Contrast with chemistry key to Jiggetts-North radio team
Former WSCR radio co-hosts Dan Jiggetts, left, and Mike North will be reuniting off the air March 8 with a "Monsters 20th Anniversary Event" at Arlington Park.
The low-key, thoughtful, Harvard-educated former Chicago Bears offensive lineman.
The street-wise, ahem, opinionated hot dog stand owner and high school dropout.
Who would have imagined the pairing of Dan Jiggetts and Mike North could work at any profession, much less at a start-up all-sports talk radio station?
The folks who behind the upstart WSCR, the all-sports talker that began in January 1992, did.
"My reaction was, I'm with a former Bear, a guy I respect, a guy I've watched play and has been on TV — Dan Jiggetts ... this can't be bad," recalled North.
"I remember they told us about the pairing and so we went over to Mike's restaurant and chatted a little bit," Jiggetts said. "Our chemistry was there from the moment we sat down and started firing at each other."
And before you could say Ditka, The Score had the makings of a hit on its hands — a Monster hit, if you will, in the North-Jiggetts pairing, which lasted eight years.
"Three days in I remember sitting with (executive VP) Seth Mason saying this show has it," former Score programming director Ron Gleason told Daniel Dorfman, who wrote an extensive history on the station for its website.
Gleason wasn't the only one feeling good about the combo.
"After about a week or two I honestly felt we had something pretty good, and as time went by that was proved to be true," Jiggetts said.
"I think it worked because most people, just at the sight of us and with the way stereotypes are in this country, most people would say, 'Well, who is the Harvard graduated kid?'" North said. "It worked because we crossed racial lines, we were comfortable talking about things. We had the street kid in me, the fan in me, and we had the actual professional player in Dan.
"Plus, we were in a happy place. There was some contentiousness as far as interviews with guests were concerned at times, but with the listeners and callers, we always respected them — we knew where our bread was buttered."
Out of necessity, Jiggetts was the main voice of calmness during their years together.
"If you had two people like Mike on the air at the same time ... I don't think it would last a half-hour," he said with a laugh. "But I think from a personality standpoint it was a great match because I was kind of the guy who to go 'All right, let's get back to reality,' and Mike would go off on another tangent."
Since the band broke up in 1999, North and Jiggetts have continued to work together on other ventures ranging from print to television.
"I can't speak for Dan, but I think we're closer now," North said. "Back then, it was survival. We wanted to succeed as partners but we also knew we had to be good as individuals. We were so focused on doing a good job that we never really had the friendship I thought we could have. Since then it's just grown."
Added Jiggetts: "It was always fun for us. The chemistry was something I think was palpable to people, and I think they rather enjoyed it."
Fans of North and Jiggetts will get to see that chemistry in person again at the "Monsters 20th Anniversary Event" on March 8 at Arlington Park. Buffet tickets ($50) are available at arlingtonpark.com.
"I hadn't heard what the station (WSCR) was doing to celebrate and I said, 'You know what? We have to do something,'" North said. "This is 20 years. We've known each other for 20 years. We've worked together on and off for 20 years ... people were asking me about it. So I decided to put something together."
"I didn't know it was like putting a wedding together. I knew it would be a chore, but it's turned out to be a great chore," he said. "My wife Be-Be has been unbelievable and I've had great partners in the Daily Herald and Arlington Park.
"I just decided, 'Let's have a celebration. One night only with the Monsters.'"
Knowing North, nothing will be off limits at the Monsters celebration — and that includes the good or bad since his Score days.
"Everybody's got a Vietnam," he said with a laugh. "My winning percentage is about 18-4. I've had mostly successes. I've had a couple of negatives — there's no question — and some of those I brought on myself."
But he wouldn't change a thing.
"(In the early days at The Score) I remember telling Dan McNeill, 'Let's enjoy this while we can' because it's going to go fast. And you know what? It went fast. It's been 20 years. But I'll tell you this: I loved every single minute. And I still do."
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