Thursday, May 01, 2008

Media Notebook (May 1)

Collected and Edited by Rick Kaempfer

Highlights and links to the big stories in the news this week about the media. This column appears twice a week at MEDIA NOTEBOOK

Media Conglomerates Look to Make More Deals
(The Hollywood Reporter) George Szalai writes: "It's the economy, stupid! As media and entertainment conglomerate earnings season kicks into high gear this week, Wall Street will look for signs of how the sluggish U.S. economy has affected sector biggies in the first quarter and guidance on how consumer and advertising spending will play out as the year unfolds. Deal talk also will be a hot topic during earnings calls as Time Warner and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. have been looking at plays for Yahoo; Murdoch has closed in on a deal for Tribune's Newsday; and Viacom has unveiled its surprising joint venture with MGM and Lionsgate for a premium TV offering."

Has Arianna Huffington been banned from NBC and MSNBC?
(New York Post) Keith J. Kelly writes: "Arianna Huffington claims that she was banished from NBC News shows because her new book, 'Right is Wrong,' blasted 'Meet the Press' anchor Tim Russert. Her new book, which is slated to hit later this week carries the sub title, 'How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution and Made Us All Less Safe.' Huffington dubs him 'EZ Pass' Russert because she claims his softball questions give the Washington elite a free wave-through when they appear on his shows. While he may ask a tough opening question, he usually lets his guests dance away from the jabs, she claims. Sources said that Huffington was at a dinner in the home of Barbara Walters on Tuesday night when she heard that word had come down from on high that she no longer appear on NBC or MSNBC, where talk show hosts Keith Olbermann, Joe Scarborough and Dan Abrams were all interested in booking her."
(Rick's note: Still think there is a liberal media?)

The man who goes through the videotape for the Daily Show
(Washington Post) Paul Farhi writes: "Adam Chodikoff, 37, doesn't perform on the show or write the gags that pepper Stewart's take on the day's news. But as the show's chief researcher and video wiz, he's the vital link in the program's comedic ecosystem. Chodikoff's job is to dig through the vast quarry of TV news footage to find the nuggets that form the program's pointed, often eye-opening 'reporting.' In a manner of speaking, he's an investigative humorist. At its best, Chodikoff's work goes beyond satire and into the realm of cold truth-telling. The show has particularly made doublespeak about the Iraq war a continuing theme in a running segment called "Mess O'Potamia." After Vice President Cheney told ABC News last month that "you can't be blown off course" by negative opinion polls about the war, Chodikoff found the perfect counterpoint: Cheney, in a clip from December 2005, justifying the White House's Iraq policy by citing . . . an opinion poll."


The National Association of Broadcasters strain credulity
(TV Week) Broadcasters are warning the Federal Communications Commission against requiring additional local broadcast content or more evidence of local public service during license renewal. Responding to suggestions from consumer groups and some legislators that local content and “public interest” are casualties in media mergers and proposals from the FCC to do more, the broadcasters say there is little evidence of problems under the existing rules, and additional ones are unnecessary and ill-advised... “Burdensome and intrusive regulation cannot be justified by unquantified and unproven suggestions that not all broadcasters are providing some appropriate level of service.” The NAB also argued that serving the best needs of the local community doesn’t necessarily mean doing so with local content.
(Rick's note: My favorite comment: "Local content isn't needed to serve the local community." I'm just happy the NAB has finally taken my suggestion and hired real comedy writers.)

FCC's Martin under fire in committee probe
(Radio Online) FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin might be called to defend his leadership of the agency, according to a report in The Washington Post. A memo obtained by the newspaper from the Commerce and Energy Committee's staff to chairman Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI) says "that the FCC process appears broken and most of the blame appears to rest with Chairman Martin." Reportedly, Martin has been criticized by the FCC's own staff members for carrying an agenda that included loosening of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban and a proposed a la carte pricing for cable TV. He's also been accused of suppressing agency studies that didn't support his agenda.

WLS Boss Quits after making cutbacks
(Chicago Sun Times) Robert Feder writes: "Still reeling from budget cuts, massive layoffs and disappointing ratings, news/talk WLS-AM (890) lost its top boss Tuesday. In an unexpected move, John Gallagher resigned after more than three years as president and general manager of the Citadel Broadcasting station. No reason was cited, but sources close to Gallagher said he had been feeling increasing frustration since Citadel took over the station last year from Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Radio. On orders from Citadel last February, he eliminated more than a dozen jobs and virtually gutted the news department."


Hollywood taking sides in Net Neutrality Debate
(LA Times) Jim Puzzanghera writes: "Net neutrality is a complicated issue with a wonky name. But as Congress and the Federal Communications Commission consider banning discriminatory practices on the Internet, the entertainment industry is starting to take notice -- and sides. Major movie studios and record labels are concerned that net neutrality could eliminate a potential tool for fighting online piracy. Meanwhile, independent artists want to ensure that they can disseminate their work freely."

Craig Ferguson to Newsers: "You Cranky, Magnificent Bastards"

(TV Newser) It may have been George W. Bush's final White House Correspondents' Association dinner as president, but Craig Ferguson stole the show. 3,000 people packed the ballroom at the Washington Hilton last night for the annual dinner, where Hollywood met Washington, with a stopover in Glasgow. Unlike some past entertainers, the crowd warmed to Ferguson's performance. The Scottish-born comic took the requisite shots: Vice President Cheney "is already moving out of his residence. It takes longer than you think to pack up an entire dungeon;" about the "feud" between Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann: "What I see is sexual tension;" and at The New York Times who stayed away from this year's dinner: "They felt that this event undercuts the credibility of the press. It's funny, you see, I thought that Jayson Blair and Judy Miller took care of that...Shut the hell up, New York Times, you sanctimonious whining jerks!" Ferguson ended poignantly. Rolling up his speech and jamming it in his breast pocket, he spoke of the pride of becoming a U.S. citizen in February and what he loves most about Americans. "Please, never, ever, ever agree with each other. Never stop arguing, never stop fighting. You cranky, magnificent bastards."

Senate votes to overturn FCC on media ownership

(Bloomberg) Todd Shields writes: "A U.S. Senate committee voted to reverse a federal rule that lets media companies including Tribune Co. and News Corp. own a broadcast station and daily newspaper in the 20 largest markets. The Federal Communications Commission's Republican majority voted in December to allow such combinations. The Senate Commerce Committee voted today to nullify the action. The measure needs approval of both houses of the Democratic- controlled Congress and President George W. Bush's signature. His administration has said the measure faces a veto. The sponsor, Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, told reporters the resolution had enough support to pass the Senate and likely the House. It won the committee's support on a unanimous voice vote with members of both parties present."


Jimmy Fallon headed for Late Night
(Variety) Josef Adalian writes: "NBC will officially name Jimmy Fallon as Conan O'Brien's 'Late Night' replacement within the next few weeks, if not sooner, Peacock insiders said Thursday. Net had been planning to introduce Fallon to advertisers at its NBC Universal 'experience,' the May 12 theme park-like presentation at 30 Rock in New York that's taking the place of NBC's traditional upfront. Net is also expected to reveal details of O'Brien's transition from 'Late Night' to host of 'The Tonight Show.'"

TV Crew members still feeling effects of Writer's Strike

(LA Times) Richard Verrier writes: "The writers strike ended two months ago. But many in Hollywood remain on the brink. Some are at risk of losing their homes. Some can't afford groceries. Others have filed for bankruptcy. Still others struggle to work enough hours to hold on to their health insurance. Across Los Angeles, many crew members who work behind the scenes and on the sets of television shows and movies are still quaking from the temblor of the 100-day writers strike that shut down scripted TV production."

Bill Clinton "woefully unprepared for 21st century media"
(Broadcasting & Cable) As NBC News political director Chuck Todd sees it, none has gotten burned by this new-media phenomenon quite like former President Bill Clinton. “It’s fascinating: Nobody’s been a bigger victim of the so-called YouTube moments than Bill Clinton,” Todd said. “I think Bill Clinton was woefully unprepared for 21st Century media.” Although Clinton caught a glimpse of the digital future when he was president and a little-known Internet gadfly named Matt Drudge broke the Monica Lewinsky story, he was never subjected to the kind of unblinking scrutiny of today’s media environment. When Clinton was running for president, Todd said, he and his fellow candidates could misspeak -- and even willfully obfuscate -- with relative impunity. “It was like a Jedi mind trick with him,” he added. “It would take a few days for the media to catch up [and] by then he had moved on.”


RIP: Big Ron O'Brien
(Classic Rock FM) Dan Kelley writes: "I was saddened to learn tonight that Ron O'Brien has passed. I remember him so well from his days at WCFL/Chicago back in the 70s - and later at KFI/Los Angeles (which boomed into Santa Fe when I lived there; and in CQUAM stereo too!). Big Ron was part of an era of Chicago radio of all-star talent. Ron was a fantastic jock who never failed to deliver. Great pipes and energy, tight, yet relaxed and comfortable - combined with great personality. A radio natural."

An interview with Cindy Gatziolis
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Last weekend I spoke with former WLUP and WMAQ promotional guru, Cindy Gatziolis. Cindy is now the director of the Mayor's office of special events, but she still has many fond memories from her radio career, and great stories about the likes of Larry Lujack, Steve & Garry, and Johnny B. Coming this weekend, an interview with former WLS News Director Steve Scott.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Suburban Man: That tone of voice

By Rick Kaempfer

It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.

You know the tone of voice. The tone of voice that infers “You’re a Moron” without even saying it. It’s the tone of voice that leaves children whimpering.

When I hear it coming out of another parent’s mouth, I cringe. I’m not judging them–I feel for them. I know they don’t want to do it. I know because I’ve done it myself, and every time I hear it coming out of my own mouth, I wish that I could somehow turn the clock back fifteen seconds.

It happens to all of us. We tell a child to do something over and over and over again, but if they still don’t do it…

We warn a child over and over and over again not to do something, but when they still do it…

When they make the same mistakes time and time again, we can’t help it.

It’s almost impossible to avoid that tone of voice when we’re exasperated. But that tone says so much more than the actual words we’re screaming. That tone says “Why am I wasting my breath on you.” It says “How did I get stuck with such a moron?” It says “I’m embarrassed to be associated with you.”

We’re lashing out because we feel that we’re failing as parents. Yes, we’re mad at them too, but we’re really mad at ourselves because we’re obviously not getting through to them.

That’s why I made it my New Years resolution this year to eliminate it from my repertoire forever. I’ve caught myself a few times already…and taken a step back…and taken a deep breath…and even walked away…and wow has that been hard, but I’m putting that tone of voice behind glass and stamping “In Case of Emergency Only” on it.

Like when they keep wandering out in front of oncoming traffic.

In that case, by all means, I’ll be breaking that glass.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Musings

Every Monday stop by for jokes, links to stories you might have missed, amusing photos and video, and more. Contributions and suggestions are welcome and encouraged. Click on the "Email Me" link on the right to contribute.

Joke of the Week: Contributed by "O"

Hillary Clinton goes to her doctor for a physical, and learns that she's pregnant.

She is furious... Here she's in the middle of her first run for president, and this has happened to her!

She calls home, gets Bill on the phone and immediately starts screaming;

"How could you have let this happen? With all that's going on right now, you get me pregnant! How could you? I can't believe this! I just found out I am five weeks pregnant and it is all your fault! Your fault! Well, what have you got to say?

There is nothing but dead silence on the phone.

She screams again, "Did you hear me?"

Finally she hears Bill's very, very quiet voice. In a barely audible whisper, he says, "Who is this?"

Stories you might have missed

1. Florida moves to ban fake testicles on vehicles

(I really don't think they've got the balls to do it.)

2. Gary Coleman in Divorce Court
(It will be televised on May 1st and 2nd. Gary will playing himself in this episode.)

3. Humans almost died out 70,000 years ago
(But how is that possible? The world is only 5000 years old. Right, Mike Hukabee?)

4. Penis theft hits Congo
(One of the penis bandits was overheard saying..."Is it twue what they about you people? Oh, it's twue. It's twue. It's twue. It's twue.")

5. Colin Firth's penis is photographed in public bathroom by the guy next to him

(For those of you dreaming for the trappings of fame)

Video of the week: Contributed by "B". "Sweet Home Alabama" performed by the Leningrad Cowboys and the Red Army Choir.

Picture of the week: Contributed by my dog-loving friend "H"

Reader Response

Regarding Suburban Man: "Norm Crosby Lives"

"I remember when I was 10 or 11 and one day I was in the car with my mom and my uncle. I said, “Mom, you’ve got a talligator!” (Instead of tailgater? I honestly thought that term had something to do with alligators!) She and my uncle burst into laughter and I was so embarrassed! You’re definitely saving Johnny from much similar embarrassment, entertaining as it may be!"

"Our family’s favorite misquote came from my daughter. She was messing around, and one of us bellowed, “BEHAVE!!!” —-to which she replied, “I AM being have (rhymes with “save”)!!!! Guess you had to be there…"

Regarding "Just One Bad Century"

"Hey Rick, here’s my story…My mom’s boss at the time, Randy, took me to the first home game after the Cubs won the division in Pittsburgh in 1984. I was 11 years old, and all I can remember is absolute PANDEMONIUM! I remember standing in the upper deck as the Cubs took the field to the sound of Van Halen’s “JUMP” and vividly recall Wayne Messmer proclaiming “Ladies and Gentlemen, your 1984 Eastern Division Champion CHICAGO CUBS!!!” It was so awesome.

We went to Murphy’s before the game. I guess they figured since the kid was with a few adults, they’d let me in. Anyhow, we’re sitting around the table, me sipping my Pepsi amidst the Old Style. Randy leans into me and says, “Hey Scottie, you see that older guy sitting over there? – look down, the guy with the wooden leg?” “Yea” I said. “I see him”. Randy continued: “I want you to go over to him and say, “Hello Mr. Veeck, can I have your autograph please?”

So I did, and Bill Veeck cheerfully signed my ticket. What a thrill knowing years later that he was the man who planted the ivy, who wore the straw hat in the right field bleachers, who’s idea it was for the exploding scoreboard at Comiskey Park. At the age of 11, I met a Chicago sports legend. It was an awesome day – a Cubs Division Championship, a day out at the ball game with the ‘fellas’, and an autograph from Bill Veeck."

267 days until we get a new president.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Cindy Gatziolis

Cindy Gatziolis is the Director of PR/Marketing for the City of Chicago, Mayor’s Office of Special Events, but before she started there, she worked in Chicago radio for more than twenty years.


Summer Internship 1978 WLS-AM 89

Research Assistant/Programming Assistant/Producer Larry Lujack Show May 1979-May 1984 WLS-AM 89

Freelance writer (included writing comic health minute for Fred Winston) May 1984-May 1985

Creative Services (wrote approximately 1500 live read commercials and 50 promos) May 1985-June 1989 WGN-AM 720

Promotion Coordinator/Director of Promotion and Marketing June 1989 – June 1996 WLUP AM/The LOOP FM/ WMVP-AM 1000

Promotion and Marketing Director March 1997-January 2000 WMAQ 670

Rick: People who follow the business know you primarily from your days as a promotional guru, but you also started out as a producer for the Larry Lujack show at WLS. Talk about those days with Larry, and tell us a few things about him that we might not know.

Cindy: It’s no secret that I love and adore the charming and delightful Larry Lujack. I had listened to him as a kid and my mother was from Idaho so my siblings remember him from his gig there. Then when I was 16,my parents and I, along with my same age cousin and his family, were visiting a lovely Idaho resort area, McCall. Suddenly I see my radio idol and even held the door open for him and Jude, but I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t speak.

Flash forward: It’s my first day as an intern and they put me in the jock lounge where, shortly after 10am, comes the man himself. I think I was calling him Mr. Lujack until he told me that if I did that one more time, he’d break my face. I love him.

He’s extremely thrifty…like buying several pairs of Levi’s at the Bon Marche in Boise because of the great price…only he gained weight and couldn’t fit into them. But he’s also generous. When the producing thing didn’t really work out for me and I chose to leave (Hard to go to bed at 11 or 12 and get up at 3:45am) he insisted on paying me for 2 months more and telling everyone (including Steve & Garry on the air) that I was working from home now because I had other projects.

Rick: You also had a stint at WGN during the Wally Phillips era. People of a certain age don't understand just how huge he was in Chicago. How would you describe Wally's impact on Chicago radio?

Cindy: I grew up in a Wally household. My mother was addicted to him. I do believe my father may have been jealous of Wally (photo). I was reminded as I heard tributes (by Steve Dahl of all people) that Wally was a prankster and bad boy.

Just look at the numbers. One-half of all people listening to the radio were listening to him. That’s a pre-cable, pre-internet, pre-video games (even Pong) world, and some of it before we had UHF channels, so radio was big entertainment.

In my early radio days, when the book would come in, you just wouldn’t pay attention to Wally’s number because it was a given you wouldn’t get anywhere near it. My first June at WLS as an employee was 1979 and we had a big celebration because the 12+ rating was 7.9. Wally’s number alone was twice that.

As much as Chicago listeners felt he was their best friend, he was terribly subdued off the air. In four years at WGN, I barely had more than a handful of interactions.

Rick: We got to know each other at the Loop, during that heady time of the late 80s and early 90s. You were the promotion director of that station at a time when just about every big name was there--Brandmeier, Matthews, Dahl & Meier, Danny Bonaduce, Chet Coppock, and all those great FM jocks like Skafish, Stroud, et all. How did you manage to juggle all of those shows, all of which demanded promotion and attention, at the same time?

Cindy: It was a challenge to say the least to please all the people all the time. YES! Luckily I didn’t have to work alone. Between Larry Wert, a myriad of program directors, my excellent staff and the hard-working, seldom-appreciated producers, we managed to make things work. I do recall one day that was nearly 24 hours, waking up at 3am to be at Dahl & Meier remote, working on all sorts of details for the Brandmeier 10 year anniversary show during the day, resting a couple hours and going to a Danny Bonaduce event that went until about 2am. (Photo: Cindy with Buzz Kilman)

What made it possible for me to do the job without going insane, is that I believed in those shows, and that goes for all of them…the FM jocks like Skafish and Stroud, and Wendy Snyder who maybe didn’t have the light shining on them as often. There will never be a more perfect job for me than that one and I truly loved all those people. I still try to follow, listen, read etc about all of them. I was a very lucky radio person.

Rick: OK, the most unfair question of all-time. Who was your favorite one to deal with and why?

Cindy: You’re killing me here. Would you ask Scorsese his favorite film? My father used to say no matter what finger you cut they all bleed the same. (This was in response to his daughters saying he favored his son – which he did.)

I will say this…Brandmeier (photo) and Dahl & Meier probably made things the hardest to do, however they had such clear visions of what they wanted for their shows, that I learned a lot from them and it made meeting their demands feel extremely satisfying.

For example: JB created the idea of Danny and Donny Osmond having a boxing match somewhere in mid-December (you know the month that has Christmas and New Year’s?) That event went off without a hitch in mid-January. I don’t think there’s a drug around that could give me the high I felt that day.

Rick: Some of the promotions that the Loop did in those days are still legendary. Which specific promotions do you look back on today with the most pride?

Well I guess my previous answer covers one of them. David Letterman made a joke about the boxing match. I don’t think it gets much better than that.

Another event of which I’m most proud is that I was part of the first live radio broadcast in New Comiskey Park. I presume I’ll be long gone when that place is torn down but when they do the special on-line section of whatever passes for a newspaper then, I want the Steve & Garry Show to be part of the trivia about that ballpark. (Photo: Cindy with Ozzie Guillen and Les Grobstein)

Of course I couldn’t leave out the broadcast of the next year when I was able to secure Carlton Fisk for an interview. Not only am I in love with him, but Steve is too.

Rick: After leaving the Loop, you worked with WMAQ during its final years as a news/talk station. Describe what that was like when you knew the format's days were numbered.

Cindy: I feel bad because I got out before those dark final days. I think we all were seeing the handwriting on the wall. I’ll never forgive Mel Karmizan for that one. He treated that station poorly because I think he was planning to use us for spare parts. That’s what you get when you have carpetbaggers for owners. He never saw the value of two news stations in town. Plus he could never see how different our format was than WBBM.

(Photo: NBC Tower, home to WMAQ during the final years)

There were a lot of great people associated with that station. Columbine is a very dark day in our history, but I was able to watch a newsroom really cook that day. We Must Ask Questions. They couldn’t even hang on to the damn call letters.

WMAQ surprised me. I have a journalism degree, but my radio experience up until then had been mostly entertainment so I thought I’d feel kind of odd….but I really miss everybody, and my office that used to be the smoking room and my giant promotion staff that was comprised of me.

Rick: Of course now you're working with Mayor's Office of Special Events--which means that you're heading into your busy season. I'll give you a free shot here...what are some of the big events we can expect to hit Chicago this summer?

Cindy: As always Taste of Chicago, June 27-July 6 is the big mack daddy. We’ve got some great acts that we’ve already announced…Stevie Wonder, Plain White Ts, Chaka Kahn.

We have big milestones too – 25th Annual Blues Festival, 50th Air & Water, 20th Viva Latin Music Festival and 30th Chicago Jazz Festival so there’s lots planned there including B.B. King for the final night of Blues, June 8.

And we’ve moved the Chicago Country Music Festival to its own date and location – October 11 & 12 /Soldier Field Parkland.

Each major event has a URL that includes its name and .us but you can get to them all from

Rick: You're also a die-hard White Sox fan. What was that like for you--working for the city and helping to plan the parade--for your favorite team after they won the World Series?

Cindy: Going from the private sector to City Hall has been an adjustment for me that even after seven years, I believe I’m still making. That being said, I believe I was brought to that job by some other power to be part of that celebration. I like to think that my voice was an active one in planning because I begged that it be a parade and not like the Bulls rallies.

(Photo: White Sox celebration at Chicago River)

Needless to say I was thrilled when the Sox won that last World Series game, but I knew I had a lot of work to do so my real celebration would be on hold. We had put a few plans in place, but an awful lot changed last minute. Personal note to Jim Wiser (producer of WGN’s Spike O’Dell Show) I apologize for giving the wrong info out on the air; when I left the Hall the night of the last game, that was the plan.

The one day of planning that we had saw me leave City Hall shortly before midnight and I was back by 7am on the day of the parade. Media was everywhere and a few of them just wouldn’t stay away from the areas from where they were restricted. Crowds were massive. But every ounce of being tired, irritated, nervous that it wouldn’t go right, went away as the motorcade turned on to LaSalle and the confetti started to fall. I nearly lost it. It was exactly as I always imagined it would be and thought for sure I’d never see.

I do wish it for you Cubs fans; just not while I’m at City Hall.

The best came months later as I would hear countless interviews with the players where they would mention telling people about the great parade. You know, if we made them giddy, that’s something.

Rick: Where will the Sox finish in the standings this year?

Cindy: I never like to predict things like that. I’d rather make fun of those who are wrong. I do kind of admire the faith Cubs fans have that they are always going to go the World Series. Sox fans try to prepare for the worst and then are pleasantly surprised (although I didn’t prepare for last season.)

I always had a vision in 2005 – I saw the locker celebration all season. Weird, huh? SO for this year, let’s just leave it at I’ve had a vibe, but all I’ll predict is that I think we’re better than all the pre-season prognosticators have said.