Tom Marker Bio

At ‘XRT we still hear from people who tell us they’ve been listening since we were a part-time, underground station. Tom says he’s been listening longer than that. His first personal contact with ‘XRT was when he met John Platt. He invited Tom to visit him while on the air at WGLD, a one-time progressive rock station based in Oak Park. Tom thought, “cool job.” John went on to be one of the founders of the rock programming on ‘XRT, our first program director, and one of the stations first DJs. Tom became a DJ and worked in Hastings, Michigan and Beaufort, South Carolina for a couple of years. John was a nice guy and all, and helped Tom land his job at WJKL, “The Fox”, in Elgin where Tom worked from 1975 to 1980, but he never hired Tom at work at ‘XRT. Lucky for Tom, soon after Norm Winer became ‘XRT’s program director in 1979 Tom was one of his first hires and Norm remains Tom’s favorite program director of all time.

A mid 80s trip to Memphis and New Orleans helped to stoke Tom’s interest in the Blues just as the position of host for ‘XRT’s Blues Breakers became open. Tom has now been hosting the show for over 25 years, is the mainstage emcee of the Chicago Blues Festival each summer, has talked about the blues on radio stations in Sweden, Japan, China and Australia and is the recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award from the Blues Foundation, in Memphis.

So, we know Tom loves the blues, but what’s Tom’s favorite kind of music? “Live music,” he says. “And the smaller venues are the best.” Second favorite kind of music? “New music. I love to hear the old favorites and some of the best songs take some time to grow on you, but there’s nothing like hearing a song for the first or second time. I also love to hear old music for the first time. It can even be a song from the forties or fifties, but when I hear it for the first time it counts as new to me. This is part of why I like Blues Breakers so much; I’m always finding old songs I’ve never heard before and Chicago’s blues clubs are some of the best places to hear live music. And it’s why I love doing New Noise at Nine on ‘XRT on Thursday nights.”

Tom is the producer and host of Blues Breakers heard every Monday night at 9:00 PM. He can also be heard doing fill-in shifts throughout the week.

You can reach Tom at
He can be found on Facebook as Tom Marker
He can be found on Twitter @tommarker
His XRT page is at

Favorite Concerts

Allen Toussaint at S.P.A.C.E.
Mavis Staples at The Hideout
Ivan Neville Neville and Dumpstaphunk at Martyr’s
Billy Branch at Artis’
Alejandro Escovedo at Old Town School.
James Brown at Park West
Etta James at House of Blues
Sonny Landreth at Sutton’s Bay Blues Festival
Buddy Guy Buddy Guy’s Legends
Dave Alvin Fitzgerald’s
Muddy Waters Harry Hopes
Bob Marley Auditorium Theater
Los Lobos Biddy Mulliagan’s
Rolling Stones International Amphitheater
Luther Allison Chicago Blues Festival
Lyle Lovett Chicago Theater
Iguanas Mid City Lanes
Patti Smith Group Riviera
Iggy Pop Metro
Specials B’ginnings
Tom Waits Ivanhoe
Bonnie Raitt Mill Run
Ramones Haymakers
Bruce Springsteen Uptown

More from Tom Marker

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