Dahl gives his all: Unadulterated, uncensored, undressed

Robservations on the media beat:

  • For two hours Saturday night at the Park West, Steve Dahl delivered the goods. Before a full house, his Out of the Basement Tour proved to be part cabaret and part nostalgia-fest for fans of the legendary radio showman. Opening with a witty 30-minute monologue, Dahl bared more than his soul as he stripped to his spanx onstage while narrating a slide show of his life and career. (Afterward, James VanOsdol tweeted that Dahl’s “fearless, spontaneous, funny, and confident delivery [were] untouchable.” He was right.) Matching Dahl for raw honesty was Kevin Matthews, whose wicked riffs on autofellatio and his own struggle with multiple sclerosis were hilarious. Musical highlights included a soaring blues harp solo by Buzz Kilman. Dahl’s current podcast partner, guitarist Dag Juhlin of Poi Dog Pondering, elevated some of Dahl’s familiar compositions and parody songs to sweet new heights. Tami Sagher, a writer on How I Met Your Mother, wrote and performed in How I Met the Stever, a cute ensemble sketch that featured Juhlin, Matthews, Kilman, Frank Sennett and Brendan Greeley. Over the years, I saw Dahl perform drunk and wasted more times than I care to recall. Now I’ve seen him onstage sober. Memo to Steve: Sober is infinitely better.

  • The new owners of the Sun-Times are having second thoughts about their online pay wall. Last December, then-Sun-Times Media chairman and CEO Jeremy Halbreich announced plans to charge for access to content on suntimes.com and affiliated sites. (After the first 20 page views every 30 days, readers are required to pay $6.99 a month — or $77.87 a year — for continued access.) Now that Michael Ferro’s Wrapports LLC is running the show, Crain’s Chicago Business reported the company is reevaluating the pay model system. “We’re taking a look at it,” Jim Kirk, senior vice president and editor-in-chief, told me. “It hasn’t been marketed well. Really it’s a question of whether we continue that or look at something else.”

  • Fred Weintraub, executive producer and former station manager of Weigel Broadcasting Co., again is Chicago’s man in London this week for coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. As he did for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last year,  Weintraub has been filing multiple television and radio reports back home as Chicago’s Royal Watcher. Said Fred: “We don’t have a royal family in Chicago, so when the world turns its attention to London to cover what will clearly be a positive yet defining moment in the history of the world, I am here to tell Chicago what it all means.”

  • John “Byrd” Kempf, the nine-year veteran of classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9) who was forced out of the Merlin Media station last April, has landed as weekend and fill-in host at Hubbard Radio classic hits WDRV-FM (97.1). He’s substituting for Carla Leonardo, who is undergoing treatment for leukemia. “Byrd is a pro and will represent The Drive to Chicago elegantly,” senior vice president of programming Greg Solk and program director Patty Martin wrote in a memo. “Carla is making progress, and thanks to all of you [who] have reached out by phone or visited.”

  • One year after he launched SpeakingofRadio.com, Chicago’s preeminent radio historian Chuck Schaden reports that his website now features links to interviews with 200 stars of Radio’s Golden Age. He’s also expanded his Schaden Scrapbook galleries of personal memories and favorite things. “It's been a wonderful year for us and, we hope, for you, too,” Schaden told fans.

  • Rick Klein’s Museum of Classic Chicago Television reports the passing of former Chicago news anchor Kathy McFarland May 2 in North Fort Myers, Florida. She was 61. In addition to anchoring news updates on WFLD-Channel 32 in the early ’80s, McFarland worked as a morning news anchor at WLS-AM (890) in the ’70s.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)