Camera crews have started filming a new reality TV show featuring Chicago radio and TV show host Erich "Mancow" Muller.
Mancow said his contract prevents him from giving details, but the show will air on "a major network" this summer and will include footage of him with his wife's family in Barrington, and also with his family in western Missouri.
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Cameras already have captured Mancow's daily routine, which involves getting out of bed at 2:30 a.m. to do his high-energy, nationally syndicated morning radio and TV show, "The Mancow Experience," on Elmhurst-based 1530-AM and FOX-owned WPWR Channel 50. A new highlights show, "The Mancow Mashup," airs on Channel 50 at 11 p.m. Saturdays.
The reality TV show is the latest project for Mancow, a polarizing radio personality since he ruled the Chicago airwaves with "Mancow's Morning Madhouse" in the mid 1990s and early 2000s. His outspoken personality, guns-and-babes focus, and right-wing politics attract a legion of loyal fans (called the Mancow Militia) but also plenty of haters.
Even a Valentine's Day newspaper column Mancow wrote, about marriage and his 10th wedding anniversary, was followed by vitriolic online comments, including one calling him "the worst radio personality to ever call Chicago home."
Mancow -- who's been repeatedly sued, fired and fined over the years for his on-air behavior -- says the critics don't get to him.
"I couldn't care less. As long as they're reacting, I can continue to do well. When you don't get a reaction, you're not doing anything," he said. "It happens to anyone who's successful. They hate Oprah. They nailed Jesus Christ up to the boards. If you do anything, people are going to get upset. All I hear when I walk down the street is love. They say, 'Thanks for being the lone voice for truth. Thanks for saying the things I can't say.'" However, changes in the radio business this past decade have marginalized large personalities like Mancow's. He said the changes have "destroyed" radio.
"Radio is shrinking, so a lot of the bad people are gone. A lot of the bad people still own the stations, and that's a bad thing. When I came to Chicago, there were 100 people I could call (who manage radio stations). Today, there are two or three and they all live out-of-state. When I tell you they don't care about Chicago, that's being nice," he said. "(Radio's) been destroyed. It's very depressing."
Regardless of radio's evolution, Mancow soldiers on.
"I do not live life in the past. I think it's a trap. The Mancow of '94 is not the Mancow of 2013. I have evolved as my audience has evolved," he said, but then he took shots at WGN 720-AM morning show host Jonathon Brandmeier ("acting like Huey Lewis in 2013 in very sad to me") and WTMX 101.9-FM's top-rated morning show "Eric & Kathy," ("feigning interest in Justin Bieber is heartbreaking").
Mancow's mother-in-law, Ena Ferrando of Barrington, says he's a different person off the air -- a good-hearted man, a sweet husband, and wonderful father to his 7-year-old twin girls.
"He always keeps everybody laughing around the table," she said. "He always has something to say."
Mancow praises his in-laws, whom he says personify "The American dream," having moved here from Italy with only $200, yet managing to survive and thrive.
Like them, Mancow says his success has come from hard work.
"There are people far more talented than I, but they didn't want to get up in the morning and they didn't want to work," he said. "My motto ... is 'Do good.' And the other thing is 'Wake up, kick (expletive), repeat.'"