New arts and culture podcast puts WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding in the spotlight

Lisa Fielding

Growing up in northwest suburban Lake Zurich, Lisa Fielding always thought of herself as a “theater kid.” Now a top-rated afternoon news anchor and reporter at WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM, she’s never lost touch with the performing arts.

Starting the week of December 6, Fielding will put it all together as host of “Backstage Chicago,” a new weekly podcast on the local arts and cultural scene for the Audacy all-news station.

“Lisa will get a first look at pre-Broadway rehearsals, explore the latest art exhibitions, talk to the artists and creators who are finally back to work, and experience Chicago’s long-awaited return to live, in-person performances,” Jay Zawaski, managing editor of podcasts and multimedia at WBBM Newsradio, told me.

For Fielding, who attended Lake Zurich High School before going on to Bradley University, it’s a welcome new role.

“I loved dance and drama, and my parents used to take us to shows at the Lincolnshire Marriott, plays at the Steppenwolf and I remember one magical night at the Auditorium Theater where I saw “Cats” for the first time,” she recalled. “They were one-inch dots on the stage and we had a giant pole blocking most of our view — my dad didn’t buy into the expensive seats — but it still solidified my love and fascination with live performance and theater.”

The prolonged shutdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic drew Fielding back to arts and culture reporting, she said.

“In the last few years, I’ve met some amazing, talented, fascinating people who spend their lives cultivating their craft and who were suddenly sidelined. The industry was first to close, last to reopen. I’ve also realized how important arts and culture is in our lives. Sixteen to 18 months without, it’s something not to take for granted. It’s also an engine for our economy,” she said.

“Backstage Chicago with Lisa Fielding” follows the launch of another original podcast from WBBM Newsradio — “Gains with Andy Giersher,” hosted by the longtime producer of the station’s “Noon Business Hour.”

With new episodes uploading every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, the podcast features conversations with experts in the world of crypto, meme stocks, financial markets, tech and more.

As part of Audacy’s “multiplatform transformation” of its news brands nationwide, WBBM Newsradio also recently added two new digital producers under Zawaski.

Jillian DeGroot signed on from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned a master’s degree in new arts journalism. And Lauren Brown, who hosted and produced the podcast “We Live Here” for St. Louis Public Radio, starts Monday.

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Amy Jacobson: I’m glad Maze [Jackson] is okay. Keep in mind young teenage girls are also carjacking Chicagoans. If you haven’t already watched it, CBS 2 did an excellent investigation on the mindset of carjackers.