Saturday, June 10, 2006

Guest Blogger: Mike Medina

Mike Medina is a long time friend. We met over twenty years ago when we both worked at WPGU Radio in Champaign. We later also worked together at WLUP AM/FM. He was an integral part (some say the only funny part) of my show Ebony & Ivory. He also produced the Buzz Kilman show on that station. Mike has since gone on to study at the Second City improv school, and for the past nine years has been working as a design engineer. He turns 43 today--happy birthday. Mike has two kids, lives in the suburbs, hasn't had a single confirmed heart attack, and continues to dabble in his life-long passion: philosophy.

Today the philosophical provacateur shares his wisdom with the youngsters...

"Words of Wisdom for the Class of '06"

By Michael T. Medina

When you are driving down the highway there are many situations where letting your foot off the gas pedal works as well hitting the brakes.

The proper reply to "thank you" is "you're welcome". Not "that's OK", "don't mention it", or "no problem". If it were a problem would you have done it?

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

When you’re standing in line for fast food think about what you are going to order before you get to the front of the line. It works better for everyone that way.

Cleaning is a top to bottom process.

If you're picking your nose in your car, use an open window to dry and flick the boogers. This will keep the inside of your car cleaner. Don't worry, when you're in your car no one can see you; you're completely anonymous! Be sure to set your cell phone down first.

Spell check isn't good enough, your have to proofread, top.

As you get older your butt starts to stink more (I think it has to do with the increased hair growth). Pay special attention to hygiene "down there".

Of course it’s always in the last place you look. Would you keep looking after you found it?

There are people who are "smart enough to know they're dumb" and people who are "too dumb to know they're not smart". The former are nicer to be around, but the latter are usually the successful ones. Gilligan could fly until the Skipper told him he couldn't. Do you know which one you are? (trick question)

You cannot cook bacon on a Hibachi.

Try to use more resources preparing your recycling than are gained by recycling. For example, use several gallons of water rinsing the cans, bottles and jars before putting them into the recycling bin. Make sure it's hot water.

Pretend to want to be closer to friends and family, but make no effort to do so. Then wonder why no one calls you.

Turn down your ear buds it's destroying your hearing.

See if a cantaloupe is ripe by smelling it. It should have a sweet fragrant smell when you buy it. Same with peaches.

Any bag of chips, no matter the size, constitutes one serving.

I’m done. Tip your waiters and waitresses on the way out.

All of my guest bloggers can be found here:

Thursday, June 08, 2006

From the Archives: World Cup article

At the end of June, I will be discontinuing my "From the Archives" feature and replacing it with highlights from my new blog; Media Notebook.

Check it out here:

It examines the finances, politics and personalities in the media. There are no opinions (well, not many anyway), just links to news stories that you might have missed. In short, it helps explain how the news media really works. And yes...It just happens to be the subject of my upcoming novel: $everance.

It's currently running every Tuesday and Thursday at

And now on to this week's "From the Archives"...

Since the 2006 World Cup (Soccer) is starting tomorrow, I thought I'd pull out this piece I wrote for a magazine called "Upbeat Chicago" in 1993. I was very pumped about the World Cup coming to America (in 1994). When it finally arrived, I went to every game I could. (Including the Opening Ceremonies, where Oprah fell through a hole in the stage--that was worth the price of admission.)

For the record, I'm just as excited about the World Cup this year. I'll be watching nearly every game.

A Tale of Two Topics
by Rick Kaempfer

It is the best of times....

It's time to come out of the closet. I'm ready to accept the ridicule. I am a die- hard soccer fan. Now, hold it right there. Some of you have already written me off as some kind of communist or flower-smeller. What follows is for you. I am like you in many ways. I happen to love All-American Apple-Pie sports.

For instance, I can lose myself in the joy of baseball. The leisurely pace of the national pastime is about as perfect as it gets. Whether I'm on my couch, or sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley sucking in the summer air and the summer brew, I'm as happy as a sports fan can be. I check the box scores every morning before I even read the front page. Yes, I admit that some people think it's a boring game. Nevertheless, I'm an unabashed baseball fan.

Just so you don't think I only enjoy so-called "boring games," let me tell you of my love of football. Quite simply, I consider the fall of 1985 to be the best four months of my life. When my friends and I get together the conversation inevitably leads to that eventful fall. We swap our favorite moments until it builds to the crescendo of the Super Bowl half time comments of Pete Axthelm, which we repeat in fever-pitch unison...."It's men against boys!!"

So, when I tell you that I'm a big soccer fan, I'm not just one of those guys that wears dark socks and sandals and speaks with some kind of funny accent.

I know you didn't grow up with soccer. You may have even tried to watch it a few times and found yourself bored to tears. You may tell me that with the Cubs, Sox, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, you really don't have time to add another sport to your repertoire.

But what about your kids? Have you noticed how much they love soccer? More American kids play soccer than baseball or football. If you really take the time the learn the sport, you'll find that many of the very things that attract you to baseball and football will attract you to soccer. Don't be deceived by the low scores. There is much more to a sport than scoring. Besides, a 3-2 soccer game is the same as a 21-14 football game.

Why do I bring this up? Well, this summer something truly special is coming to Chicago, and I fear you may miss it. The World Cup will bring the best soccer on the planet, and it will be taking place right on Lake Shore drive in Soldier Field. If you even have it in your heart to give soccer a chance, this is the time to do it.

National teams against national teams, playing with emotion like you've never seen. If their teams lose, they won't just have an off-season (hear what I'm saying Blackhawks?), they will disappoint an entire nation. Remember the excitement you felt when the US Hockey team beat the USSR. The whole country was watching and rooting for the Good 'Ol USA. The winners become national heroes. The losers kick themselves for a lifetime.

It's hard to top this kind of drama in sports. So, you say you still don't care?
Soccer is still a game played by foreign guys in cute little short pants?

All I ask is that you watch it with an open mind. Observe the passion and majesty of the game that has a tradition as glorious as baseball. Learn the rules and appreciate the tactics. Marvel at the passing, the off-the-ball maneuvering, the graceful athletes performing tasks unimaginable to the average human. America's best athletes may play basketball or football, but in the rest of the world they play soccer. Check them out, you won't be disappointed.

If we support this World Cup we may have another professional league in this country. A league that the youth of America wants to see. The only people stopping that from happening are the "old-school" American sports fans. Don't be governed by your local sports-page. You don't have to listen to them. Make up your own mind. If you watch it with an open mind, and still find it boring...well, then consider me officially off your back.

It is the worst of crimes....

Tell me if you’ve ever heard this before...”Pretty soon the criminals will be running this country.”

We see stories all the time of criminals getting off on some legal technicality. We see the crime bosses wearing their fancy suits walking out of court free men. We hear about the crooks that live a life of leisure because crime is so easy and profitable.

Of course, this isn’t true at all. There may be a few isolated examples, but the fact of the matter is criminals are not very smart.

They aren’t committing crimes because they have discovered it is far more lucrative than working for a living. They are committing crimes because they are too stupid to work for a living.

I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite examples from 1993.

The glue caper...
In the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, a man was robbing a shop on a Saturday morning that he knew was closed for the weekend. During the course of his brilliant money making scheme, he came across a tank of glue.
He had heard stories of people getting high sniffing glue. As he continued to fill his bag with goodies, he kept thinking about that huge tank of glue. Imagine how high he could get with an entire tank of glue! He put his bag down, walked over to the glue, put his head over the tank and inhaled. He got high. So he sniffed some more. He got higher. Unfortunately, in his glue induced stupor, he accidentally knocked over the tank of glue. He was overcome by fumes and collapsed on the floor. Luckily for him, he came to just a few hours later. Unluckily for him, he was glued to the floor. He lay there for thirty-six hours, before firemen cut him loose.

Hey, it doesn’t just happen in foreign countries. Consider the story of the Maryland man I fondly refer to as the Duke of Earl.....

Earl Lathem was one of those smart criminals that escaped from jail. He had it all figured out. He knew that the cops would never think of looking for him at his mother’s house, so that is where he immediately went. He was a little surprised when they showed up on his mother’s front porch just a few hours later. Luckily, Earl had a back-up plan. They asked him what his name was, and he was prepared with an answer. “My name is Earl, uh, Smith,” came the brilliant reply. He knew the cops would leave and look elsewhere after that remarkable retort. Only one thing snagged this intellectual criminal genius. The police asked him to spell his name. He had to admit he had no idea how to spell Smith, and he was immediately taken into custody.

So the next time you hear about the brilliant criminals taking over the world, remember the story of the glue. The next time you hear about the genius criminals taking over the country, remember the story of the Duke of Earl. It sure helps me sleep better at night.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Half Empty: Applying for White House Press Secretary

They say that when you hit your 40s, your life is half over. We prefer to think of it as HALF EMPTY. Our age has finally caught up with our outlook on life. Remember, it is possible to turn that frown upside down...but you might pull a muscle.

When Scott McLellan announced he was stepping down as White House Press Secretary, Dave and I knew exactly who should take his We sent the following letter several days before a replacement was named. Unfortunately, the President decided to go in a different direction, hiring a "name"--Tony Snow.

So far, no response to our letter.

(Although we're fairly certain that two new files have opened at the FBI.)

April 21, 2006

President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush,

We would like to applaud Scott McClellan’s performance throughout the last couple of years, while offering our assistance filling his now vacant post. We think we have the perfect replacement: Us.

What are our qualifications?

We’ve both been married for over a dozen years. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is the perfect previous experience. For instance, we’ve become quite adept at dodging questions. Instead of saying, “I’d love to answer the phone, but I can’t during an ongoing football game”, we can just as easily say, “I’d love to answer that, but I can’t comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.” See what a seamless transition that would be?

Since we’re married, we’re also accustomed to deferring to the “Commander-in-Chief” of our homes—our wives. We know better than to freelance without getting approval of everything we say in advance. Plus, we know how to take the blame for everything. In fact, between the two of us, we’ve accumulated over a hundred different ways of apologizing. You think you have low approval ratings...Talk to our wives sometime. We don’t want to diminish the job there, but if anyone thinks we can’t handle the angry press corps, they should come to our house on recycling day when we accidentally throw out the wrong kind of plastic. Our ‘environmental wacko’ wives make David Gregory look like Mother Theresa.

Finally, we are both very familiar with foreign policy. We don’t like to toot our own horns but both of us are superior RISK players. Just think of how valuable our knowledge of Irkutsk, Kamchatka and Yakutsk will be to you.

I’m sure you’ll agree that with our outstanding experience and work ethic we will be valuable additions to your administration. We would be happy to meet with you in person and discuss the Press Secretary position in more detail. Please call Dave at (deleted) or Rick at (deleted) to schedule an interview.


David Stern
Rick Kaempfer

P.S. Please don’t audit us.

It's possible that we haven't been thinking big enough. Please click here: and sign our petition to have our faces included on Mount Rushmore.

We have started accumulating our "Half Empty" columns here:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Suburban Man: In Defense of the Suburbs

By Rick Kaempfer

Ever since I started writing this column I’ve been getting snarky comments from long-time friends and colleagues about my “exciting suburban life.” These comments don’t really bother me because most of them come from young, childless or rich people who live in the city. They can’t comprehend why anyone would “choose” to live in the suburbs.

I’ll admit I was dragged out here kicking and screaming ten years ago. We had a baby at the time (Tommy), and we gave up our Gold Coast condo for a small Cape Cod in the suburbs. I went from a three minute cab ride to a thirty minute commute (and that was only because I worked at 4:00 a.m.). I went from a compact car suitable for parallel parking to a mini-van. I went from being a 32-year-old father of one to a 42-year-old father of three growing boys.

And I’ve never regretted my decision to move out here a single time. Why? Because I’m not young, I’m not childless, and I’m not rich.

When you’re young, you care about things like exotic restaurants and bars. When you go out three times a year, it couldn’t be lower on your priority list.

When you’re childless, you don’t care about a postage stamp backyard. In fact, it’s a plus. No muss, no fuss. When you have three boys, that’s a recipe for disaster.

When you’re young and childless, you don’t think about schools. When you have three kids and you see a headline like “Only 6% of Chicago Public School students graduate from college,” it suddenly matters very much.

When you’re rich, you also don’t worry about schools because you can send your children to private schools. When you’re not, a yearly tuition of $15,000 for a good school is not an option. If you have three kids (and I do) you would essentially be paying college tuition for a total of 48 years.

I’ve heard several other reasons that the suburbs are supposedly so offensive. I actually had one person tell me they couldn’t live with the “bland architecture.” That’s hilarious. Let me see where that comes up on my priority list...looking...looking...looking...oh there it is at #6,000,000. Another person said with a straight face, “but there’s no culture in the suburbs.” When I asked how often she went to the theatre or a museum, I heard silence in return. Another person complained that the suburbs aren’t “diverse.” Really? I coached Johnny’s soccer team for the past three years and the team was like the Rainbow Coalition.

“But there’s nothing to do!” one friend lamented.

To which I reply—like what? If there’s nothing to do, why is it that I’m busy every second of every day? I have three kids, a wife, a house, a company, a blog, a magazine I write for, and a book coming out in a few months. I haven’t even seen a movie at the theatre in three years, and I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing.

“But you have to drive everywhere!” another one said.

No we don’t. That’s one of the reasons we moved here. The boys can walk to school because it’s only three blocks away. All of the activities the boys participate in are nearby. My mother and sister both live two miles away. I work in my basement. I actually put fewer miles on the car out here than I did in the city.

“But those strip malls are so depressing,” another friend said.

You know what strip malls have? Free parking spaces. You might want to look that one up. There are people who don’t pay $20-30 for the privilege of putting their vehicles in a tiny concrete space for an afternoon, or $300 for a month, or $20,000 to own a space.

To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure I remember why I was so opposed to moving out here in the first place.

In all the years I lived in a high-rise I never even got to know the names of the people that lived on my floor...and they only lived a few steps away. I knew one as “the woman with the hairdo,” another one as “that weird guy in the corner,” and another as “the flight attendant who likes to ‘get busy’ every Saturday morning.”

I feel a sense of community here that I never would have experienced if we stayed on the Gold Coast. When Tommy was born in the city, the neighbors gave us dirty looks every time we stepped into the elevator. When Johnny and Sean were born in the suburbs, the neighbors showed up with home cooked meals.

In my humble little suburban neighborhood, everyone is in the same boat. We have a lot in common. We aren’t young. We aren’t childless. We aren’t rich. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being young or childless or rich. I’ve been two of those three things—and enjoyed that time of my life very much.

I’m just not there anymore. I’m here. And it fits me like a glove.

To see other Suburban Man columns, click here:

Monday, June 05, 2006

This Week on Rick's Blog (June 5--June 10)

Rick and Tommy 1996

Monday June 5--Jokes for a Monday Morning

Tuesday June 6--Suburban Man: In Defense of the Suburbs. City folks just don't get the suburbs. It's time that Suburban Man schooled them.

Wednesday June 7--Half Empty: Applying for White House Press Secretary. When Scott McLellan stepped down as White House Press Secretary, Rick and Dave applied. We didn't get the job--but we probably got our very own FBI file.

Thursday June 8--From the Archives: World Cup '94. The 2006 World Cup begins this week. I haven't missed one since 1970. This was my excited take on the 1994 World Cup coming to Chicago--an article in Upbeat Chicago Magazine.

Friday June 9--This Week News & Views. Observations, jokes and comments about the big stories in the news this week.

Saturday June 10--Guest Blogger Mike Medina

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Reviews for "The Radio Producer's Handbook"

Now that I'm getting all my ducks in a row for the release of my first novel $everance (coming later this year), I've been going through some of the materials from my first book, co-written with John Swanson: "The Radio Producer's Handbook" (Allworth Press, 2004).

It's still available on and Click on the links on the right if you'd like to purchase a copy.

Here are some of the kind words about the book from media professionals you might know...(Thanks to all of you for contributing)


JOHN RECORDS LANDECKER, Legendary Radio Personality, (WIBG, WLS, CFTR, WJMK, and many other stations.)
"Rick Kaempfer was my executive producer for ten years. I’ve had marriages that didn’t last that long. By the end of our long run together, if Rick wasn’t with me in the studio, the show didn’t feel right to me. His co-author John Swanson is another producer I’ve gotten to know over the years. I’ve worked him on select occasions and I greatly respect his abilities. Just look at their collective resumes. In addition to working with me, the two of them have produced for the biggest radio stars in Chicago over the past twenty years, including Jonathon Brandmeier, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, Kevin Matthews, Steve Cochran, and Eric and Kathy (John’s current job). If these guys tell you this is how to produce a radio show, this is how to produce a radio show. It’s as simple as that."

ERIC FERGUSON AND KATHY HART, Co-hosts of the Eric and Kathy Show on WTMX-Chicago.
"Rick and John have put together the 'must-have' producer handbook. Any success we've enjoyed can be directly attributable to guidance given in these pages."

"A must have for anyone in the business or considering the business."

STEVE COCHRAN, Mid-day host on WGN Radio

"Read, learn, and do what's in this book and you will be prepared to do a great show everyday. You also will be able to take care of any lazy, no-good talent in the biz--not that I know anyone like that."

SPIKE MANTON, Radio personality, Playwright, and Comedian

"The first training manual for radio producers from someone who has done the job. Rick Kaempfer is the best producer in America. You can guess how to do the job, or you can read the book.”

DOBIE MAXWELL, Comedian and radio personality in four time zones

"This book is so dead on and packed with useful information that I think they ought to be made required reading by the FCC for anyone who buys a radio station. It's a great resource to have for anyone who is serious about winning in the radio game."

BOB DEARBORN, Legendary radio personality and programmer
"You're way too modest. This is no mere handbook. This is the Radio Producer's BIBLE! And it's not just for the novice producer. The book is an invaluable read for ANYone in radio who wants a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in today's highly competitive marketplace. Even old dogs like me who've been kickin' around this business for more than 40 years can learn new tricks from this excellent book."


TED COX, TV & Radio critic, The Daily Herald

"Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the industry."

ROBERT FEDER, TV & Radio Critic, The Chicago Sun-Times

"The definitive guide. The perfect primer."

PAIGE WISER, Columnist, The Chicago Sun-Times
"This book proves that there's no such thing as 'easy listening' on the radio -- at least not behind the scenes. But the authors show how this tricky business can be navigated with a minimum of difficulty (and a sense of humor)."


BOB SIROTT, Anchor, WMAQ-TV, Channel 5 in Chicago.
"The complete and definitive manual on how to produce today's radio shows. In fact, radio and TV on-air personalities could learn a thing or two here as well. And I'm giving each of the producers of our television program this book too."

ANDY SHAW, News Reporter WLS-Television, Chicago
"A wonderful book by a couple of well respected Chicago radio producers. I've gotta tell you, it's the most interesting and best written technical manual you're likely to come across. "

RABBI DOUG of Chicagoland TV's: "TAPED with... Rabbi Doug"
"A clear explaination of the the radio industry behind the scenes, by two true professionls who really know the business!"


, Executive Producer of the Spike O'Dell Show, WGN Radio
"This is a book that should've been written years ago. It was well worth the wait."

JIMMY "Mac" McINERNEY, Production Director, 105.9 WCKG FM (Former producer of Kevin Matthews & Jonathon Brandmeier)
"After 16 straight years in 'The Biz,' I still actually find the info in the handbook indispensable. Real advice and scenarios from real radio professionals. If you are just entering the radio business, read this book. I teach broadcast students on the side and I make the book required reading. Many have used the information to propel themselves into a full time radio career...And then they recommend the book to their peers! Even if radio is not your desired profession, the stories and situations presented in this book make for interesting reading. A no-nonsense 'Behind the scenes' look at the radio business and a valuable source of education."

, Long-time sports producer and programmer, WLUP, ESPN
"This is a true-to-life book written by a true-to-life producer(s). The ups and downs of producing radio are covered by two producers I'm proud to say taught me the meaning of work ethic, 100% accuracy and tolerance."

"The most comprehensive book about how to become a successful producer in a major radio market. If you follow the advice in the book, success will follow you."


GREG SOLK, VP of Programming for Bonneville Broadcasting
"Rick Kaempfer and John Swanson are at the top of a very short list of 'difference making' radio producers. In this book they give us the secrets to their considerable success, and it's my hope that it helps a whole new generation of radio producers create the kind of quality radio that Rick and John have been producing for the past twenty years."

DAN KELLY, Operations/Program Director, WMMQ-FM/WJIM-FM, Citadel/Lansing, MI
"I passed the book along to one of my “I’ve been through it all and know it all” morning air talents. After getting a cold stare from him he came back after a few days (just this last week) and thought it was one of the best morning show books ever written – and not only suggested additional copies for the other members of his show – but also copies for every air talent on the station. So this morning, I ordered another ten from Amazon – and when they arrive I’ll pass them out at an airstaff meeting - with the suggestion that if reading this book bores you, you ought to find a new line of work. Thanks for putting a great book together."

KIPPER McGEE, Program Director, WLS-Radio
"To have so much solid, useable info and helpful 'how-to' tips in one handy resource is invaluable. All the great war stories and examples by experience are an added plus. This book should be in every producer's arsenal."

LISA PIOVOSI, Marketing Director
"The Radio Producer's Handbook is fabulous! So informative, interesting, funny and easy to read. The book is of course great for people just starting to embark on their careers in radio, as they will learn a ton from the experience of the authors. But it's also great for those of us in the radio industry as well... I was in radio for five years and was completely entertained with the book.. and even learned some interesting tidbits along the way. A must read!"


"I've recommended the book to students I've worked with. It gives a very realistic picture of the radio industry - warts and all. There's valuable insight in it for seasoned pros as well."


RICK'S MOTHER (HILDEGARD) AND SISTER (CINDY), pictured here with Rick and brother Pete.

"I haven't read it."

"I really should read that some time."

For more information about the Radio Producer's Handbook, there are several links on this page, including one to my publisher, one to the book at amazon, and another to the book at barnes & noble.