Outside the Loop Radio is a weekly audio magazine featuring fun segments and interviews with local newsmakers, artists, musicians, and others who are doing some cool stuff around the Chicago area. The show covers topics that don’t always get the proper attention in the media, all with a strong and independent Chicago slant. OTL provides for discussion that goes beyond just the headlines in our local papers.


Recent Articles
  • OTL host Mike Stephen reviews the Outside the Loop Listener Survey.

    OTL #566: Rust Belt Chicago, The importance of high school libraries, The Secret History of Ritz

    Mike Stephen talks with Belt Magazine senior editor Martha Bayne about collecting stories for the new book Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology, checks in with Hinsdale South High School librarian Ellen Lawrence about the importance of libraries in high schools, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about arena-ready rockers Ritz for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we present the Outside the Loop Listener Survey. We’d love your feedback! This week’s local music is provided by Kerosene Stars. To subscribe to […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen III, son Mike Stephen IV, and wife Jenny Stephen I enjoy The 606 park system. [circa summer 2015]

    OTL #565: Improving public schools, Affordable housing near The 606, Fritz Kaegi runs for Assessor

    Mike Stephen talks with Generation All associate program officer Misuzu Schexnider about their plan for improving neighborhood high schools and the new Chicago Public Schools app, checks in with Logan Square Neighborhood Association former president Lissette Castañeda about the fight for affordable housing in areas by The 606 park system, and chats with Cook County Assessor candidate Fritz Kaegi about his vision for transparent and competent assessments for everybody. Meanwhile, we discuss how the Chicago Triathlon is introducing a one-mile Underwear Run along the lakefront this year! This […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen is passionate about LaCroix Sparkling Water.

    OTL #564: Frank Lloyd Wright at 150, Slow Roll Chicago, The Secret History of Julian Leal

    Mike Stephen visits with Frank Lloyd Wright Trust curator David Bagnall about FLW’s architectural legacy in the 150th anniversary year of his birth, checks in with Slow Roll Chicago co-founder/vice president Jamal Julien about promoting social change in Chicago via riding bicycles, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about 1980s power-pop wizard Julian Leal for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we read Mike’s t-shirt, discuss how Walgreens is wrongly applying the Cook County soda tax to LaCroix […]

  • The conversation between OTL host Mike Stephen and Chicago Reader senior writer Mick Dumke continues after the show!

    OTL #563: A local movement to end ride sharing apps, Mick Dumke on the state of investigative journalism

    Mike Stephen talks with artist/playwright/actor Mr. Bohemian about his Rethink the Pink campaign against ride-sharing services; and catches up with reporter Mick Dumke about his new gig at ProPublica Illinois, why journalism is now more necessary than ever, and on what stories he’s currently working. Meanwhile, in reaction to the Trump administration’s latest moves against the LGBT community, we play an excerpt from OTL #548 featuring a member of Oak Park and River Forest High School‘s gay-straight alliance student group. This week’s local music is provided by […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen and producer Andy Hermann celebrate five years of friendship in 2006.

    OTL #562: Analyzing CPD data, International Sketchers Symposium, The Secret History of Philip Cohran

    Mike Stephen talks with Chicago Justice Project executive director Tracy Siska about his recent Freedom of Information Act filings with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the Chicago Police Department, and Mayor Emanuel’s office; checks in with Urban Sketchers Chicago co-administrator Wes Douglas to get a preview of the 8th International Urban Sketchers Symposium being held here in town; and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about visionary musician, inventor, composer, and educator Phil Cohran for this week’s edition of The Secret History […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen is very excited to welcome local musician Dina Bach back to the WGN Radio studio to provide the live soundtrack to OTL #561.

    OTL #561: Best beers for the summer, Localpalooza preview, Dina Bach plays live

    Mike Stephen talks with Chicago Tribune reporter Josh Noel about local beers to take you through the summer, the best macro beers in America, and his upcoming book on Goose Island Brewery selling to Anheuser Busch; checks in with Localpalooza organizer Mike Vogus about a cool music festival benefiting The Patrick Grange Memorial Foundation for ALS research; and welcomes local singer-songwriter Dina Bach back to the studio to play live for the hour and to tell us about her “Weekly Music” project. Meanwhile, we discuss our […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen studies up on his WGN Radio producers manual from 2001.

    OTL #560: Bag tax update, Play By Play on go90, The Secret History of Morris Jennings

    Mike Stephen talks with DNAinfo Chicago City Hall reporter Heather Cherone about the Chicago bag tax and how it could cost the city millions, catches up with Batavia native Kevin Jakubowski about his new coming-of-age show Play by Play on the go90 platform, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about prolific session drummer Morris Jennings for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we discuss the fate of landline telephones in Illinois (as covered in OTL #555), tell the tale of […]

  • Local band Dream Version rocked the soundtrack for OTL #559! [L-R] Eric Brummitt, Alec Jensen, OTL host Mike Stephen (in the Brat Stop t-shirt!), Michael Kunik

    OTL #559: Life After Hate, Inside a street vendor kitchen, Dream Version plays live

    Mike Stephen talks with Life After Hate executive director and co-founder Sammy Rangel about his organization and what happens now that the Trump administration eliminated their grant, visits with Street Vendors Association of Chicago vice president Vicky Lugo about a new North Lawndale-based shared kitchen, and welcomes local band Dream Version to the studio to play live for the hour and to talk about their new record Fight Fair. Meanwhile, we discuss the new public participation rules for Chicago City Council meetings. To subscribe to the OTL podcast, […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen raids producer Andy Hermann's garage for tools for his new house.

    OTL #558: Taxing online video games, Chicago Tree Project, The Secret History of Bonemen of Barumba

    Mike Stephen talks with Entertainment Software Association senior vice president Rich Taylor about how Chicago taxes our online video gaming experience, checks in with Chicago Sculpture International board president Emily Moorhead about turning dying trees into sculptures via The Chicago Tree Project, and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about tribal postpunk oddballs the Bonemen of Barumba for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we tell the tale of Mike raiding Andy’s garage for supplies for his new house! This week’s local music […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen practices bicycle safety with his wife Jenny on a bike tour of wine country outside of Santa Ynez, CA. [circa 2014]

    OTL #557: Libraries and social justice, Michelin restaurants closing, Mellow Bike Map

    Mike Stephen talks with American Library Association president Julie Todaro about the continued importance of libraries and the upcoming 2017 ALA Annual Conference here in Chicago; checks in with DNAinfo Chicago reporter Patty Wetli about the surprising (non)success rate of Chicago’s Michelin-rated restaurants, and chats with The Chainlink president Yasmeen Schuller about her bicycle community website and the Mellow Chicago Bike Map put together by Streetsblog Chicago. Meanwhile, we spin “Stay In Your Lane” — a cool bike safety song (and video) by Chicago’s very own Rhymefest! This week’s […]