Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Hows Katmans kid doing?"

I cant tell you how many times I hear that question in the Course of a year at US99.5.
John the "Katman" Katzback was a zenith, a superstar in Chicago radio making his way in life. By all accounts a great guy. I mean everyone loved this guy.
Honestly a lot of people who worked the morning show back then were closer to him than me. But the following is why and how his passing shaped my life.
John and I would cross paths on weekends when he came in last minute to do his "cutting edge show" usually with his beautiful wife Leslie on his arm providing fodder, and usually two or three beers in after a weekend cubs game.
We never talked radio much, Just our future wife's as we were both engaged, later we had kids just a few months apart I was hired to do nights at US99, He was the new kid on the morning show with my friend and mentor JD Spangler.
I will always remember when I got the call that John had passed, I was building a deck on the very first house I owned in West Chicago. It was shock, followed by hurt that he and Les had just had a baby named Max. At that point you don't give a shit about your job, you just ponder the question that has no answers. That question is why?
Management at US99 thought it was a good idea to get someone to get in and help the morning show immediately after John passing, They called me. I said no. They said "You don't have a choice" I hesitated as anyone would, But as it turns out JD needed me. the rest is history.
Yesterday I got a message on my Facebook from Max, Johns son. "Hey are you the guy that worked with my dad, I'm his son" we then went on to send several messages that ended in a promise to take him to a Cubs game, Just like his dad would have wanted us too. Its long overdue.
By all accounts he's doing well, and judging from his pictures he is his fathers son. I love that.
When I said he shaped my life here's why, We were the same age, Going through the same thing. We had kids. I always think of how Max missed out on so much with John being gone. Honestly you wonder why it wasn't you. There's a bit of guilt. And then you talk to his boy and it all comes back.
To US99 listeners, if you remember the Katman his boy is doing well, so is his family and his mom, and rest assured that someday this summer under a clear blue sky, The guys who drank with his dad will now drink one, or two with him.
What JD Spangler built, Is different now. But the core of that group all keeps in touch. Big, Mick, T get ready we have a game to attend.



  1. JD & the Katman.... I will never forget them. I remember when "Maxwell Wrigley was born. I also remember the day Katman passed. Have a beer for me... Go Cubs!

  2. I remember The days of JD & the Katman well. I remember when "Maxwell Wrigley" was born. I also remember the shock and sadness when Katman passed away. Have a beer for me... Go Cubs!

  3. So glad he reached out to you! I remember the day Katman passed away too....heartbreaking!

  4. I too remember JD and the Katman. When my then boss had heard of his passing, she was crying in her office. It's like we knew him. I just came across the ticket for the KATMAN MEMORIAL CONCERT at the Rosemont Horizon. Good to hear that his kids and wife are doing well.