Maverick Chicago radio personality and Master Interviewer Kiki Vale is celebrating her 18th year in broadcasting. Having worked in the Kansas City and Chicago markets on just about every format and shift in radio, skill and experience come hand in hand in Kiki’s work. KBEQ, KUDL, KCNW, WBBM, WMAQ, WGN, WLS, WTMX, WSCR, WAUR, WUSN are some of the prominent stations that Kiki has worked on-air in the scope of entertainment, news, weather and as a traffic reporter. Although Kiki has entertained millions of listeners as a reporter, she most enjoys the role of Talk Show Host, which is the hat she has been wearing since 2000 when she formed her production company KUKLA PRODUCTIONS.
Since the formation of KUKLA, meaning doll in Greek, Kiki has interviewed 1,000s of intriguing and entertaining people like Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Illinois State Senator Kirk W. Dillard, Tom Hanks, Gary Sinese, Faye Dunaway, Cece Winans, Marie Osmond, Olympian Summer Sanders, Mona Purdy, Robert Kiyosaki, John Corbett, Larry King, Nia Vardalos, Anthony Robbins and a plethora of others.
Kiki’s pipes have propelled her to numerous other multimedia jobs from award winning voice-over work to radio and television commercials. Read on to learn the whole story of KIKI VALE and the contagious bug that bit her at the tender age of 12.
The radio and television bug bit me during puberty, and I will be involved in broadcasting on some level until I leave the planet. I hope I live a long, long time because I have so many goals to reach in this nutty business. I envision daily reaching my goals, and I sure do enjoy the journey and the people I meet along the way. In summary, I have learned that Winston Churchill was right on the money when he said…….NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!
Back to the semi-beginning, during junior high and high school I participated in and won many regional speech and debate contests. At the age of 15 I entered my first beauty pageant and placed 1st runner up in the Miss Missouri National Teenager Contest. Thanks Manula for getting us on that potato chip truck to make it to the pageant on time. The next two national teenage pageants that I participated in, I also placed in the top three.
Next stop, college where I graduated from Loyola University in Chicago (Go Ramblers!) with an emphasis in Radio/TV/Film. The television studio and radio station WLUW proved to be exceptional venues to start on-air. While at Loyola, I interned at WLS TV under Television Director Frank Bianco (who’s still there) and where Oprah Winfrey called home at the time. Yes! I got to meet Oprah and she is just as powerful off-air as she is on the tube. It's funny, I will always remember shaking Oprah's hand on that day.
Upon graduation, I was eager to start working in my chosen field. The problem was there were no on-air opportunities for me in Chicago. I headed back home to Kansas City, Missouri and landed my first official paying job at KCNW, a Christian radio station. Thanks Mary for pushing me to go talk to Warren about a job even though I really wanted to be on television. At KCNW, I began as a producer working with taped, satellite and live programs. I wrote and produced commercials and worked on logs. No digital stuff back then, only reel-to-reel and cart machines.
Eventually I got to host the Saturday night request show; finally I was on the R-A-D-I-O! Everybody I knew, that could hear the signal, was commissioned by me to listen and call-in from 7-midnight.
Not long after that opportunity, I was contacted by KBEQ top 40 radio to audition for the overnight weekend shift. KIKI VALE was born. The P.D. at the time asked me to come up with a short, catchy last name for on-air purposes. Sorry Dad, (he wasn't too happy that I was using a different sur-name and it wasn't for marital reasons), but thanks Kevin for helping me find a name that has served me well over the last 18 years. Kiki has always been my first name and really sums up who I am. Actually, Kiki is short for Vasiliki and means queen.
By now you may have gathered that I am of Greek descent. My parents were born Corinth Greece…. the old country, and fortunately they instilled in me a strong work ethic and many wonderful traditions, which I now pass on to my four children.
Weekend overnights turned into full-time overnights at the Q and after about 6 months I moved over to 98 KUDL Adult Contemporary to do weekends. At this time, I was also hosting and producing "To Your Health" on American Cable TV. When 98 KUDL offered me the "Cuddle At Night" position (Monday-Saturday 7-midnight) I jumped at the opportunity and said TaTa to TV.
Two years later, my knight in shining armor, who also happened to be a football player and a LAWYER (but the good kind, Brian helps people get their real estate taxes reduced), entered the picture and not to the tune of KC. It's back to the Windy City if I wanted to ride into the sunset with the man of my dreams. And that's what I did! But first, I had to saturate the Chicago market with my air check and resume so I could get an on-air job.
My efforts landed me an interesting opportunity. In 1993 I was hired by Metro Networks to be the first female airborne reporter. I reported traffic/news from an airplane during a split shift for WMAQ AM670. Monday thru Friday I would rise at 4am, be on the road at 4:15am, at Pawaukee airport by 5:30am, flying by 5:45am and reporting by 6am until 9am and back for the same routine beginning at 2pm until 7pm. A long day for sure, but I witnessed some of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets flying around Chicago in that little Cessna airplane.
My flying buddies at the time included Scott Childers now doing afternoons at The River, Thom Johnson now at the Chicago Department of Transportation, Bill Keller now doing traffic for NBC-5 TV and Chuck Henson who manages Metro Networks in Florida. Pat Cassidy was the morning drive anchor for WMAQ and has made his way to All News 780 WBBM in the same capacity with a different co-anchor…. Feliccia Middlebrook. I worked with some very talented people!
A year later I was grounded so I could do weather on US*99 Country. JD Spangler and Catman were the main men on the radio and I got to be a part of the action.
Simultaneously, I reported News/Traffic/Entertainment on suburban station WAUR! Dean Abbott was the Host/Ops Manager for this great radio station and it was during that time on WAUR in 1995 that I asked Dean to let me do an entertainment segment during his show. He said yes and "What's Up, Chicagoland" ("WUC") was created!
Every Friday morning I brought the listeners of WAUR the latest happenings in the Chicagoland area with celebrity interviews thrown in the mix. My first interview for the segment was Robert Wagner who was starring in "Love Letters" with his real life wife Jill St. John at the Royal George Theater. "What's Up, Chicagoland" later expanded to additional stations such as WJTW to appear on "The Martini In The Morning" show and on WPNA. In 1996 "WUC" went to information & print for the Sun-Times Info-Line which was carried along with 800 categories. My segment was also featured in the newspaper every Friday.
In the meantime, Metro Networks five other reporters and me to cover the 1996 Democratic National Convention being held at the United Center in Chicago. Each convention day I would file relative stories for WOR in New York City and WWDB and WPEN in Philadelphia.
Clinton and Dick Morris were running. Some of my favorite interviews were done with Mayor Daley of Chicago, Sam Donaldson and George Stephanopolous both of ABC, Attorney/Activist Gloria Allred, Olympian Carl Lewis, Actor Ted Danson and the late Tom Foran who prosecuted the Chicago Seven back in the 60's and who also was my husband's former boss. (Sidenote: The Chicago Seven story will be made into a movie this winter 08).
The convention concluded and it's back to live radio where I was doing traffic again on All News Radio 780 WBBM, while continuing to grow "WUC." Some of my favorite interviews for "WUC" were done with Oscar winner Tom Hanks (married to a beautiful Greek Rita Wilson) Larry King of CNN, Oscar winner Faye Dunaway, baseball talent Frank Thomas, the late Steve Allen, actor Tony Randall and the legendary Mickey Rooney.
Boy life can be interesting when you talk to interesting people. But, as my husband always says "Kiki, TRY TO BE INTERESTED NOT INTERESTING!" In 1998 I put "WUC" on hold and I went back to work full-time to do morning drive on adult contemporary Windy 100. For nearly two years I enjoyed my traffic stint and news fill-in job on the highly regarded "Kevin and Susan" show, now THE TOMMY EDWARDS show. After my shift ended at 8:30am every weekday I would file entertainment stories for Metro Source, which is Westwood One's National News Wire.
Some of the more interesting interviews conducted for Metro included Actor Billy Bob Thornton, Actress Kathleen Turner, Musician Richard Marx, and Barbara Streisand protégé, Lauren Frost from Downers Grove!
Fast forward to the year 2000 and it's time to dedicate more of my energy to what I enjoy most in broadcasting and that's ENTERTAINMENT! So, I exited Windy 100, hopped back on WBBM weekends (I'm full circle now) and "WUC is resurrected as.....
"Entertainment Plus," a Chicago radio show focusing on the finest events taking place in the great city of Chicago. EP enjoyed great success on the airwaves for four years on WJJG …home of the Baron of Barrington. Entertainment Plus aired until 2005 at which point the show evolved into Destination Chicago. Destination Chicago, with Kiki Vale, your guide to people, places, and parties enjoyed a 2 year run on WJJG.
Next evolution and a long time coming…..
THE KIKI VALE SHOW!
Yes, I’ve been waiting all my life for this one. The Kiki Vale Show is a program delivered with LOVE, ENERGY (Kefi) and ENTERTAINMENT. The Kiki Vale Show, a by -product of KIKI, is a blast.
I hope you tune in this Friday on WJJG AM 1530 10:30-noon…you can also hear it here in a podcast. Destination Chicago has manifested itself into KIKI IN CHICAGO, a quick entertainment piece that summarizes Chicago happenings and airs during The Kiki Vale Show.
As Philanthropist Dr. Peter H. Diamandis says….Multiple Projects lead to multiple successes!
And one of my favorite inspirational guys ZIG ZIGLAR says…
SEE YOU AT THE TOP!
Enjoy surfing kikivale.com
And email me if you’d like to say HI!