Kevin Matthews (radio personality)

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Kevin Menear (born March 12, 1956), known professionally as Kevin Matthews, is a Midwest United States radio personality, best known for his 12-year association with WLUP-FM "The Loop" and its one-time sister-station, WMVP "AM 1000."[1] Matthews became popular for his off-kilter take on various topics. He's known for doing voices, including that of his irascible sidekick, sportscaster Jim Shorts. Many listeners in the early days never caught on to the fact that Shorts was a character. One of his famous bits was encouraging his listeners to yell out "Free Bird!" at various concerts, whether it was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or Barry Manilow.[citation needed] One infamous incidence of this was a heckler shouting "Free Bird!" as well as the names of Matthews and Shorts at a Bill Hicks show, prompting Hicks' well-known "Hitler had the right idea" rant.[2]

Professional career[edit]

During the summer of 1986, KWK-FM brought Matthews to St. Louis from WLAV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but he was fired the next year. He was hired by The Loop in March, 1987 as the weekday overnight and Sunday host. A month later, AM 1000 started simulcasting The Loop, including Matthews' show. Soon thereafter, Matthews' show began broadcasting exclusively from the AM dial between Jonathon Brandmeier in the morning and Steve & Garry in the afternoon. During this era, Matthews made occasional comedy-concert appearances in the Chicago area, generally performing blue. He also promoted a line of clothing featuring himself and his characters. His fans were referred to as "Kev-Heads." During this phase of his career he looked remarkably like the title character in Willow played by Warwick Davis. Callers were fond of telling Matthews how much they enjoyed his work in Willow.

In September, 1993, just five months after renewing his contract to continue middays on AM 1000, Matthews moved back to The Loop as morning man when it switched from album rock to talk, and AM 1000 flipped to an all-sports format. In September 1996, he returned to AM 1000 as midday host after its failed first attempt at sports-talk. In October 1997, he shifted from middays to afternoons, going up against former colleague Steve Dahl at WCKG.

Eleven months later, Matthews ended his 11-year association with AM 1000 and its former sister-station, WLUP-FM, and almost immediately signed on to do mornings at WXCD (now WLS-FM). He lasted there until August 22, 2001 when he was let go when the station's format changed from alternative music to 80's music. After 7 months, Matthews joined WCKG in April 2002 as the midday host. [3] Matthews remained at WCKG until March 2005 when talks regarding contract renewal broke down and his contract expired.[4]

Matthews spent the summer of 2005 doing weekly thirty minute internet broadcasts, during which he proclaimed Chicago radio "dead". On September 8, 2005, it was announced that he would be returning to Grand Rapids and WLAV as morning show host and would also be serving as Director of Program Development for Citadel Broadcasting.[5] However, after 5 years, the stationed announced, on November 17, 2011, that Matthews was being let go as part of the shakeout resulting from Cumulus Media's takeover of Citadel Broadcasting. He was removed and replaced by veteran rock jocks Tony Gates and Michelle McKormick on Friday, November 18. Darrin Arriens, Director of Operations for Cumulus Media declined comment and Marcus Bradman, Director of Events and Promotions for Cumulus in Grand Rapids and Muskegon, directed comments to Cumulus' corporate headquarters in Atlanta. In a Facebook post, Matthews wrote, "I love you Kevheads so very much, thanks for the love back. What a wonderful group of human beings you are. We sure have had some laughs." [6]

On December 2, 2011, Matthews joined the Steve Dahl Network,[7] a subscription-based podcast network owned and operated by veteran radio and media personality Steve Dahl. He provides two podcasts per week: The Kevin Matthew's Show on Friday's and The Monday Express on Monday's. Each podcast features a sampling of his wide array of characters, including alter-ego Jim Shorts, and often includes music from upcoming artists and bands, clips from his radio archives, movie and music reviews as well as phone interviews with famous entertainment or sports personalities and other people he has met during his 30+ years as a radio/entertainment personality. [8][9][10]

In November 2013, Tom Manely, Vice President of (Creative) Content at WGN Radio, announced that Tribune Broadcasting had formed a creative alliance with Matthews and have him serve as the imaging voice and overall spirit of WGN.FM, the online content portal associated with WGN (AM). According to Manely, "We really want to give Kevin a fun platform for all of his characters — hopefully to do things he’s never been able to do before, and he'd done some pretty cool, crazy stuff." Matthews will continue to work out of the home studio he uses to produce his podcasts.[11][12]

Television and film[edit]

In the early '90s, Matthews appeared as a contestant in a special edition of the television show Win, Lose or Draw in which all the contestants were Chicago radio and television personalities. In 1994, Matthews appeared as a surfer in an episode of Baywatch entitled "I Spike".[8] That same year, Matthews as Jim Shorts began hosting a show on the Chicago's SportsChannel America affiliate called The Jim Shorts Cavalcade of Sports (For You). The show was a send-up of sports clip shows, in which Jim had to recreate the plays with video games because—as he claimed—he couldn't get the rights to the footage. The show also featured notable guests, such as Johnny Kerr, but Matthews didn't appear on this show during its run from 1994 to 1996. The same year this show launched, Matthews made a cameo appearance in the movie Blink during the scene on the train.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Matthews and his wife, Debra Parker-Menear, live in Michigan. He has two children (son Trevor and daughter Teage) and one granddaughter (Trynn, daughter of Teage).

Matthews announced on December 8, 2008 that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ted Cox TV/radio columnist (20 August 1997). "'MVP's Matthews marking 10 years in Chicago". Daily Herald. newsbank.com. Retrieved 6 December 2011. "His roommate had a shift at the college station, WSRX...The slogan of Kevin Matthews' college radio station was 'Kill Ugly Radio.'" 
  2. ^ YouTube - Freebird!
  3. ^ "WCKG-FM feels a lot like home to Kevin Matthews". Chicago Tribune. 2002-04-19. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  4. ^ "Contract talks break down for WCKG, Kevin Matthews". Chicago Tribune. 2005-03-26. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  5. ^ Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk (18 November 2011). "Cumulus Media silent on abrupt departure of Kevin Matthews from WLAV-FM in Grand Rapids". Grand Rapids Entertainment. MLive.com. Retrieved 2011-12-06. "Matthews, a Detroit-area native, began his career in radio in 1978 at WSRX-FM student radio at Grand Valley State University..." 
  6. ^ File Photo (2011-11-18). "WLAV's Kevin Matthews: A gifted radio announcer or a has-been? Mlive readers hash it over". MLive.com. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  7. ^ "The Steve Dahl Network | Home of the Steve Dahl Podcast Network". Dahl.com. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  8. ^ a b "Kevin Matthews Show | The Steve Dahl Network". Dahl.com. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  9. ^ File Photo (2011-11-29). "Former WLAV-FM radio personality Kevin Matthews joins Steve Dahl show (video)". MLive.com. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  10. ^ "Kevheads rejoice: Matthews plugs into Dahl’s playhouse". Time Out Chicago. 2011-11-30. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  11. ^ Feder, Robert (2013-11-20). "Listen up, Kevheads: Matthews gives voice to WGN.FM". Robert Feder. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  12. ^ "Grand Rapids DJ Kevin Matthews set to be voice of WGN online". MLive.com. 2013-11-21. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  13. ^ "Blink - Cast, Crew, Director and Awards". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-19. 
  14. ^ "Kevin Matthews has MS". Woodtv.com. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 


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