Much has changed in Chicago radio in the past few years, especially with longtime alternative rock station Q101. Those who grew up listening to “Chicago’s New Rock Alternative” are no doubt familiar with James VanOsdol (known as a DJ by the moniker JVO). Now he has written a book on the experience, “We Appreciate Your Enthusiasm: The Oral History of Q101.” “When news of Q101’s sale came out, I decided that I wanted to document its history,” says VanOsdol. “Not so much because I felt it was important to immortalize the station, but more so because I wanted to tell a modern radio story, which is something I don’t think has been done before.”
VanOsdol began at Q101 in November 1993 when the station was first taking a chance with switching their format to alternative rock. He stuck with them, notably as host of “Local 101,” a segment dedicated to Chicago-made music. JVO became one of their trademark DJs until he left the airwaves for good in 2011, but he couldn’t completely put it all behind him. In the book he focuses on the inner-workings of the station. “The book is mostly about the culture of a radio station, and less about the popular culture it reflected,” says VanOsdol. The narrative is an oral history including interviews and memories from those who took part in the station’s lifespan, including DJs, musicians and even shock-jock morning-show-host “Mancow” Muller. “It was a fantastic experience being able to reconnect with old friends and former co-workers,” says VanOsdol. However, he felt it best to be impartial and didn’t include his side of the story (for the most part).
The printing of the book, through VanOsdol’s literary imprint Haaf-Onion, was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. One incentive allowed fans the opportunity to have their narratives included as part of the book. “I can’t tell you what it felt like to have a community of people say, ‘you know what? I’m willing to pledge my hard-earned money in order to let you create this book.’ Every time I think about it, I feel very lucky.” (John Wawrzaszek)
James VanOsdol will celebrate the book release on December 7 at Challengers Comics and Conversations, 1845 North Western, (773)278-0155, 7pm, 21+.