Mancow’s Morning Madhouse on Chicago Radio

Mancow Erich Muller has been gracing Chicago morning radio with Mancow’s Morning Madhouse since 1994. The show stopped briefly but began re-airing in 1998 on the popular alternative rock station Q101. I only caught onto the brilliant show in 2003, but it’s hard to imagine a morning commute without it. It is without a doubt the most entertaining, most interesting, and most real show on the radio, and although the show can be heard from around the country, it is a personal source of Chicago pride.

Mancow and his Madhouse

Mancow’s Morning Madhouse features a fairly cast of characters, and I’ve chosen the word “characters” carefully. They have names such as “Turd The Bartender”, “Big Goony”, “Ryan The Gay Mexican”, or “Jim Jesus”, and each has quite a distinct personality. “Turd” for instance, one of the more talkative members of show, is foul-mouthed and a self-proclaimed jerk. When a relatively raunchy or morbid topic comes up, you can be sure to hear a purposely insensitive (but oftentimes hilarious) remark from Turd. The other characters have their own little trademarks, such as synthetic voice that announces “Biiiig Goony Time”, or an NFL style introduction for Al Roker, Jr., the sportscaster. The cast works together like a family, and I mean this in the truest sense.

What is a key component of any family? A father. Mancow is the heart of the show, and despite the vital combined contribution of his supporting cast, Mancow is why the public can keep tuning in. Mancow Muller is notoriously known as a “shock-jock”. In terms of reality (as opposed to unclear terms and labels), this merely means that he has strong opinions, and he expresses them. He emanates charisma through the radio with skill that rivals such a “Eddy and Jobo” of B96 simply do not possess. Even better, he discusses what needs to be discussed, and what people want to discuss. Whether or not you agree with his personal opinions, the desire to call up and be a part of the nationwide conversation is overwhelming. It’s dissapointing that I’ve yet to actually have my call get through the busy lines.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Mancow Muller is that he is a human being. He doesn’t cater his opinions to what people want to hear, and although I personally agree with many of his viewpoints, he is in no way merely a venue through which I can hear my own thoughts. In fact, for every 3 times I’m nodding my head in agreement, I’ll usually shake my head in disagreement. As a human being, Mancow has a personality. To be specific, he’s a very religious and rather superstitious man, and this does flow over into his show. However, his skill as a radio host dominates, and his opinion comes clearly presented as just that: an opinion. Don’t get the wrong idea; although Mancow seems to never sugarcoat his feelings or the feelings of his guests and cast, he is extremely considerate of his listeners. Often you’ll hear him request that easily offended listeners turn off their radio for harsh segments. I’ve never been inclined to do so, but I do appreciate being respected as a listener.

What is an average morning in the Madhouse like?

It’s rare to actually tune in just as the show begins, as it starts at a very early 5:30AM. It seems to just appear on the waves…one minute it is music, and you tune back, and you hear a familiar and great voice telling you what’s in store for the day’s show. The next four to five hours are filled with guests, prank calls, plenty of laugh-out-loud humor, and interesting conversation.

Prank calls are done at the beginning of every hour, and despite daily prank calls for several years, it’s amazing that they can still make me laugh. The prank calls tend to play on recent current events, and can poke fun at anything from general societal ignorance, to a specific current event that the Madhouse clan just happens to find funny. As a recent example, with the recent film Brokeback Mountain, the crew made sure to throw in several prank calls with that as the theme.

The guests tend to arrive on the air towards the second half of the show, and they range from celebrities with upcoming movies, authors, directors, or people involved with something that is just interesting. Authors of books about falsified religion, investigations of the afterlife, UFOs, conspiracies, pick up artistry, self-help, and most genres imaginable often talk about their work. On the other hand, more mainstream guests will also often speak on the show, such as the star of the TV show The Shield, the cast of 24, or the Weasly twins from Harry Potter films.

The famous guests are stil just one aspect of the daily show, and I find that the everyman callers are the most important, most entertaining, and most interesting part of the show. You’ll hear very intelligent people, very stupid people, very crazy people, and even some prank callers. Appreciating the fine balance between host and listeners, Mancow knows how to have a conversation with the world.

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