass band had a total blast perfoming on "Outside the Loop," on Chicago 720am radio on Dec. 30, 2017. It was an honor to play in front of the window in Tribune Tower. Mike Stephen, host, Collin Seaman, producer and Bob Ferguson, engineer are not only professionals in every sense of the word, but are also down-to-earth, sincere and extremely accommodating. The response to our band from the radio audience has been phenomenal and we can't wait to join "Outside the Loop" again. Thanks so much for the opportunity - bless you all in 2018!
Independent Chicago Podcast
Mike's been at this since 2006 and continues to feature great local stories, communites, and the music of Chicagoland. I find it to be one the best independent podcasts dedicated to reporting all things Chicago.