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WGN-AM To Try Out New Shows W/ Matt Bubala, Rhymefest & Mark Bazer

The WGN Radio Warden has released the shackles on the ankles of Brian Noonan due to good behavior and is giving the overnight host a night off from his duties. That also gives WGN-AM a chance to experiment with new programming. Replacing Brian Noonan's six-hour show tonight will be two shows -- one by a frequent & familiar fill-in personality and one with an exciting, brand new on-air experiment.

Doing the first three hours of Noonan's shift tonight will be Matt Bubala. The name of Matt Bubala should be recognizable to most WGN-AM fans. For ten years (1997-2007), he was a producer at WGN Radio, most famously for John Williams' show, where he was often heard on the air. (He also was a producer for Danny Bonaduce for a few months in Detroit before he came to WGN, and lived to tell about it.) Most recently, Bubala has been working as the President of Black Dog Radio Productions, Inc, which is a Chicago-based radio show syndication company that currently syndicates three radio shows: "Steve Dale's Pet World," Steve Dale's "The Pet Minute," and "Good Parenting Radio." That last show, "Good Parenting Radio," is hosted by Matt Bubala himself, who, as a father of four (including triplets), knows a bit about parenting. In the last year, he has also done quite a few fill-in shows on WGN-AM, his old radio home.

On tonight's 11:00am-2:00am show, Matt Bubala plans on playing some audio clips from 9/11/01 and talking with callers about their memories of that fateful day, as well as covering other, less somber subjects.

Following Bubala's show, WGN-AM will also try out a new experimental show, making its on-air debut at 2:00am. The new show will feature hosts Rhymefest and Mark Bazer.

Che "Rhymefest" Smith is an internationally known Hip-Hop artist from the south side of Chicago. In addition to his own rap albums, the most recent of which came out last year, he is known for his collaborations with fellow-Chicagoan Kanye West. One of the songs he co-wrote with West, "Jesus Walks," won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song at the 47th Grammy Awards in 2005, and is included in the list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" from Rolling Stone Magazine.

Unafraid of politics, Rhymefest was the first rapper to ever meet with England's Conservative Party. He sat down with David Cameron to help convince the Parliamentary Leader of the Opposition to no longer be hateful and afraid of Hip Hop. Rhymefest also was a big proponent of H.R. 848, the Performance Rights Act, and traveled with Democratic US Representatives Sheila Jackson-Lee, John Conyers, and Hank Johnson, speaking up for it. This led to his own political run. In October, 2010, Che Smith announced his candidacy for Chicago's 20th Ward Alderman. He placed a very close second in the February 2011 election, but was ultimately defeated by incumbent Willie Cochran in the April 2011 runoff election.

Rhymefest continues to be a force for positive social change -- both in his community and globally -- using his art, music, and actions to express his activism.

Mark Bazer is a syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He has written for the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, New York Observer, and GQ Magazine. He currently also blogs for WBEZ.org. Additionally, Bazer is now working on a nine-part documentary about famed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

Locally, Mark Bazer is making a big name for himself as the intelligent & witty host of "The Interview Show," a David Letterman/Dick Cavett-like talk show with multiple guests, which he hosts live near the start of every month at The Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago).

In fact, it was at "The Interview Show" in 2008, where Mark Bazer first met & spoke with Rhymefest. The two seemingly very different people became friends from there and found they weren't all that different after all.

Bazer told CRM today: "I think Rhymefest and I have a really nice chemistry, and I think it will translate on the radio. We're friends and we share a lot of commonalities (sense of humor, curiosity, some politics), but we also seem to come at issues with very different perspectives, opinions."

For tonight's debut show, Smith & Bazer will touch upon 9/11, of course, with it being the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The duo will look at what 9/11 means today politically. They will also be speaking live with John Kimmel, the brother of ABC-TV late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who writes and directs for the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show. Kimmel will be discussing how great comedy is often written from great tragedy.

Will this test show turn into something more with WGN-AM or another station? Mark Bazer says he would like to see that happen, but for now is only concentrating on tonight's show to make it a strong, enjoyable debut. It will air late tonight/early tomorrow morning from 2:00am-5:00am on AM 720 and online at WGNRadio.com.

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