The Free Beer & Hot Wings Show began as an afternoon show in Omaha, NE at non-commercial radio station KIWR in March of 1997. The Show, comprised of former Central Michigan University roommates Gregg Daniels and Chris Michels, eventually moved to mornings several months later where they remained until the summer of 2000. At that time, they moved on to WBON in Knoxville, TN. In June of 2002, The Show moved to New Jersey, where they were simulcast on WTHK in Trenton and WCHR on the Jersey Shore. The Free Beer & Hot Wings Show began full syndication in 2004 with the addition of WGRD in Grand Rapids, MI. Joe joined the show in 2005, followed by Steve in 2009. The show is now heard on radio stations in 26 different states.
Instead of calling the show ‘The Gregg and Chris Show,’ which by all estimations would have been the most boring sounding radio show in the world, the decision was made to call it The Free Beer & Hot Wings Show, which seemed far more attention-grabbing. It was admittedly nothing more than a cheap ploy to get people to listen under the false pretense that they may actually have a chance to win beer and/or hot wings. It was not intended that those two things would become permanently synonymous and attached to Gregg and Chris as nicknames, but that’s what happened and now they have to live with the consequences of their B.S. forever.
Photos courtesy of Tim Motley, Motley Cat Studio
One of the founding members of the show since its inception in March of 1997, Free Beer sets up most of the bits on the show. Free Beer is known for many verbal screw-ups, a vast sports knowledge, and occasionally laughing like Ricky Ricardo from old episodes of “I Love Lucy”. Occasionally known on the show by the alternate nicknames “Burn King” and “El Matador”, Free Beer spends free time playing basketball and hanging with his lovely wife Amanda, and his sons Henry, Oliver and Hayden. On the side, Free Beer is the lead play by play announcer for Compass Media Networks coverage of the national game of the week, as well as handling some NFL and college basketball games.
Hot Wings, the other founding member of the show, is from Lake Orion, MI which, for reasons unknown is pronounced Or-ee-un instead of Oh-RI-un, like the constellation. Hot Wings, also known as “Mayor of Awesometown” and “Minista of Flava”, loves muscle cars and hates liberals. He writes daily commentaries about politics and pop culture called What Hot Wings Thinks that will likely reference one or both of those things. He is oddly and prematurely knowledgeable about trees… a skill he picked up from his father who wears black socks and dress shoes with shorts and has a tendency to singe his hair around gas grills. Hot Wings believes he can tell time just by looking at the sun. He likes home improvement and knows just enough to be a pain in his own ass, taking on projects that seem easy, but take him weeks. Hot Wings is married to Kerri. Together, they have two sons, Grayson and Liam. The first kid took 6 rounds of IVF. The 2nd took 2 glasses of wine and hardly any effort. Hot Wings also has a dog, (Bubba) and one cat (Setzer), which was a stray cat that Hot Wings almost ran over and is named after Brian Setzer who was the leader of an ’80s band called The Stray Cats.
Joe was born in Chicago, IL and raised on the talk radio and comedy that the city cultivates. He briefly studied writing and improv at The Second City, but found a true passion hosting a widely praised* radio show at the Illinois Institute of Technology (an institution he did not attend – not even briefly).
Following an internship at WRIF on The Drew & Mike Show, he was brought on as the Executive Producer of The Free Beer & Hot Wings Show. This was the position he held from 2005 – 2015. In 2016 he moved into the role of host, alongside Free Beer and Hot Wings.
While he is happily known for his knowledge of pop culture, sarcastic humor, and spontaneous wit, he holds disdain for those who choose to celebrate his downsides – of which there are many. That being said, he accepts the onus of his position as senseless, stubborn overeater and cultivates these impressions for the sake of humor and not because these traits are an actual representation of him.
Joe is an avid rock climber, hiker and cyclist. He spends his free time traveling. So far, he has been to Wisconsin and Idaho. His writing has been featured in various publications as well as on the show. Also, his laugh is described as loathsome, infectious and that of a small girl.
Steve was born and raised in Jersey, which many people are surprised to hear is actually “The Garden State.” He attended Monmouth University and after realizing that he had no desire to take Microeconomics, he figured he’d be a Radio major and work for the college radio station, WMCX. Some highlights include interviewing awful bands, saying the F-word on the air a few times and excelling at mediocre radio. This led to a job working for a number of years at 105.7 The Hawk, which is where his paths crossed with the Free Beer and Hot Wings show. Initially a board op, Steve eventually worked his way up to the position of Assistant Program Director of the station. He then worked for the NHL in New York City for a year. And now he’s here.
Steve is married to his wife Annette, who he met on stage while playing “The Dating Game” at a Live at Night show in 2014. He considers himself to be “literally the worst game show prize ever.” They are currently expecting their first child, due in September of 2019.
Maitlynn (it’s like Caitlyn but with an “M”) is from Jackson, Michigan and is not only the youngest member of the show but also the only one without a Y-chromosome. Maitlynn AKA “Mainland” also thinks her middle name Shelby is cool because her dad decided he wanted to name her after the Shelby Cobra. So she was basically destined to end up somewhere badass like here, right?
Maitlynn became an intern for us while attending Grand Valley State University for Multimedia Journalism where she also worked on her college station, WCKS The Whale. We decided having “the girl” on our show wouldn’t be a bad idea and now she’s got her degree from GVSU and sticking around!
She’s a craft beer enthusiast, has a proud beer tee shirt collection, and is dating some guy we’ve dubbed “Boris” who she met on Facebook (typical millennials). Maitlynn also spends her time living that #LakeLife, listening to Nickelback, hating moths, and saying things like “cool beans” and “Yee Yee.”