Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Birthday Pete Best

The unluckiest man in the world, Pete Best, is celebrating his 74th birthday. Pete was the drummer of the Beatles...until just before they hit it big, when he was replaced by Ringo. There aren't too many recordings of the Beatles with Pete on the drums, but here's one...

Billy Goat Bartender Retiring

I go to the Billy Goat a half dozen times a year to meet with my friends in the media, and bartender Jeff Magill has been a constant presence. He has been there since 1981.

But that's about to change. Chicago Magazine has the story of Jeff's retirement.

Chicago Radio Ratings

The latest monthly numbers are out, and Tom Taylor's NOW column gives us the highlights...

Last month’s actual tie at the top turns into a virtual tie, with urban AC “V103” (iHeart’s WVAZ) leading by a tenth of a share (5.7-5.8-6.0). Next is CBS Radio’s all-news/Cubs baseball WBBM-AM (5.7-5.8-5.9) and then Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” 5.4-5.3-5.4. There’s a quite a gap between Mix WTMX and the fourth place stations, but look at the growth of alternative WKQX. Merlin-owned/Cumulus-managed alternative WKQX is up to that tie for fourth place, 3.2-3.5-3.7. That’s its best PPM number ever. It’s tied with Univision’s regional Mexican WOJO (3.2-3.7-3.7). Tribune talker WGN is #6, 3.6-3.3-3.6. While we’re on talk-based formats, most of the time WBBM simulcasts with WCFS/105.9, but the FM carries on with the news while 780 breaks for play-by-play. Once the baseball season’s over they’ll be comboed again by Nielsen, but this month we can glimpse WCFS by itself (2.3-2.3-2.2). Cumulus talk WLS holds (1.2-1.9-1.8). A spike for Disney-owned/ESPN-run all-sports WMVP (1.6-2.1-2.5), putting it above CBS Radio’s all-sports “Score” WSCR with a third straight 2.2. The country war is between CBS-owned WUSN (a third straight 2.8 share) and iHeart’s new “Big” WEBG (2.4-2.0-2.0). In seventh place overall is iHeart CHR “Kiss” WKSC (4.0-3.6-3.5) – the Windy City’s leading cume station at just over 2.1 million.

NBC Fixes "Equal Time" Issue

When Donald Trump hosted SNL, it opened Pandora's Box for NBC. According to election laws, the network was technically required to provide equal time for all the candidates. A few of them filed formal complaints.

The New York Times has the story.

NBC has granted the campaigns of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, Mike Huckabee, James Gilmore and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina their specific equal-airtime requests.

This does not mean that a coming “S.N.L.” episode will be hosted by any of the candidates. Nor will there even be a cameo.

What it does entail will be the use of commercial and promotional airtime in prime time this weekend, including during “Saturday Night Live,” when a re-run will be broadcast.
Sounds reasonable.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pat Colander Book Signing

Roger Ebert once called the Old Town Ale House "the best bar in the world that I know about". The Ale House is also the setting for one of the true tales in Pat Colander's Hugh Hefner's Last Funeral and Other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago. In this classic bar some 30 years ago, a regular customer talked openly about a certain type of poison that would mysteriously turn up in Tylenol bottles shortly thereafter. Naturally, this was the perfect setting for Pat Colander to stage a book signing for the book that tells that tale, "Hugh Hefner's First Funeral and Other True Tales of Love & Death in Chicago". Heck, she was even featured in one of the paintings on the wall.

The owner of the bar was there, the incredibly witty Bruce Elliot. He should charge people to come listen to the regulars offering their commentary during Bears games...especially during losses. At one point, my 13-year-old son looked at me and said "Are they allowed to say that?" I believe they are, although I'm also pretty sure what they were suggesting Jay Cutler should do isn't technically physically possible.

The walls of the Old Town Ale House were filled with paintings (painted by Bruce) of celebrities and politicians, and the book signing drew a few literary illumanti as well, including the talented playwright John Lisbon Wood. Pat Colander was right at home in this setting, and she clearly reveled in the conversations with those who came out for the event. Thanks to everyone who came out for a great afternoon of conversation.

Harbaugh to Hell

We have a lot of Michigan State people in my family, and they are pretty vocal in their hatred of the University of Michigan. Their hate-affair with Jim Harbaugh goes all the way back to his playing days at Michigan.

But as much as MSU hates Michigan, people from Ohio State hate U of M even more. A group called the "Dead Schembechlers" has written this song. It's a parody of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell".

Some good hate for a happy Monday morning...

Bringing the Family Together for the Holidays

This is incredibly well done. I was impressed...

The Next GOP Debate

According to this piece in Deadline, the next GOP debate may not feature Rand Paul. He's on the bubble. Chris Christie is back up at the grown up table.

Without Paul, it should be a two-hour stampede for war.

RIP Bernie Allen

From Robert Feder's column. Sad news about one of big names in early rock radio...

Memorial services will be held December 6 for longtime Chicago radio personality Bernie Allen, who hosted middays during the golden era of Top 40 WLS AM 890 in the 1960s. He died November 16 of pulmonary fibrosis at 86. Allen, whose real name was Bernard Hallenberg, worked as a child actor in Hollywood on the “Our Gang” comedy series in the 1930s and in radio as a regular on “Screen Guild Theater” and the “Jack Armstrong” series. Back home in Chicago, he joined WBEZ FM 91.5 and later worked for WIND AM 560 and the former WJJD before joining WLS in 1963. With subsequent stops at the former WCLR, WLAK and WCFL, he retired from WJJD in 1990. “Golf and bowling are my sports,” Allen once said, “but record hops can be just as much fun.”

I tried to contact Bernie a few times over the past few years to do an interview, but alas, never made the connection.

Around the Publishing World (November 22)

We stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.

1. Eight things I've learned from Judd Apatow
Don't scoff, fellow writers. There's some wisdom here. You will relate.

2. You can't pay your rent with the unique platform your website provides
This writer points out to the good people of Huffington Post and their ilk, that yes more people will read us when we post something on your site, but on the other hand, our landlord doesn't generally accept that as a rent payment.

3. Just another brick in the paywall
As losses mounts, newspapers are forced to seriously consider paywalls for their online content. This is sort of the flipside of the previous article. Writers are being asked to write for free, partially because readers are generally demanding they get their information for free.

4. Evidently Apple and Facebook aren’t perfect
Making money publishing the news not going well for the titans either.

5. The Five Basic Elements of an Author Website
There's some excellent advice for authors who are putting together a website to promote their work. If you aren't one of those authors, why aren't you? Every author needs one these days.

6. Audiobooks and self publishing
Keeping up with market trends, debuts self publishing portal. For a great summary of their business model click on the link.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Free Excerpt From "Father Knows Nothing": Don't Eat the Snow

This is one of my favorite conversations from the pages of Father Knows Nothing.

It features an 8-year-old Johnny discussing the subject of eating snow with an even younger Sean (4 years old) as they get their boots and snowsuits on. I was listening in around the corner and recorded it for posterity. So happy I did! I always think about it when Chicago braces for a big snow storm (like the one that's coming tonight).

By the way, we've noticed a big uptick in Father Knows Nothing sales the past week. Thanks so much for your support (even though I'm not sure exactly what is causing it)

Sean: Why did Dad say we shouldn’t eat snow?

Johnny: He just means the yucky snow.

Sean: What’s the yucky snow?

Johnny: Anything that isn’t white.

Sean: All snow is white.

Johnny: Nuh uh. Sometimes it’s gray or black. That means it’s dirty. If you eat it, it’s like you’re eating mud.

Sean: What if it’s blue?

Johnny: It’s never blue.

Sean: What if it is?

Johnny: It won’t be. It could be yellow, though. Don’t eat that. It’s animal pee. And brown is animal—

Sean: What if it’s green?

Johnny: That’s just the grass underneath it.

Sean: What if it’s orange?

Johnny: It won’t be orange.

Sean: But if it’s a snowman’s nose, it could be orange. Snowmans have orange noses.

Johnny: They do not.

Sean: (forcefully) YES THEY DO. They have carrots.

Johnny: Fine.

Sean: What if it’s red?

Johnny: That’s blood.

Sean: No, it’s not. It’s diarrhea.

Johnny: (forcefully) NO, it’s NOT. Diarrhea is brown.

Sean: I had red diarrhea one time.

Johnny: No you didn’t.

Sean: (forcefully) YES I DID.

Johnny: Not outside in the snow.


Sean: Maybe an animal has red diarrhea.

Johnny: What kind of animal?

Sean: A red fire Pokemon.

Johnny: Those aren’t real.

Sean: What about a cardinal?

Johnny: All birds have white poop.


Sean: But I thought you said that white snow…

Johnny: Uh oh.

Colbert Smackdown

Glad to see he still does these a few times a week...


The Subway pitchman was sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday. Pretty harsh, but after hearing the audio tape of him talking about the methods he uses to entrap young boys and girls, I totally understand where the judge is coming from. From what I understand, child molesters are considered the lowest form of life in prisons by their fellow prisoners. Could be a very long 15 years, but after what he did (apparently many many many times), it sounds pretty fair to me.

I'm not going to stoop to doing a foot-long or six-inch or BMT (Biggest, Meatiest, Tastiest) joke here. That would be distasteful, and I promised I wouldn't do any more Jared jokes.

New Studios Story

Thanks to Tom Taylor's NOW column for posting my Martin Short/new studios story today (last item).

You can read it here, if you're interested.

Germans Who Say Nice Things

I loved this bit so much when I first saw it. Still funny today...

What Makes Me Laugh

OK, here's the thing about laughter. You can't train yourself to laugh or not laugh. Sometimes it just happens, and it happens in a way that is highly embarrassing. Tonight I was flipping through the channels with my wife, and I stopped on a film. There was a joke in the movie that made me laugh so hard I almost lost consciousness. I looked at Bridget while I was choking, and I could see her losing respect for me. Why was she losing respect? Because of the joke, and because of the movie it was in. Here is the joke...

Character 1: I don't want to be indelicate, but does your friend have Aspergers?

Character 2: Probably. He doesn't wipe too well.

The movie was Dumb & Dumber To.

I'm deeply ashamed.

Mr. Blue Sky

My favorite ELO song...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pat Colander Book Signing

Olde Town Ale House

Roger Ebert once called the Old Town Ale House "the best bar in the world that I know about". The Ale House is also the setting for one of the true tales in Pat Colander's Hugh Hefner's Last Funeral and Other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago. In this classic bar some 30 years ago, a regular customer talked openly about a certain type of poison that would mysteriously turn up in Tylenol bottles shortly thereafter.

Naturally, this is the perfect setting for Pat Colander to stage a release party for the book that tells that tale.

Here are the details of the party...

Date: Sunday, November 22nd
Time: Noon to 3pm (Don't worry, the Bears will be on TV if you want to watch)
Address: 219 W. North Avenue in Chicago

The details of the story are in the book. And of course, the book will be there for sale, and Pat will be there to sign it.

Come for the book and stay for the atmosphere, or come for the amosphere and stay for the book. Both are well worth your while.

Plus, it's an Ale House. That means your humble Eckhartz Press co-founders Rick and Dave will be there too. I will buy a drink for the first ten people who buy Pat's book and sing the first verse of "Bear Down Chicago Bears" for me.


Commas Save Lives

Thanks to "BD" for this one...

Cumulus Stock

It's gotten to the point that Cumulus stock is very likely to be de-listed. From today's Tom Taylor's column...

How much lower can Cumulus stock go? “CMLS” touched 20 cents early in yesterday’s trading, a new all-time low. The eventual close of 22 cents (down about 2%) wasn’t quite as bloody, but this isn’t going to show the NASDAQ exchange that Cumulus merits continued listing, once its 180-day grace period expires.

Biondi Moves To Weekends

Dick Biondi's fans have long been frustrated that Dick is on the air at such a late hour. Well, beginning this weekend, that is going to change. From Chicagoland Radio & Media...

While the move to weekend mornings appears to be a demotion, and it certainly is in terms of dramatically less on-air hours, this is a move that Biondi welcomes. The change will allow him to have more normal hours which are better for a man of his age.

Said Biondi to his fans tonight: "I'm going to miss you, but I've got to take this opportunity to have some fun in a morning. Thank you all..."

Starting this weekend, Biondi's new hours will be Saturdays from 6:00am-10:00am and Sundays from 7:00am-10:00am. Unlike some weekend shifts on WLS-FM which are voice-tracked, Biondi will be doing his shows live from the WLS-FM studios.
I'm happy for Dick. He has slowed down a little, but at the age of 83, he's still a dynamo. Honestly, I wish I had his energy level and I'm 30 years younger.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Congrats to Jake Arrieta

Excellent Advice

I'm showing this to my kids. Thanks to "GD" for this...

Where did the guns used in Paris attacks come from?

Eckhartz Press author Brent Petersen ("Truffle Hunt") has done extensive research about the Balkan War ("Truffle Hunt" takes place in the years just after the war). Here's what he wrote on the Truffle Hunt blog today...

Guns are illegal and very difficult to obtain in France as well as most of Europe. You need to pass rigorous background checks and obtain licenses to get a gun for hunting. And automatic weapons like the ones used last Friday to massacre dozens of people in Paris are prohibited outright. So, where did they come from?

It turns out they’re probably remnants of the Balkan War of the 1990’s. Before there was an independent Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, etc, there was Yugoslavia. General Tito, the WWII guerrilla fighter turned political leader, created the state of Yugoslavia after defeating the Nazis, pulling together disparate ethnic groups and placing them under a single flag.

After Tito’s death, Yugoslavia began to fracture and war erupted in the early 1990’s. After the war, the former Yugoslavia became 7 independent countries (counting the semi-autonomous Kosovo). The weapons from the war in the Balkans started to show up in other countries at war. The weapon of choice was the AK-47 (Kalashnikov) and copies and knock-off manufactured by the Yugoslavia arms manufacturer Zastava Arms. Millions of these automatic weapons (like the M70) were manufactured and are now common in war zones like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya

If you'd like to read the rest of his piece, click here.

Reading Signals from Women

This is courtesy of "BD". Made me laugh...

Moving Into New Studios

Robert Feder has the details about the move of Cumulus radio stations from 190 N. State (WLS AM/FM) and the Merchandise Mart (The Loop/WKQX) to the NBC Tower. It sounds like it's a two-step process for the stations at the Mart, first to 190 N. State, and then to the NBC Tower. As someone who has been part of one of these radio station moves to brand new studios, and the usage of temporary studios, all I can say is God Bless. It's gonna be icky for a while.

There's a funny story in "Records Truly Is My Middle Name" about our move into new studios. Here's the Reader's Digest version. After suffering through studios that were so terrible for several months that we had to reduce our interviews to zero, I booked Martin Short to christen our new studios (on the phone) during our first show there. Unfortunately, the phones didn't work. We could hear him, but we couldn't get his audio through the control board. At that time we had one incredibly overworked engineer working on five different stations trying to meet impossible deadlines--and when we tried to reach him for help he was nowhere to be found. So...we had Martin Short call John's cellphone, and John interviewed him on the air by holding the phone up to the microphone. It was hilarious and ingenious, and Martin Short kept saying things like..."You're owned by CBS right? Imagine what the stations that aren't owned by multi-billion corporations have to do. Smoke signals?" Martin Short has done hundreds (if not thousands) of interviews, but I bet he still remembers that one.

By the way, it took another two weeks to get the phones fixed. And we did a show that featured listener calls every day. That was a lot of fun completely changing our show just because the equipment didn't work. Enjoy the move, Cumulus.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Where did Sammy Sosa celebrate his birthday?

Sammy is just like you and me. He held his birthday party in the most typical place you could imagine.


Equal Time

When NBC allowed Donald Trump to host SNL, they opened themselves up to this. Other candidates are now demanding equal time--which is still a rule. That means each of them is technically entitled to the twelve minutes of air time that Donald used on SNL. No word on whether or not they want to also dance in a fake Drake video.

Charlie Sheen

Zero people in the world were surprised by Charlie Sheen's announcement this morning on the Today show. He is HIV Positive.

Variety has the details.

To me, the only interesting part of the story is that people were shaking him down for millions of dollars to keep the information secret. Why would someone like Charlie worry about people knowing?

FCC Reform

I'm hesitant to support this FCC Reform because it was passed by the House of Representatives, who famously likes to use opposite language to describe their bills (The Pure Water act? Mmmm hmmm.)

Inside Radio has some of the details. What they report sounds reasonable enough, but I'd still like to see the full bill, because there is always something buried in the there.

The Cubs Network

The Cubs confirmed yesterday that they will be starting up their own network in 2020.

I have just one question for them: What if cable television doesn't matter any more in 2020? At the rate that everyone is unplugging, they better have a plan in place for this new reality.