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 #592: The future of IL’s finances, Music, coffee, and community at Friendly Tap, The Secret History of Smilin’ Bobby

    Mike Stephen sifts through the economic realities and possible long road to Illinois’ fiscal solvency with co-director of the Fiscal Futures project David Merriman, visits the Friendly Tap for the second stop on the OTL Winter Tavern Tour, and drops in on Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) to learn about the Secret History of Chicago Blues musician Smilin’ Bobby. This week’s local music comes from The Chase Aways. To subscribe to the OTL podcast, please visit our iTunes page or RSS feed.

  • OTL #591: Warming up at Guthrie’s, Block Club Chicago, Chicago Volunteer Expo

    Mike Stephen embarks on the first stop of our 2018 Winter Tavern Tour to Guthries Tavern in Wrigleyville, chats with former DNA Info Chicago editor Shamus Toomey about the new hyper-local reporting venture Block Club Chicago, and discusses the upcoming Chicago Volunteer Expo. This week’s local music is powered by Black Road.

  • OTL #590: Rent control in Illinois, The Secret History of Mary Lane, Tech in classrooms

    Mike Stephen discusses rent control and affordable housing in Illinois with Miguel Jimenez of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, visits Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) to learn about the Secret History of Chicago Blues musician Mary Lane, and discusses the applications of new technology in the classroom with Meg Ormiston, author of the book NOW Classrooms.  This week’s local music comes from The Ions. To subscribe to the OTL podcast, please visit our iTunes page or RSS feed.

  • OTL #589: Boystown’s future, Chicago News Landscape, WLLU-LP in Decatur, IL

    Mike Stephen discusses the future of Boystown with documentary filmmaker and INTO Editor-in-Chief Zach Stafford, hears from Media Engagement Center researcher Emily Van Duyn about how media portrayal of certain regions of Chicago makes a difference on how we perceive our own neighborhoods, and connects with Alexander Martin, president of WLLU-LP in Decatur, IL, for another installment of Low Power to the People. This week’s local music comes from Devil in a Woodpile.

  • OTL#588: m1 Interactive’s digital playground, The Secret History of Daddy Stovepipe, Resurrection Project’s DACA work

    Mike Stephen get his mind digitally blown with Brian Dressel at m1 Interactive, checks in with Ere Rendon of the Resurrection Project concerning the recent government shutdown over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) debate, and visits Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) to learn about the Secret History of Chicago Blues musician, and alleged first musician to record a harp on a record, Daddy Stovepipe. This week’s local music comes from Little Church. To subscribe to the OTL podcast, please visit our iTunes page or RSS feed.

  • OTL #587: The Outside the Loop 2018 Podcasting Summit

    Mike Stephen hosts the annual Outside the Loop Chicago Podcasting summit to talk about all things new and exciting in the world of local audio storytelling. Joining him in studio for this summit is Arnie Neikamp and Matt Young of Hello from the Magic Tavern, Colleen Pellissier of The Good News Podcast, and Dometi Pongo of CULture Race and Equity: a seat at the table. Special thanks to Engines for powering this week’s local music.

  • OTL #586: Windy City Curling, WTND-LP in Macomb, The Secret History of Johnny B. Moore

    Mike Stephen rides the hog line with Jeff Sampson, president of Windy City Curling Club, connects with Tom Depauw and Darryl Roberts, co-founders of WTND-LP in Macomb, IL for another installment of Low Power to the People, and visits Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) to learn about the Secret History of Chicago Blues musician Johnny B. Moore. This week’s local music comes from The Bama Lamas. 

  • OTL #585: Rock climbing at First Ascent Chicago, Truman’s Ridge plays live Bluegrass

    Mike Stephen takes on “the wall” at First Ascent Avondale and is suddenly forced to come to grips with his personal issues of lower body-strength, heights, and trusting others as he clings to 40-ft wall.  Thankfully, he has local climbing extraordinaire and community outreach advisor Justin Forrest Parks to guide him through his ascent! And to cap off the last OTL of 2017, we’ve got local Bluegrass band Truman’s Ridge in studio to perform and talk about the bluegrass scene in Chicagoland. Send […]

  • OTL #584: Inside Make! Chicago, The Parking Ticket Geek Returns, The Secret History of Jimmy Davis

    Mike Stephen attempts to fly the starship “OTL” solo this week because Collin decided to have another kid.  His hyper-local galactic adventures this week include chatting with MAKE! Chicago founder Joseph Budka about the power of the everyday craftsperson, renewing subspace communication with the Parking Ticket Geek to discuss local transportation issues, and visiting Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) to learn about the Secret History of local Bluesman Jimmy Davis, . This week’s tasty local music comes from The Evening Attraction. Send us your cozy […]

  • OTL #583: The IL Black Panthers at 50, Volunteering in Lake County, Fooditor 99 for 2018

    Mike Stephen puts out another call for cozy neighborhood bars to feature this winter as a semi truck rolls up to the studio, talks with Lake County volunteer Bill Hagan about finding one’s passion after 50, chats with Mike Gebert, editor and publisher of Fooditor, about the current state of the Chicago food scene, and visits Tanya Woods and John Preston at the Westside Justice Center about the current exhibit looking at 50 years of the Black Panther Party in IL. This week’s local music features […]