Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Rockin' For You

My latest media column has been posted in the Illinois Entertainer. This month it's a tribute to all my fellow WPGUers in Chicago media, including Rick O'Dell, Robin Baumgarten, Alex Quigley, Wendy Rice, Charlie Meyerson, Kathy Voltmer, Phil Manicki, Greg Easterling, Marc Vernon, Brian TheMix, Adam Harris, Andrea Darlas, Melissa Forman, Dane Placko, Jon Hansen, Lise Dominique, and Gene Honda.

You can read it here.

The Beatles Mono

Mark Caro reviews Beatles mono on vinyl box in today's Tribune.

Doggone it.

Looks like I'm going to be spending some cash again.

Fox News is Ratings Champ

Why is this country so ridiculously polarized? A news station that only reports the stories its viewers want to see, with the slant they want to see it, is #1. From TV Newser...

Fox News Channel reached a historic milestone in the just-finished third quarter. Not only is the network once again the most-watched news channel, but for the first time ever FNC was No. 1 in extended primetime total viewers (7-11pmET/Mon-Fri) in all of basic cable – topping ESPN, USA and TNT. It’s also the first time since the first quarter of 2003 that Fox News was No. 1 in primetime (8-11pmET).

The bubble expands.

For the record, by the way, I don't blame Fox News for giving people what they want. I blame people for not wanting to know what is really happening. Don't ever challenge yourselves, people. The world is exactly as you think it is all the time. Continue to live in absolute certainty. Your side good. Everyone else bad.

FCC Drops Sports Blackout Rules

This rule really is a relic of a bygone era. From Radio Online...

The Order finds that the Commission's sports blackout rules are no longer justified in light of the significant changes in the sports industry since these rules were first adopted nearly forty years ago. At that time, ticket sales were the primary source of revenue for the NFL and most NFL games failed to sell out. Today, television revenues have replaced ticket sales as the NFL's main source of revenue, and blackouts of NFL games are increasingly rare. The NFL is the most profitable sports league in the country, with $6 billion in television revenue per year, and only two games were blacked out last season.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Green White History

One of my on-going writing projects is chronicling the history of Green White Soccer Club, a club co-founded by my father in the 1950s. Every month I post something about a year or era.

The early-to-mid 1990s in Green White history has now been posted, and features former team members recalling a major championship, the most famous person to ever play on the Green White fields, and a visit from members of the U.S. Men's National Team.

Hot Dougs

Hot Dougs, one of the best hot dog joints in Chicago, is closing it's doors for good. People have been lining up for hours to get one last hot dog. Time Out Chicago has some of the funniest tweets from and about the line.

I've been there many times. My buddies Dave, Dane and I ate there semi-regularly for a few years. The hot dogs were very good. Not wait-in-line good, but good.

I'm trying to think what I would wait in line for these days. Coming up empty. I don't think there's a single thing.

Live Tweeting a Drunk Woman on an Airplane

Gawker has all the tweets from a Modern Family editor/director who was live tweeting the comments and actions of the woman right in front of her.

Pretty darn funny.

Chicago Radio Ratings

The ratings came out again yesterday. Tom Taylor provides a summary in his NOW newsletter...

Chicago – Univision’s regional Mexican WOJO (3.7-3.6-4.3) dislodges Cumulus classic hits WLS-FM (4.4-4.6-4.0) from fifth place with its best score since November 2012. But for iHeart’s own regional Mexican “El Patron” WNUA, it’s a recent low, 2.1-2.0-1.5. Chicago’s top four look very familiar – iHeart’s urban AC “V103” WVAZ (6.1-5.9-5.9), CBS all-news WBBM (and simulcast WCFS), 5.5-5.4-5.5, iHeart’s Top 40 “Kiss” WKSC, 4.5-4.7-4.7, and Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX, 4.9-4.8-4.6. A softish book for CBS country WUSN, 4.5-4.3-4.0, which ties with WLS-FM. No more oxygen this month for Tribune’s talk WGN, 3.6-3.7-3.6. CBS Radio’s “K-Hits” classic hits WJMK delivers a four-year-best, 2.3-2.7-2.8. Chicago Public Media’s news/talk WBEZ attains a three-year high, 1.4-1.9-2.1. But just a flicker of movement for Cumulus talk WLS, 1.4-1.6-1.4. In sports, there’s CBS Radio’s “Score” WSCR, 1.9-2.1-2.2 and ESPN-run WMVP (1.6-1.3-1.3). Tribune-leased “Game” WGWG (the audio of a low power Channel 6 TV station) is flat, 0.3-0.4-0.4. Digity’s north-suburban “95 WIIL Rock” WIIL breaks a 1-share in the Chicago book, 0.7-0.8-1.1. CHR “Kiss” is the Windy City’s cume leader at an estimated 2,318,900.

Robert Feder breaks down the dayparts...




Monday, September 29, 2014

The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra

These secret recordings were done inside the Federal Reserve, and they involve how and why regulators operate. It basically confirms everything you think about special treatment for the big boys, and the system being rigged. Not exactly encouraging if you're worried about a repeat performance of 2008.

Don't believe me. Check out the transcript for yourself. It aired on NPR.

As the Rupert Turns

Rupert Murdoch (photo) may be one of the richest and most successful media barons of all-time, but his personal life is a soap opera.

The latest episode stars his daughter.

She was once in the old man's favor, seemingly poised to take over when he retired or died. No more. Each of the sons have also had that carrot dangled in front of them and yanked away.

Who knows what's really going to happen next. Tune in next episode to find out.

Dahl vs. de Castro & Cochran

I don't know if you saw this over the weekend, but Robert Feder had a few very interesting columns.

The first one was a recap of Steve Dahl's most recent podcast. He apparently went on a ten minute rant against WGN calling it the "worst station ever", and unloaded on Jimmy de Castro, Bill Leff, Wendy Snyder, Steve Cochran, their decision to let the Cubs go, their terrible commercials, and more. Read the article at the link for the exact quotes.

The second article was Steve Cochran's response--an open letter to Dahl. The title of the piece is "Why so bitter Steve?" Cochran rips Dahl right back, saying that Steve was funnier when Bill and Wendy appeared on his show, and he should get over being bypassed by WGN by listening to his old tapes of when he used to be funny.

Whoa. Reminds me of the old days.

For the record, I agree with a few of Dahl's criticisms of WGN (especially the part about losing the Cubs and the ridiculous number of live commercials on the station), but I don't agree about Bill & Wendy, and I'm willing to cut de Castro some slack for the photograph that set Steve off. It's a photo from Pat Hughes getting inducted into the WGN walk of fame. Steve was upset that de Castro was front and center, seemingly trying to "hog the glory." I suspect there's a more innocent explanation of that, like somebody noticed Jimmy wasn't in the picture before it was taken, and asked him to hop in. Maybe I'm wrong.

As for Cochran's letter to Dahl, he is correct that people at WGN seem to be happy working for Jimmy. I've interviewed several of them now, and they all ethusiastically praise him. On the other hand, I think Cochran is incorrect when he says that Jimmy didn't need Steve back in the day--Steve needed Jimmy. That's really not the way it went down.

Steve & Garry helped create that AM 1000 station with de Castro. Jimmy may have found Brandmeier, but he didn't find Steve & Garry. They were already huge stars in Chicago. They were more than just air-fillers. They gave the Loop AM instant credibility. They helped recruit the rest of the lineup (including Kevin Matthews) and helped guide the station in the direction of their vision. Jimmy was there too, obviously, and provided a great atmosphere for success, but I think even he would agree that he couldn't have done it without Steve and Garry.

I suspect Cochran only said that to ding Dahl, who had already dinged Cochran.

I'm only commenting on this whole episode because I received several e-mails asking my opinion. Take my analysis for what it's worth. Yes, I did work for both Dahl and de Castro, but that was more than twenty years ago. Yes, I know Steve Cochran and have interviewed him multiple times, but I haven't spoken to him about this.

I have zero insider information.

Just educated hunches.

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Song by The Who

It's their first new material in 8 years. It's called "Be Lucky"....

"Back in the Game" Now Available as an E-book!


The book that Jerry Reinsdorf calls "a must read for Chicagoans", and Mark Suppelsa describes as "another good story about his remarkable life", is now also available as an e-book via amazon.

Chicago media critic Robert Feder recently called it "a breezy pleasure to read", and it can be in your hands, ready to read in seconds.

In fact, it's only one click away.

Click here to purchase your copy.

Jim Peterik Interview

I was a big fan of Jim Peterik even before I met him. The leader of the Ides of March ("Vehicle") and Survivor ("Eye of the Tiger") is a local guy, and an absolute gentleman. During my producing days I called him many times to book him, and he always agreed to do it--no matter the time or place. And when he arrived at the studio with his guitar in hand (as early as 6:30am with Landecker's show), he was always in good spirits and was a true professional.

I hadn't seen him for years when I ran into him at a concert at the Rosemont Theatre a year or so ago. I didn't think he'd remember me, but as I went up to shake his hand he said: "Rick! Long time, no see!"

Jim has written his autobiography, which is now out. This interview with the Naperville Sun makes me want to run out and buy it.

The Story Behind Bill Murray And Harold Ramis’ 21 Year Rift

I knew they didn't really talk to each other much during the last decade or so of Harold Ramis' life. I just didn't know why. It's a really interesting and sad story. The two of them made some of my favorite movies together, and the one that may be my favorite of all of them is the one that caused a 21-year rift.

Olbermann Goes Off on Derek Jeter

I won't deny the stats cited by Olbermann, but it still seems unneccesarily mean. It's not like Jeter is asking for this adulation. Why is he so mad at Jeter?

For the other side of the story, here are some stats that Olbermann doesn't cite. All of them are impressive.

Yoga Therapy

Thanks to "SA" for this one...

Solo Beatles Are Gonna Cost Me Some Money

Got an e-mail from iTunes saying that all the Beatles solo material has been remastered and will be available on iTunes. As a teaser, they gave away these four songs...

1 Love
John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band

2 Call Me Back Again

3 Let It Down
George Harrison

4 Walk With You
Ringo Starr

I'll admit they aren't the biggest hits, but they're in my iPod already. That creaking sound you hear is my wallet opening for some more.

I wish I wasn't this easy.

Fat Men Have Better Sex Performance

This is one of the more hilarious wish fulfillment stories I've seen. As reported by Fox 32...

A new study from Erciyes University in Turkey found that men with more body fat have a better sexual performance than men who are fit, according to a report. From analyzing 100 participants, researchers found that men with a high body mass index lasted an average of 7.3 minutes during sex. As for men who were fit, they lasted an average of 108 seconds. This is due to the fact that the female sex hormone estradiol interferes with the male neurotransmitter chemicals, meaning larger men with higher levels of the chemicals take longer to orgasm.

Every doughy man in America will casually mention this at dinner tonight.

108 seconds, by the way, is 1:48. That means a fit man wouldn't make it through this song by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. When they sing "just a little bit longer", they are not exaggerating.


WGN sees an opening next season when WBBM starts airing the Cubs. From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

Chicago’s talk WGN (720) will “put more emphasis and energy into news, particularly while they’re doing baseball.” That’s Tribune manager Jimmy de Castro, and “they” refers to CBS Radio’s all-news WBBM (780/105.9) – the station that’s taking over the Cubs baseball franchise that WGN’s had a monopoly on for decades...So de Castro plans to position a “Business Lunch” show on, weekdays at 12, directly opposite WBBM’s “Noon Business Hour.” Current WGN personalities Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano will focus on not just the usual Wall Street stuff, but things like “momtrepreneurs,” says Robert Channick in the Chicago Tribune. Aside from the noon hour, de Castro’s hiring former WFLD-TV “Good Day Chicago” co-anchor Anna Davlantes to deliver a “Big Story” during each hour of the Steve Cochran morning show. Sounds like they’ll be using the LDR Interactive “TopicPulse” product to guide story selection about what’s trending online. Channick says WGN “also plans to hire additional news staff and increase its commitment to ‘original reporting’” – again as a way to gain ground against WBBM.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Amy Landecker

Bill Zwecker posted a great Q&A with Amy Landecker in the Sun Times. Amy is the star of the hit Amazon series "Transparent", and of course, the daughter of my old pal John Records Landecker.

She's a very down-to-earth gal--I hung out with her for a whole week in Jamaica when John brought her along for our live broadcasts from there--and I've met her many times before and since.

I'm rooting for her bigtime. I know that John couldn't be prouder of her success.

Comedy Central Rules Youtube

At least among television networks. From the Wall Street Journal...

So you’d think that the big networks would be embracing YouTube in a big way. But if you look at the top TV-network-affiliated YouTube channels, the big four broadcasters barely register. Only Fox cracks the top five (excluding news), at least according to the analytics firm OpenSlate, which scores YouTube channels on a variety of factors, including consistency of viewership, influence, social interactions and sharing. (Fox-parent 21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal-owner News Corp were part of the same company until last year.)

Instead, the rankings of TV-related YouTube channels are dominated by cable. At the top is Comedy Central–which is ironic, given that it’s parent company, Viacom , was until recently involved in a prolonged lawsuit with YouTube-owner Google . That ranking speaks to the popularity of Comedy Central hosts Jon Stewart and soon-to-depart Stephen Colbert, and the obvious fact that comedy videos play well on the Web.

What the article doesn't say is that kitten videos also have better numbers than Comedy Central. It's all relative.

Rush Fights Back

The advertiser boycott that has taken 30-40% of the advertising out of the conservative talk radio pie is finally getting to the guy who caused it to happen in the first place. Rush Limbaugh is now fighting back against the people who led the boycott; namely Media Matters and a few other activists.

For years he tried to ignore it and hope it went away, but it hasn't. It's gotten worse. is his response 2 1/2 years later: "The Hidden Story Behind Stop Rush"

Most of what he says is essentially true, but there is also a hidden story behind the hidden story that Rush doesn't bother telling. The head of Media Matters, David Brock, is a former Republican activist who learned these same techniques from the Republicans. In fact, Media Matters' model is an exact duplicate of conserative "watchdog" groups like the Parents Television Council (led by Brett Bozell) and the Family Research Council (led by Tony Perkins). Those perpetually "outraged" conservative groups invented the advertiser boycott. Those boycotts claimed the scalps of shows like "Married with Children", and every shock jock radio program in America (there used to be one in every town--not any more).

Remember how they saved us from the unbelievable tragedy of a Bono fleeting expletive during an awards show (Oh the children!), or more memorably, a split second glimpse of Janet Jackson's boob during the Super Bowl Halftime show? That went all the way to the Supreme Court thanks to those watchdog "groups"...who really were just two or three guys.

It's not Media Matters fault that most of the country thinks what you say is offensive, Rush. They had no idea you've been saying stuff like this for twenty plus years...because they didn't listen to your program. Media Matters isn't inventing things that you say, they are merely shining a spotlight on them. Now you have to live by the same rules as everyone else. Rules that were put into place thanks to your buddies.

You reap what you sow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Switzerland 2014

So where have I been the last week?

Ever since we were married I've been promising Bridget I would take her to the most beautiful place on earth. The occasion that allowed me to finally pull it off was my sister Cindy's 50th birthday. A group of nine (including Bridget and I) spent the week there. I don't think the photos really capture the breathtaking scenery. If there's a more beautiful place...I've never seen it.

Robert Feder Reviews "Back in the Game"

Chicago's pre-eminent media critic Robert Feder has reviewed Rich King's "Back in the Game". You can read the entire review here, but a short excerpt is below...

Back in the Game, published this week by Eckhartz Press and co-written by Lindsay Eanet (daughter of fellow sportscaster Dave Eanet), is a followup to My Maggie. King shares new insight into the depression he experienced during a long, lonely widowhood before he met April Keith, a divorced woman 17 years his junior. The bulk of the book recounts the courtship and romance that culminated in their marriage in 2009. In his second wife, King, 67, discovered new reason to live and a new outlook on practically everything.

As sweet as his love story with April may be, I found King’s sharp observations on the decline of his profession and his appraisals of those he’s worked with and covered over his 46 years in broadcasting far more interesting. I wish he’d shared more on that part of his life.

King heaps praise on his mentor, Brad “The Professor” Palmer, who helped him land his first anchor position at WBBM AM 780 after Brent Musburger left to become a CBS Sports star. King credits Palmer and Musburger with putting Chicago sports radio on the map and injecting journalistic integrity into local sportscasting. In contrast to those who saw their roles as cheerleaders, King writes: “Their priority was bringing the news to their readers and listeners, even if the truth required some questioning, some conflict.”

The books are flying off the Eckhartz Press shelves. Get your copy today!


"My Maggie" Available as an E-book for First Time Ever

maggie4 (1)

When 'My Maggie' was released in 2008, it received universal praise. Unfortunately, it was available only in hardcover. Now on the heels of his second book's release ("Back in the Game"), with the help of Eckhartz Press, Rich King has made "My Maggie" available as an e-book for the first time ever. (Click here to purchase it for your kindle)

Some of the amazon reviews are below...

Extraordinary comeback(s), extraordinary courage
By John A. Sarkett
(5 Stars)
"No one, and we mean no one we've encountered in these researches of comeback stories, did more with less than the extraordinarily courageous, indomitable Maggie King. As a counselor, Maggie had the power to change lives, and now that Rich has captured her essence in this biography, she will keep on doing that for many years to come. As Rich King would say simply, she would like that. You see members of your TV news teams every day. They come into your home, like family or friends. You think you know them (you don't), and that their lives are pretty charmed (sometimes), and breezy and effortless and glib as the jokes at the end of the late night itself (not for sportscaster Rich King or his Maggie). Behind the video image, Rich King was bearing the weight of the world for many years, and we, his viewers, never knew it. His wife Maggie was engaged for years in a titanic struggle against blindness, and hearing loss, and all that entailed, as as a result, so, too, was he. When breast cancer, then ovarian cancer joined the battle, it was nothing less than a life and death struggle. This book will knock you flat on your back. It will make you appreciate every moment that you have your sight, your hearing....and your life."

Brought Back Lots of Chicago Memories
By Jean Bedord
(5 Stars)
"As a Chicagoan, I really loved this book. It characterizes the city's ethnicity and cultures, but this story will be of interest to anyone who has a friend or relative struggling with a serious illness. This book is actually a "Love Story" about people I know and think highly of. It tells the story of 2 people who met in grade school and fell more in love as times went on - both good and bad. It also tells about the "support group" of friends surrounding them and the big difference it made in their lives. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone."

Extraordinary biography
By Dawn R. Savage
(5 stars)
Maggie King must have left a meaningful impression on all whom she met. Despite a hearing problem, blindness and cancer, she graduated from nursing school, treated hundreds of people and counseled the visually impaired, all the while building a loving marriage to her husband, Rich King. Her spirit will have you believing you have so much more to give in this life.

By Heather Ziener
5 stars
"My Maggie was an inspirational book. How Maggie fought against deafness, blindness, and cancer, not only to survive, but to attain a college degree, is amazing. Rich King stuck by her and his marriage vows, which seems to be uncommon now. Rich King writes about his struggles with being a caregiver while maintaining employment, as well his struggle with religion and questions about God. I believe that the challenges Maggie faced caused him to have these doubts, but I believe in the end, after Maggie finally gave up her fight, Rich King may have developed faith and a connection with God and the belief in the eternity. My Maggie will bring tears to your eyes, but will also leave you feeling motivated and inspired."

The e-book is only $5.99. The hardcover is available via Eckhartz Press (featuring it's new cover) for only $10.95. "Back in the Game" is hot off the presses (and flying off the shelves) for only $15.95 via Eckhartz Press. And if you want both books, you can do that for the great double-pack price of only $20.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just One Bad Century

I'm not going to post for a week or so, but Just One Bad Century will continue to update, so make sure you swing by and check it out.

This Week in 1945 is posted on Saturdays. This Week in 1908 is posted on Mondays. This Week in Wrigley History is posted every Wednesday, and Historical events are posted on Thursdays. Today’s Cubs birthdays are posted every single day. I’ll leave you with my favorite Cubs video on the A/V club the whole time I’m gone.

I will be fully back in the JOBC saddle on September 30th, and on this blog September 24. I'll have a full report about my activities on that date.

Have a great week!

FCC Receives 3 Million Comments on Net Neutrality

From this morning's Wall Street Journal...

The Federal Communications Commission said it has received a record 3 million comments on proposed rules for how broadband providers must treat traffic flowing over their networks, driven by advocacy campaigns and public interest. Comments had to be submitted by midnight Monday.

They don't say how many are pro-intentional-slowing of the internet to pad megacorporation wallets, and how many are against, but I'm guessing it's about 3 in favor (the big three companies), and 2,999,997 against.

Let's see if the FCC bothers listening to the American people or not. Last time they tried to change ownership rules, they were shamed into listening by a similar outpouring of outrage. I even sarcastically chimed in...

Pete McMurray to Sing 7th Inning Stretch

From today's RAMP newsletter...

Be Very Afraid: After working the crap out of the Chicago Cubs organization for the better part of a year, WGN/Chicago evening entertainer Pete McMurray has some huge news, as he tells RAMP, "The Cubs finally agreed to let me sing 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' during the 7th inning stretch this Friday!" [cue crickets]... As if that particular development wasn't disturbing enough for all of those unsuspecting (and long-suffering) Cubs fans, McMurray shares the alleged "added value" of this news, saying, "There was one stipulation -- the entire WGN night crew will be singing." Yes, in addition to McMurray's non-Grammy-nominated voice, he will be joined by the questionable vocal talents of late-night personality Patti Vasquez and overnight delight Nick Digilio.

This was probably their last chance. The Cubs will be with WBBM next season.

This is how I feel this morning

The only difference is that I won't jump if the doorbell rings. Ivy will go into full freak out mode.