Rockford’s longest-tenured radio team has shared many memories with listeners, and through it all, they’ve remained a tight-knit duo, staying true to their work and to Rockford.
Working as on-air partners in the radio business is a lot like being in a marriage.
Just ask Jim Stone and Terry Turen, hosts of the Stone and Double T morning show, weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on 104.9 The X in Rockford.
“He is the most organized, obsessive person I know,” Stone says of Turen. “But I would be absolutely lost without him.”
“Stone comes off very strong, almost tough-like,” says Turen. “But once you get past that rough exterior, he’s not like that at all. He’s genuinely concerned about people. But with Stone, there’s no filter. He gives you his opinion, and he won’t sugarcoat things.”
Like any relationship, there’s sure to be disagreements. But when they flare up, Stone and Turen are quick to quash any hard feelings. “We get mad, state what’s wrong, and then it’s over,” Turen says. “We move on.”
That pretty much sums up the relationship between Stone and Turen, better known by his moniker, “Double T.” For nearly 14 years, Stone and Turen, the longest-tenured local radio duo, have been wreaking havoc with their on-air antics, crude humor and unquenchable thirst for fun.
And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When you look at us, we’re not the most refined people,” Stone says. “We don’t put on airs. We’re not any different on the air than we are in life.”
Turen joined the station 20 years ago. He caught the radio bug growing up in Villa Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. “One of my buddies had a tape player,” he says. “We put on our own radio show at his house, playing his brother’s KISS albums.”
As a student at Illinois State University, Turen pondered a career in television, as a camera operator or some other behind-the-scenes role. But after taking a broadcast journalism class, he decided television wasn’t in his future. Fortunately, a professor encouraged him to check out the college radio station, and the rest is history.
“I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” says Turen, who spent summers working as a camp counselor. “In radio, you don’t have to dress up, there’s no heavy lifting, and you don’t sweat a lot. It’s something different every day.”
Stone, a native of Hardin, Ill., always wanted to know the business side of radio. While his friends listened for the music, Stone could recite a station’s call letters, frequency and the names of on-air personalities. “I was fascinated by the process,” says Stone, who also works as operations manager for Mid-West Family Broadcasting, the station’s parent company. “But I never realized you could make a living just by talking into a microphone.”
After he flunked out of Illinois State, Stone took a job removing asbestos – work he didn’t particularly enjoy. He enrolled in a radio broadcasting school in St. Louis and took a part-time, weekend job at a local station broadcasting high school football games, reading obituaries and hosting a local swap shop. “It was Craigslist before Craigslist,” he says.
In 2000, Stone left his job as general manager at a rock station in Terra Haute, Ind., to come work for the X.
Turen was working in production at the time, and Stone often asked him to appear on his show. The two immediately hit it off. “We started laughing and doing stupid stuff,” Stone says. It took another four years, however, before station management made the partnership official; thus, the Stone and Double T show was born.
And, boy, have they had fun over the years. They’ve been to too many concerts to count; they’ve broadcast from Las Vegas, Los Angeles and, for each of the past six years, traveled by RV to Sturgis, S.D., for a week of broadcasting from the annual fabled motorcycle rally. They’ve interviewed famous rock stars, athletes and actors. They met Paul Mitchell and Peter Fonda at a concert in Milwaukee, and Stone bumped into Charlton Heston in the bathroom at the famous Spago restaurant.
“We’ve met our idols, and we’ve made new friends,” Stone says. “It’s been an amazing experience.”
For four hours every morning, Stone and Double T not only play rock music, but talk about virtually everything. No topic is off limits. With a listening audience that caters to men ages 18 to 45, some of the banter can get a tad raunchy. “We’re like two guys talking in a locker room,” says Turen.
But not all conversation is salty or meaningless. Stone and Turen aren’t afraid to tackle national and local issues that impact not only them, but their listening audience. “We come in and talk about things going on in our world,” Stone says. “Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s political, and sometimes it’s funny. It’s whatever we think is important that day. We never know how the show is going to end up.”
They’ve also put their words to good use. They raised money to help Nashold Elementary School build a new playground. They slept in the back of a semi-truck for a week to raise funds for the hungry. And they’ve even been known to bring in mayoral candidates to discuss issues that impact the community.
“We care about Rockford,” Stone says. “This is where we’re raising our families. It’s important to us to make this area better, and we got away from that. We became those bitter Rockfordians who we like to make fun of. I made a conscious decision not to be that negative person. We want to create positive change in Rockford.”
Still, there are certain temptations that come with the territory. Both Stone and Turen admit that they once got caught up in a lifestyle that surrounds the music scene – the non-stop partying that takes place at concerts and live remotes held in taverns.
For Stone, the problems became too much to bear. His drinking was affecting his life at work and at home. Finally, he asked his boss for help, and he came clean to listeners as well. “It was serious, and it was real,” he says.
As it turns out, Turen was coping with similar issues.
“We were partners in every way, shape and form,” Stone says. “It was part of who we were.”
A year after Stone sought treatment, Turen did the same. While they still do live remotes from bars, they no longer try to be “the life of the party.” And that suits them just fine.
“It became a matter of either partying or working here, and I would much rather do this,” Turen says. “I love this job.”
Stone’s personal growth continues. Two years ago, he found his birth mother after an extensive search. “It’s not changed my life, but it’s been a welcomed addition,” says Stone, who also met his brother in the process.
These days, Stone finds contentment in spending time with his fiancée, Lindsey. His new addiction is riding his Harley motorcycle. Many days after work, he hops on and rides wherever his powerful bike takes him.
Turen spends time with family. He and wife Amy have an 11-year-old daughter, Savannah. And when he’s not rocking out at concerts, he can be found rooting on his beloved Bears and Blackhawks.
While these rough-edged veterans of the local radio scene appear to be a bit more mature and introspective than they once were, don’t get the wrong impression. Stone and Turen promise that their morning gabfest will remain edgy, entertaining and always on the brink of crossing the line.
“We’re guys who like to have fun,” Turen says. “That’s never going to change.”