Friday, April 04, 2008


When I was with the John Landecker Show we used to play this song once a year; on Martin Luther King's birthday. On the 40th anniversary of his death it seems even more appropriate.

This was produced by a disc jockey in Detroit named Tom Clay (in the early 70s). It's incredibly well done...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Media Notebook (April 3, 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

Senate targets FCC with "Resolution of Disapproval" vote
(Radio Online) Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is following up on his promise last December as the Senate Commerce Committee will vote on a "resolution of disapproval" Wednesday (4-2), attempting to block the FCC's revisions of the media ownership rules adopted in December. Passing by a 3-2 vote, the Commission loosened the broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership ban in the top 20 markets under certain conditions. No other rules were changed. 'The FCC says this is a modest compromise, but make no mistake, this is a big deal,' Dorgan said earlier this month. 'When nearly half of the people in this country are told that in their cities and towns the media will get the green light to consolidate, they will not be happy. The proposal would also create a greatly relaxed approval process for newspapers to buy TV stations in any U.S. media market and spur a new wave of media consolidation in both large and small media markets.'"

The CBS News cuts run deep

(NY Times) Bill Carter writes: "News operations at CBS stations in several cities started a series of job cuts this week even as the CBS News network moved ahead with plans to lay off about 1 percent of its nearly 1,200 employees. Over the last several days, layoffs were ordered at local stations that CBS owns, including ones in New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Dana McClintock, a spokesman for CBS, said the actions at the network and the local stations were not related. 'This is not the result of any corporate mandate,' Mr. McClintock said."
(Rick's note: Mmm Hmmm. Just a coincidence. In Chicago one of those cut was one of my favorites...)

Mary Ann Childers let go at Channel 2
(Chicago Sun-Times) Robert Feder writes: "Mary Ann Childers, a respected and award-winning 28-year veteran of Chicago television news, was among at least 17 staffers whose positions were eliminated Monday at WBBM-Channel 2. The latest wave of cutbacks hit the CBS-owned station as part of massive companywide reductions at the network's owned-and-operated stations. Childers was a top news anchor at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 for 14 years before joining Channel 2 in 1994 as an anchor and reporter. Most recently she has been Channel 2's medical editor and special projects reporter."
I've previously written about how I feel about Mary Ann


Hulu traffic starts big, falls fast
(Silicon Alley Insider) Michael Learmonth writes: "Traffic to Hulu shot up the week of its public debut on March 12, but dropped off during the following week, according to Hitwise. That's not too surprising given curiosity around the launch. But it is a sign that Hulu's growth curve is going to be bumpy. The week after its debut, Hitwise ranked Hulu as the 13th video site in terms of market share. (No. 1: YouTube, of course). But in its second week, Hulu dropped down to 18th place, one spot behind AOL's Truveo, and one ahead of LiveLeak."

Is MSNBC picking on Hillary?
(Village Voice) Wayne Barret writes: "With Fox so thoroughly associated with the GOP, and CNN trying so hard to appear 'balanced,' upstart MSNBC has become the cable network for Democratic voters by default and, like many of the Democrats themselves, was tilting toward Obama very early. Despite Clinton's recent wins, Scarborough's fellow MSNBCers have kept up their bruising treatment of her. Chris Matthews started things off with a roundhouse blow in January, when he said that she had become a senator and had a shot at the presidency only because of her husband's infidelities. More recently, Matthews has been beating the drum for Clinton's withdrawal as if it has become of a test of her honor. Even the network's usually most detached reporter, David Shuster, got into the Clinton-bashing when he wondered aloud whether the Clintons were 'pimping out' daughter Chelsea, costing him a two-week suspension. Tucker Carlson declared that he found Hillary so 'castrating' that he 'involuntarily' crossed his legs whenever she came on TV, a reflex that neatly contrasted with the 'thrill' that Matthews said he felt creeping up his leg whenever Obama spoke. Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann (who, it must be pointed out, occasionally invites this writer on his show) tried for months to stay above the scrum, but lately has been taking on Hillary night after night—never trash-talking like his teammates, but eventually deriding Hillary in one of the 'Special Comment' editorials he'd previously saved for acts of war and official treachery."


Banks ask NY Supreme Court to throw out Clear Channel lawsuit
(Radio Online) The six banks being sued by Clear Channel and private equity firms Thomas H Lee Partners and Bain Capital asked a New York state court on Monday to dismiss the suit. CC and the buyout firms filed suit last week in Texas and New York to force the banks completion of the pending $26 billion merger. A Texas judge granted the temporary order to keep the banks from pulling out. "Plaintiffs have presented no basis for litigation, much less proceeding in an expedited manner," the banks said in heir filing with the New York State Supreme Court.

Tribune's Looming Deadline
(Crain's Chicago Business) Ann Saphir writes: "Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell's about-face on protecting assets other than the Cubs appears to be a simple matter of meeting a deadline. The company has about $12 billion in debt, most of it the result of Mr. Zell's leveraged buyout in December. A first payment of $650 million comes due Dec. 4. The original plan when Mr. Zell took control of the company was to raise the cash by selling the Cubs, which could fetch $700 million or more. But that deal is taking longer than expected, as Mr. Zell seeks to boost his Cubs take by selling Wrigley Field separately. At press time, the likely Wrigley buyer, the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, had yet to announce an offer. And bidding on the team probably won't begin until the stadium deal gets clearance from state legislators and Major League Baseball. Without a Cubs sale, Mr. Zell must raise the $650 million elsewhere. He also had a 30% drop in fourth-quarter cash flow, which he says was worse than projected. Those two things probably explain why, after insisting for months that he wouldn't make other divestitures, Mr. Zell on March 20 said he had started a "strategic review" of the company's assets to determine if any could be sold to boost operations or pay down debt."

Huffington Post plans on going local
(NY Times) Brian Stelter writes: "Ms. Huffington herself now spends less time on blog posts condemning the Bush administration (although there’s still plenty of that) and more time reimagining The Huffington Post as what she calls an “Internet newspaper.” In October, the site hired a new chief executive, Betsy Morgan, from CBS Interactive, and this summer the site will take an ambitious step by introducing its version of a metropolitan section: local versions for major cities. Whether readers will follow the site into new areas, however, is an open — and expensive — question. The plan will put The Huffington Post into competition with existing newspapers and, arguably, with companies like Yahoo, AOL and"


Magazine Awards
(Mediaweek) Tony Case writes: "John Micklethwait, editor of the highbrow British news and opinion weekly The Economist, knew his magazine had solidified its place in the American culture when The Simpsons’ beloved, hapless patriarch paid homage in an episode. But the magazine’s recent business successes on these shores are anything but a joke. It has achieved impressive gains in ad business and readership and scooped up industry accolades (most recently, a National Magazine Award nom for General Excellence), even as much larger news and business titles wither and as a certain high-profile launch—one promising “business intelligence” on the front of every cover—doesn’t look so smart after all. In recognition of that achievement, AdweekMedia has selected The Economist’s Micklethwait and publisher Paul Rossi as Executive Team of the Year, and the title comes in at No. 1 on this year’s Hot List."

Kathie Lee Gifford coming back to morning TV

(TV Newser) Starting next Monday, Gifford will be teamed with Hoda Kotb to anchor the network's seven-month-old fourth hour. Insiders tell us Gifford and Kotb took part in a photo shoot Saturday to promote the pairing. The fourth hour of the Today show airs at 10am most markets, meaning Gifford will go head to head in some parts of the country with her former co-host of Live Regis Philbin.

CNN's John Roberts making mark on morning TV

(TV Guide) Former CBS News veteran John Roberts is coming up on his first year as co-anchor of CNN's American Morning. While it's not getting the same ratings boom that the cable network is experiencing the rest of the day, AM's first-quarter audience is up 11 percent from a year ago as Roberts and co-anchor Kiran Chetry offer a more straight-ahead alternative to the entertainment/news hybrids that the broadcast networks and Fox News offer in the morning. But Roberts tells The Biz the program will be getting some adjustments when a new executive producer comes on board.


FCC seeks comments from stations
(MelPhillips) Mel Phillips writes: "It started late Thursday with an FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on various rules that would mandate how broadcasters serve their communities. If you are now, or have ever worked in Radio or TV, you know this is trouble. The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) sent out 'suggestions' to the '8,300 free, local radio television stations and broadcast networks' they represent on what they might include in their comments to the FCC...What the NAB suggests is for stations to (1) Detail descriptions of their efforts to assess the needs of your communities (when I was program director of WRKO, I was sent to the FBI to conduct an ascertainment interview and felt a bit uncomfortable wearing my 70s-style full-length beard and quasi-hippie clothes for the interview. I'm surprised I wasn't booked or whatever the FBI does to suspicious looking people); (2) How the FCC's proposals will negatively affect your station and (3) Why these new rules will not improve your already excellent local service record (the NAB is being overly generous with number #3)."

Updated interviews with Bobby Skafish, Wendy Snyder, and Scott Childers
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Last weekend I spoke Bobby Skafish, Wendy Snyder and Scott Childers, and asked them to update us on their latest career moves since I interviewed them since last year. Bobby (photo) talked about doing afternoons at the Drive. Wendy talked about her new show on WLS, and Scott Childers talked about his new show at Star 96.7. This weekend I'll be speaking with original WLS Rock-Jock Bob Hale.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Suburban Man: Green Living Idiot

By Rick Kaempfer

When I saw the title of the book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Living," (by Trish Riley, Alpha Books), I knew it was going to be perfect for me.

My wife and I have never really been on the same page when it comes to green living. She's militant. I'm more "I don't think I will-itant." I like the idea of being greener, but I've never actually been motivated enough to seek out the information. To be honest, my brain starts to cloud over when the discussion gets a little too scientific. Hence my excitement at the "Complete Idiot" portion of the title.

My wife couldn't contain a grin when I brought it home.

"Don't get too excited," I said. "I've been leafing through it already, and we won't be doing any of the suggestions that cost 4 digits or more."

"That's fine."

"No hybrid cars, no solar panels on the roof, no re-insulating the entire house, and positively no new construction."

She nodded, happy that at least I was taking this first step. And you know what? The first step really wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.

*We now use fluorescent light bulbs.
They use 70% less energy than regular bulbs.

*We are avid recyclers
My wife no longer has to go picking through the garbage every week to fish out the recyclable material I've unwittingly thrown away.

*We try to use buy more eco-friendly products
Whenever possible, we avoid purchasing things made out of plastic. 80% of trash in oceans is plastic.

*We don't use a lot of energy unnecessarily.
Both my wife and I routinely walk around the house turning off lights that aren't being used and unplugging electrical items that aren't needed. It's not being cheap. It's being eco-friendly.

*We have low flush toilets
I hated them at first, but now I can't remember why. They save 3 gallons of water on every flush.

Plus, we unwittingly lucked out in a couple of other areas.

*Our water heater is in a warm room
This helps save energy because it doesn't take as much to heat up the water as it would in a cold room or the garage.

*Our yard has several shade trees near the house
This helps reduce the amount of sun that gets into our house in the summer, which reduces our need for air-conditioning.

In other areas, we have a long way to go.

*None of our appliances are "Energy Star Appliances"
Although, when our current appliances break down, we will look for Energy Star-rated appliances: washing machines that use 50% less water and energy, dishwashers that use 25% less water, and refrigerators that use 15 to 40% less energy. They don't cost much more, so why not do it?

*Our thermostat settings are not optimal, and probably never will be
According to the book, setting your thermostat at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter will save 5 to 15 percent in energy usage. We've decided to pick our poison there. I can't sleep when it's hot in our room—so we can't do the 78 in the summer thing. I figure I'm helping out the environment by opting not to. My crankiness (after not getting enough sleep) would have certainly added to the noise pollution problem.

*We're not getting a push mower
I had one as a kid, and I'm sorry—we're not going there. We've got a big yard and I'm not getting any younger.

*We're not turning off the shower while we lather up with soap and shampoo
I had to re-read that portion of the book twice. Do people really do that? That seems a little ridiculous.

The book has lots of other suggestions that we'll probably do (like collecting rain water for irrigation purposes), and lots of other suggestions that we'll never do (like installing waterless urinals? nuh uh), but at least it got us started on the right path.

And I no longer feel like a Complete Idiot.

This article originally appeared in the Green Issue of Shore Magazine

Monday, March 31, 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(s) of the Week:

Contributed by "C." In honor of Opening Day

Twenty major events that have occurred since the Chicago Cubs last laid claim to a World Series championship:

1. Radio was invented; Cubs fans got to hear their team lose.

2. TV was invented; Cubs fans got to see their team lose.

3. Baseball added 14 teams; Cubs fans get to see and hear their team lose to more clubs.

4. George Burns celebrated his 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays.

5. Haley's comet passed Earth twice.

6. Harry Caray was born....and died. Incredible, but true.

7. The NBA, NHL and NFL were formed, and Chicago teams won championships in each league.

8. Man landed on the moon, as have several home runs given up by Cubs pitchers.

9. Sixteen U.S. presidents were elected.

10. There were 11 amendments added to the Constitution.

11. Prohibition was created and repealed.

12. The Titanic was built, set sail, sank, was discovered and became the subject of major motion pictures, the latest giving Cubs fans hope that something that finishes on the bottom can come out on top.

13. Wrigley Field was built and becomes the oldest park in the National League.

14. Flag poles were erected on Wrigley Field roof to hold all of the team's future World Series pennants. Those flag poles have since rusted and been taken down.

15. A combination of 40 Summer and Winter Olympics have been held.

16. Thirteen baseball players have won the Triple Crown; several thanked Cubs pitchers.

17. Bell-bottoms came in style, went out of style and came back in.

18. The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and the Florida Marlins have all won the World Series.

19. The Cubs played more than 14,000 regular-season games; they lost the majority of them.

20. Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Oklahoma and New Mexico were added to the Union.

Quotes about (or by) the Cubs

"It's hard to put your finger on it. You have to have a dullness of mind and spirit to play here. I went through pyschoanalysis and that helped me deal with my Cubness."--Jim Brosnan, former Cubs pitcher

"Noise pollution can't be that much of a problem. There's nothing to cheer about."--State rep. John F. Dunn, arguing for the installation of lights at Wrigley Field

"If I managed the Cubs, I'd be an alcoholic."--Whitey Herzog

"There's nothing wrong with this team that more pitching, more fielding and more hitting couldn't help."--Bill Buckner

"You get tired of looking at garbage in your own backyard."--Cubs manager Lee Elia in 1983 about why the Cubs got rid of so many players. Elia was fired later that same season.

"The Cubs were taking batting practice, and the pitching machine threw a no-hitter."--Radio deejay

"The only bad thing about being released by the Cubs is that they made me keep my season tickets."--Ken Rietz, ex-Cub third baseman

"Would the lady who left her nine kids at Wrigley Field please pick them up immediately? They are beating the Cubs 4-0 in the 7th inning."--Radio deejay

"One thing you learn as a Cubs fan: When you bought your ticket, you could bank on seeing the bottom of the ninth."--Joe Garagiola

"The Chicago Cubs are like Rush Street--a lot of singles, but no action."--Garagiola again


And finally, the classic...

A wicked Chicago man died and went to the place all wicked people go. The Devil decided to shove him in a room and cranked the heat and humidity up.

The man smiled. When the Evil One asked why the man was smiling he said: "Just like Chicago in Spring"

So the Most Evil One cranked up the heat and humidity more. The man removed his coat, smiled, and said:

"Just like Chicago in Summer"

This time the Destroyer of Beauty cranked the heat and humidity to maximum.

The man removed his shirt and tie and said

"Just like Chicago in August"

The Devil then got an idea. He shut off the heat and turned on the air conditioning. The room froze in seconds. Ice was everywhere. Polar bears hid in dens because it was so cold. Satan, confident he had finally won, peaked in the man's room only to find the man cheering and partying frantically....

"The Cubs won the World Series...The Cubs won the World Series..."

Stories you might have missed

1. Guess who else was a Cubs fan? John Wayne Gacy

2. Drunken man awakens in garbage truck
(And yes, he was officially stinking drunk)

3. Transgender man claims he is pregnant

(He plans on naming the baby "Pat" or "Chris")

4. Gopher Explosions
(This reads like the plot of Caddyshack 3. Thanks to "B" for pointing it out.)

5. Jose Canseco names A-Rod, Clemens, Magglio, and are you ready for this one, Mike Wallace.
(Why do I think Jose is the only one telling the truth.)

Video of the week: Merkle's Ghost

A production of Just One Bad Century and Ethervision. Contributed by me. A much more believable story about what may be cursing the Chicago Cubs

Picture of the week: Contributed by "D". A new season starts today. Let's forget about how last year ended...

Reader Response

Regarding "$everance"

"I didn't have a chance until now to write you in more detail about your book and tell you how much I enjoyed it. First off, great characters. Zagorski and Lawrence were guys that I'd want to hang out with. I finished the book so quickly that I felt like I didn't get to spend enough time with them.

Second, great pacing the way you switched back and forth between characters to tell the story. And by getting to know each character early on, it stayed interesting throughout as things centered around Zagorski's adventures but then you looked forward to hearing what happened to "Sherm" and Carville (I mean, Billy Joe Brooks), and Rush Limbaugh (I mean, Striker).

Third, the scene at Wrigley was my favorite. You painted the scene perfectly. I could smell the grilled onions and stale beer. (I loved the shot at ketchup-eaters--I learned early to go either strictly mustard or the whole Chicago-dog experience-- either way, no ketchup). Fourth, I loved every shot at Fox (I mean Frost) News.

Finally, you pulled off something really different in that you told a dream-come-true story but in a way that even us wise-asses who sat in the back in the class could enjoy. A feel-good vibe without cheese or cliche. A fairy tail for skeptics. No easy task, and you nailed it. Thanks for the great read, and keep the great writing coming!"

"I read the book and really enjoyed it. You've got a great style. And of course your message was well positioned too. Great job. And very funny too."

295 days until we get a new president.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Update

Rick's note: About six months after Bobby Skafish did a Chicago Radio Spotlight interview with me he got a call from his old boss Greg Solk (he had been his boss at the Loop), who asked him to do a weekend shift on the Drive. It didn't take long before Bobby was back in the saddle again, doing the afternoon show there. He can now be heard every afternoon between 3-8 pm.

I caught up with Bobby again recently and asked him how he liked the new gig...

Bobby: Working at The Drive has been a great source of joy for me. The people are friendly and keep it real-no evidence of ego trippin'. When I get direction on my presentation from Patty Martin or Greg Solk it's done clearly and unambiguously, with the only goal being a better sounding station. The result is that this ol' dog has learned new tricks, for which I'm grateful. They are also quick to compliment, too.

Drive music is so much fun to play. It feels age-appropriate and just plain right. The true test for me is that I instinctively turn The Drive on at home or in the car when I want to listen to music radio. It's a feel good.

Having worked in the Hancock for ten years during my Loop tenure, it's great to be back on a cool stretch of Michigan Avenue. My goal is to not inadvertently plow into pedestrian traffic when I pass the huge Victoria's Secret window display-I'm getting there! Finally, its so boss seeing Bob Stroud again on a daily basis, with the two of us on back to back. Ralph Lauren would be wise to install a webcam in the air studio to give Stroud's Polo wardrobe worldwide exposure on a daily basis.

* * * * * * *

Rick's Note: I interviewed Wendy Snyder for Chicago Radio Spotlight last year just after she left the Steve Dahl show. At the time she was auditioning at WLS to join the Don & Roma show, but didn't want to talk about it, because she didn't want to jinx it. I caught up with her again recently and asked her how it's been going...

Wendy: Things are going great for me at WLS. I'm having a lot of fun with Don and Roma in the morning, and I'm finally starting to understand some of the traffic reports that I'm giving! I've been getting around at WLS. I sat in on Roe Conn's Show a couple of times, and every Friday, you can hear me talking about sex on The Jerry Agar Show (his show airs from 9-11 a.m every weekday). My goal is to be heard on WLS all day long!

Speaking of which, I want to tell you about my weekend show, too. There are three of us who do the show; Maura Myles (who is also on WLS with Jerry), my former partner-in-crime from the Kevin Matthews show, Dorothy Humphrey, and me. Wendy, Maura, and Dorothy....WMD....Women of Mass Discussion. It is a blast! We talk about anything and everything and nothing is taboo. Plus, we have a great time interacting with our callers. Be sure to check it out, Sundays from 12noon to 2pm on WLS 890AM.

* * * * * *

Rick's note: A few weeks after I interviewed Scott Childers for Chicago Radio Spotlight, he was moved to a different radio station by his station owners, Next Media. I recently caught up with Scott and asked how he was liking his new gig.

Scott: I am having a great time - in late January, I transitioned from The River to Star 96.7 where I am afternoon host. It's a blast being back at a Hot AC station, playing new music again! Most of my career has been spent at either AC or CHR formatted stations. Hey, I like Steve Miller and Fleetwood Mac, but it's nice to be someplace that is a bit more current-based. I'm also doing some fun things in the afternoon - the Brainbuster Question has followed me over to Star -- we do that in the 3 o'clock hour and it's nice to be able to banter with Marti Jones (who does traffic). Marti and I have known each other for many years, but this is the first time we have worked together on the air every day. I also put together some fun bits here and there, and we play listener requests back with "Your Four at 4:30." I'll bet you can't guess when we do that! We just recently gave away a wedding package worth over 27 thousand dollars to a lucky couple. I was the one that called them and they were ecxtatic. Star 96.7 is on the verge of a transmitter and tower move which will greatly increase our signal coverage in the western portion of the suburbs. We have a great staff with a wonderful product that I am happy to be able to contibute to.

Off the air, I (along with WCCQ host) Todd Boss head up NextMedia's IT Department here in Crest Hill. We are responsible for the look and operation of the station websites (star96.7net,,, In an average day, I may work on artwork for the site or for email blasts, load (audio and graphical) content up to the sites, troubleshoot problems and interface with the company sales and promotion staff. Days go by very quickly and the staff here (many of which I have worked with in the past at The River or other outlets) are just great. They have built a very smooth running, effective and professional environment here that I am glad to be a part of.

The WLS book project continues on. I am getting to the final stages of preparation and it should be off to the publisher by May. Hopefully we will see it on the shelves (and on Amazon) by mid-summer. I am still interested in any WLS material that anyone may have and would be willing to share. Contact me at