Friday, September 11, 2015

Colbert's One Day Perch at Top of Ratings Ends

Stephen Colbert had a good run at day.

On day two, Jimmy Fallon beat him.

Last night's Colbert show featured an excellent and emotional interview with VP Joe Biden, but I must admit it's been a little light on the comedy. Tonight he'll be crushed by Fallon who has Donald Trump on the show.

Wisconsin Jersey Sales

You'll never believe who has the top selling NFL jersey in Wisconsin. I love this, and will cherish this one last moment before Sunday's Bears-Packers game returns me to reality...

At the end of last year, as expected, the #12 of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the top seller in not only Wisconsin, but Iowa as well. At the start of the 2015 NFL season, it's a bit quieter in Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood, as he lost his top jersey sales spot in both states.

Iowa now belongs to the #12 of Indianapolis Colts' QB Andrew Luck, but Wisconsin now belongs to the #22 of the Chicago Bears' Matt Forte.

That has to sting a little for Packer fans.

I met Matt Forte when I brought Joel Daly in to Windy City Live last year and snapped a photo. I was surprised by how small he looks in person. Although maybe it's because Joel is a big man too. If I had taken a picture with him it would have looked a little different.

My 9/11 Story

Everyone in broadcasting has their own 9/11 story. This one is mine. I was the executive producer of the John Landecker show at the time. In the pages of “Records Truly Is My Middle Name“, John Landecker tells the full story of that day on the air…

The most unique broadcast that I have ever been a part of, has nothing to do with planning, promotion, prizes, and listeners. It was the morning of September 11th, 2001.

I’m sure that every morning show in the country has their own story of what they did when the planes hit the twin towers in New York. This is mine.

We were doing our regular show. Our producer Rick was on the phone with Butch Patrick, who had played Eddie Munster on The Munsters. He was going to be a mystery guest — listeners were to call in and try to figure out who he was. When Rick got in touch with Butch, the news had just broken that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

“Are you watching this?” Butch asked Rick.

“Yeah,” Rick replied. “I don’t think we’re going to do this mystery guest bit.”

“No, you better not,” Butch replied.

Brant Miller was our weatherman and had a broadcast line hookup to his home. He was also the meteorologist for NBC-Channel 5 in Chicago, and had access to all of the NBC News information. Richard Cantu was our news man, and he’s a real journalist, and was connected to the CBS Radio network.

Needless to say, after the news had come across that the first plane had hit, we turned on the television in the studio, and we were all watching it, and the microphones were open, when the second plane hit the tower.

I’ll never forget what Brant Miller said: “We’re under attack.”

Well what do you do in a situation like that? Our decision was to go all news right on the spot. There weren’t many details early on, so there was a lot of repetition, as to the content, but we didn’t play any music. I thought it would really be ridiculous to play “Hang on Sloopy” and then do more content about being under attack.

We did play commercials, but not because the clients had paid for them to air — because we needed that time to regroup and find out as much information as we could so we could better inform our audience what was going on. News stations didn’t play commercials, but they were set up to handle this much better than we were. They had a full staff on hand. We just had the four or five of us in the studio.

But I’m really proud of what we were able to deliver. Brant was able to tap into what NBC was getting. Richard was able to tap into what CBS was getting. And I sort of quarterbacked and anchored the whole thing; repeating the facts as we knew them, and encouraging people not to jump to conclusions about who did this, because we didn’t know anything for sure.

I found out later that listeners stuck with us during that morning show, and didn’t tune into the news station, and that the radio station itself toyed with the idea of keeping us on the air until noon. The adrenaline, the being in the moment, and the feeling you have in that situation takes on a whole different sensation — one that I hope I never have again frankly.

It was certainly one of the most memorable mornings I’ve ever spent on the air.

Leslie Keiling was one of the co-hosts of the show during the WJMK run, including the day of 9/11. This is how she recalled that time… “I wouldn’t trade the time we spent together on the morning show at WJMK for anything in the world. Being with everyone on that show on the morning of 9/11/2001 is etched in my head and heart. I now have a glimmer of understanding about sharing a foxhole.”

Sherman Kaplan Retires

WBBM Radio's Sherman Kaplan, host of the noon-time business show on the station, has retired again. Robert Feder has the details.

Sherman's a great guy. I interviewed him a few years ago for Chicago Radio Spotlight, and he had some really great stories to share, including his story about 9/11--appropriate for today. You can read that interview here.

As the Sumner Turns

Viacom and CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone's life is like a soap opera, and not in a good way. He may be a billionaire, but let's just say that he has never exactly attained happiness. Read his autobiography sometime. You will hate him when you finish reading it. (It's not always a good thing to own your own publishing company--in his case Simon & Schuster--and have all your employees hate you. A good editor would have saved him from publicly saying some of the horrible things he said.)

Here's the latest twist and turn, courtesy of the New York Post...

The media mogul’s split last week from longtime girlfriend Sydney Holland is being met with a sigh of relief by a host of advisers to the ailing executive, who have long complained about feeling she kept them away from Redstone and left in the dark about his state of health, sources told The Post on Wednesday.

Redstone threw Holland out of his gated Beverly Hills mansion after accusing her of cheating on him, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which broke news of the split. Holland’s exit may not be the end of the drama surrounding Redstone, however. Manuela Herzer, Redstone’s former girlfriend who still lives in the mansion, may be the next to go, sources said. Herzer and Holland, once close, have had a falling out too, sources said. Herzer couldn’t be reached for comment.

The nonagenarian’s messy personal life has been a concern for investors who question whether he is still fit to hold the title of executive chairman of CBS and Viacom.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

David Gregory Dishes

When he was rather uncerimoniously released from Meet the Press, David Gregory didn't say much. In this New Yorker profile with Gabriel Sherman he finally talks.

I really enjoyed reading it. It sounds like he's had a necessary moment of introspection.

Colbert's Ratings

Well, at least for one night, at the very least America was curious. Colbert killed it on his first night.

His ratings were more than double Jimmy Fallon's 2.92 million viewers for Tuesday's Tonight Show—and triple Jimmy Kimmel's 1.75 million. In the key demographic of adults 18-49, Colbert's 1.4 was also a victor compared to Fallon's 0.9 adults and Kimmel's 0.4 adults

We'll have to see if he can keep it up. I watched night #2 yesterday, and it's obvious they're still working the bugs out a little bit. I'm rooting for him.

It's A Great Business

I know quite a few radio guys who found out they lost their jobs by reading it in the newspaper. This newspaper guy heard about losing his job by hearing on the radio. From Radio Ink...

Politico reports that L.A. Times Publisher Austin Beutner found out he lost his job while listening to Frank Mottek’s Money Report on KNX in Los Angeles Tuesday morning. Beutner, who for 13 months had been making a daily commute to downtown Los Angeles from his home in Pacific Palisades, was listening to CBS's KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO during the commute.

Around the Publishing World (September 10)

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


1. Barnes & Noble is in trouble
We hate to say it, but it's really beginning to look like the country's biggest book seller isn't going to make it. The Wall Street Journal has the ugly details.

2. How to write a short story with deep structure (and a win a prize for it)
Dr John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, judges the Writers’ Village story competition and is a tutor in creative writing. He gives some good advice for those of you submitting entries to writing contests.

3. Best Chicago Novels by Neighborhood
I was a little sad to see my novel "The Living Wills" wasn't included as a Jefferson Park (or Beverly) book, but I have no issues with some of the books that were chosen.

4. Younger Readers prefer printed books.
Writers of kids books should keep this in mind. Part of the experience that creates a love of books is the whole experience of turning the pages, looking at the pages, and touching the book. It's a tactile wonderland.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Chicago Radio Ratings

Eric & Kathy and the Mix had a huge month in the ratings. The station is #1, and their show is #1--tied with WBBM news radio.

Robert Feder has the details.

Unauthorized Use of a Survivor Song

When Kim Davis came out of jail yesterday, it was one of the most comical and ridiculous productions I've ever seen, done to the soundtrack of Rocky III--the Survivor hit "Eye of the Tiger".

Would you be surprised if I told you that Jim Peterik (who wrote the song) was not happy with that development? Here's what he wrote on his facebook page...

I have not authorized the use of Eye of the Tiger for use in the release of Kim Davis and my publisher will issue a stop and desist. I have just spoken to Billboard magazine with a statement that reflects this. This usage In no way reflects my views.

Keep Rocking!

The Top 25 Universities

US News and World Report ranked the top universities in the country. They didn't list the pricetags...not that any of my boys will be going there anyway.

The top 25 national universities ranked by U.S. News, and their annual change in position.

1. Princeton University — unchanged
2. Harvard University — unchanged
3. Yale University — unchanged
4. Columbia University — unchanged
4. Stanford University — unchanged
4. University of Chicago — unchanged
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology — unchanged
8. Duke University — unchanged
9. University of Pennsylvania – down 1
10. California Institute of Technology — unchanged
10. Johns Hopkins University – up 2
12. Dartmouth College – down 1
12. Northwestern University – up 1
14. Brown University – up 2
15. Washington University in St. Louis – down 1
15. Cornell University — unchanged
15. Vanderbilt University – up 1
18. University of Notre Dame – down 2
18. Rice University – up 1
20. University of California-Berkeley — unchanged
21. Emory University — unchanged
21. Georgetown University — unchanged
23. University of California-Los Angeles — unchanged
23. Carnegie Mellon University – up 2
23. University of Southern California – up 2

Colbert's First Show

The New York Times reviews Stephen Colbert's first show. It's a very positive review.

Here's his first opening monologue...

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


Thanks to "RS" for this one...

RIP Judy Carne

She was a huge television star in the 60s as the "Sock it to me" girl on Laugh In, but the rest of her life was tragic. This Washington Post obit will tell you the details. It's not pretty.

Judy was 76 years old.

Curt Schilling

ESPN has suspended Schilling for the entire season now. They had initally agreed to let him back on the air after he apologized for his tweet comparing Muslims to Nazis, but just as he was about to be reinstated he got into a war of words with an on-line sports website. You can read all about that here.

I have a feeling that the real reason he's suspended again has nothing to do with his unrepentant feelings, which is what ESPN is saying publicly. It has more to do with his ripping of an ESPN colleague (Chris Mortensen), and his terrible decision to get into a war of words with that website.

My personal opinion is that Schilling was a moron to respond, particularly when his position was so precarious. Rule #1 of getting out of a hole--stop digging. On the other hand, if he's really being suspended for believing what he believes, that's not right either...even if I happen to disagree with what he believes.

Making Money With Donald

Say what you will about Donald Trump and whether or not he is good for the country or his party. He's definitely good for the television biz. The ad rates for this week's debates are a little higher than normal. Normally, an all-news station would get in the neighborhood of $5000 for a 30-second spot.

For this week's debate, CNN is charging between $150,000 to $200,000 for 30 seconds.

You'd like to think that sort of thing wouldn't affect their coverage, but...30 times more money (minimum) for every thirty seconds is hard to ignore.

Tom Brady's Dad Goes Off

Tom Brady's father was listening to a show on KGO that was ripping his son. He called in and went nuts on the host. I'm not a big Tom Brady fan (probably out of jealousy, if I allow myself to be honest), but I've always thought this whole deflate-gate controversay was a load of hooey. Way to go, Dad.