Friday, February 29, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Media Notebook (February 28, 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

Suitors Lining Up to Woo Jay Leno
(NY Times) Bill Carter writes: "The Jay Leno chase is on. Four years ago, NBC made the comedian the lame-duck host of “The Tonight Show,” announcing with fanfare that he would be succeeded by Conan O’Brien in 2009. Today, Mr. Leno is still the champion of late-night ratings, with no apparent desire to do anything else but continue on top. “What I do,” he has said on several occasions to colleagues, “is tell jokes at 11:30 at night.” And so, nearly two years before he can officially be courted, suitors including two networks, ABC and Fox, and at least one television studio, Sony Pictures Television, are beginning to circle, doing everything they legally can to make sure Mr. Leno knows that they will make it possible for him to continue doing just that. Senior executives at ABC and Fox said that their networks had discreetly gotten the message to Mr. Leno that they were waiting eagerly for the time when they would be able to make official overtures. NBC Universal, meanwhile, has repeatedly expressed its intention to retain Mr. Leno with a still-undisclosed plan for a new program."

NY Times Columnists Not Allowed to Endorse Candidates

(NY Observer) Unlike the board that puts together The Times’ endorsements, they can say whatever they want. They can even court an R rating. They cannot, however, endorse a candidate. “I came here in 1995 and Howell Raines told me about it,” said Gail Collins, the former editorial director, who is now herself a columnist. “His thought, as I understood it, was that it would confuse people. Columnists could hint, and could make it clear, but we couldn’t explicitly say it.” The logic goes like this: If Gail Collins endorses Barack Obama, then a reader might confuse it for the New York Times newspaper endorsing Barack Obama...“It certainly is challenging,” said David Brooks. “It’s like a two-year process of deliberation without reading the verdict.” They all agreed that the non-endorsing rule forces them to write about this election with a little more texture—more showing and less telling, perhaps.


European Union fines Microsoft $1.3 billion
(Associated Press) he European Union fined Microsoft Corp. a record $1.3 billion Wednesday for the amount it charges rivals for software information. EU regulators said the company charged "unreasonable prices" until last October to software developers who wanted to make products compatible with the Windows desktop operating system. The fine is the largest ever for a single company and brings to just under $2.5 billion the amount the EU has demanded Microsoft pay in a long-running antitrust dispute.

Here We Go Again: CBS Looking To Buy It's Way to Growth
(Wall Street Journal) It's happening again. Instead of working on fixing their current product (or selling it--sell it, please, before you destroy the medium), CBS is going to expand to try to temporarily become a "growth" business again. Short term stock gain at the expense of long-term health. Melissa Marr writes: "CBS Corp., reporting a 15% decline in fourth-quarter net income, signaled a new acquisition push as it seeks fresh sources of growth to offset a slowdown in its more mature broadcast television and radio businesses. CBS generated significant cash but little growth in its earnings, fanning ongoing concerns about the long-term prospects of its traditional businesses. TV and radio were both weak, with radio's operating income plunging 22%, as the sale of stations and softer ad sales took a toll."


Prolific TV writer dies
(USA TODAY) Richard Baer, a prolific television writer who contributed to the hit sitcoms Bewitched,That Girl and The Munsters, has died. He was 79. Baer died Friday at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., from complications that followed a heart attack he suffered last month, according to his son, Matthew. Baer's career began in the 1950s and spanned three decades. His first credit was for NBC's The Life of Riley in 1953. He wrote for some two dozen shows, ranging from a single episode of Have Gun — Will Travel to 34 for Hennesey. He received an Emmy nomination for one episode of the show, which starred Jackie Cooper as a Navy medical officer. His final TV script was an episode of the 1980s sitcom, Who's the Boss?

SNL has highest ratings in two years
(Hollywood Reporter) The post-strike return of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" scored the show's highest overnight rating in two years. Hosted by former "SNL" cast member/head writer Tina Fey and featuring Carrie Underwood as the musical guest, the show delivered a 6.1 rating/15 share in metered-market households -- the highest average since a Feb. 4, 2006 episode hosted by Steve Martin. That's also up 36% from the show's pre-strike average this season. During the show, Mike Huckabee spoofed his ongoing quest for the Republican primary nomination. Appearing on the "Weekend Update" segment, he was asked why he stayed in the race despite the "mathematical impossibility" of winning. "I'm not a math guy, I'm more of a miracle guy," Huckabee said. "So at this point I'm gonna focus on the miracle part. But if that miracle doesn't happen, let me assure the American people that Mike Huckabee does not overstay his welcome. When it's time to go, I'll know. I'll exit out with class and grace." Huckabee then ignored repeated cues to leave the Update news desk.

Jimmy Kimmel's answer song to "I'm F***** Matt Damon"

The NY Times/John McCain Story Scandal

(Washington Post) Howard Kurtz writes: "Last week, when the Times quoted unnamed former associates of John McCain as saying they believed, in 1999, that he had an extramarital relationship with Washington lobbyist Vicki Iseman, a huge controversy erupted. This time, though, it was the Times that was harshly criticized. To be sure, the piece included significant details about whether the Arizona senator had done legislative favors for Iseman's clients. And unlike the tabloid Star, which paid Flowers a six-figure sum, the Times has won dozens of Pulitzers for aggressive journalism. But with McCain and Iseman both denying an inappropriate relationship, a rough consensus is emerging among journalists that the Times story was fatally flawed.Leave aside the uninformed charges that the story was politically timed. Forget for a moment that the key sources were granted anonymity. What, in the end, did the paper have? "Disillusioned" former McCain aides who say they were worried that their boss appeared too close to a lobbyist and tried to shoo her away."


Mike North talking contract with the Score

(Chicago Tribune) Teddy Greenstein writes: " The other day Mike North and his WSCR-AM 670 morning crew batted around names such as Keith Van Horn, Cliff Robinson and Bryant 'Big Country' Reeves. They all are NBA legends, because they parlayed modest talent into hilarious sums of money. 'Remember Cliff Robinson? Get me how much he made in his career!' North barked. 'How about Keith Van Horn? He made $112 million? That is unbelievable!' Equally unbelievable to some in Chicago sports radio is that North, whose contract expires at the end of July, would return to the Score for anything close to the $1.5 million a year he currently commands."

What happened to 60 minutes report in Alabama?
(Huffington Post) Larissa Alexandrovna writes: "As 60 Minutes was putting its show together, the White House put pressure on CBS -- the parent company -- to kill the show. Over the last few days, as word got out that the 60 Minutes show would air Sunday, Karl Rove's associates began planting defamatory stories about journalists working on this story and attacking the whistle-blower who came forward, Dana Jill Simpson. If you recall, Ms. Simpson testified, under oath, to Congress about Karl Rove's involvement in politicizing the DOJ. What you may not know, however, is that her house mysteriously caught fire and she was run off the road in the weeks leading up to her testimony. What you may also not know is that Governor Siegelman's house was broken into twice during his trial as was his attorney's office. Sunday, the attacks on Simpson and journalists increased with a series of emails from the Alabama GOP. During the 60 Minutes broadcast and ONLY during the Don Siegelman portion -- the screen went black for Huntsville residents and Mobile residents."
Here's the Video that Alabama didn't see
Karl Rove responds: It's a lie.

FCC targets indecency on mobile devices
(Radio Ink) FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate says the FCC is looking into how its indecency regulations could extend to the increasing availability of audio and video content delivered to mobile devices. In a recent speech delivered at the Association of National Advertisers Advertising Law and Business Affairs Conference, Tate said, "As we enter the age of content delivery over mobile devices, there is a whole new set of questions to address regarding how to provide ratings, how to block objectionable content, and whether the FCC has a role to play in this arena. I truly believe there is a new market for 'walled gardens' -- just as parents want safe places for their children to play out in the neighborhood, they want safe places for their children to play in the online world."


Bill O'Reilly apologizes to Michelle Obama
(Fox News) In case you missed it Friday night, Bill O'Reilly has apologized for using the word "lynching" in discussing Michelle Obama's comments about America. You can judge for yourself whether or not this apology is sufficient. Click on the headline link to see the video.

An Interview with WIND's John Calhoun

(Chicago Radio Spotlight) This weekend I spoke with WIND's production director John Calhoun about his distinguished 30-year Chicago radio career which included stops at WEFM, WPNT, WJMK, and WGN. Coming this weekend: Fresh-FM's Lisa Greene.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Suburban Man: More Kid Videos

I thought this one was priceless. Thanks to "K" for alerting me to it...

The best Japanese version of "Hey Jude" ever. Thanks to "N" for sending it to me.

A Three-Year Old Explains Star Wars. Thanks to "J" for turning me on to this.

Monday, February 25, 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 "R"

Why did the chicken cross the road?

The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes after the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT' problems before adding 'NEW' problems.

Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens!

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road...

We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American !!

That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

To die in the rain. Alone.

Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth?' That's why they call it the 'other side.' Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media white washes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough !!

Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

I have just released eChicken2007, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken. This new platform is much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^(C% ........ reboot.

Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. Also... define 'chicken'?

I invented the chicken!

Did I miss one?

Where's my gun?

Stories you might have missed

1. VIDEO: SNL's take on Hillary vs. Obama

2. Florida Marlins looking for a few fat men

3. Angry German puts out cigarette with fire extinguisher

4. Dog steals truck

5. VIDEO: The Once a Year Period

(UPDATE: SNL yanked both of those videos from YouTube this morning. I think it's a big mistake, but what do I know about promoting television shows? If they offered the clips on their own website, it would be different. Check out what they offer instead: SNL page on NBC website)

Video of the week:

I love this one: Misunderstood CCR lyrics

Picture of the week: Contributed by "G"

Reader Response

Regarding Just One Bad Century

"I love your merchandise! You guys are going to sell a ton of it."

"That onesie goes over the line. I'll be happy to show you my teeth...if the dentist gets them back to me in time."

330 days until we get a new president.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: John Calhoun

John Calhoun is the production director of WIND-AM 560 & WYLL-AM 1160, and he is celebrating his 30th year in Chicago radio this year.


WIND-AM 560 & WYLL-AM 1160
Production Director
2006 – Present

WGN-AM 720
Voice-Over Talent/Commercial Producer
1999 – 2006

WJMK-FM 104.3
Part-Time Air Personality
1993 – 2005
Music Director
1995 – 1996
Account Executive
1993 – 1994

WPNT-FM 100.3
Morning Air Personality
1990 – 1992

ABC Radio Networks/Satellite Music Network
StarStation (AC Format on 250 stations)
12N- 4PM CST, National Radio Personality
1981 – 1990

WEFM-FM 99.5
Production Director
Late Nights 10PM – 2AM
1978 – 1981

Kansas City, MO
Morning Drive
1977 – 1978

Oklahoma City, OK
1975 – 1977

Cedar Rapids, IA
1973 - 1975

Rick: I've always said that the Chicago radio community is like a small club, but talking to you about this interview made me realize that radio in general is like that.

John: It's true. I was looking at some of the other radio people you’ve covered. In 1974, Bart Shore and I worked together at KLWW in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Bart Shore saved my life one time. Bart’s weekend shift was 12 AM to 6AM on Sunday. My weekend shift was 6AM – 12 Noon. Part of that was airing pre-recorded church programs. One Sunday morning, after Bart (photo) had left the station, I looked out the back door to check on my brand-new car. Well, the locked, door slipped out of my hand and closed. My car and station keys were inside the radio station. In sheer panic, I ran as fast as I could to the Country Kitchen restaurant about a half mile away. In my mind I was trying to come up with a valid excuse for calling the Program Director from a restaurant, when I was supposed to be at the radio station. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to. Bart was there, just finishing breakfast. Needless to say, he was very surprised to see me. He drove me back to the station and I was able to get the next church program on, right on time. There was no dead air and no explaining to the PD was necessary.

Rick: And you worked with Karen Hand in Oklahoma City too, didn't you?

John: Yes. It was probably a year or two later that I was working at KOMA in Oklahoma City. Karen Hand was there at the same time.

Rick: But you weren't "John Calhoun" in Oklahoma, right?

John: I used the name “Machine Gun Walker” at KOMA. I actually purchased a replica of a Thompson sub-machine gun to use as a prop for appearances and photos. Although it was only a replica and not capable of firing bullets, the gun was very realistic looking. Shortly after purchasing it, I had it lying on the front seat of my car. An Oklahoma City detective, in an unmarked car spotted it. Pulled me over, he shoved his very real gun in my ribs and made me do some explaining. After what seemed like hours, two other cops finally determined that the gun was not real, and I didn’t pose any real danger to the public at large.

3 years later, I had landed in Chicago at WEFM. Late one afternoon, a photographer was taking some publicity shots of me with the Tommy gun. We were in a Chicago alley (named “Calhoun Place”). Well, sure enough, the Chicago Police showed up. The photographer and I explained what we were doing. The cops were very cool about it. They just said that we should call them in advance, the next time we wanted to take some pictures. No strangers to real gangsters and Tommy guns, these were Chicago cops. They knew I wasn’t going to be shooting anybody.

Rick: Let's talk about WEFM. That was always on my presets back in the late 70s and early 80s when you were there.

John: WEFM came on in the spring of 78. I had been in Kansas City doing mornings, and my wife and I decided that we wouldn't move again unless I got a job in her hometown (Chicago) or mine (the Twin Cities). I came to Chicago to interview with Dick Bartley who was the PD at WBBM-FM. They were a soft-rock station at the time. WEFM had just started up too, so while I was in town I dropped off another tape there, and they hired me instead. It was kind of a strange way of getting in the door there.

Rick: How would you describe that station today to people who never heard it?

John: WEFM was owned by General Cinemas, the company that owned all of those movie theatres. They had a bunch of stations out east, but we were their only Chicago outlet. It was a top 40 station at the time, going directly against WLS and WMET. Shortly after we started up, WMET went into an album rock thing.

Rick: And you were the night guy?

John: I did a bunch of shifts at WEFM. I was hired to do 10 pm-2 am, but then it became nights 7-midnight, and then they made the mid-day guy and production director. We had three different PDs during the three years I was there. The PD that hired me was shown the door shortly after I arrived, and Kevin Metheny took his place. He left not too long after that and went to MTV. His replacement was Bill Gamble who had been General Cinema's production director in Philly, I believe. And Gamble was the last PD there because in 1981, the format changed and we all got canned.

Rick: I can't remember what format they went to next.

John: I'm not sure what they called it on the air, but it was known as "Shulke 2", after the guy who created it, I guess. Everything was done by reel-to-reel tape. It mixed all kinds of different formats, and it was pretty wretched. I'm not surprised that didn't last. That frequency eventually became US-99.

Rick: And from there you segued to the Satellite Music Network. You did the early afternoon slot there for a decade, which was a national show on 250 stations. Where those studios located?

John: Studios were in Mokena, and our uplink site was in Frankfort. We were the pioneers in satellite broadcasting. I started at 8-Mid, and went to the noon to four. We were in all 50 states and the Virgin Islands.

Rick: But not Chicago, right?

John: We had affiliates in Elgin, Crystal Lake, and Crown Point.

Rick: A lot of well known Chicago personalities came through those doors at SMN.

John: The biggest Chicago name was King Bee Ron Britain. He was a pleasure to work with, a dear man. It used to frustrate me sometimes because he'd run things by me, asking me if something was good enough for the air or not, and I'd say you're Ron Britain, why are you asking me? He was the exact opposite of the egotistical blowhard stereotype of the big radio star, and one of the greatest talents I've ever met. He went on to do afternoons at WJMK after working with us.

Another personality people would know was one of your previous interview subjects, Dean Richards. He was the last PD based out of Chicago. (In 1990 SMN moved to Dallas.) Dean was a fun PD to work for. Unlike some of his predecessors, he wasn’t quite as restrictive. He actually encouraged creativity. Of course, our paths would cross again about ten years later at WGN.

Rick: Probably your highest profile gig locally was hosting the morning show at WPNT when it was "The Point." After doing nights and afternoons, I imagine that morning show routine was tough to adapt too.

John: I hadn't done morning in years, and my body clock was out of synch, that's for sure. Not only that, but from a creative standpoint, I really wasn't allowed to contribute. After SMN, it was a big change. At WPNT it was shut up, play the music, hit the call letters.

Rick: Was that during the era when they ran that commercial of the guy sitting at the control board with a piece of tape over his mouth?

John: That came a little later, but I was still there.

Rick: That commercial offended me, and I wasn't even working at that station. I imagine you jocks weren't too thrilled with it.

John: As you might imagine. That was a very weird time. We had three or four consultant firms working with us, and when you got a memo, you had to look at who was sending it, and decide whether or not to listen to it.

Rick: After leaving the Point, you had a twelve year stint at Oldies 104.3, WJMK.

John: After PNT, I actually wanted to get out of the business altogether. I started doing automotive sales for awhile, but then I heard about an opening in the sales department at WJMK, and that's how I got in the door there. After awhile I asked the program director (Kevin Robinson) if I could go back on the air, and he made me the weekend and fill-in guy. I really enjoyed my time there. It was a good fit for me. I got to work with some real legends like Dick Biondi, John Landecker, and Fred Winson, and I was having fun on the air again.

Rick: I got a chance to work with you several times when you filled in for John Landecker. If I remember correctly, you were filling in for John the day your daughter was born.

John: That's true. I had to leave to go to the hospital. I think the operations manager of our sister station, WJJD, Gary Price finished the show that day.

Rick: How old is your daughter now?

John: She'll be a freshman in high school in the fall.

Rick: Yikes. After the Landecker show was fired, you held down the morning fort for awhile. What was that experience like?

John: I knew I was only the morning guy on an interim basis after John was cut loose. Ken Cocker and I switched off a week at a time. I would do a week, and then he would do a week, and we did that for a few months, I think. They hired a guy out of Boston named Paul Perry to be the permanent replacement for John.

Rick: And permanent turned out to be a year or so. You were still there when they abruptly changed the format to Jack-FM. Tell me about that day.

John: I had started doing production work at WGN, and was working at both stations at the same time. Dean Richards called me around 1999 to help out with production over there, and I was having fun working there with Dean and Todd Manley, who had been my traffic reporter using the name Roger Wilco when I was on WPNT.

Anyway, Bob Lawson, the APD at WJMK, called me at WGN and told me that I was still going to be coming in to WJMK that weekend, but, by the way, things were going to be a little different. Instead of being on the air, you're just going to be running the board. I was somewhat flabbergasted, but not totally surprised. They had gone to the Jack format in LA a few months before that and Greg Brown had said to me: "Look out, we could be next." He was right.

Rick: For the last few years you've been doing mainly commercial production—first at WGN, and now at WIND 560 AM. I did a tour of the studios over there not too long ago, and it kind of had an unusual vibe. There aren't many people working over there.

John: I guess I've never thought of it that way. Compared to WGN that's certainly true. The sales staff is smaller and we do have a lot of syndicated shows, but it never really struck me that way. It is definitely quieter. It's friendly. It's actually kind of nice because you don't feel like a cog in giant wheel like you feel at some properties. Plus it's a suburban location and there's free parking.

Rick: How is what you're doing now different than what you were doing at WGN?

John: I'm the head of the department here and wasn't at WGN. Our clients do their own commercials more here, and I produce the spots for them. It's basically the same otherwise. If I don't voice it or produce it, I put it in the system.

Rick: You are what I would call "a classic announcer." You have those classic announcer pipes and the smooth announcer delivery, which used to be a standard approach in the business. That's become a pretty rare commodity these days. Why do you think that is?

John: When I got in the biz everybody on the air had a radio voice, but that started changing in the late 70s. Bob Sirott (photo) is the first one I can remember that didn't have that classic kind of voice, the pipes as you called it, and it was a ground breaking thing at the time. He's obviously done pretty well since. I think programmers and consultants got it in their head that people wanted disc jockeys to sound more slice of life or real. It became more about what you had to say instead of how you said it, which I suppose is the way it should be. Of course, if you get someone who has the radio voice and the great content, that is still ideal.

Rick: Thanks for doing this, and congratulations on your 30th anniversary in Chicago radio.

John: (whistles) Oh boy. Don't forget, I was 12 when I started. Chicago is my home now. I've been here longer anywhere else. My kids were all born here, and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon.