If you’ve listened to rock and roll radio for the last three decades, you’ve undoubtedly run across the work of Steve Seaver. He’s been rocking Chicago since 1991 at stations like The Blaze, The Loop, and currently The Drive (97.1 FM). He’s one of those rare personalities who can be identified by one name, like Cher or Oprah. He’s simply Seaver, although that’s not even his real name.
“The name Seaver was given to me by a boss in Salt Lake,” he says. “I was the co-host of a show, and the other host was named Cindy Weaver, so they wanted a catchy show title, so they called us Seaver and Weaver. And it’s stuck ever since.”
Salt Lake City was not only the birthplace of his career. “I’m from Salt Lake City,” he says. “ I grew up there and went to high school there. I went to a trade school–you know the type that is a dental hygienist school in the morning and teaches radio at night–and that’s how I got into radio. I was hired in 1986 by Chris Devine at a rock station called K-Bear, and he’s the one who brought me to Chicago. He purchased WFYR in 1991, changed the call letters and the format, and asked me to be part of the Blaze. To be honest, I think he brought me here because I was willing to be the production director and do a full-time air shift. I think most major market people wouldn’t have been willing to do that. I just didn’t know any better. I still run into Chris, he has an office in the Hancock. I’m completely blown away that I’m still here 26 years later.”
That stint at the Blaze also introduced Seaver to a man who would help guide the next phase of his career. “I got to meet Greg Solk when I was at the Blaze, and we were in the same hallway after the Blaze got sold to Evergreen (which also owned the Loop AM & FM). That was a crazy time — in the middle of the Steve & Garry breakup –, and I was working right across the hall. I ran into Greg at a Collective Soul show a few years later, and he said ‘why don’t you come over to the Loop and do some stuff.’ At the time it seemed odd because the Loop had a different format, but sure enough, they were just about to go back to rock and roll, and I fit right in. I started there the first day of the new format and worked there for the next eight years.”
After another radio station sale (this time the Loop was sold to Emmis), Greg Solk moved over to run the Drive, and he brought several of his favorites along with him, including Seaver. At first, there wasn’t a full-time slot for Seaver, so he worked part-time and did production for eight years. “I actually enjoy [the] production and still do quite a bit of it now. I still produce my daily promo, and I’m pretty decent on the Pro-Tools. I loved learning from (Drive production director) Matt Bisbee — he’s a treasure.”
In June of 2015, the station gave him the afternoon slot when they parted ways with Bobby Skafish. “There was a little backlash at first,” Seaver admits. “Bobby’s a supreme talent and had some very loyal listeners, so it wasn’t as smooth as you would hope. You try to make friends with Bobby’s listeners, but they were mad. Luckily, I had been there for many years. I had done every shift, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”
Since that move, Seaver has been on a roll, and he couldn’t be happier with his new schedule. “My lifestyle is at least constant now. I used to jump all over the clock doing fill-in. Now I’m done at 7:00 at night and I get to see my wife and stepdaughter.“ Unfortunately, he has been forced to give up one of his favorite projects, the Sunday Night Star, a show that handed over the reins to ordinary listeners. Seaver produced it for years. “I was just mud after I got done with my radio show, and it got to be too much to record it. Sometimes you basically had to tell [the guest hosts] what to say, and other times they were simply fantastic. People were great. I got to meet some really cool people, but I had to beg off because my workload was getting a little heavy. I’d love to bring it back — if we ever did it live.”
After a few difficult years in the ratings, The Drive is once again doing well, and Seaver is thrilled to be a part of it. “It’s been a good run for us at the Drive; I have to admit. The new regime is great. The best part of being on the Drive is the connection with the audience because they are really into the music. And working alongside Chicago legends like Bob Stroud and Matt Bisbee is almost too good to be true.”
Does Seaver ever see himself going back to his hometown of Salt Lake City? “The lovely Vanessa and I were married in August and bought a house in the sleepy northwestern area called Norwood Park, and we’re very happy. What happens after retirement, I don’t know, but I don’t see myself going back.”
Seaver can be heard every afternoon on the Drive (97.1FM).
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