Friday, March 14, 2008

Contemplations on Growing Up "Southside Irish"

Rick's note: Many people in Chicago are celebrating St. Patrick's Day this weekend, so it seemed like a good time to bring back this piece I asked Brendan to write for the blog a few years ago.

Guest Blogger: Brendan Sullivan

Brendan Sullivan is a Corporate Creativity Coach. He helps organizational teams and leaders to create more dynamic solutions, more productive collaboration, more effective leadership and a healthier work environment where talented people can thrive. He has a checkered past which includes acting, producing radio, selling advertising and writing stuff.

Contemplations on Growing Up “Southside Irish”
By Brendan Sullivan

When your name is Brendan Patrick Sullivan, a certain level of Irish American wisdom and experience may be assumed. As an adult, I have been asked all sorts of things that you of other ancestry may not have: Do you support the IRA? Have you read “Angela’s Ashes”? Is the Guinness in a can as good as on tap? What are you doing for St. Patrick’s Day? Would you guest-write my blog with your thoughts on being Irish? I don’t think I look particularly Irish, I don’t have a brogue and I don’t belong to any Irish or Irish American organizations. So all I can assume is that my name conjures up these questions.

Such was not the case when I was a child. I grew up on the Southwest side of Chicago, in the 1960s. I was named after my father, and was the oldest of six children. And I never realized how “Irish” I was because everyone in our neighborhood, it seemed, was just as “Irish.” We lived down the street from the Flynns and the O’Connors and the Walshes and the McDonoughs. And everyone had about six kids. No one ever spotted me as being particularly Irish because everyone was. So no one ever said “Gosh, that’s a really Irish name.” What other kind of name was there?

And of course we all went to the Catholic school and church. Oh sure, there were a few outsiders, whom we referred to as the Publics. And we weren’t sure what the Publics did. They had little churches with various names that sounded alike. We had huge Gothic churches that were packed to the rafters every Sunday. The Publics went to a different school and didn’t wear uniforms to school. They had spring break and winter break. We had Easter break and Christmas vacation. And I never really got to know any of them that well. They were all going to roast in hell, anyway.

So my world was all Irish. And all Catholic. In fact, you didn’t live in a neighborhood, you lived in a parish (St. Cajetan, Christ the King, St. John Fisher, St. Barnabas, St. Christina, etc.) And yeah, there were a lot of pubs. I went to a Catholic all-boys high school where they would suspend you if you were caught drinking. But the school gave you a personalized porcelain beer stein when you graduated, and our senior prom favor was an etched brandy snifter. Hmmm?

There is something very insulating, and very provincial about the Southwest side. So that when I moved to the North side after college, I may as well have gone over to the Dark side. How could I? Lord knows there’s nothing north of 35th street. And I now live in a neighborhood with Applebaums and Espositos and Jacksons and Lis and Pashas and the gay couple down the street too.

But I return every year with my wife and four very Irish kids to sit with their multitudinous cousins and watch the parade, using my sister’s house two blocks off the route as our home base. And we eat corned beef sandwiches and wear green and you stand on the parade route with hundreds of thousands of others with equally Irish surnames, watching the endless stream of marching bands and firemen and policemen and veterans and clans and politicians and community groups and Knights of Columbus and there’s a feeling that you are a member of a very large green cult.

Oh, I’m still Southside Irish. I still believe that the White Sox are far superior to that team down the street. My parents and all of my brothers and sisters all live on the south side, or in the southwest suburbs. And there’s an Irish flag flying in front of our house this week. But it’s the only one on the block.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Media Notebook (March 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

Political ads shore up CBS' bottom line according to Moonves
(Reuters) An unexpectedly long presidential primary season has helped CBS Corp avoid the worst of U.S. economic doldrums, Chief Executive Les Moonves told analysts on Tuesday. Moonves reiterated an earlier projection that CBS would take 10 percent of the total amount spent on political advertising, estimated at between $2.5 billion and $3 billion in 2008. 'We want this to be as long and as dirty as humanly possible. May it continue to be long and rough,' Moonves said at the Bear Stearns 21st Annual Media Conference. 'The amount of political advertising we are taking in is more than surpassing any potential downturn.'
(Rick's note: Keep this in mind while you're watching political coverage this season. The media isn't rooting for one particular candidate no matter what each candidate thinks. They are rooting for a long, bloody, expensive battle.)

Lee Abrams returns to Chicago
(Chicago Tribune) Phil Rosenthal writes: "Lee Abrams, 55, gave Howard Stern and Steve Dahl their first major market radio jobs and he is widely credited with creating FM's album rock format, though some also see him as leading the push toward consultant-driven playlists. At Tribune Co. he will be responsible for getting everyone to play a new tune across Tribune's interactive, broadcasting and publishing properties. His first day will be April 1 and he plans to relocate to Chicago, his hometown. 'He's a genius, and the person who encouraged me to become the radio personality I knew I could become,' said Dahl, WJMK-FM 104.3's morning man and an occasional Chicago Tribune columnist, who was first hired by Abrams in the mid-1970s in Detroit and later hired by Abrams at Chicago's WLUP-FM 97.9."
(Rick's note: Could a Steve & Garry reunion at WGN be possible? Stranger things have happened.)

AP Launches "Deep" YouTube channel
(Beet-TV) The Associated Press, the world's largest news organization, has recently launched a significant presence on YouTube with its own channel. Editors are uploading about 250 videos a week, Beet.TV has learned. The AP began uploading these videos over the past month or so. The uploaded videos are both edited reports and clips of raw footage. It seems that while the YouTube channel is updated regularly, some breaking news is kept for AP members and customers and uploaded to YouTube the next day. Uploading videos to YouTube is part of plan by the AP to provide video to be used in nontraditional environments.


Murdoch tells WSJ staffers there's no 'conservative' agenda

(Politico) Michael Calderone writes: "In his first visit to the Wall Street Journal’s D.C. bureau, Rupert Murdoch told staffers Friday that he would put more resources into Washington coverage and take on the New York Times, while reassuring them that he is not a 'conservative' pushing an agenda in the news pages."

Investigation of FCC goes forward
(Inside Radio) As part of its ongoing investigation into the FCC, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is demanding the five commissioners and high-ranking staff turn over scores of documents in two weeks as they investigate allegations by both current and former employees of mismanagement at the agency. The Committee wants emails, telephone logs and other documents dating back to January 2005.

CNN says analyst should have skipped Spitzer story
(AP) David Bauder writes: "CNN said it shouldn't have used a former U.S. attorney who quit his job after allegedly biting a stripper as an analyst about New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's prostitution scandal. No mention of Kendall Coffey's past was made when anchor Tony Harris interviewed him Tuesday on the legal questions surrounding Spitzer's case. Coffey quit his job in May 1996 after being accused of biting a topless dancer on the arm during a visit to an adult club after losing a big drug case. Coffey talked on CNN about what kind of charges the New York governor could face. Spitzer is accused of having a high-priced call girl visit his hotel room during a visit to Washington last month. While Coffey's past is known to CNN's booking department, it wasn't to the person who set up Harris' segment. CNN spokesman Nigel Pritchard blamed a 'miscommunication.'"

Mark Suppelsa Quits at Fox-32

(Sun Times) Robert Feder writes: "In a local television bombshell, Mark Suppelsa ended his five-year run Monday at WFLD-Channel 32, leaving the Fox-owned station scrambling to replace its main news anchor. Suppelsa, 45, who has been anchoring Channel 32's marquee 9 p.m. weekday newscast alongside Robin Robinson since he succeeded Walter Jacobson in September 2004, chose not to accept a four-year contract renewal offer from the station. His current agreement expires March 17, but it's uncertain whether he'll finish up his final week on the air. 'I wish to thank Fox for their impressive and generous offer, which I have respectfully declined,' Suppelsa said. 'I have spent five productive and important years at WFLD, and I cannot say enough about the tremendous support and dedication so many people gave to me while I was there. While not an easy decision, I feel it is the appropriate one.' While Suppelsa emphasized that he was not making a 'retirement announcement,' he and his agents, Todd and Brian Musburger, declined to discuss his next move."

Journalist becomes the story at Mark Zuckerberg keynote
(c-net) Daniel Terdiman writes: "Ugh. Talk about losing an audience. During Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's keynote address Sunday here at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), on-stage interviewer Sarah Lacy out-and-out bombed, becoming much more of the story than she should have been and having the capacity crowd turn on her over the course of the hour discussion."


Tucker Carlson show gets the ax
(New York Post) The preppie Carlson, 38 - known for his bow ties, on-air squabble with Jon Stewart, and a disastrous appearance on "Dancing With the Stars" - has been working without a contract since the end of 2006, when it was rumored he'd be axed. "He supposedly took a substantial pay cut to save his job," said our source. Carlson is married to Susan Andrews, with whom he has four children.


Wow Oh Wow
(NY Post) Richard Wilner writes: "Wow, oh, wow! The World Wide Web has just got a little more crowded. Fifteen women, all media, society, and business heavyweights - including Post columnist Liz Smith, "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl and former speechwriter Peggy Noonan, have debuted a Web site called The Women on the Web and aimed at giving a greater voice to women over 39. Apparently, having a nationally syndicated gossip column, a highly-rated TV newsmagazine and a publishing powerhouse company isn't enough to get your point across. The site,, is designed to be a place to meet for coffee or cocktails, share experiences, tell tales out of school, exchange gossip and make some news, Joni Evans, the former president of Simon & Schuster and one of the site's five founding women, wrote on the site on its first day yesterday. The five founders, including advertising executive Mary Wells, each kicked in $200,000 to fund the start-up and attracted Citigroup as an advertiser."

Behind the Scenes at CBS News

Brian Williams nudges NBC to Top
(Washington Post) Howard Kurtz writes: "It was shortly after midnight after Tuesday's elections when Brian Williams popped up on MSNBC and offered one explanation for Hillary Clinton's big wins in Ohio and Texas. 'I think 'Saturday Night Live' will come up as a factor,' he said of the former first lady's appearance on the show. Tina Fey's comedic endorsement of Clinton, he said, came 'when she needed the bump.' Williams himself has gotten quite the bump since guest-hosting the show four months ago, not to mention his recent appearances with Jon Stewart and Jay Leno and his role in moderating five presidential debates, including the last face-off between Clinton and Barack Obama."


Lachlan Murdoch's Media Re-entry Stalled By Backer's Withdrawal
(Forbes) Vivian Wai-yin Kwok writes: "Lachlan Murdoch is facing a setback in his plans for re-entry into the media sector. After the major financial backer of his proposed $3.3 billion takeover of Consolidated Media Holdings suddenly walked away from the deal, the elder son of Rupert Murdoch is now knocking on the doors of other U.S. investors, seeking support for the bid. The share price of Consolidated Media Holdings slid sharply Friday on concern that Lachlan Murdoch's acquisition attempt may fall apart."

An interview with Dobie Maxwell
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Last weekend I spoke with comedian Dobie Maxwell. We talked about his interesting career in radio (which he recounts with his trademark comedic flair), and his current gig as a regular contributor to Jerry Agar's show on WLS. Coming this weekend: WERV's Matt DuBiel.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Suburban Man: The Birth of Johnny Kaempfer

Please allow my indulgence to re-live the most memorable days of my life. Mark your calendars for September 19th and October 19th too.

The date was March 12, 1998.


The headline on the Chicago Sun Times front page: “Cicero deal halts Rally by Klan”

The headline on the Chicago Tribune front page: “Clinton plans to join Ulster peace talks”

The headline on the Daily Herald front page: “Clinton refuses to say whether he will testify to grand jury”

The headline on the New York Times front page: “The World of Paula Jones”

But the biggest story was happening in Mt. Prospect, and only one reporter was on hand to break the story....Me. I called into the John Landecker show that morning to report the news flash. The cast of characters included John Landecker, sidekick Catherine Johns, and newsman Richard Cantu.

The following is a transcript of that important phone call.

John: Oldies 104.3, John Records Landecker, it’s 8:27, and joining us on the phone from the maternity ward is the producer of the program, Rick the German Boy Kaempfer. Good morning, Rick.

Rick: Good morning.

John: Rick, tell us what’s going on.

: Well as long as we’re plugging our kids (John had just plugged his daughter’s play), I’ve got a new one to plug.

John: Aaaawwwwright!

Rick: Last night around eleven thirty Bridget’s water broke and we didn’t even have time to make it to the hospital downtown, so we went to the one out here.

: Oh, is that right?

Rick: And we have a new baby boy!

(Cheering and clapping in the studio)

Richard: Whoo Hooo! Congratulations. Two knucklehead boys!

Rick: And it’s a big one too.

: How big?

Rick: 8 pounds, 6 ounces.

Catherine: That is pretty big. How’s Bridget doing?

Rick: She’s doing real well. I’m at home now. I came home to check on Tommy...

John: Wait a doggone minute! You went home to check on your other child before you called the show? Where are your priorities?

Rick: Sorry, forgive me. I’m hopelessly out of whack.

John: OK, 8 pounds. How long was it?

Rick: 21 inches...if you know what I’m saying.

Catherine: We know what you’re saying.

John: No, how long was the baby?

Rick: Oh, the baby?

Richard: Once more into the gutter.

John: So what time was this kid born?

: Two o’clock in the morning. They kicked me out of the hospital at 4:00, because Bridget has to share a room, and I came home and got a little sleep, and Tommy just woke me up, so I’m calling you right away.

John: So you’ve called all your family I hope.

Rick: Bridget called them.

John: But she had the baby.

Rick: Yeah, she had the baby in about two hours. It wasn’t that bad, although that’s easy for me to say. She was fine, what a trooper.

Catherine: And she wanted to chat, right?

Rick: Exactly.

Catherine: Now I want to know something. Does this child have a name?

Rick: Oh yes he does. His name is John Richard Kaempfer.

John: Wow.

Richard: You honor us, Sir.

John: Was he named after anyone?

Rick: Well, my favorite Beatle is John.

: John Lennon.

Rick: And of course, my favorite DJ....

: Really?

Rick: Yup. John Brandmeier.

(Everyone laughs)

John: OK, you got me.

(Call waiting clicks)

Rick: And actually John is also a name in Bridget’s family. Her grandfather was named John. And so is her brother.

(Call waiting clicks again)

John: I see you got baby waiting there.

Rick: Yeah, I think I may be popular today.

John: Well, we’ll let you go. Congratulations on the big news! So you’ll be back to work tomorrow, right?

Rick: Uh...well...

Catherine: John!

John: Just kidding, just kidding.

Rick: See you later.

John: There he goes. Proud papa.


John: Oh wait! Darnit! I forgot to ask him if he taped it.

Richard: Are you kidding? Of course he did.

John: Because if there was ever a disc jockey who knows how to exploit a child, it’s....

2 year old Tommy Kaempfer singing the jingle: John Records Landecker, Oldies 104.3.

Of course, I did tape it, by the way. It aired the next day. Friday the 13th.

By the time Johnny was three he was doing movie reviews and jokes on the radio. He also accompanied the show to the Dominican Republic for a live broadcast. That's him in the photo there chatting with Leslie Keiling.

Monday, March 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: John McCain Jokes from the Late Night Shows....

"As you know, last week the big rumor, according to the New York Times, is John McCain was allegedly sleeping with a a young, attractive lobbyist. Well, that story has pretty much gone away. In fact, the only one trying to keep it alive now? John McCain." --Jay Leno

"Obama and Hillary argued last night over which candidate the Republicans are most afraid of. Interesting. I don't want to take sides here, but I think it's pretty obvious which candidate Republicans are most afraid of, John McCain." --Jay Leno

John McCain, looks like the guy that goes to the curb for the paper and locks himself outside of the house." --David Letterman

"The New York Times says that John McCain had a close, personal relationship with a beautiful, young, female lobbyist. Do you believe this? Think about it. A senator, who's a Republican having sex with a woman." --Jay Leno

"If it does turn out to be true, then John McCain's critics have a point -- he really does act more like a Democrat." --Jay Leno

"They say this woman works for the telecommunications lobby. Apparently, she called McCain out of the blue and asked, 'Are you happy with your current sex provider?'" --Jay Leno

"The New York Times this week printed an article alleging that John McCain may have had an improper affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Or, as it's known among lobbyists, lobbying." --Amy Poehler

"The New York Times is claiming that John McCain, who is 71 years old, had an inappropriate relationship with a woman who is a Washington lobbyist. The good news is there's no footage. Political experts say this could be a huge scandal for McCain because he's married and the woman he's accused of having an affair with is 31 years younger than he is. In a related story, earlier today McCain was endorsed by Bill Clinton." --Conan O'Brien

"I mean, think about it, John McCain and with a young blond, and this was interesting: out of force of habit, Hillary is standing by him." --David Letterman

"But seriously how about that John McCain? John McCain looks like a guy whose head you can barely see over the steering wheel. ... John McCain looks like the guy who thinks the nurses are stealing his stuff. 'Dad, why would they take your socks? It doesn't make sense.'" --David Letterman

"There was a big story in The New York Times today about Senator John McCain, who's running for president. It questioned his ties to a lobbyist named Vicki Iseman. The story 'hinted' that McCain may have had an extramarital affair with her, but the weird thing is she looks almost exactly like John McCain's wife, Cindy. So he might have just got confused and grabbed the wrong woman. These two look more alike than the Olson twins." --Jimmy Kimmel

"They have debated so much that they are now debating about debating. Did you see this? A lot of this debate was about the power of words. Hillary said, 'Actions speak louder than words,' Then Obama said, 'Words can speak as loud as actions.' And then McCain said, 'Speak louder!'" --Bill Maher

"The New York Times printed a story that said ... in John McCain's last campaign in 2000, he was apparently acting so sprung on a lobbyist lady that his staff had to c---block the senior citizen from Arizona from sweeping this chick right off her feet and onto his motorized shopping cart. ... John McCain's pick-up line is, 'Did you know that 150 is the new 130?'" --Bill Maher

"I think this is a cynical attempt by the McCain campaign to make their candidate appear youthful and vigorous. I think they made the whole thing up and filtered it through the New York Times. You know, just like Bush did with the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. ... Because there's no real evidence to this story. Yes, a lot of people saw McCain going around with a cheap blond in a slinky dress, but they figured it was Rudy Giuliani." --Bill Maher

"How about this John McCain, huh? Whoa, my gosh - doesn't he look like the old guy at the barber shop? He looks kind of like a Wal-Mart greeter, John McCain. He kind of looks like the neighbor who says, 'Oh, that dead tree is on your property,' one of those guys. He's the guy who is always early for the early bird special, that's what he looks like. He looks like a mall walker, ladies and gentlemen. He looks like the guy at the supermarket who is confused by the automatic doors. He looks like the uncle who pretends to remove his thumb." --David Letterman

"John McCain seems reinvigorated. He has a new campaign slogan, 'He'll lead you into the 21st century.' I like it better than the old slogan, which was 'He'll lead you into assisted living.'" --David Letterman

"Senator John McCain has unveiled a new campaign slogan รข€” 'Ready To Lead America Into The 21st Century.' Yeah, yeah. And this is a lot better than his old slogan, 'I've Been Around Since The 19th Century.'" --Conan O'Brien

"I like John McCain. He looks like an old guy in a coffee shop who's still complaining about the designated hitter. ... He looks like the guy who asks the driver if he's on the right bus. ... Who looks like the guy who's always saying, 'What was that? Nothing? That's what I thought.'" --David Letterman

"This campaign is kind of fascinating, because the three major candidates have to be very careful when they criticize each other. Like, you can't criticize Hillary. Ooh, that's sexism. You can't criticize Barack. Ooh, that's racism. And you can't go after McCain, because that's elder abuse." --Jay Leno

"After John McCain swept yesterday's primaries he purposely stole a line Barack Obama's been using, 'I'm fired up and ready to go.' When Obama heard this he stole a line McCain's been using, 'I'm old and not sure where I am.'" --Conan O'Brien

Stories you might have missed

1. Men who do more around the house get more sex
(Keep that in mind you sarcastic readers who made fun of my "Clean Up the House Day" column a few months ago.)

2. Bill Gates is no longer richest man in the world
(This is the downside of spending less time on business and more time helping out around the house to improve your sex-life.)

3. "No Cussing Week" in South Pasadena
(And everybody's saying that there's nobody meaner, than the little old lady from Pasadena. Maybe this will finally silence the terror of Colorado Boulevard)

4. Robert Downey Jr. to play black man in upcoming film
(Note: It's a comedy)

5. Jeremy Piven propositions two models at the same time (via text message) not realizing they are friends
(Oh, and by the way, he has a girlfriend, too.)

Video of the week: Contributed by "M". Ellen DeGeneres having fun with the "Hawaiian Chair"

Picture of the week: Contributed by "A". He calls it "Eight years after Bill Clinton left Washington." Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Reader Response

Regarding Suburban Man: "The Oscars Through the Eyes of a 12 year old"

"I’m an Academy Award junkie myself. (Robert Boyle rocks!) But I’m glad that Hannah Montana and Lightning McQueen were around to cancel out the creakiness of Regis (!!) on the red carpet and Jack Nicholson’s tired sunglasses-in-the-front-row routine. And Barbara Walters interviewing Juno’s Ellen Page? The obvious generation (or two) gap was sooooo awkward. I think we need some fresh faces. Love Jon Stewart! When he called Glen Hansard “arrogant,” I almost fell off my couch."

"I only saw Juno this year and am glad it didn’t win Best Picture- I knew the others deserved it even though I hadn’t seen them! But, I do think it was kinda cool Diablo Cody won her Oscar. I was THRILLED that Glen & Marketa won for Best Song because I HAVE that album and loved their movie “Once.” Oh, and my boys crack us up. Once there was a commercial with Paul Newman on and Noah said - hey- that’s Doc!"

Regarding The Radio Producer's Handbook

"I'm a HUGE fan of your Producers Handbook. Post-it notes are EVERYWHERE in my copy! ha. Great website too!"

Rick responds: I was in Iowa this past weekend with my oldest son Tommy for a Boys Scouts retreat (don't worry--column coming on that), and I walked into the bookstore there to kill some time. They had a ton of copies of The Radio Producer's Handbook (University of Iowa must use it as a textbook) and I signed them all. The guy at the bookstore was very funny. He said: "You're the author? We don't get a lot of those here in Iowa."

Just 316 days until we elect a new President

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Dobie Maxwell

Dobie Maxwell is a regular contributer to the Jerry Agar show (every Monday) on WLS-AM 890.


I've been all over the road like a dead skunk. After Dick Biondi I might just be right up there with times fired in radio. It's to the point now every time I'm in a radio studio and the hot line rings I start looking for a cubicle to clean out.

(My first radio gig)

(I ended up getting on the morning show and it was a total disaster from day one. My partner and I didn't hit it off at all. He fancied himself as the funny guy and always tried to one up me no matter what. It got to be a huge pain in the shorts because he was very lazy but still wanted to be the funny guy. I tried working with him and changing my style to fit his and no matter what I did we were just not cut out to work together. That lasted about ten months and I got fired the day before Thanksgiving of 1991.)

KQNV-Reno (100.9 FM)
(I liked Reno but again got blown out after one book because the owner was too impatient with the format change and decided it was better to fire everyone rather than wait for the product to catch on. He was a rich kid who never had to work for anything in his life and if he should ever get a pox on his genitalia I wouldn't send any donations for a vaccine.)

'Extreme Country 104.7'-Kenosa, Wisconsin
(One morning the GM said to me: 'If my husband didn't think you were the funniest person walking the earth you would be SO fired.' Hey, thanks a lot for the vote of confidence! I quit before I got fired but eventually it would have happened.)

Salt Lake City
(I got a call from my ex-partner in Reno asking if I would come to Salt Lake City and do a morning show with him there. He had to fire his morning show because one of them got caught exposing himself on video camera at a department store in town. I lasted a year and a week and they decided to 'go in a different direction'.)

(It's a good thing my partners were fantastic and we still get along well today. Those were some hectic times in many ways and trying to build a show from scratch was not pleasant at all.)

(Jerry Agar's show, every Monday at 10:30 a.m)

Rick: You've always been a stand up comedian who did radio, instead of a radio guy who did stand up comedy. How did you get that first radio job?

Dobie: I started in radio doing comedy bits up in Milwaukee where I'm originally from. A morning guy saw me when I was starting out as a standup and asked if I wanted to do a regular weekly bit on his show. It went pretty well and then of course he died. That's why my moniker of 'Mr. Lucky' fits so well. It couldn't be that he got fired or promoted, my only connection had to actually DIE. I felt bad for him but I felt bad for me too because I liked the pressure of a deadline to come up with new stuff every week. That was also my first experience of being without a gig, and even though I wasn't getting paid I did enjoy the exposure, so getting let go was a let down. This was probably around 1985 or '86. The station was WMYX and the guy that passed away was Keith Moore. His partner Jane Matanaer is still there today, and I just was a guest on that show two weeks ago.

After that I hooked up with another guy who ended up living a little longer. In fact he's still living today. His name is Jeff Rowe, and he's done all kinds of big things from being the PD at VH-1, to developing sitcoms at NBC in Hollywood, to being a bigwig at AOL. He was running WKTI back in the 80s and hired me to do a bit called 'Milwaukee Vice'. Miami Vice was hot back then and I wrote a bit that ran a couple times a week on the Reitman and Mueller show. Looking back at it I was HORRIBLE, but Jeff gave me a shot and the concept was ok. That was my next foray into radio and it ended when Jeff got his promotion to VH-1 in New York. His replacement was an anal rententive pinhead who clashed with me right away.

My first real job was at classic rock WMMQ in Lansing, MI. I was a guest comedian on the morning show and the owner heard me and said 'Hey, you're pretty funny. How would you like to fill in on the morning show for a couple of weeks?' I told him I guess I wouldn't mind, but what I didn't know was that I wasn't 'filling in.' The other morning guy was in cocaine rehab, and I had the job but didn't know it. What a ride that was. There was a great staff there, and three months after I got there the PD left, and one by one the staff did too. The owner was a total moron and nobody liked working for him. He was very hands on with everything. If his wife thought Beetle Bailey was funny that morning he'd call me on the hot line at 6:30 and tell me to do a bit about it at 7:10. I lasted about six months, and it was brutal, but I sure learned a lot about radio at that job.

(Photo: Dobie with Jackie Mason)

Many comedians think they can do radio and many jocks think they can do comedy. WRONG. They are both very different and I happen to be able to do them both well enough to get hired professionally, but that's very rare. It's like an athlete playing two sports professionally. Yes, a few have done it but not all that often.

A few other examples of people who have done both successfully are Dennis Miller, Steve Cochran (photo), Bill Leff and my old partner at the Loop Spike Manton. Spike was great to work with even though our comedic styles are very very different. I'm not sure if we should work together on radio again only because we're just from two different schools. That's not good or bad, but it would be like drafting a punishing running back for a west coast offense in football. It doesn't fit together, but it doesn't mean they can't all have a successful career. A big part of radio is chemistry and I usually got fired in most places before I could let that chemistry gel a little. Spike is funny and very good at what he does and I thought he was especially effective with Steve Dahl.

Rick: I know you're originally from Milwaukee, but you've been based in Chicago for quite a long time. What is it about Chicago that made you decide to make it your home?

Dobie: That's a great question. You should do this for a living. Seriously, places just have a vibe and Chicago and I have always been a match. I can still remember going on vacation with my grandparents when I was a kid and driving through Chicago and loving all the tall buildings and overhead restaurants on the tollway and the big neon signs on the side of the road for Magikist and Dad's Root Beer and Budweiser. I knew at about six years old that I wanted to live in Chicago and my grandmother thought I was possessed by a demon. "Why would ANYBODY want to live in this ghetto-fied hell hole??" That's a typical Milwaukee reaction to Chicago but I'm not very typical in a lot of ways. I loved Chicago then and I love it even more now. I was born in Milwaukee but Chicago is my home. It's like Steve Dahl. He was born in LA but Chicago is his home now as well.

Milwaukee was never a good comedy town and still isn't. (VIDEO: Dobie on stage doing a bit about Milwaukee) Chicago is 90 miles on a map but 90 light years as far as being an entertainment city. I hooked up with Zanies and have been a regular there for years and I still love working there today. I also teach comedy classes there and that's very rewarding actually. It's like a sports fantasy camp where people who want to see what comedy is all about can live the dream for a night. I have been doing that since about 1995 and it's still fun.

Whenever I've gotten fired from a radio job I've always drifted back to Chicago at my lowest point and rebuilt my life. That's happened WAY more times than I'd hoped but at least I have a place I feel at home. I'm bulletproof here. I even like it in Gary. Well, maybe that's a little stretch.

Rick: People probably remember you best from your stint on the Loop, as co-host of the Morning Loop Guys (photo). One feature of that show was your 60 second soapbox, which was essentially a rant on whatever was bugging on you on that particular day. How did that ever start?

Dobie: Well a lot of things bug me at any given time and that's what makes good comedy. I was in Utah and had to follow that horrible situation of the guy exposing himself in the department store on video camera. He was the sidekick and the lead guy on the show had been an icon in town for many years. My partner and I had to field calls of 'What happened to the other guys?' for weeks after we started and one day I just told him to crank up my mike and I went off on everything that was bugging me about it.

I really let loose and told it like it was. "You wanna know what happened to those two idiots? They got FIRED. And you know what? They're NOT coming back so SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND STOP WHINING. And better yet if we stink WE'LL get fired soon enough too so QUIT CALLING US and let us sink or swim on our own." I thought my partner was going to soil his shorts because it was a country station in Salt Lake City, but we started to get calls immediately saying "I like this guy - he can stay." Even the GM came in the studio and said "Now THERE'S a fresh way to handle it."

The following morning my partner asked me if I had anything else on my mind and I said "Well as a matter of fact I do..." and I went off on the Mormons. It wasn't bad or mean spirited but everyone was afraid of what the Mormons would do or say or think and I just said I knew they were out there and I knew I wasn't one of them but that didn't mean we couldn't still have fun and that started getting calls too.

It started from there and eventually I'd do one almost every day if I could think of something to write about. I mentioned it as a possible bit at the Loop in a meeting and Greg Solk wanted to hear it and we gave it a shot and that was it. I did it every single day for over a year and I still get people at comedy shows asking me if I'll do it again. Jerry Agar has asked me to start doing it on WLS and we're almost ready to let it rip. I love doing it for many reasons, mainly because again it gives me a deadline and something to write for. I think that makes a good entertainer. If a person can deliver consistently in a pressure situation that's what makes a pro. It's like sports. I definitely want the ball in the clutch situation.

Rick: You're co-hosts on that Loop show were Spike Manton, Max Bumgardner, and Bruce Wolf. You've already talked a little bit about Spike, but what it was like working with the other two?

Dobie: Spike (photo) is really the reason I got the job. I was a guest on his overnight show with Harry Teinowitz on WMVP AM 1000 and he suggested me to Greg Solk. I thought we would eventually end up fighting because that year was so hectic but just the opposite happened. Spike is a great friend and a quality person and I think the world of the guy. That year together bonded the three of us and we still stay in contact now.

Max and I clicked on several levels. We are very close still and probably will be for life. He is not a comedian and never claimed to be but he's a super person and we like to say we're 'dented cans'. Spike had a pretty decent family but Max and I are still haunted by our past. His father and mine were both louts and lowlifes and it's affected us to this day. We bonded on that level right away and I know a lot of listeners have the same kinds of problems Max and I are trying to overcome and break the chains of our painful childhoods.

It's like trying to talk to a woman about the pain of child birth. I can IMAGINE how painful it is but I've never actually experienced it and never will. The same is true with the 'dented can' childhood. Max (photo) had one and I did too and we're both striving to overcome it and salvage a good life for each other. We call each other at times when we're down and it's great knowing there is somebody out there with the same mindset who 'gets it.' I love Spike as a comedian brother but Max and I go a lot deeper than that. I'm a wacky uncle to his kids and think the world of his whole family. He's a great businessman too and has a very bright future and I need work in that area. We've each got strengths the other one doesn't and that's what makes a good show partner.

Bruce Wolf (photo) is a very talented guy. He's extremely intelligent and funny and I loved working with him even though we weren't in the same room. He was at Fox TV doing sports so we only had him twice an hour so I didn't get to know him like I did Spike and Max. I have stayed in contact as much as possible and have only good things to say about him. He should go on Jeopardy and win a lot of money because I think he's that smart. He's the kind of personality people love or loathe and that's what good entertainment is. Not all Loopers got him and that's just how it works. I did, and thought he was really sharp, but many times people who would see me at a comedy show would say they didn't care for his style of humor.

One thing I think may have hurt us is that he was associated with the old regime at the Loop and we were new. Some listeners didn't like that for whatever reason. I'm glad he's back on with Johnny now and that's probably where he belongs. I don't have anything against Johnny but I don't listen just because it still hurts that we got torched for no good reason. We'd really be jamming by now and I wouldn't be struggling to pay rent. I wish Johnny and Bruce both well though and if that's how it was meant to turn out who am I to fight it? But the company could have been nicer.

(Photo: Dobie with former Loop colleague Cara Carriveau)

Rick: OK, anyone who has seen your act knows that you go by the name of Mr. Lucky, because of your legendary streak of bad luck. I'm sure your "luck" has spread to your radio career too. Tell us a few of your favorite Mr. Lucky radio stories.

Dobie: I don't know how one guy could have so many stories of being in the wrong place at the wrong time but I'm your man. I must have been a real evil guy in a past life to keep suffering so much in this one but it sure makes for good comedy and good stories.

I remember one time when I was first starting out I made a mistake on the air and said the old line "Hire the handicapped, they're entertaining." I got a call from a guy which I stupidly took live and he said "I'M handicapped you asshole." I told him I was talking about ME and making fun of the mistake I just made and not about him but he wouldn't hear of it and kept going on about it. I tried to be nice but he kept on 'poking the tiger' so eventually I said "Hey you crippled waterhead, why don't you hang up the phone and change your diaper and put on your bib and helmet and go take one of the good parking spaces a REAL person could be using. There, NOW you have something to be upset about. Keep drooling."

Well of course that was live and the GM got to work and had about 200 faxes about how rotten I was and it turned into a major deal but believe it or not I didn't get fired for that one. The sales manager was listening and he and the GM were tight and he thought it was the funniest thing he ever heard on the air in his life. Still, it was bad timing to take the call live.

Another one I won't forget was when I was in Lansing and had been on the air for about a month. Lansing is a college town and I was 26 at the time and a sales person came up with a 'Win a date with Dobie' promotion. The date was dinner and a movie. The restaurant was a client and I had to choose the movie. I went with it but since I was working so hard I really didn't have a chance to catch up on any movies so I just picked one out of the paper. It turned out to be 'The Silence Of The Lambs.' I thought "Well, it's got the word 'lambs' in the title so it must be a chick flick." True story. That was a total disaster and needless to say we didn't have a second date. We barely got through the first. No kiss that night.

Yet another one happened when I was in Utah. They tried that same gimmick again but this time the 'date' was Utah Jazz tickets. I love sports so I said I'd do it and the woman who won the contest sent a picture and was very hot. I picked her up but we didn't go to dinner because she had kids and could only go to the game. As luck would have it the tickets were in the very last row of the arena so we walked up the stairs and I felt like I was going to have a coronary right then and there. I bought us some hot dogs and nachos and sodas and we sat down and were just about to start eating when she said out of the blue "You know I'm a member of the Mormon Church and I don't believe in having sex with a man unless we're married don't you?" I thought I was being funny and said "Well you could have gotten a couple of dinners out of me first before you told me that." She did NOT find that funny at all and got up and left. I sat there with my hot dogs and sodas and nachos and watched her walk down the steps and out of my life forever. I turned and shrugged to the people sitting around me and started eating my hot dogs and nachos. Go Jazz.

Those are the first few that pop into my head but they're by far not the only ones. One time I was with a chick in her apartment and things were going great and the doorbell rang. It was her brother and after an awkward introduction he said "Well Dobie, I'm sorry to have to meet you on a day like this but I can't think of a way to sugar coat this - Sis...Mom died today." End of date. End of relationship. Another dinner bought wasted. There are ten thousand tales in the Lucky City. These are but a few of them.

Rick: Now you're a regular on the Jerry Agar show on WLS-Radio. What do you do on Jerry's show?

Dobie: I've know Jerry Agar (photo) for about 20 years. Jerry asked if I would help him get a panel of comedians to do jokes on current events and that's what we do on Mondays at 10:30am. The bit is called 'Jerry's Kidders' and it's really a lot of fun because I don't have to get air checked when I'm done with it.

Jerry has his own story of bouncing around the country doing radio, and every time either one of us got fired we'd call each other and have someone to complain to. He's been great and we've stayed in contact all these years. We started out in St. Charles at a tiny AM station 1480 WFXW. He did mornings and I was a guest plugging the new Zanies location in Pheasant Run. I was complaining that I had to go way out to St. Charles at 6am to do some rinky dink low life AM station and he was complaining that the club didn't even send the headliner. I was just the opening act. We laugh about it now but back then it was true. We hit it off after one visit and I was a regular after that. I think that was back around 1988 or 89.

Rick: Can you see yourself ever doing a full-time radio show again, or is your career heading in a different direction now?

Dobie: I'm battle scarred and jaded after years of dealing with radio idiots or 'radiots' as I like to call them. For every Max and Spike and Rick Kaempfer and Jerry Agar I've met there have been ten to twenty imbeciles who tell me to do a Beetle Bailey bit at 7:10. I'd LOVE to have a chance to work at a solid station for a period of time when a show could gel and develop but at this point I'm not sure if that will ever happen.

The only reason I ever wanted to get into radio was so that people would know me as a comedian and come out to see me live. My first three or four jobs in radio I was SO not ready and I freely admit that. Then I found out I was halfway decent at it and it started to come together, and now I feel I could do an outstanding job if I had a chance somewhere. I may never get my own full time show again and I'm ok with that. Working at a place like WLS is as close as I have gotten to doing what I set out to do. I am billed as a comedian and don't have to stop to play a Pink Floyd or a Faith Hill song just when things are going well. My friend Kipper McGee (photo) is the program director and I put him on my short list of positive radio connections I've met over the years. Between him and Jerry they both sit back and let me go because they know I know where I'm going when the mike is on.

I doubt that I would pack up the car and head out across the country again to work for some half wit with two first names like "Mike Michaels" or "Steve Stevens" or "Joe Joseph" again. Those days are mercifully over. But I've said that before. On the right day if someone calls I just may find myself back on the air someplace but would take a hell of an offer at this point to make that happen.

What I really enjoy is being a 'friend of the show' to many different shows. I'm on once a week with Jerry on WLS but I also stop in on Max's show in Springfield, IL any time I'm down there. I also have a friend in Rockford who does afternoons and I can stop there any time I want to and hang out on the air. I also am a semi-regular at the ESPN station up in Milwaukee too. I also still have friends in Salt Lake City and Reno who put me on when I'm out that way. That makes radio really fun. I go in and add to a show and then leave and not have to worry about getting yelled at by "Fred Fredericks" or "Walt Walters" when I'm done. I've got the best of both worlds and for once Mr. Lucky is catching the good break.

One more thing I'm working on is a website to sell funny stuff of all kinds called 'Uranus Factory Outlet' or U.F.O. I am going to come up with a character and call myself "The King Of Uranus" and go on radio and TV and do my own commercials like a cheesy used car dealer. Every town is familiar with their own local goofbag who sells cars or carpets or catheters or whatever and those people get known. I've been trying to catch my break for years and have been too busy getting fired at radio to wait for my ship to come in.

This idea is SO stupid and that's exactly what will make it work. My slogan is 'It's ALWAYS funny when it comes from Uranus.' Stay tuned for that because it will either be my million dollar empire or I'll go totally broke trying. Neither one scares me, so here we go. I have a corporate entity set up and am getting things in place and hope to be up and running in just a couple of weeks. My birthday is March 14th and Uranus came to be on March 13th so all this is cosmic. It was meant to be and I have never felt as strong about any idea I've ever done than I do about this one. Who doesn't like to laugh? I will use my radio experience and comedy experience and a lifetime of criss crossing North America as the basis of scouring the planet to find the funniest things on Earth.

So to answer your question I guess I would take a radio job again but it would have to pay more than a King at this point. Thanks for letting me be a part of your interview and a big 'Thumbs Up Uranus!' to your readers.

Oh, one more thing. I will be performing at Zanies both in Vernon Hills and downtown later this month. For exact dates go to If you would like tickets to a show as a very special thanks for reading all the way through this article please send me an email at and I'll make sure you'll get in as my guest absolutely FREE.

Free your mind and your laughs will follow. Hope to see you all at Zanies and hear laughter coming from Uranus!