‘A Beer With Baron’ Marathon Prompts a Round of Reflection

For over a decade, I have had the honor of interviewing some of the most fascinating, accomplished, all-around cool people who hail from Oak Park, Illinois, the community that has been my home for over 25 years.

Some guests I had the pleasure of knowing already; others–thanks to the show–I have been fortunate to get to know.

The past five years, the segment has been called “A Beer With Baron.” The first 10 BWB interviews were at BeerShop in Downtown Oak Park & the most recent one came at One Lake Brewing.

Lord willing, there are more rounds of interviews to come. Meantime, tonight at 7 p.m. local cable Channel 6 (which produces the show) is broadcasting a “Beer With Baron Marathon”–along with an “Oak Park’s Own” chaser featuring my Scoville Park interview of cartoonist Marc Stopeck.

Thank you, Village of Oak Park, Illinois, for this opportunity–especially VOP-TV Manager Joe Kreml, who conceived the show, makes all the magic happen and has scheduled this BWB Marathon.

You don’t need to get local Oak Park cable to see the clips, either. Below, in chronological order, are the 11 rounds of “A Beer With Baron” so far, plus the “Oak Park’s Own” segment with Marc Stopeck.

1. Chris Neville
When the beer began flowing, in July 2015, my first guest was the talented and thoughtful Chris Neville. My only regret is that he was clean-shaven at this point in his life–he’s got some of the best facial hair around these days as he rocks the world via Tributosaurus and other endeavors.

The Beer Clip:

2. Dave Revsine

Of all my BWB guests, the one I have known the longest is Dave Revsine, going back to our time together in college.

We were only acquainted then, but it’s been a pleasure to get to know Dave more in recent years, since his family moved to Oak Park after he became the studio anchor for the Big Ten Network.

In our chat, Dave talked about his excellent book, Opening Kickoff: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation. I had already read it by the time we spoke, and we could have gone for hours.

The Beer Clip:


3. Matthew James Collins

For this segment, I learned enough Italian to introduce the show in that beautiful language. Why? Because OPRF grad Matthew James Collins had lived in Italy for two decades by the time we bellied up to the BeerShop bar.

A world-renowned artist, Mr. Collins has been the only fellow Matt I have thus far welcomed onto the show.

The Beer Clip:

4. Donna Peel

One of my favorite people — and one of my favorite organizations, Pro Bono Network, which steps up and serves people who do not have the financial means to navigate the often-expensive legal system.

The Beer Clip:

5. Stephen Green

Before Spring Training 2017, Chicago Cubs team photographer Steve Green shared from his 2016 World Series experiences, along with many other anecdotes going back to the 1980s. Steve is my only “repeat” guest, as I interviewed him for “Oak Park’s Own” in 2009 when he had an exhibit at the Oak Park Public Library.

The Beer Clip:

Robert K. Elder

For this one, I sported a little Hemingway-esque facial hair, honoring my guest’s work on Hidden Hemingway. It’s one of many projects by Robert K. Elder, my ultimate Side Hustle inspiration.

And I promise this is just a coincidence and not any bias against other parental types: like two other early guests (Chris Neville and Dave Revsine), Rob is, like me, the dad of twins.

The Beer Clip:

7. Jamael “Isaiah Makar” Clark
With the one and only Isaiah Makar, an Oak Park and River Forest graduate and “artrepreneur” who is blazing a trail as a speaker, trainer, and mentor, among other roles.

The Beer Clip


8. Kelly Richmond Pope:

The Renaissance Woman: Kelly Richmond Pope, who is a forensic accountant, DePaul professor, and director of All the Queen’s Horses. It’s a must-see—her documentary and, perhaps, even my Q & A with her.

The Beer Clip:

9. Ginger Yarrow

Among those I knew for years before her BWB appearance: Ginger Yarrow, a board member of PING – Providing Instruments for the Next Generation.

The group does great work, and Ginger came to mind as a guest after I was blown away by the “Prisms of Winter” concert at OPRF a few years back. I knew that some of those musicians had benefited from PING’s support, and it was my small way of paying homage to the organization.

The Beer Clip:

10. Mark Bazer

Fellow Boston-area native, fellow Northwestern University grad, fellow Interviewer-in-Bar Guy–those are only some of the parallels between me and Mark Bazer, the creative force behind The Interview Show.

The Beer Clip:

11. Keith J. Taylor

Though we had talked by phone in preparation for the interview, I hadn’t met Keith Taylor till we shot this segment–the first one at One Lake Brewing in November 2019.

But I felt like I already knew him through his remarkable work as a visual humorist with Trump and Other Disasters—Cartoons and his regular efforts for Chicago Public Square. The esteemed and expert interviewer Charlie Meyerson kindly put me in touch with this gifted and industrious artist.

The Beer Clip:

The Prequel: Oak Park’s Own

From 2009 to 2015, I interviewed several Oak Parkers under the “Oak Park’s Own” banner, including author / journalist David Mendell, Cubs photographer Stephen Green (my only two-time guest), the remarkable Jeanette Fields, Obama 2008 campaign photographer Todd Bannor, and viaForensics co-founders Andrew and Chee-Young Kim.

Below is my chat with Shrubtown cartoonist Marc Stopeck in 2011.

To this day, Marc claims, he has never seen the segment. I guess he doesn’t need to, right? He knows what we talked about.

Related Post:
From ‘Return to Me’ to ‘A Beer With Baron,’ creating a scene is a marvelous, meticulous art

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