About the Host


Alison De Castro

Alison De Castro has enjoyed a 15-year media career informing and entertaining audiences across the country.  From being a fixture on NBC Milwaukee’s morning TV talk show “The Morning Blend” to her Chicago reporter days on CLTV to creating branded online videos, if there’s a good story, Alison has shared it.  Her mission is to inform and inspire people, especially families, toward living an awesome life.  And as host of “Playground Chicago,” she’s excited to showcase all of the best places and people for ultimate family living in her hometown.

Since the birth of her son, Luke, four years ago, Alison calls herself the “test mom,” trying everything from new recipes to new kids classes in both the city and suburbs.  As “Playground Chicago’s” chief test mom, she’s thrilled to share other parents’ adventures as well as some of her own!  Outside of the show, you can find her jogging with the only running Shih Tzu in town, reading the latest self-help book and hoping her restaurateur hubby will cook for dinner!


About the Producers

Jim Distasio
Distasio is president of Forward March Media, a multimedia company specializing in digital storytelling. The company’s mission is to provide high-quality, digital content to audiences across the country. He also sits on the faculty at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism as an adjunct lecturer, teaching both magazine writing and editing as well as video storytelling. Distasio previously served as editor-in-chief for a chain of health and wellness magazines titled Community Health. His writings have appeared in American Profile magazine, Chicago Tribune Magazine, M Music and Musicians magazine and Fra Noi, Chicago’s Italian-American newsmagazine. Distasio also worked as publications coordinator for DePaul University College of Law and as a part-time copy editor for the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from DePaul University and a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.


Mark McCutcheon
McCutcheon is an accomplished editor, producer, creative director and DePaul University graduate. In 2004 Mark joined the team of Foote, Cone and Belding. During his tenure at FCB, and later DraftFCB, McCutcheon rose through the ranks from technician to agency editor in short succession, working on countless brand identity and broadcast commercials for clients such as Kmart, Coors Light, KFC, Dow, Qwest, S.C. Johnson, etc. In March 2011, McCutcheon left DraftFCB to setup Stepchild Media, a full-service production company for clients of all sizes and industries. He is extremely dedicated to his company, its employees and clients. McCutcheon considers all of these people part of his extended family and works to ensure the benefit and success of all.

Mark and Jim’s feature documentary debut, the WWII saga 5,000 Miles From Home, premiered on Chicago’s PBS affiliate WTTW in 2009. The film won six national Telly Awards and was nominated for five Emmy Awards from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The film took home two golden ladies, including a Distasio win for Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence Off-Camera Writing.