Robert Murphy was one of the superstar DJs here on Chicago radio back in the day. This is one of the many features to come spotlighting some of the great talents from back in the day on Chicago radio.
Before Q101 flipped alternative in 1992, it was the yuppy station of the ’80s. Credit card maxed out, BMW driving yuppies listening to Huey Lewis & The News, Robert Palmer, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Rick Astley, Wang Chung, Billy Ocean, Steve Winwood, Elton John, The Pointer Sisters, Billy Joel, Heart, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Bruce Hornsby & The Range, Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Bob Seger, Fleetwood Mac, Gloria Estefan, The Cars, Richard, Marx, Phil Collins, Crowded House, Survivor, Janet Jackson, Starship, Curtis Stigers, Lionel Richie, Genesis, Mike & The Mechanics, Laura Branigan, Glenn Frey, Bruce Hornsby & The Range, Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, Tears For Fears, Cher and other chosen yuppy artists of the day, Q101’s morning show starred Robert Murphy and a revolving cast of great radio people including original co-host Beth Kaye (later with Susan Anderson and Eleanor Mondale) Pat Bentowski, Pete Stacker, Dave McBride, Danger Dan Walker and others. Q101’s ratings were sky high and their billing was amazing for that era of radio.
The morning show battles were real back then. Brandmeier at The Loop, Bob Wall at WGCI, Wally Phillips at WGN (who retired in 1986) and others. Murphy’s show was on point, the programming was perfect for the era, perfect for the target demo and it’s hard to not say it was one of the best morning shows in Chicago radio at that time.
Q101 Switch Parties were all the rage at clubs in the ’80s. As a club, you had to spend 25K in advertising in a year with the station. Once you did that, you were in line for a Tuesday night “Switch Party” at your club. The entire morning show crew would come out and it was a massive turnout every single time. The interaction with the people was great. Trivia, banter, music and a helluva good time. Sure, Murphy and company drank like a drunken frat party “on the house” but the clubs benefitted from the parties and the residual effect was real. The station was well worth the money and helped put clubs on the map for sure.
I booked one at a club in 1986 (The Cottage) and made sure we had one booked at Safari Club in Schaumburg in ’88. Other clubs that hosted “Switch Parties” included Pacific Club, Teddy Rose, Shoeless Joe’s and so many more.
After his departure at Q101 where he was replaced by MTV VJ Mark Goodman for a while, he’d return to Chicago radio a few times at 100.3 Rewind, Q101, WXXY The 80’s station and WLS AM as well as the FM.
Click here for the history of WKQX FM
Check out videos and more of Robert Murphy below.