This week Chicago bids fare-thee-well to a stalwart friend of the arts community. Tony Sarabia, the voice and force of WBEZ’s Morning Shift and Radio M, is signing off and heading to the goaty wilds of Iowa.
Beyond his uncanny ability to be conversant and well-informed on the news subjects of the day, he demonstrated a fierce dedication to Chicago’s music scene.
How do I know it was sincere? Well, I’d see him at shows he had no other earthly reason to be at other than pure personal enjoyment. There wasn’t an angle, there wasn’t the studied distance of the journalistic eye. There wasn’t the career insider looking for what was going to be “hot.” There was a fan.
He didn’t like everything we do (who does?), but when he did he let us know. And when he was a fan, he became a very public booster. He took obvious joy in supporting local artists (and their attendant label goons like us) and seeing them get wider recognition.
[Tony Sarabia interviewing Laura Jane Grace on Morning Shift, November 2018]
The times he generously had myself, Nan, or our artists on his show, we knew his interest was authentic. There weren’t notes or checklists of mundane talking points, but an honest, informed and enthusiastic interest in the creative life of the city. It made for a more comfortable interview environment which, hopefully, led to a more engaging experience for the listener.
Chicago was lucky to have him for as long as we did. He was one of the threads in the grand fabric of this city that make it such a vibrant place to live and create. He will be missed.
[Maggie Bjorklund performing on Radio M hosted by Tony Sarabia, 2014]
On the upside, a certain population of Iowa goats will be well versed in the nuances of Roberta Flack B-sides and TIF scandals. I can’t imagine Tony not talking about this stuff, even if his audience is a bit different.
With deep respect and thanks, and best wishes in future endeavors,
Here are links to many of the excellent interviews Tony conducted with our artists, as well as Bloodshot co-honchos Rob & Nan: