“Loper and Randi’s Great Summer Smokeout” Saturday, August 5th at Express LIVE! – Columbus

Mention “Loper and Randi’s Great Summer Smokeout” to any hard rock fan, and images of food trucks, smoked meats, smoking hot bands and a great summertime memory come to mind. This year the hosts of one of the most popular and listened to radio morning shows in central Ohio, are also celebrating their stations, 99.7 the Blitz, 25th anniversary. Headlined this year by Halestorm and a support lineup of Sick Puppies, Adelitas Way and Nine Shrines, all powered by Hell City Tattoo Festival, this year’s Smokeout, Saturday, August 5th at Expess LIVE! in Columbus OH, promises to be one of the hottest hard rock barbecues of the summer.

I recently sat down with Loper and Randi after their four-hour morning show to discuss the history and the making of the Smokeout and what we should expect this year. They have promised a special celebration for the 25th anniversary of the Blitz, and I am personally hoping to see Blitz mid-day jock, “Nuber”, jump out of a cake in a cocktail dress!

Sitting down face to face for a chat with Jeremy Loper and Randi Rasar, is not much different than listening to their morning show from 6am to 10am Monday thru Friday on 99.7 the Blitz. They are very personable, genuine, giving of their time, always smiling and entertaining. Simply put, they are just good down to earth people, and what you see is what you get.

Loper and Randi –
Photo used with permission from Loper and Randi, 99.7 the Blitz – Photo by John Payne, Payne Productions

The Smoke out established in the summer of 2014, one year after the arrival of Loper and Randi at the Blitz is now in its 4th year. Loper explained that they wanted to establish their own music festival from the morning shows perspective, to give back to the listeners. Randi humorously added that they wanted to do a cruise, but the company quickly shut that idea down. The idea for the Smoke Out is originally attributed to their love all things meat that are smoked and barbecued. After 4 years this has evolved into including food trucks, which will be located and available this year at the back of the Express LIVE! venue. This year’s trucks include Island Noodles, Sweet Tooth Ice Cream and Cazuelas.

Randi explained. “We only have so many re-unions with the Blitz Nation, we’re not like other radio stations, we actually love our listeners and want to hang out with them, and they know that, and it’s another way to get a re-union. After Rock on the Range, where everybody hangs out there is nothing. So, we needed another concert for everybody to hang out.”

Randi Rasar 2015 Smokeout

This event takes great planning, with Loper explaining that is all starts with themselves, program director Hal Fish, and the Blitz staff.  Fish at the forefront has conversations with the record labels to see who is available, on tour and routed to the area. Then Promo West swoops in, works magic to book the best available bands out there. According to Loper this gives the best active rock station in a couple hundred miles, the Blitz, the opportunity to partner with the most amazing promoter around, Promo West.

The Smoke out has a history of selling out every year. Loper explained that in the final three weeks the tickets will sell out, as the procrastinators and those still saving hard earned cash after Rock on the Range, buy out the few remaining tickets. This year will be no exception, especially with a headliner like Halestorm says Loper. “talk about a band that transcends not only the format, you know people that are just not into heavy music, young girls that love Lzzy, and are inspired by her being a powerful woman, so you get that whole push too, and they have had some crossover top 40 records, so this year I expect it to go a little beyond sold out.”

Loper @ 2015 Smokeout

It is without any doubt that it is the big personalities of Loper and Randi, along with the enormous success of their morning show, that drive the sold-out attendance of the Smoke Out, beyond the attraction of the popular bands that come to play. With a morning show market in flux five years ago when the couple arrived in Columbus at the Blitz, they quickly filled a void for those seeking a quality morning in show in Central Ohio. It was no small task to fill that void left by the Howard Stern Show, and Daddy Wags, a local icon on QFM96. It was almost to the month that Wags left the QFM96 show that Loper and Randi arrived in Columbus, and seized on the opportunity left open to have a “changing of the guard”, giving the new morning show a significant amount of cross over listeners and consecutively beat QFM96 in all male demos every time.

As parents and active participants in the community, Loper and Randi’s show becomes very relate-able to the listening audience. With discussion of relevant current events, the interviews with comedians and bands, the hysterical fun, games like Egg Roulette and Treadmill Trivia, the average listener of the Loper and Randi show is ready to face the day with an upbeat and positive attitude. I have talked with many listeners of this show and the common theme is that while their morning routine may not allow them to listen to the entire 4-hour show, they are fiercely loyal and must carve out time for their morning dose of Loper and Randi, whether it be over breakfast, in the shower, driving to work or at the office.

Being gracious and humble, when asked what their most memorable moments on the show were, instead mentioning meeting this famous person or that famous person, Randi and Loper instead reminisced about their annual “Christmas in July Toy Drive” that benefits Children’s Hospital, meeting local bands such as Bobaflex and Starset and finally taking their son to see Rock on the Range for his first time.

Headliner Halestorm , from Red Lion Pennsylvania is no stranger to Loper and Randi who first met the band as they first came onto the scene. It was at a music festival in south Florida where the couple used to be on the air that they first encountered the young band. Loper fondly tells the story of how Halestorm was the first band on at 11am on the stage near the parking lot, and Randi, always the mother first, remembered meeting the parents of the band and becoming friends as a result of the encounter. Always genuine and relate-able Loper and Randi are just as comfortable with chatting with their listeners as they are with rock stars.


Halestorm consists of Lzzy Hale, her brother and drummer Arejay Hale, bassist Josh Smith and Joe Hottinger on guitar has released three studio albums since 2009, and has won a Grammy Award in 2013 for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance.  This band is nothing short of phenomenal, averaging upwards of 250 shows per year, touring with a who’s who of today’s hard rock bands such as Shinedown, Seether, Papa Roach and Avenged Sevenfold to name a few.

Halestorm is well known for delivering on their songs, both soft and heavy, they are an excellent band and the right choice for this year’s headline slot at the Smokeout. Definitely worth the ticket and time.

Also on the bill is Sick Puppies formed in 1997 and hailing from Australia, Sick Puppies is another band with Randi and Loper connections. Loper tells the story of a young couple attending a Sick Puppies show in south Florida. Being huge fans of the band, the guy wanted to propose to his fiancé during the show. Sick Puppies being gracious folks, stopped their show, and the marriage proposal went forward to the delight of the crowd. Loper remembered “They postponed their set, maybe even forfeited a song so that guy could go down on one knee, that’s pretty awesome!’

Sick Puppies

Rounding out the supporting line up is Adelitas Way and Nine Shrines. Adelitas Way formed in 2006, hails from Las Vegas NV. Their debut single “Invincible” has made numerous appearances on commercials and live sporting events, quickly catapulting them into the mainstream music scene. Nine Shrines out of Cleveland, OH, is returning to the Smoke Out stage for the second time, after appearing last year with Red Sun Rising and headliner Volbeat.

Adelitas Way

Looking forward to the next five years Loper and Randi see more exciting things to come regarding their show, the Smoke out and beyond. Loper hinting that the Midwest should be prepared for a bigger and better show. Randi adding “he has a lot of aspirations, I’m just trying not to get pregnant!”

The Loper and Randi show also has two other members that we must give a nod too. News anchor Kelly Quinn and show producer Thick Rick. Loper commenting on Kelly Quinn; “she (Quinn) brings her A game every morning, her smiling face, market knowledge, she is the constant professional.” Loper also said that Thick Rick keeps the show running and pretty much does everything, stating he would not do the show without Thick Rick. Randi adding “he (Thick Rick) has the biggest ass on the show!” Tune in daily to hear the hysterical banter between Randi and Thick Rick and you will understand that quote.

With four children, a radio show, modeling (Randi), personal appearances, stand up comedy and the beginnings of an MMA TV broadcasting career (Loper), this couple seems like they would be going crazy. It is apparent though that they are not. With balance, lots of energy, Starbucks, and the ability to adapt, they make it happen each and every day. They are family people, radio personalities, Mom and Dad, Son and Daughter, friend and a voice on the radio from 6am to 10am that many in Central Ohio simply could not replace. Check out their Vlog on YouTube. 

So go buy a ticket now for this year’s Smoke Out, before they sell out. (they will trust me) and come on down and meet four of the best people on radio and in life today. Loper, Randi, Kelly and Thick Rick. They will all be there, and happy to meet you and chat awhile. Oh! and while you are there, have a beverage, visit a food truck, work on your sun tan, meet all the cool people in the Blitz nation, and yeah, enjoy some kick ass Rock and Roll!


Look for Rust Belt Chronicles staff at the Smokeout, Erica Lenhoff, Jim Carver and Mac, and stop by and say hi!

Nine Shrines


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Mac About Mac

Today Mac lives in Dublin, OH. The father of a 19-year-old son, he works as a Home Improvement contractor, but his first love remains music. Mac can be found at many Rock Shows in the Central Ohio area and always looks for forward to the annual Rock on the Range music festival each May at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus.

On his play list today you find a very diverse lineup on Mac’s playlist. From the Jazz Fusion of Al Di Meola, the Ambient sound of Michael Conn, the beauty of Miranda Lambert to KORN, RATM, The Beastie Boys, Shinedown, Red Sun Rising, Stone Sour, Amon Amarth to Lady GaGa, Mac loves a wide range of music and continues to listen to the classics while leaving a wide-open mind to recent music

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