Thursday, November 13, 2008

Media Notebook (Nov 13, 2008)

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

National Association of Broadcasters schmooze President-Elect
( NAB President/CEO David K. Rehr wrote to President-Elect Barack Obama on Monday, congratulating the newly-elected leader and highlighting the role played by America's local radio and television broadcasters. "There are more than 15,000 local radio and television stations in the United States, employing nearly 250,000 hard working Americans," wrote Rehr. "These stations serve their communities through public service, local news, entertaining programming and vital community information -- such as emergency warnings, traffic information and severe weather alerts." Rehr also referenced the pending transition to digital television, noting that NAB has undertaken "massive consumer education efforts" to ensure that no American is left behind in the switch to DTV.

NY Times Exec resigns to run NPR
(NY Times) Richard Perez Pena writes: "Vivian Schiller, who heads the online operations of The New York Times, will leave the paper to become the president and chief executive of National Public Radio, the network announced on Tuesday. Ms. Schiller, 47, will take over NPR on Jan. 5, heading a nonprofit corporation with a budget of more than $150 million and an endowment of more than $240 million. It provides news and entertainment programming to more than 800 public radio stations around the country and claims an audience of 26 million people."

Keith Olbermann signs new 4-year contract with MSNBC
(Huffington Post) MSNBC has voted for four more years of Keith Olbermann and the top-rated "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," it was announced today by Phil Griffin, President, MSNBC. The new four-year agreement calls for Olbermann to continue as host of "Countdown;" additionally, Olbermann will play a prominent role in MSNBC's coverage of all major news events. He will also continue to co-host NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show. "Keith Olbermann is at the core of MSNBC's current success," said Griffin. "'Countdown' is our signature program and I'm thrilled that we're going to be able to bring it to Keith's loyal viewers for another four year term."

Joe Scarborough put on tape-delay after dropping f-bomb
(Broadcasting & Cable) John Eggerton writes: "MSNBC has instituted a seven-second delay for morning show, Morning Joe, a spokeswoman for that show confirmed Tuesday evening. Spokeswoman Alana Russo confirmed the delay was instituted after a slip Monday morning when show host Joe Scarborough accidentally dropped an f-bomb, then apologized, seemingly unaware that it had slipped out. Russo had no further comment about the delay beyond acknowledging it was prompted by the f-bomb. Cable operators are not under the same FCC indecency enforcement regulations as broadcasters, and even broadcasters get more leeway when it is a live news program."


Ted Turner goes to town on Time Warner
(Portfolio) Jeff Bercovici writes: "It's safe to say Ted Turner holds a grudge. Interviewed this morning at the Time/Life Building by Time magazine's Josh Tyrangiel, the swashbuckling CNN founder took every opportunity to bash his former company over the head, blasting Gerald Levin and Dick Parsons, excoriating Time and CNN, and comparing the merger of Time Warner and AOL to the development of the atomic bomb in its tragic impact. (Parts of the interview, which was timed to promote Turner's autobiography, will appear in next week's issue of Time and on the magazine's website; it will be awfully interesting to see just which parts.) Afterward, talking to a group of Time Inc. employees, he said, "It gave me a chance to get a few things off my chest." No kidding. Turner, who has lost the vast majority of his fortune and given away most of the rest, said he intends to make fresh billions by investing in clean energy. And what will he do with it? "I might buy Time [Warner] back, because it might be two dollars a share by then. When I left it was eighteen."

Sirius/XM loses some serious cash: $4.8 billion
(Reuters) One thing you can be sure of--it's never Mel Karmazin's fault. Right, Mel? Franklin Paul writes: "Sirius XM Radio Inc posted a $4.8 billion write-down of goodwill related to its acquisition of satellite radio rival XM, and said the auto industry's "dramatic" woes have hurt subscriber growth. The company blamed the write-down, which added to its operational losses in the third quarter, on the significant decline in its share price from February 2007, when the merger was first announced. At that time, Sirius traded at about $3.79, compared with 27 cents at the close on Monday. Chief Executive Mel Karmazin defended the company, saying that while it provides a radio service that subscribers enjoy, it is powerless to fix the economic troubles that have beset the auto industry -- its biggest source of new subscribers. "We think the environment sucks," he said on a conference call with analysts. "It is not like we're doing something wrong. It is that, unfortunately, we do not have a whole lot of control over what cars are getting sold. We do our best."

Emmis won’t talk to analysts on a quarterly call
( Tom Taylor writes: "Here’s the message on the website: “Emmis is discontinuing its conference call on quarterly earnings.” That’s too bad. Jeff Smulyan is an ambassador for the industry and an executive the analysts and investors have learned from, over the years. That will no doubt continue in one-on-ones and at industry events (which I hope Jeff will continue to address). But it’s dismaying that he won’t make himself available for Q&A on the quarterly call. (Certainly the calls aren’t fun when the results are suffering along with the stock price.) Emmis has also gotten extra publicity for those calls because of its unusual fiscal year, which Jeff set up to even out radio’s usual big fourth-quarter results by adding in some of the New Year. Emmis will release its next quarterly results on January 9, but won’t talk to the analysts about them. We’ve already got Clear Channel avoiding a call, by releasing just the numbers with no chance for Q&A – but at least Clear Channel can say it’s no longer a publicly-traded company."

Court allows nephew's suit against Sumner Redstone
(Associated Press) Massachusetts' high court has revived a claim by a nephew of Sumner Redstone that the entertainment mogul and his brother cheated the younger Redstone. But the Supreme Judicial Court on Friday backed a lower court's ruling that it was too late for a separate and potentially more lucrative claim of wrongdoing in a 1984 transaction. Michael Redstone claims the brothers cheated him out of shares of National Amusements Inc. in a 1972 transaction. He claims the mogul bought out his father, Edward, partially with shares that belonged to Michael and his sister. National Amusements is a holding company that owns and operates theaters and holds Sumner Redstone's interests in CBS and Viacom. Sumner Redstone is chairman of both companies.

Media Giants to sell off radio stations
(Wall Street Journal) Sarah McBride writes: "Mounting debt and a sharp drop in advertising at many of the nation's radio broadcasters have led to a slashing of their valuations to fire-sale levels and intense competition with other media for ad dollars. 'It's grim,' says Farid Suleman, chief executive of Citadel Broadcasting Corp., owner of a radio network and more than 200 radio stations in many of the nation's largest markets. He describes current conditions as 'absolutely the worst I've seen.'"


The Jerry Springer interview
(Chicagoist) Karl Klockers writes: "Jerry Springer’s infamous television sideshow may not have the cultural zeitgeist that it had a decade ago, but he and his crew still plugs away, day after day, getting close to twenty years later. If you haven’t seen the Springer show lately, it’s still the show that drove preachers and moralists nuts in the late 90’s, nudity and violence and all. It's also still the show that made a star out of a former newscaster and semi-disgraced politician out of Ohio. (Semi-disgraced, because many people don’t realize that after his sex n’ checks scandal, he was actually re-elected to office.) Jerry Springer has been more associated with Chicago than Ohio since the show spread across the globe, and might be one of the city's most famous residents (after that Oprah lady)."

Right wing media feeds post election anger

(LA Times) James Rainey writes: "Many on the losing end of last week's election want to hold on to their anger. And there are those in the media -- led by the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity -- only too ready to feed that animus, along with their own ratings. 'The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen,' Limbaugh told his radio audience of 15 million to 20 million on Thursday. 'Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come. This is an Obama recession. Might turn into a depression.' Apparently the tanking of the real estate market, record losses in the auto industry, and massive failures in the banking and investment industry have very little to do with our problems. The economic system is collapsing, Rush wants us to know, because it anticipates the tax increases Obama has pledged on capital gains and for the highest income earners."

Under Obama, web could be the way
(Washington Post) Shailagh Murray and Matthew Mosk write: "Armed with millions of e-mail addresses and a political operation that harnessed the Internet like no campaign before it, Barack Obama will enter the White House with the opportunity to create the first truly "wired" presidency. Obama aides and allies are preparing a major expansion of the White House communications operation, enabling them to reach out directly to the supporters they have collected over 21 months without having to go through the mainstream media."

Obama's FCC comes into focus
( Mel Phillips writes: "The new FCC transition team will be headed by former agency member Henry Rivera, a partner at communications law firm Wiley, Rein, the same firm Kevin Martin worked at. Martin, the current FCC Chairman can only leave voluntarily. His term doesn’t end until June 30, 2011 but he will be replaced as chairman by either Rivera or FCC member Michael Copps - both Democrats. In addition to Martin, the only other Republican at the agency is Robert McDowell. The third Republican, Deborah Taylor Tate is required to leave the agency no later than the first week of January. Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat will likely stay at the FCC…"

HBO acquires rights to Obama documentary
(Hollywood Reporter) Greg Goldstein writes: "HBO has closed a seven-figure deal for U.S. rights to an untitled Barack Obama documentary from producer Edward Norton. Norton's Class 5 Films approached the Obama campaign in early 2006 about a doc chronicling the new president elect's history in politics. Directors Amy Rice and Alicia Sams were granted extensive access to film Obama before he launched his presidential run in 2007 and have continued their shoot through his historic victory this week. HBO, which has been pursuing rights for several months, plans to air the feature-length docu next year. The footage, culled from 2 1/2 years of filming, includes interviews with Obama, his senior campaign staff, family, friends and volunteers."

Palin lies low as interview requests pile up
(Associated Press) Gov. Sarah Palin hadn't been back home in Alaska for a full day and her staff had begun fielding requests Thursday for postelection interviews, including from Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and others. Palin had been expected at her office in Anchorage but later notified her staff that she wouldn't show up after all. She remained at her home in Wasilla, located 40 miles to the north, but was expected in her office on Friday, spokesman Bill McAllister said. "The intensity of all the interest is amazing. Everyone wants to talk to her," he said.


Melissa Foreman giving up afternoons on WLIT
(Chicago Sun Times) Lewis Lazarre writes: "Adult contemporary WLIT-FM (93.9) is making adjustments in its daytime talent lineup, effective today (Monday). After a year of doing double duty as morning and afternoon host, Melissa Forman now will be given a breather and allowed to concentrate on her morning show from 5:30 to 9 a.m. Robin Rock then will host a show from 9 to 2 p.m. Rock will be followed from 2 to 7 by newcomer Kevin Gossett, a Phoenix-based programming director and on-air talent at KEZ-FM, which, like WLIT, is owned and operated by Clear Channel. Gossett will tape his Chicago-specific WLIT show in Phoenix, but a Clear Channel Chicago spokeswoman said Gossett intends to visit Chicago and familiarize himself with the market. Delilah continues in her 7 to midnight slot at WLIT, which is expected to shift to its popular holiday music format within the next 10 days."

Dobson inducted into Radio Hall of Fame, Protesters march

(Radio Ink) : A group called "Dump Dobson" marched for two hours Saturday night in front of the Renaissance Chicago Hotel to protest the Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family was named to the hall in the program category. The group, organized primarily by gay-rights organizations Truth Wins Out and Gay Liberation Network, began protesting FOTF's nomination back in July, calling Dobson an "anti-gay bigot" and "an ideologue who has built his radio empire on anti-gay hatred and discrimination." When Dobson's show was named among the inductees, the group vowed to protest the ceremony if the induction was not rescinded. "If you advocate the taking away of rights for a whole group of people, you may be a Christian, you may be any number of other things, but one thing you certainly are is you are a hater, and you are a bigot," Gay Liberation Network's Andy Thayer told ABC-7/Chicago Saturday night. "James Dobson is a bigot." Radio Hall of Fame Chairman Bruce DuMont told Radio Ink that there were about 250 demonstrators outside the hotel, and there was no disturbance inside or during the event. He said, "They were chanting, they carried signs, they were orderly, and they were exercising their right of free expression, which is wonderful."

Chicago Radio Spotlight interview: Mancow
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Last weekend I spoke with the new midday host at WLS Radio; Mancow. We talked about his new show, his inability to get along with others, and much more. Coming this weekend: Former WBBM, WLUP, WCKG, WSCR, WXRT, and ESPN Radio veteran Jeff Schwartz.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mt. Prospect

Did you see this? Business Week Magazine named Mt. Prospect the best place in America to raise kids

Here is the actual article in Business Week.

This video is from the Business Week website.

Forgive me. Just proud of my hometown.

Suburban Man: Self Sufficiency

By Rick Kaempfer

Despite the semi-skewed childhood my boys are experiencing because I’m at home raising them instead of my wife (for instance, my six-year-old Sean once asked me if I want to be a mom when I grow up so I can get a job), these kids are turning out remarkably well.

All three of them are good people with good hearts. All three of them have a good sense of humor. And most importantly, all three of them are learning the value of becoming self-sufficient.

That’s been my greatest gift to them, and of course, I’m not giving it to them intentionally. They know that they can’t totally count on me to take care of everything for them, because I’ve blown it so many times.

Since my youngest son Sean is the one I’ve been most instrumental in raising (he was a baby when I got this gig full-time), he is the most self-sufficient. I honestly think that if I were to have a heart attack, he would calmly call 9-1-1 before heading to the school bus stop at the appropriate time.

This is a boy that makes breakfast for his older brothers. I didn’t teach him to do that. He just noticed that I move too slowly in the morning, and filled the void. He has also been getting himself dressed for more than three years. Granted, there are days when we show up somewhere before I notice he’s wearing shoes that are three sizes too big (it only happened once, OK?), and his socks almost never match (which horrifies my mother), but for the most part, I couldn’t get everything done in the morning without Sean.

Some of the other parents in the neighborhood have even noticed how well he seems to manage his own affairs. At soccer practice last week after Sean took charge and organized his teammates, one of the other moms asked me my secret.

“Oh that’s easy,” I answer. “Bad parenting.”

My second son Johnny is now 10 years old. He was in kindergarten when I took over the gig, so he is still a little needier than his little brother. For instance, he still has moments when he forgets that I’m the one at home with him every day instead of his mom. This happens every Halloween when he tells me his idea for a costume.

“I’m going as a knight this year,” he told me the other day.

“How are you going to do that?” I asked.

“I just need a metal chest plate, a metal helmet, a jousting spear, and a mace.”

“Where are we going to buy that?” I asked.

“We can make it, Dad.”

I locked eyes with him and he remembered who he was dealing with.

“Maybe I’ll go as Mario again,” he said. “I’ll go make a paper mustache.”

In addition to making his own costumes every year, Johnny has become a human post-it note for me. When I put him to bed at night, I’m likely to hear something like “Don’t forget tomorrow is viola lessons, Dad. You have to wake me up early.” Or when he comes home from school, I’ll get a reminder like “Dad, I’ve only got an hour to do my homework today because of soccer practice–which starts at 5.”

Right. Thanks.

I’m trying. I really am. But I think it’s safe to say that attention to detail isn’t my strong suit. That’s why I really understand the difficulties that my oldest son Tommy faces. He is just like me–in his own little world–barely aware of his surroundings. Unfortunately for Tommy, he isn’t being raised by strict German parents like I was. He’s being raised by me.

My parents took an almost militaristic approach to my…shall we say…deficiencies. They had to remind me about everything all the time–and I knew I just needed to follow orders to survive. I thought Tommy needed that too, but it was never an option. I just don’t have the organizational chops to pull it off.

On the other hand, our mutual ineptitude led to a real breakthrough the other day. When I got a midterm report from school letting me know that Tommy was getting low grades, we were both shocked. Tommy is a very bright boy. He knows it too. He couldn’t possibly have low grades.

When we looked on the school website, the problem was clear as day. We saw that he had gotten an A or an A+ on every assignment or test he had turned in, but zeros on assignments he didn’t turn in, and that was bringing his grades down. He saw in black and white what needed to be done, and I didn’t need to tell him.

Sometimes it pays to have an inept parent in charge.

Monday, November 10, 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: You can stop sending me your racist Obama jokes, by the way. I get it. He's a black guy. This non-Obama joke is contributed by "K"

A young girl was going on a date. Her grandmother said: "Sit here and let me tell you about those young boys.

He is going to try to kiss you, you are going to like that, but don't let Him do that.

He is going to try to feel your breast, you are going to like that but don't let him do that.

But most important, he is going to try and get on top of you to have his way with you. You are going to like that, but don't let him do that. It will disgrace the family."

With that bit of advice, the granddaughter went on her date.

The next day she told grandma that her date went just like she had predicted: Grandma, I didn't let him disgrace the family. When he tried, I just turned over, got on top of him, and disgraced HIS family..."

Granny fainted

Stories you might have missed

1. Did you do it on election night?
(Me neither. The article predicts a rash of "Obama babies" nine months from now)

2. Gun sales soar after Obama win
(Looks like both sides were firing off guns. The winners were just a little more metaphorical in their approach.)

3. Hef's girlfriend engaged to marry an NFL wide receiver
(Hef was said to be drowning his sorrows in the arms of two 19-year-olds.)

4. Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country
(This whole story is a very bizarre, and I can't figure out why they're leaking it.)

5. Letterman's Top 10 Sarah Palin revelations
(Dave was on fire during this election season. It was great to see him at the top of his game again.)

Video of the week: This is oddly compelling

Photo of the week:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Mancow

Erich "Mancow" Muller is the host of a syndicated morning radio show, as well as a talk show on WLS every weekday morning from 9-11.

Rick: I can tell that saying the call letters W-L-S is a thrill for you. What do those call letters mean to you?

Mancow: Actually, Fred Winston the radio legend yelled at me for not selling those famed call letters! “It’s double U L S!” He instructed. WLS? Wow! Me on WLS.

Rick: Mike Fowler was your GM when you first came to Chicago, and he was obviously instrumental in bringing you back on the radio in Chicago (on WLS). You've been known to take your shots at management over the years, but you've always gotten along with Mike. What is it about him that makes him different?

Mancow: It’s a strange thing I have always gotten along with general managers and the money people. They see the value in my art. It’s the program directors that are mostly failed on-air radio people. They are frustrated & jealous of what I do. The worst was a gentleman named Mike Stern who went to The Second City school of yucks and thought he was wacky. He wanted to be me! Creepy.

Rick: I've heard that we're going to hear a little more Erich on this new show and a little less Mancow.

Mancow: I’ve hated “Mancow” since I coined it. People loved it & it stuck. You can’t pick nicknames they pick you.

Rick: Doing two shows a day (the syndicated morning show and the WLS show) has to be a challenge. Is the plan for this WLS show to be a completely different animal from the syndicated show?

Mancow: The process of 7 hours of radio a day is daunting. That’s what I’m doing--all in. How it will all gel is still up in the air.

Rick: A few years ago you came up with something you called "The Ten Commandments for Morning Hosts" after that stunt in California resulted in the death of a woman who drank too much water. What kind of a reaction have you gotten from other radio people around the country?

Mancow: I tried to warn stupid shallow hosts to wake up. They didn’t evolve and now they are losing their jobs. Evolve or die. Those that laughed it off did so at their own peril.

Rick: I can usually tell the influences of a radio personality based on the show they do, but with you I'm not so sure. Who are some of yours?

Mancow: My influences are so evident to me. “Lost in Space” set my imagination into hyper-drive. Also, TV Shows like “Ultra Man” and “Johnny Socko.” The music of “The Kinks” which featured the voice of reason and doubt through the bravado. Even at my rock jock baddest I always expressed my fears & weaknesses. On radio it was “The Shadow” and “Inner Sanctum” and the comedy of Stan Freberg and The Firesign Theater.

Rick: Fairly or not, you've acquired a reputation of "not working well with others." I think part of that comes from your very public feuds with other radio personalities in town, and part of that comes from the turnover on your staff over the years. Is that reputation deserved or not?

Mancow: My staff has been regular people that I’ve meet on the street. When they’ve lost their regular guy vibe I dust ‘em. One guy made a quarter of a million dollars & showed up late, left early, always complained and on top of that I wrote his entire character. Goodbye! Also when you pay for the party and never hear “thanks” it gets very old. My sports guy Al Roker Jr. has been with me for many years. He started fat & lazy and has evolved into a lean mean work addict. He’s great! I am old fashioned in that I believe in hard work. People that work hard last. Also, attitude equals altitude. At this point in my life I can’t be around jerks. No paycheck is worth that.

Rick: When you've done a high profile show for as long as you have, you've gotten a chance to meet just about everyone, from local and national celebrities to world leaders. Of all the people you've met since you got into the business, who impressed you the most, and who disappointed you the most?

Mancow: Don Henley (The Eagles) Peter Tork (The Monkees) were let downs. Michael Madsen, Bob Schieffer, Alice Cooper, Carlos Mencia, and my preacher Steve Munsey all were recent brilliant guests. Rush and (ahem) Drew Peterson were interesting as well.

Rick: Controversial figures like yourself are usually much different in real life than people expect. What is something about the real you that would surprise your fans?

Mancow: I believe radio listeners probably know me better than my own wife. I talk for seven hours a day so when I get home I hate talking. Truly, there is nothing I could say that would surprise my listeners. Non-listeners would be surprised to find out that I am a Christian, Libertarian, and father of two perfect twin girls that I love very much and I’m a serial killer….Scratch that last part.