Mike Nowak and the Attack of the Killer Asparagus
Apr 25, 2014 01:08PM
By Megy Karydes
Mike Nowak, former rock ‘n’ roll disc jockey, theater manager and radio engineer, does not advise following his life plan. That may be because he didn’t have one, although it’s possible that had he created one, it would have been soon obsolete.
Nowak can be found behind the microphone as host of The Mike Nowak Show on WCPT radio every Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m. He also pens an offbeat humor column for Chicagoland Gardening magazine, a gig he scored after sending a sample article on a whim to then-publisher Bill Aldrich.
The column features “a dystopian world where invasive plants raid refrigerators and birds are far more terrifying than Alfred Hitchcock ever imagined,” says Nowak, who sees the world through a different lens. “It’s a reflection of what I see happening around me,” he adds, using humor to point out the absurdities of our daily lives. A compilation of his columns has spawned a book that is coming out this month: Attack of the Killer Asparagus.
Nowak is an entertainer and uses his sense of humor to pull readers in and get his point across. His radio show addresses gardening, but he says it’s so much more than just that. “I cover what I think is important at that time,” he says. He is smart enough to know what he doesn’t know about topics of the day, so he invites guests onto his show to share their knowledge.
Nowak fields a lot of questions about gardening, but points out “I’m not a gardening guru. Let’s put that to rest. I didn’t study it. I just picked up a lot of information along the way. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then.” He also is smart enough to know what questions to ask, and that’s what listeners tune in to hear each week.
Nowak is certainly knowledgeable about radio and theater, but he also knows something about gardening and the importance of soil and recycling. The one thing that brings all of his interests together is horticulture. “Horticulture was my life mid-course correction,” he jokes.
It’s unusual for Nowak to get serious, because that’s not his personality, but if there is one thing that baffles him, it is people not thinking about the consequences of their actions. “We can break it down to simple things like lawn care,” he says. “What people do is the antithesis of what they should be doing. These are the same people who will make a donation to the Sierra Club in the morning and then put Weed ‘n’ Feed on their lawn in the afternoon. These are highly educated individuals who claim to be aware of environmental issues, and yet they don’t see a problem with using harmful chemicals just because they want their lawn to be the best-looking lawn on the block.”
He continues, “Or people don’t recycle. Or buy too much junk. Or don’t think about why the item they are about to buy is in plastic when it doesn’t need to be in plastic. We’ve allowed marketers to tell us if we don’t have the perfect lawns, we’re idiots. That needs to stop.”
Currently serving as President of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Recycling Coalition, Nowak’s enthusiasm for the environment extends to performing in Dickensian costumes with the Frozen Robins during the holidays, giving talks at garden clubs and toiling away in his own garden, trying as he might to keep the squirrels from eating his tomatoes.
To get your own copy of Attack of the Killer Asparagus, visit AroundTheBlockPress.com or look for the book at your local bookstore or garden center. The Mike Nowak Show airs every Sun. on WCPT 820AM and 92.5, 92.7 and 99.9FM from 9-11 a.m. Live streaming and podcasts are available at MikeNowak.net.
Megy Karydes can’t wait to begin talking to her plants in the garden again because she’s convinced they speak back to her. If you want to speak to her, too, find her at KarydesConsulting.com.