RADIO FREE BLOTTO
1981 - Rick Kogan & me at screening of my student thesis film
Rick Kogan, a seasoned, gravelly-voiced newspaperman at the Chicago Tribune for decades, is a Chicago Icon. I met Rick once, forty years ago, when as a cub reporter, he covered a screening of my student thesis film, Parting Shot.
I have been a reader of Rick’s excellent columns ever since. He has also written a number of books and is exceptionally well read. After recently publishing my memoir Blotto, I have been bombarded by well-wishers telling me how important marketing my book is, especially since I am not a famous person. There simply aren’t that many readers out there dying to curl up with the Jeff Pohn story.
Reading a column of Rick’s the other day in the Trib gave me an idea, albeit one without the probability of much success. I would contact Rick and see if he’d be interested in reading my book, and perhaps, if he likes it, writing about it in a column. I reached out to Rick via the email address on his site, figuring I’d never hear back. But the next day he got back to me. We rekindled our acquaintance, and I told him about Blotto, hoping he’d give it a read. He instructed me to send it over. So, I sent Rick a copy of the book, along with a photo taken at the screening of my student film forty years ago of a much younger Rick and me schmoozing, each of us brandishing a cocktail. A few days later, Rick invited me to be a guest on his radio show to discuss my book. I had no idea he had a radio show. Of course, I accepted his generous offer.
I was advised to get, ahead of time, a list of the questions Rick was planning to ask me, but I decided not to do that. I preferred to answer Rick directly, off the cuff, rather than risk the kind of stiff, rehearsed answers I would prepare. I wanted to be fresh and real. There was a risk to this, too, but I was willing to take it.
When the interview began, I was quite nervous. I had never done anything like a radio show before. It was somewhat awkward, having no eye contact to connect us, and no body language to read. I tried to see it simply as a conversation between two guys, without thinking about the fact that I was being listened to by thousands of people. But Rick, a master interviewer, was able to make me feel comfortable. He was positive, and asked insightful questions. Rick read excerpts from Blotto with surprising understanding and emotion. He seemed to have a real knowledge of alcoholism, the topic of my book.
The half hour went by in a flash. It almost became enjoyable. Definitely a pleasure to get out the word about something I’m proud to have accomplished. Something I believe readers will find compelling and/or beneficial.