Sort of like this blog, I was on a radio show Tuesday that gave every appearance of being unheard. Still, I had a good time and I wasn’t about to turn down an invite from Judy Baar Topinka, the show’s host.
“The Judy Show,” as she bills it, is broadcast, at least I assume it was actually being broadcast, on WJJG (AM 1530). The studio is in a bedroom of an apartment in west suburban Berkeley. The apartment complex, like the radio station, is owned by Joe Gentile. Gentile is a one-time Oak Park car dealer, who has gone on to be a morning radio show host, philanthropist, and judging from the literally hundreds of pictures on the walls, a professional-get-your-picture-taken-with-Chicago-pols-athletes-visiting-C-celebs-and-anything?#34;Catholic-person.
And, in this day of bland corporate ownership of everything else in radio, I found it utterly charming that WJJG exists.
I’ve met Judy a handful of times, usually as she worked a room while running for office. But we also have an odd shared history in that she once worked as a reporter for the Forest Park Review, in the years before we purchased the paper. And then, 10 years ago, we bought the Riverside Landmark directly from Judy. She had picked it up as her hometown paper with the intention of running it in her political retirement. When it got to be a burden?#34;financial and timewise?#34;she sold it to us. She still writes a monthly column for the Landmark, not about her political life, but about notable locals and the garage sale bargains she found, and about her beloved pooches.
On the radio we talked about how community weeklies are making their way in a changing media world.
Judy is, and I mean this in an entirely positive way, as common as an old shoe. Easy to talk to, quick and funny, a ready smile, no ostentation. She would have been a heck of a governor.
Driving home, I passed through Maywood and noticed sadly that Bahcall’s Hardware is closing. There aren’t a lot of retail businesses in Maywood and Bahcall’s has been a long-time and very active part of that town. I can only assume that the decision to close this family-owned store came after the murder last year?#34;in the store?#34;of the owner.
A crazy robbery gone very bad. What a tragedy.