Robservations: Radio legend Kevin Matthews turns music mogul

Kevin Matthews (Photo: Bob Neumann)

Robservations on the media beat:

Steve Cochran and Kevin Matthews

Kevin Matthews, one of Chicago radio's all-time greats, is one of the principals behind a new multimedia platform for music and performance artists. Now living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Matthews teamed up with Big Event Studios and partners Bob Neumann and Bob VanProyen to form Elevator a GoGo, a recording studio designed to "elevate the way the world discovers music." (Videos are produced in an empty freight elevator inside an old Grand Rapids warehouse.) Matthews will host a Valentine's Day Watch Party from Valentine, Texas, featuring live performances from six Texas-born musicians. The free event on Facebook starts at 4:45 p.m. Sunday. (Here is the link.) Matthews, 64, who enjoyed an 18-year run on Chicago radio (with alter ego Jim Shorts), was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008. Since then he's hosted a podcast and written a book about his triumphs and challenges, Broken Mary: A Journey of Hope. Matthews talks about his new venture and a whole lot more in a wide-ranging interview with Steve Cochran today on Live From My Office, Cochran's twice-weekly podcast series. (Here is the link.) "He's had a career that spans from middle school with Madonna to becoming a legend," Cochran said of Matthews. "And now he's making freight elevators cool."

Joe Rogan

The Joe Rogan Experience on Spotify is the most listened-to podcast in America, according to data released Tuesday by Edison Research. Podcast Consumer Tracking Report ranked the 50 most popular podcasts of 2020 by audience size. (Here is the link.) The survey of more than 10,000 podcast listeners determined who they are, what shows they listen to and what they buy, according to Edison Research senior vice president Tom Webster. The rest of the top 10, in order, are: The Daily; Crime Junkie; This American Life; My Favorite Murder; Stuff You Should Know; Office Ladies; Pod Save America; Planet Money; and Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!

Meghan Montemurro

Meghan Montemurro, who’s been covering the Philadelphia Phillies for The Athletic since 2018, has been hired as Chicago Cubs beat writer for the Chicago Tribune. “I’m looking forward to moving back home and working for the paper I grew up reading!” she tweeted. A native of Cary, Illinois, and graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Montemurro previously covered Chicago area teams as a stringer for the Associated Press and a sports writer for The Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.

Sandy Whiteley

There's life after television for Sandy Whiteley, who retired after almost 50 years in the business — including an award-winning run as director/producer for NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. In recent years he's turned his hobby of painting into a full-time passion. Check out his website for a sample of his art, which focuses on Native American and Southwestern themes. (Here is the link.) "My mind goes 24/7 thinking about current and future projects - some large, some small, in all mediums," says Whiteley. "It runs thru my veins and I love shaping my passion and watching where it takes me next."

Mark Napoleon

Mark Napoleon, longtime Chicago radio traffic reporter and manager for Shadow/Metro Traffic and Total Traffic and Weather Network, died Friday in Glenview. He was 61. Calling him "one of the nicest guys that I have ever known," Scott Childers wrote: "Mark Napoleon was not only a colleague, but also a good friend and a respected broadcaster. We had a great time not only playing radio, but doing the real thing! He loved this business, loved to laugh and loved his friends as well. . . . We all will miss him greatly." Napoleon, who lived with his wife Vicki in Wheeling, did not return to work after suffering a heart attack and stroke in 2012.

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Tanja Babich: Generations of men and women in Chicago media have the Medill School to thank for our foundation in journalism. I'll always be indebted to my teachers there.