Friday, May 03, 2013

The Lisagor Awards

Heading to the Lisagor Awards tonight at the Chicago Headline Club. My "Father Knows Nothing" blog is nominated for best blog. Roger Ebert is one of the other two finalists in the same category, so the outcome is all but determined, but there is a bar there. That was enough to get me to show up.

I think I better take the train.

LATE UPDATE: I lost. But not to Ebert. To the other finalist, a writer from the Huffington Post.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

The Daily Beast ‏@thedailybeast 1m
People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones-- Watch Imus call O'Reilly a "jerk"

The New York Times ‏@nytimes 6m
Some states are debating what to do about their Amtrak routes without federal aid

Slate ‏@Slate 11m
Drudge gets fooled in a big way by satirical article about Michael Bloomberg and pizza--PHOTO:

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 45m
If Jon Stewart is so above it all & legit, why did he change his name from Jonathan Leibowitz? He should be proud of his heritage!

Patrick Chovanec ‏@prchovanec 24m
@realDonaldTrump why did your grandfather change his name from Friedrich Drumpf to Fred Trump? There you go.

The Daily Show ‏@TheDailyShow 12m
We seem to have hit a Fuckface Von Nervestick.

The Daily Show ‏@TheDailyShow 21m
Can't an overrated Jew have a complicated relationship with his dad without being accused of hiding his heritage? #FuckFaceVonClownstick

Dan Bernstein ‏@dan_bernstein 35s
I'm told Collins' firing from CSN was #Blackhawks' behest. Her gaffe brought the old videos to their attention, and they wanted ties cut.

The Heckler ‏@The_Heckler 16m
Chuck Garfien fired by CSN Chicago after bad karaoke performance surfaces

JRehling ‏@JRehling 26m
According to that follower service you signed up for, you have 6 new followers, 2 new unfollowers, and zero self esteem.

Family Watching Movie White-Knuckles It Through Unexpected Sex Scene

An Onion article obviously inspired by a real life event. This has happened to my family a few times. Painfully (and in retrospect hilariously) awkward.

You can read it here.

Another Arrest in Murdoch's Empire

I guess I'm the only one who cares about this. News Corp stock prices are at a record high. Earnings are through the roof.

And yet, this pesky little criminal investigation keeps trucking along in England. There was another arrest for bribery and concealing evidence yesterday.

No biggie. Happens every day, right? Dozens and dozens of criminal charges against a newspaper for how they conducted their business. I'm sure it's an isolated case. Nothing to see here.

What People Are Actually Doing On The Internet In 2013

Buzzfeed compiles the list, based on actual user statistics. A few surprises on this list as far as I'm concerned. To me, the biggest surprise is how far down the list Twitter is.

What Will the New NBC Late Night Lineup Look Like?

TV Guide looks at the changes being discussed by NBC.

For one thing, it appears the shows will all be based in New York. Because of that they are trying to figure out ways to design the shows to prevent booking-wars. According to the article, the new Late Night show (presumably to be hosted by Seth Meyers) will have more newsmakers as guests and less Hollywood-type stars for that reason.

You wouldn't think booking wars would take place between two shows on the same network, but I can tell you from my previous experience as a producer in the old Loop days, there's no way to avoid booking wars. We had five different big-time shows all vying for the same guests in those days, and competed against ourselves on a daily basis. It was actually kind of fun.

The Daily Beast Drops Howard Kurtz

This one is a shocker. Kurtz is a media critic, and left the Washington Post a few years ago to work at the Daily Beast.

Yesterday they cut him loose, a few days after making an erroneous report about NBA player Jason Collins. Although, according to this piece in Politico, his firing had nothing to do with that.

Sources at The Daily Beast also tell POLITICO that Kurtz was dropped in part because he had been dedicating much of his time to other ventures, including The Daily Download, a media criticism site. Kurtz also hosts a weekend media criticism show on CNN called "Reliable Sources."
Media critics are slowly but surely becoming an endangered species in the mainstream media.

LATE UPDATE: Acccording to The Wrap, CNN is also reviewing whether or not to keep "Reliable Sources"

Another Radio Lawsuit

This one comes from Birmingham Alabama. From Radio Online...

It seems Birmingham, Alabama, is never short on radio drama. From the city that brought you the radio-fueled first burning of Beatles records comes a new discrimination lawsuit -- this one from former Market Manager Bill Thomas who is suing over his termination...Thomas claims bosses violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when they fired him just six days after he disclosed having congestive heart failure. He also claims he had never once been criticized or counseled regarding the quality of his work. He's looking for back pay and other damages.

I highlighted the part of the article that caught my eye. It may not have been illegal (I don't know the intracacies of the law), but it was certainly pun intended.

There really aren't many businesses in the world that don't have stories like this anymore, but even my friends who work on Wall Street or in Washington concede that radio still takes the cake when it comes to shockingly brutal firing stories.

Just ask Dick Biondi, who I ran into last night (he looks great, by the way--he's an ageless wonder). He's also been fired more than twenty times in his radio career.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

pat colander ‏@shorefan 57s
Check out how Rick Kaempfer's youngest son Sean reacted to '42' and the heroism of Jackie Robinson: via @nwi

Bruce Levine ‏@ESPNBruceLevine 2m
Matt Garza: Ready for my next start. Will be for Iowa this time out .

15-year mortgages at record low 2.56% avg.

Jim Wiser ‏@JimWiser 12m
United Center ranked next-to-last among NBA stadiums …

Mark Mooney ‏@mxmooney 18m
Boy, 5, who shot sister with his own rifle spotlights gun industry's growing focus on selling guns to kids. @kdolak

Michelle Damico ‏@MichelleDamico 18m
This is scary Poll: 29% of Americans Believe Armed Revolt May Be Necessary...

Paul Sullivan ‏@PWSullivan 28m
Ronnie and Billy statues not in the renderings of new Capt. Morgan Club. Cubs may move to Triangle plaza, depending on ice rink size.

Dan Bernstein ‏@dan_bernstein 9m
Seems @GreggDoyelCBS has been hearing from the same people calling @Boers_Bernstein this week. He feels as I do.

PublicPolicyPolling ‏@ppppolls 52m
50% of NC voters less likely to vote for Richard Burr in future for opposing background checks, 26% more likely:

PublicPolicyPolling ‏@ppppolls 51m
41% of LA voters less likely to vote for David Vitter in future for opposing background checks, 25% more likely: …

Chicks Dig Facial Hair

My wife would vehemently disagree with the findings of this study. She hates facial hair...

A new study conducted by researchers in Australia shows that women prefer men with heavy stubble over clean-shaven guys and guys sporting light stubble or full beards...For their research, University of New South Wales professors Barnaby J. Dixson and Rob C. Brooks presented photos of 10 smiling men to 351 women, according to MedicalXpress. Each man in the photos was shown in four ways -- clean-shaven, with five days of beard growth (light stubble), 10 days of growth (heavy stubble), and with a full beard. The researchers then asked the women to rate the men in the photos according to their attractiveness, finding heavy stubble to be the clear winner among women.

Maybe it's an Australian thing.

Car Trivia

Thanks to "DM" for sending these to me...

Q: What was the first official White House car?
A: 1909 White Steamer, ordered by President Taft.

Q: Where was the first drive-in gas station?
A: Gulf opened up the first station in Pittsburgh in 1913.

Q: Where was the World's first three-color traffic lights installed?
A: Detroit, Michigan in 1919. Two years later they experimented with synchronized lights.

Q: What U.S. production car has the quickest 0-60 mph time?
A: The 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409. Did it in 4.0 seconds

Q: What car was reportedly designed on the back of a Northwest Airlines airsickness bag and released on April Fool's Day, 1970?
A: 1970 Gremlin, (AMC)

The New F.C.C. Chairman

The more I read about him, the more I realize that I'm not a fan of this new F.C.C. Chairman pick. See if you can spot why in this piece in The Hill...
"Wheeler served as the president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the lobbying organization for the cable industry, from 1979 to 1984. Later, he led CTIA, the lobbying arm for cellphone carriers and also worked as a venture capitalist. Wheeler raised at least $500,000 for Obama's 2012 re-election campaign and $200,000 for his 2008 campaign, according to transparency group OpenSecrets."
Three red flags there.
#1: He was a lobbyist for the cable industry, and he is supposed to oversee it.
#2: He was a lobbyist for the cellphone carriers, and he is supposed to oversee them.
#3: He was a venture capitalist, and those are the guys that helped finance the worst of the worst media owners (and plunged them into unsustainable debt)

I'm sorry. The more I think about it, the more I hate this pick. This new guy is almost certainly going to be on the side of Big Media and not on the side of the consumer. I sure hope I'm wrong, but when you read the tea-leaves, it doesn't look good.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Dave, John, and Rick

This is the official Shore Magazine photo of our book signing this past weekend...

Home Movies of Jackie Robinson at Wrigley Field in 1947

This is too cool...

Ricketts' Threat to Leave Wrigley

Thanks to the Associated Press for calling me today to get my two cents regarding Mr. Ricketts' threat to leave Wrigley. I'm quoted at the end of the piece. You can read it here, but it's all over the country in different papers, websites, and blogs. I've been getting e-mails from coast to coast.

My Illinois Entertainer Interview with Bobby Skafish

My first Illinois Entertainer interview has been posted, and this month I speak with the Drive's Bobby Skafish.

You can read it here.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Matt Spiegel ‏@MattSpiegel670 4m
It took almost 4 years, but Tom Ricketts just threatened to move the Cubs.

Bruce Miles ‏@BruceMiles2112 1m
While #Cubs were spoon-feeding favored media yesterday, some of us watched Edwin Jackson pitch and Cubs lose again. …

Smokies on Radio ‏@SmokiesonRadio 14m
Matt Garza will pitch today for the Smokies in Mississippi. First pitch at noon. Stay tuned for a full recap. #Cubs

New York Daily News ‏@nydailynews 18m
Five-year-old boy shoots dead his 2-year-old sister with rifle he was given as a gift

The Heckler ‏@The_Heckler 20m
MLB committee investigates why tape measures are not used to measure tape measure home runs

Eric & Kathy ‏@EricandKathy 22m
Scientists have a found an antibiotic that makes men immune to seduction! #MIXMindBender sponsored by @LoyolaChicago.

Jim Wiser ‏@JimWiser 23m
Fox wants to cut reruns & offer more originals to counter growing cable & DVR competition.
( )

Christie yells 'Bull****' to opponents at NJ town hall meeting...

kippermcgee ‏@kippermcgee 31m
Morning Blend: "Don't tell people your problems: 80% don't care; and the other 20% are glad you have them." ~Lou Holtz

New York Daily News ‏@nydailynews 55s
What has George Zimmerman been eating in prison that he's gained 100 lbs?

The Blackhawks

I watched most of that overtime playoff game last night, and it was tense. There were so many close calls when the Hawks could have lost it, and so many near misses when they could have won it. I finally tuned away just for a moment to see what was happening on the Daily Show. I was gone no more than thirty seconds.

When I returned, the game was over.

I invested three hours of my time and missed the most important moment of the game.


At least they won.

The Columbian Exposition

120 years ago today, the Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago. Our baseball team moved their games to be closer to the crowds.

Read all about it at the JOBC Blog. It's today's Cubs 365 story.

Chris Matthews Re-Ups

I was going to write "Chris Matthew re-signs", but it's always bothered me that re-signs and resigns mean the opposite, so I'm going with the ridiculous sounding re-ups.

It's a long-term deal with MSNBC to continue hosting "Hardball". He will now be sticking around through the next presidential election. Matthews will be 71 years old when this contract runs out. (Can I admit that 71 doesn't sound that old to me anymore?)

The Hollywood Reporter has the details.

Jim Johnson Steps Down

From Radio Ink...

Jim Johnson has worked at WLS in Chicago for 45 years. He grew up listening to Larry Lujak, Steve Dahl, and John Records Landecker, and says it was a dream come true when he landed the job covering news at the station. As a reporter and anchor for WLS, Johnson has covered it all, from plane crashes to gangsters to corrupt politicians. He calls it a ringside seat to history. Now, at the age of 69, and in good health, Johnson has decided to call it quits. He says he woke up this week and decided it was time to move on.

Cumulus Chicago Market Manager Donna Baker said, "Fourty-four years as a broadcaster in Chicago, the city that he loves, at WLS, the station that he loves, having fun and doing what he loves every day of this adventure. That's an inspiring legacy. Jim, we wish you joy. You are forever a part of the greatest station in the world, WLS."

Former WLS General Manager Michael Damsky says, "I've been a fan of Jim's since he was a part of the Steve Dahl show in the early '80s, so he was another of the radio heroes I got to work with at WLS. Besides the fact that he is an absolute gentleman, his dry witticisms were the spice of the Roe and Roeper show. And he is that way all the time. If I had known the contract deal we did in 2011 was going to be his last one, I would have made it for five years."

I interviewed Jim for Chicago Radio Spotlight a few years ago. He had some great stories. It's really worth checking out if you haven't read it before. You can read that here.

LATE UPDATE: Obviously that first paragraph in Radio Ink's column is inaccurate. He couldn't possibly have grown up listening to those guys. He was on the air in Chicago before both Dahl and Landecker even arrived here.

Green White History

One of my on-going writing projects is chronicling the history of Green White Soccer Club, a club co-founded by my father in 1956. Every month I write about one year in Green White history. This month, it's 1975.

You can read it here.

New F.C.C. Chairman

I have to say, I don't like the sound of this one. From Tom Taylor's column this morning...

Insiders at the Las Vegas NAB were betting on venture capitalist and former cable and wireless association head Tom Wheeler – a rainmaker for the Obama campaigns in 2012 (more than $500,000) and 2008 (between $250,000 and $500,000). He’s knowledgeable about wireless (he was CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) and cable (former president of NCTA, the National Cable Television Association). Presumably he’s gung-ho about the President’s prime objective for the FCC – the deployment of broadband Internet access. That means hacking through the terra incognita of persuading TV stations to turn in some of their spectrum, “re-packing” of the TV band, and then spectrum auctions. Wheeler’s currently a managing director at D.C.-based Core Capital Partners. The Wall Street Journal broke the news yesterday afternoon that he’s Obama’s choice, and that current Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will be interim chair. She’d been the favorite of some groups for the Chairman’s job – as had her colleague Jessica Rosenworcel. Going with Wheeler avoids choosing between them. The NAB’s Gordon Smith “welcomes the nomination…Tom Wheeler has the experience and temperament to serve the agency with distinction.”

I get that he's pushing the internet thing--and that's good obviously--but when Gordon Smith from the NAB is happy, I'm a little worried. Etch it in stone, they're going to push for media ownership rule changes again. The big boys will never tire of wanting to get even bigger.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

James Paul McCartney

On this day in 1973, Paul McCartney and Wings released "Red Rose Speedway". It's not exactly one of my favorite Wings albums, but as I was looking for a decent video from the album I stumbled onto this awesome special about the band that aired when the album was released in 1973. I've never seen it before.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Deadspin ‏@Deadspin 8m
VIDEO: How do you celebrate a 19th-inning walk-off? Pie yourself in the face:

ThinkProgress ‏@thinkprogress 4m
Chris Broussard and ESPN decline to apologize for on-air condemnation of Jason Collins

@dcsportsbog: The Wizards report that 100% of jerseys ordered from online store yesterday were "Collins 98"

Taegan Goddard ‏@politicalwire 8m
Jon Stewart had a hilarious take on the sequester causing airport delays …

Chet Coppock ‏@ChetCoppock 13m
65 years old today. Can't wait to get to the U.C. to #Hawks bt #Wild 3-2. Man, God has blessed me in so many ways.

Romenesko ‏@romenesko 18m
About 50% of LAT staff say they'll quit if the Koch brothers buy the paper. PLUS: More morning links.

Andy Richter ‏@AndyRichter 24m
Happy 80th birthday to one of earth's most precious resources, @willienelson ! Love you, Willie!

Jim Gaffigan ‏@JimGaffigan 31m
I’m not going to workout until everyone preorders my book “Dad is Fat”! (This is retroactive for the past 7 years.)

Deadspin ‏@Deadspin 37m
Mark Grace is "a model inmate," still works full-time for the Diamondbacks while serving his jail sentence:

Paul Begala ‏@PaulBegala 39m
And if beer cuts heart disease, I'll live forever. RT“@jsdeckard: Pizza cuts risk of cancer! Cc: @mikeallen …”

Missed it by This/Much

This is supposedly a real picture of reporter Kelly Nash taking a self-photo at Fenway Park. She claims it is not doctored at all. The story about it here.

On the Road in Northwest Indiana with John Records Landecker

This past weekend John Landecker had a book signing in Beverly Shores Indiana at Bartlett's. Eckhartz Press co-publisher David Stern and I tagged along to help out. Of course, it didn't hurt that Bartlett's also serves fantastic food, and it was brunch time. (I had the corned beef hash, Dave had the eggs benedict).

This was a rescheduled event because John got sick the last time we were supposed to appear here (April 7th). Many of the people who showed up the last time and were disappointed that John wasn't there returned to get their books signed. Among those in the crowd were some notable attendees. Kevin Wooldridge, for instance, drove all the way from Columbus Ohio just to buy the book and get John's autograph (that's about a six hour drive one way). We bought him lunch. It seemed like the least we could do.

Alan Rosen and his wife Judy, both former WLS employees and long-time friends of John, also showed up and regaled us all with some great stories. Al contributed a few great stories to the book (including the secret to John's unique 'inside the record' approach, and about the night John did the Boogie Check with no delay system), but it turns out we should asked him for even more stories. He has a million of them. Maybe we should do an Alan Rosen book.

In a strange co-incidence, two brothers showed up to the event from totally different parts of town (Doug and Steve Bensing), and neither of them had any idea that their brother would also be attending the event. They bumped into each other in the parking lot.

Eckhartz Press publisher David Stern brought a bucketfull of shtick with him and entertained the crowd as they purchased the book. "Do you take checks?" one woman asked. "We take boogie checks," Stern replied.

Overall it was a very nice afternoon in Northwest Indiana. Thanks to the gang at Bartlett's for being so welcoming, and thanks to the many John Landecker fans for coming out to buy the book and say hello.

We have two more events coming in Northwest Indiana (on May 10 and May 15--details coming soon), and then we'll start staging some on the Illinois side of the border.

(Photos below: Bartlett's, the book signer John Landecker, John with Kevin Wooldridge--who drove six hours to be there, Judy and Al Rosen with John, John and Eckhartz Press co-publisher David Stern)

Obama Doing Stand Up

I know people get pissy when the President makes jokes, but I always enjoy it, no matter what party he is in. One night a year, let the man make some jokes.

Father Knows Nothing

My latest Father Knows Nothing column is posted. This one is about my son Sean's love of Jackie Robinson.

You can read it here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Daily Herald Features "Records Truly Is My Middle Name"

Travolta and Landecker at Woodfield Mall

Daily Herald writer Matt Arado interviewed both John Landecker and me about the book "Records Truly Is My Middle Name". The article begins this way...

It happened periodically throughout the years: Influential Chicago radio personality John Records Landecker would think about writing a memoir, then reject the idea out of hand.

"Some other radio person would do one and I'd think, maybe I should do that," Landecker said. "But then I'd think, who'd be interested in reading about me?"

After insistent prodding from his former producer, Mount Prospect resident Rick Kaempfer, Landecker finally followed through. The result is "Records Truly Is My Middle Name," a funny and brutally candid look at Landecker's life and career. The book came out in March from Eckhartz Press, the publishing company Kaempfer co-owns.

"I actually feel pretty blown away by how great the reception has been for the book," Landecker said. "I guess Rick was right."

You can read the full article here. There are also several photos from the book, and an excerpt from the book about John's famous appearance at Woodfield Mall with John Travolta.

Jason Collins Becomes First Openly Gay Professional Athlete

Jason Collins is a center. He plays in the NBA.

And in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated he's coming out as a gay man.

He's certainly not the first gay professional athlete. Others have come out after their careers were over, but Collins is the first one to do it while he's still playing. Knowing the culture of the professional sports locker room, that's a very brave thing to do. Hopefully it will inspire others to do the same.

Records Truly Is In The Library


Eckhartz Press co-publisher David Stern and I had lunch with WRLR President Bish Krywko the other day. He was meeting with us to purchase twenty-two copies of "Records Truly Is My Middle Name" for the libraries in Lake County, Illinois. Part of the mission of WRLR is to promote the world of radio, and he thought this book was an important contribution to the genre, and wanted to share it with as many people as possible.

He also tracked down a copy of the book "This is Your Announcer" which John refers to in the book--as the book that got him inspired to go into the business, and a DVD copy of the documentary Studio A: Profile of a Disc Jockey (which stars John).

Bish really does love radio. He moved to America from England in the early 60s and was immediately taken by the radio stations here. Like John he created his own radio station in his house--and managed to broadcast it to his siblings. As an adult he founded WRLR, which is a not-for-profit radio station staffed entirely by volunteers.

Thanks so much to Bish, and the good people at WRLR. They are doing good work up there in Lake County, and we wish them the best.

It Really Was Because of the Crank Call

Remember that crank phone call those Australian disc jockeys made to Kate Middleton's hospital room? The nurse who put them through was so upset, she killed herself. At the time there was a lot of speculation that there must have been other things going on in her life to make her do such a horrible thing to herself, but it doesn't look like it. I spotted this in Radio Ink this morning...

The Herald Sun is reporting that nurse Jacintha Saldanha committed suicide because of the hoax call made to the hospital by Mel Greg and Michael Christian. The article says Saldanha left a note blaming Greig and Christian and asked her bosses to get the DJ's to pay her mortgage. "I am truly sorry. Thank you for all your support. I hold Radio Australians Mel Greig and Michael Christian responsible for this act. Please make them pay my mortgage. I am sorry. Jacintha."

If this doesn't give pause to the handful of remaining wacky morning shows around the world, I don't know what will.

The DIY Network Needs You

I got this e-mail at my Just One Bad Century e-mail address. I've spoken with the producer, and she said you should contact me if you're interested, and I will hook you up with her. Here's her original e-mail to me...

"I'm a producer for DIY Network's Desperate Landscapes. We help homeowners fix up their front yards to be on par with others in the neighborhood. We're in the early planning stages of a trip to the Chicago-area... if we can find enough ugly front yards. We'd love to find a diehard Cubs fan to feature. We're looking for fun, energetic homeowners with serious yard issues such as broken concrete, falling down porches, ugly siding, horrible landscaping. I'm hoping that you might be willing to spread the word about our casting call with your contacts. You can read more about the show on DIY Network's website at"

Let me know if you're interested. Could be a fun opportunity.

Martha Stewart on

Martha Stewart told Matt Lauer that she started to sign up for the dating service
, but stopped halfway through the application.

Too bad. I'm sure there are probably hundreds of guys on looking for a "Martha Stewart-type". They could have had the real thing.

Can't the Cubs be #1 at anything?

Fox Sports has compiled a list of the top ten worst franchises in professional sports.

The Cubs come in at #2, behind the Charlotte Bobcats.

I don't mean to be picky here, but how can any team beat a 104-year losing streak?