As the host of Those Were the Days on WDCB-FM, Steve Darnall has the opportunity to indulge in his twin fascinations for American history and popular culture.
Steve discovered the Golden Age of Radio at age 12, when his father Jack turned the dial to Chuck Schaden's Those Were the Days and out came the sounds of Fibber McGee and Molly. Thus began a relationship with the early days of radio that continues to this day.
Steve's own radio career began as a freshman at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois, when he joined the school's 10-watt station, WLTL. Steve was ostensibly brought on as a newsreader, but his fascination with the Golden Age of Radio led station management to offer him a two-hour show, Radio's Golden Age, which would air Saturday mornings. The show ran for six months as Steve tried to divide his time between radio and his other love, theatre; however, he vowed he would keep the name Radio's Golden Age in case he should need it again.
Between then and now, Steve tried his hand as an actor and spent several years as the "voice" of Klondike Ice Cream. (This opportunity allowed Steve to work "with" Gary Coleman as Steve asked William Shakespeare "Would you write a TV sitcom for a Klondike Bar?") In the 1990s, he tried his hand as a professional musician with the sardonically named Steve Darnall and the Ultimate Career Move.
Steve's professional writing career began in 1984, when he sold a brief article to the late, lamented Trouser Press Magazine. (Presumably the check will be arriving any day now.) In 1993, Steve contributed his first article to Chuck Schaden's Nostalgia Digest, a piece about the great Bob and Ray. That same year, Steve joined the staff of Hero Illustrated, a publication about the comic-book industry, as a writer and editor, leaving in 1995 to enter the world of freelancing.
However, he wasn't done with comic books yet. In 1994, Slave Labor Graphics published the first issue of Empty Love Stories, in which Steve and a plethora of talented artists spoofed the breathless world of romance comics. After two issues with Slave Labor Graphics, Steve decided to try his own hand at publishing, and thus Funny Valentine Press was born. During this time, Steve and his good friend Alex Ross collaborated on Uncle Sam, a two-issue series for DC Comics' Vertigo imprint that won raves from both The New York Times and The People's Tribune. Subsequent comics-related projects included "Nikki Tesla, Kid Inventor," a short-lived strip (produced with artist Greg Hyland) for Disney Adventures magazine, and the ten-issue series Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, published by Dynamite Comics.
Steve also spent the latter half of the '90s as an entertainment writer for a variety of publications, including the weekly newspaper insert Coverstory and the Chicago Tribune. As a contributor to the Tribune's Friday, Tempo, and Arts sections, Steve interviewed artists, writers, and performers of all stripes--including Those Were the Days founder Chuck Schaden.
In 2004, Chuck decided to cut back on his workload and contacted Steve about taking over as publisher and editor of Nostalgia Digest Magazine. Steve's tenure began with the Summer 2005 issue. In early 2009, Chuck announced his plans to retire from radio and Steve agreed to step into the role of the host and producer of Those Were the Days, beginning with the July 4, 2009 broadcast. Later that year, YesterdayUSA founder Bill Bragg invited Steve to contribute a weekly program to his internet radio station. Steve agreed, and in March of 2010 Radio's Golden Age made its return. The program ran for six years and some 317 shows before Steve wrapped up production with the March 27, 2016 edition.
Steve lives in Chicago with his wife Meg Guttman and the "executive producers" of Radio's Golden Age, Nora and Lulu.