Columbia College (Chicago) grad finds crazy success


Ten years ago it seemed so easy; A communications degree from the University of Iowa, a few kids, and a suburban home complete with a white-picket fence and a dog running through the yard. NOT! Somewhere on the drive home from her dormitory at the University of Iowa and her families’ home in Country Club Hills — an affluent South Chicago suburb — Lisa E. Finkle took a detour and landed at Columbia College. At first Lisa didn’t even consider a degree in broadcasting. Now, seven years and countless hours of free labor later, she is Lisa E., producer of the number one rated afternoon “Crazy Show,” on 107.5 WGCI, weekdays from 2 until 6 p.m. After one year at the University of Iowa in 1985, Lisa’s grades began to fall, so she returned home and attended South Suburban College for another year. The influence of a friend then persuaded Finkle to enroll at Columbia College and pursue her childhood acting dreams. Finkle concentrated on a major in theater, but then realized that acting was not for her. “It was like a real life soap opera,” Finkle said. “The people were too dramatic.” Finkle then changed her concentration to radio and television and finally felt comfortable.

Harold Lee Rush, a radio show producer, was Finkle’s first radio instructor. Finkle remembers being greatly influenced by his daily reality checks of life in the radio business. She decided that radio was the perfect outlet to use her communication and interpersonal skills. “Mr. Rush told it like it was and didn’t give the Cinderella version of things,” Finkle said. “He gave the ups and downs and stressed that the hard work pays off.” A few years into her major, Finkle took Broadcast Speech Techniques I and II with Mary Berger. Finkle will always remember Berger for teaching her to speak standard English for the radio. Berger also helped Finkle learn to accept people regardless of culture and ethnicity. “She made me learn to think before I speak which is really important in live radio,” Finkle said. Another one of Finkle’s teachers was Roz Varon who taught her the ins and outs of a radio control board.. While at Columbia, a fellow classmate told Finkle about an internship at WGCI, a local contemporary radio station. The stations AM side was all talk at the time. Because of Finkle’s knowledge of the control board, she got the job. Finkle observed and learned everything she could about radio. She learned how to conduct remotes, and as a result, became the assistant engineer for the J.J. Jackson sports show. Finkle worked the overnight shift on the AM side with Sybil Wilkes (now with the Tom Joyner Show). During this time she filled in on the FM side as an engineer for Doug Banks and also engineered the overnight hours by playing music along with the syndicated Larry King Show. This went on for two months. The station’s AM side closed and Finkle was let go because of downsizing. Diligence and perseverance were two key factors in Finkle’s advancement in radio. After she was fired as a paid intern, Finkle kept in contact with the people she met at WGCI. Her hard work at the station paid off and Finkle proved herself as reliable and dependable. A year and a half ago, Finkle began to work with Howard McGee as the executive producer of the “Crazy Show.” She works hand in hand with McGee in the creative direction of the show. Finkle handles contest winners, pulls music and commercials for play and creates trivia questions and topics for the on-air contests. Finkle also pulls newsworthy material and always has a celebrity guest on the show. Although radio keeps her very busy, Finkle still wants a house in the suburbs with a dog. Finkle also envisions herself as a successful deejay and producer of her own show in the future. Finkle’s parents and family would prefer if she chose a more conventional job that offers more stability than radio, but she wouldn’t dream of stopping now. She hosts parties, attends sporting events and gala celebrity functions all in the name of work. She feels that has ample time for her family and her radio career. Finkle admits that there are struggles that she comes across in her work everyday. She won’t settle for just satisfaction. Finkle and McGee create every show as if it was the last. “If you really want to do something, you have to work at it,” Finkle said. “Staying unique and having fun are key elements for success in radio.”  Dawn Hendricks Correspondent and Michelle S. DuFour Features Editor

(Lisa E. is Executive Producer of the Morning Show at POWER 92 Chicago). 01/2005

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