Phrases to the Smart | Characteristics

Ashley S. Crofoot
Go witness the 1,000th episode of the domestically broadcast and longest-jogging radio system about phrases and language in the place
By Al Parker | June 26, 2021

It could be the set up for a corny joke: A former monk, English professor, and advocate for senior citizens walks into a radio station.

It is a joke that only term geeks — nearby phrase geeks, in distinct — may comprehend.

“Words to the Smart,” the regionally broadcast and longest-managing radio software about text and language in the country, focuses on the foibles of the English language. It is co-hosted by previous monk Michael J. Sheehan, who is also an English professor and former member of the condition Fee on Services to the Getting old.

Affectionately recognized as “The Professor,” Sheehan has co-hosted the display with NewsTalk 580 WTCM morning host Ron Jolly at 9am Tuesdays for 20 several years.

On Tuesday, July 6, the pair will broadcast their 1,000th episode. To celebrate the milestone, they’re broadcasting are living from the City Opera Residence stage in Traverse Town, and term geeks/language-enthusiasts/argot aficionados/linguaphiles — effectively, you get the photograph — are invited to hear and see the exhibit. 

“Words to the Wise” is considered to be the only phrase-oriented demonstrate on business AM radio in the country, though there are very similar demonstrates on community radio, according to Sheehan. 

Yet, each individual Tuesday, for just less than an hour, callers light-weight up the neighborhood radio station’s switchboard to inquire questions about quirks in the English language.

“Why do I park on a driveway, but travel on a parkway?”

“Where did the phrase ‘the full 9 yards’ occur from?

“Why is there a p in pneumonia?”

And the most prevalent dilemma he receives: “Do I use have an effect on or outcome?”

These thoughts and much more are ordinarily answered on the spot by Sheehan, who taught English for 26 years in the City Colleges of Chicago.

From time to time he’ll have to do some exploration and bring the reply again to listeners the subsequent week.

“Tuesday from 9am to 10am is the emphasize of my 7 days on the radio,” suggests Jolly, who has been on air in the 7am–10am time slot considering that 1995.

“I become a listener and recognize why so a lot of folks look ahead to the prof’s software. He has a terrific perception of humor, a large awareness of English, Latin and language background, and a photographic memory,” he claims, then adds, “His golf video game could use some assist.”

So what helps make the show so common?

“Insecurity,” claims Sheehan, who lives in Cedar with his spouse, Dona. “People want to know if they are stating the phrase appropriate applying it suitable.”

The radio clearly show attracts cellphone phone calls from listeners all around the WTCM broadcast space, who in some cases recognize him when he talks.

“I was going for walks by way of Munson [Medical Center] not long ago and chatting with my wife,” Sheehan claims. “All the unexpected a nurse stopped me. ‘I acknowledge your voice,’ she states. ‘I really like your exhibit.’”

Sheehan is the creator of quite a few textbooks on language and is doing work on the third version of his dictionary, The Phrase Parts Dictionary, initial published in 2000. He also taken care of a language-related site — — until finally 2020. But his passion for words and phrases goes back decades further.

The 82-yr-old grew up in Chicago looking through the city’s vibrant newspapers of the 1950s and ‘60s. It was the glory times of this kind of Chicago-based writers as Mike Royko and Studs Terkel. At the age of 14, Sheehan joined the Get of St. Augustine. Right after 13 years as a monk, he was ordained as a priest in 1965.

Chicago in the 1960s was a turbulent cauldron of social modify. In 1966, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a team of marchers into the all-white housing spots close to Marquette Park, Sheehan was a person of the marchers.

A group of some 4,000 Marquette Park people collected to look at the march and jeer, some throwing bottle, bricks, and rocks at the marchers.

“I didn’t stroll along with Dr. King, but I was aspect of the march,” Sheehan states.

Church officers did not seem kindly on Sheehan’s social activism and assigned him to a generally black parish. After serving for another 12 months or so he created a vocation change.

“I remaining the buy in 1967 mainly because of the racism and sexism I had to deal with,” he states.

A NEW Contacting
Sheehan before long landed a career training English at the City Schools of Chicago’s Olive-Harvey Higher education on the city’s south facet.

“It’s a blue-collar local community with a Sherwin-Williams paint plant, the Ford plant, other factories,” states Sheehan, who taught grammar and Shakespeare together with primary English classes.

Sheehan retired in 1994, but early on in his retirement, Sheehan observed he needed something other than his pet dog, Boo, and his golfing sport to keep him chaotic. He soon received associated in myriad problems essential to senior citizens. Recognizing his company on the local stage, Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed him to the state fee on solutions to the getting older. He was reappointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Sheehan’s operate ethic and vitality could possibly not be noticeable to his listeners, but they’ve absolutely produced an impact on his longtime co-host.

“He’s been a terrific friend and radio companion,” says Jolly, who adds he’s learned a large amount from listening to Sheehan himself.

“Like the ‘T’ in frequently ought to not be pronounced, and you ‘take’ a little something with you, but you ‘bring’ a thing residence,” Jolly states. “There are a whole lot of awful puns out there.”

Exemplifying how significantly language implies to him, Sheehan indicators off each individual show with this nugget of wordy wisdom for listeners: “The restrictions of my language are the boundaries of my earth.”

Intrigued in catching the dwell broadcast? Tickets ($10 each individual) for the 1,000th Episode of WTCM’s “Words to the Sensible,” broadcasting from 9am to 10am Tuesday, July 6, at the Town Opera Property can be bought at or at the box office at 106 E. Front St.

Fall Ahead
May well Erlewine at COH in September
Nearby favourite May possibly Erlewine, a single of the Midwest’s most prolific and passionate songwriters, will take the City Opera Dwelling stage for a single night’s efficiency on Thursday, September 16. Erlewine’s broad and devoted supporter foundation extends nicely outside of her deep-set Michigan roots, so an early ticket invest in is recommended. Tickets — $50 VIP or $20 Reserved — are obtainable at Doors open up at 6:30pm the exhibit commences at 7:30pm. 

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