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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 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 […]

  • Mike and R.O.B. (obscured by his Game Boy) of Boy Meets Robot stopped by OTL #556 to play some funny JAMZ from their new record The Robots Will Kill Us All.

    OTL #556: The Secret History of Bad Axe, Regional crash report, Boy Meets Robot

    Mike Stephen chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about 1970s rockers Bad Axe for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music, talks with Active Transportation Alliance advocacy director Jim Merrell about a new report that says fatal car/pedestrian crash rates are higher in the suburbs, and welcomes Mike of Boy Meets Robot to the studio to perform live for the hour and to talk about making funny music with a Game Boy and playing FuMPFeST 2017. Meanwhile, radio nerd Andy tweets out a photo of […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen enjoys making points.

    OTL #555: The future of landlines in IL, Chicago is not broke, Politics and science in our state

    Mike Stephen talks with AARP Illinois associate state director Julie Vahling about the future of landline telephones in Illinois, chats with civic educator Tom Tresser about our city’s financial future as detailed in Chicago Is Not Broke: Funding the City We Deserve, and checks in with Illinois Science Council executive director Monica Metzler about how the current political climate impacts the science community in our state. Meanwhile, we discuss what Chicagoans are drinking! This week’s local music is provided by The Hacky Turtles. To subscribe to […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen wraps up his pre-show vocal exercises in a seventh floor radio studio in the Tribune Tower.

    OTL #554: The psychology of Chicago violence, The Secret History of Paris Smith, IL Fair Economy

    Mike Stephen talks with Loyola University professor of Criminal Justice and Psychology Arthur Lurigio about the psychology of violence in Chicago, chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about unheralded vibe man Paris Smith for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music, and checks in with Fair Economy Illinois leader Erica Nanton about the March to Springfield movement for a state budget. Meanwhile, we discuss how Mayor Emanuel is excited that Chicago is a U-Haul destination city! This week’s local music is provided by Iverson […]

  • Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Mick Dumke and OTL host Mike Stephen rep the city and solve the world's problems during their post-show breakfast meeting.

    OTL #553: CPD’s Strategic Subject List, The Chicago Picasso, Urban Nerd Herd

    Mike Stephen talks with Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Mick Dumke about why the Chicago Police Department has created a secret “Strategic Subject List” of possible violent criminals, chats with art historian Patricia Balton Stratton about her new book The Chicago Picasso: A Point of Departure, and checks in with Urban Nerd Herd founder Amanda McCarthy about hiking for pleasure and mental health. Meanwhile, we discuss how Mike jammed on some indie rock at the Navy Pier McDonald’s! This week’s local music is provided by Post Animal. To subscribe to the OTL podcast, […]

  • Local musician Chris Greene stopped by OTL #552 to play a live a capella saxophone selection from the Chris Greene Quartet's new record Boundary Issues.

    OTL #552: The Secret History of Boyce Brown, Migratory birds in Chicago, Local saxophonist Chris Greene

    Mike Stephen chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about hot jazz saxophonist Boyce Brown for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music, talks with U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Chicago field supervisor Louise Clemency about celebrating International Migratory Bird Day Celebration at LaBagh Woods next Saturday, and welcomes local musician Chris Greene to the studio to play a selection from the Chris Greene Quartet‘s new album Boundary Issues. Meanwhile, we wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day by […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen spoke at the 2017 Northern Illinois Scholastic Press Association (NISPA) high school journalism conference about... tacos. Check out the screen behind him. [photo courtesy @EldesAyse]

    OTL #551: Chicago Market Co-Op, Our food truck scene has stalled, How to get craft beer in a local bar

    Mike Stephen chats with Chicagoist food editor Anthony Todd about the development of the Chicago Market, a new co-op grocery store that’s coming to Uptown; talks with Chicago Reader staff writer Julia Thiel about why Chicago’s once-promising food truck scene is having a rough time; and learns from Fooditor editor/publisher Michael Gebert about how your potentially favorite new beer gets into Chicago bars. Meanwhile, we discuss how Mike recently spoke at the NISPA (Northern Illinois Scholastic Press Association) high school journalism conference… about how much he loves tacos! This […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen holds a copy of Anne Elizabeth Moore's latest book Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes.

    OTL #550: Capitalism and misogyny, Chicago Pen Show preview, The Secret History of Poor Richard

    Mike Stephen talks with writer and cultural critic Anne Elizabeth Moore about the effects of capitalism and misogyny on women as detailed in her latest book Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes; checks in with Chicago Pen Show owner Paul Conterato for a preview of the oldest writing utensil exhibition in the country; and chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about jingle-writing prog rockers Poor Richard for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music. Meanwhile, we discuss how to […]

  • OTL host Mike Stephen meets WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling at the Chicago Theatre in 2010.

    OTL #549: Adopt-a-Beach, EPA’s Chicago impact, March for Science Chicago

    Mike Stephen talks with Alliance for the Great Lakes vice president of operations Stephanie Smith about how to help one of our most important natural resources via their Adopt-a-Beach program; checks in with Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (P.E.R.R.O.) coordinating committee member Troy Hernandez about how Chicago could be impacted if our local EPA office is closed, and chats with March for Science Chicago co-director Kristian Aloma about why we should take to the streets to support science. Meanwhile, […]

  • Outside the Loop meets A Place for All [l-r] Connor, Ev, Ben, OTL host Mike Stephen, Will

    OTL #548: The Secret History of Eddie Hoh, Local teens raising awareness for LGBTQ issues

    Mike Stephen chats with Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) about in-demand session drummer Eddie Hoh for this week’s edition of The Secret History of Chicago Music; and welcomes to the studio four members of the A Place for All gay-straight alliance student group at Oak Park and River Forest High School (Ev, Ben, Will, and Connor) to talk about working for LGBTQ equality and their upcoming “Loud & Proud” fundraiser for the ACLU. Meanwhile, we discuss whether frozen pizzas are best prepared in the microwave, the oven, or the […]