The unique story behind the amazingly successful O’Connor show on Chicago Irish Radio from Ballinameen in Co Roscommon & Kiltulla in Co Galway
It began in Chicago, 1971. Mike O’Connor (Balinameen, Roscommon) found himself suddenly and surprisingly unemployed. Mike decided to take control of his future and opened his own insurance agency. His wife, Margaret(Kiltulla, Galway), ever the pragmatist with three small children, a mortgage, and now a new business endeavour, decided to return to work. This was not a popular option at the time and there was little support. As a result, the children were sent to Ireland every summer to be cared for by their Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. Margaret continued to work full time even after Mike’s business took off. The financial and emotional support Margaret provided was critical to Mike’s success.
The Mike O’Connor Show was originally created to promote the insurance agency. Happily, the enormous Irish community of Chicago embraced Mike and he found his audience. The show soon became the main focus and joy of Mike’s professional career. His passion for Irish sports, music, his quick wit and his dynamic personality cemented his appeal.
Siobhainn O’Connor grew up with the Mike O’Connor Show as a constant in her life. It was an annoyingly pesky family member that demanded constant attention. Though she and her two siblings spent time in the studio, nothing hinted that one day it would play an important role in her life.
Siobhainn attended the University of Illinois at Chicago and worked her way through school earning degrees in Political Science and Psychology. It wasn’t until a boyfriend became fascinated with the radio show it dawned what a unique enterprise her father created.
Siobhainn joined the show in 1991, and Mike was thrilled. Answering phones, finding music, doing live reads of ads-it was non-stop-and fun! Then she was producing, keeping all pieces and parts of the live show running smoothly. Soon after, she was doing sales calls, selling advertising time to small businesses. She never imagined hosting the show, but it wasn’t long till she was thrown directly into the soup. Mike decided he wanted time off and would frequently announce she was on her own only hours before broadcast. He never once told Siobhainn how to host the show-he wanted her to develop her own voice, her own style. She discovered her curiosity about people and their stories made her an entertaining radio presenter. The audience enjoyed and could relate to her. Mike retired in 2006 and passed away in 2014.
Chicago Irish Radio-The O’Connor Show as it’s now known is on its third generation of listeners. We are full of chat and LOVE guests. All find a great welcome here. The show is request driven; not only for particular music but for our audience. We help celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and major life events and share their sorrow when we announce the passing of members of our community. We are privileged and honoured to be part of our listener’s lives. Siobhainn is Owner/Producer/Host with help from long time co-host Breege Looney. Siobhainn’s children & niece occasionally take part in the broadcast.
Q 1- How does your normal day begin?
Coffee w/cream. No matter what. A comfy chair, 5 minutes. I sit, stare into space, and sip. I’m usually making mental lists of all that needs to be accomplished, but sometimes I’m just vacantly staring. Which is also just fine.
Q 2- What are your biggest daily challenges?
I find my biggest daily challenge is remaining focused on one task. There is so much I have to do & so much I WANT to do!!
Q3- What do you love most about your job?
We’ve become part of people’s lives; woven into the weft of its cloth. We are honoured to celebrate the joy of births, share the sorrow of death, and mark life events.
Q 4- What do you do to relax?
I find total immersion in a good book the best brain break ever. Once I start, I am committed & obsessed, so I don’t indulge as often as I’d like.
Q 5-Favourite staycation destination in Ireland and why?
Time with family in Galway, Roscommon, & Wicklow is essential. Wexford(horses exercising on the beach-am I dreaming?) & the bustle of Dublin. The more places I visit, the longer the list!
Q 6-Favourite holiday destination worldwide?
Brugge is gorgeous. And the beer in Belgium-it’s an event every time they pour! Amsterdam is just WOW, & Scandinavia is beautiful.
Q 7-Favourite Business motto?
If you don’t ask, the answer is ALWAYS no.
Q 8. Advice for young business entrepreneurs
Eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary. Do or don’t do. Lose that guilt. It’s exhausting. Forgive yourself & move on.