Friday, July 18, 2008


I don't really have an agenda today, but I did want to let you know that my blogs have had 300,000 visitors as of this week.

I don't pause to say it often, so let me say it now.

Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it.

Your pal,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Media Notebook (July 17, 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

Departing Tribune Editor: "It's a Complicated Time"
(Editor & Publisher) Joe Strupp writes: "Chicago Tribune Editor Ann Marie Lipinski says her decision to leave the job she has had for seven years -- and the paper where she has worked for 30 -- 'had been building' for at least several months. She told E&P last night that the latest round of planned layoffs (expected to cut 80 newsroom positions) and a decision to reduce news pages did not directly trigger her decision announced Monday. 'There is no one moment, no one day,' she said. 'It has been a growing desire to do something different.' Lipinski, 52, says she made the decision last Wednesday, then informing Tribune Publishing Executive Vice President Bob Gremillion that she would depart. Asked how much of her decision had been forced by Tribune officials, she declared: 'zero pushing, quite the contrary. They had hoped this would turn out differently. I have never had anything but support and admiration and a desire for me to stay.'"
The Beachwood Reporter had the very best coverage of her departure with lots of inside scoops.

Larry King signs deal to write autobiography

(Variety) Sam Thielman writes: "Larry King will tell all, again: Weinstein Books will publish the oft-chronicled 74-year-old interviewer's autobiography 'What Am I Doing Here?' on Father's Day 2009. The book, which will distributed by Hachette, will be written with assistance from Esquire writer Cal Fussman. King spoke highly of the pub and said that his "life story could not be in better hands."
Everyone in the business has a Larry King story, including me

SNL's Poehler lined up for "Office" spinoff
(TV Week) Joseph Adalian writes: "'Saturday Night Live' regular Amy Poehler is in advance negotiations with NBC to star in the network's upcoming spinoff of 'The Office,' according to network and talent agency sources. Creator Greg Daniels has been keeping details of his new series under wraps. So far, he and NBC have only confirmed the casting of Aziz Ansari in what's believed to a relatively minor role on the show. If Ms. Poehler finalizes a deal for the show, she will join SNL alum Tina Fey on NBC's Thursday night lineup. Ms. Fey, who stars in NBC's '30 Rock,' teamed with Ms. Poehler for the spring feature hit 'Baby Mama.' 'The Office' spinoff is scheduled to join NBC's Thursday roster in February, following a post-Super Bowl premiere. Ms. Poehler's departure from Saturday Night Live has been the subject of industry speculation for several months now. In addition to co-anchoring "Update," Ms. Poehler's best known character on SNL in recent months has been that of Hillary Rodham Clinton."


Media Moguls are meeting in Idaho again

(Reuters) One of the comments I get from readers of my novel "$everance" is: "It's a little unbelievable that these fiercely competitive media moguls that hate each other's guts would gather to discuss their business every year." But it's not a figment of my imagination. This actually happens every single year, and the topics discussed behind closed doors used to be stricly off the record. The last few years, however, as the new media companies gained power, and the old media companies declined, they have been talking to the reporters who gather outside the meetings. The link above is from Reuters. This year one of the topics of discussion appears to be--who will be the next President. The moguls' choice according to this article? Barack Obama.

High Wattage at Sun Valley, But No Deals
(NY Times) David Carr is there this week, and he writes: "There are a few givens at Allen & Company’s rarefied annual summit for media moguls in Sun Valley, Idaho. Titans arrive in a conga line of private jets, attend some gold-plated panels followed by cocktails, and occasionally head out to the paths of the Sun Valley Resort for a little speed-dating. The guest list is always incandescent — hey, there’s Bill Gates! Tony Blair! Rupert Murdoch! — and the air is thick with rumors of deals."


Mike Huckabee in talks for own Fox show
(Politico) Kenneth P. Vogel writes: "Less than one month after signing on as a Fox News commentator, Mike Huckabee is working aggressively to expand his media presence. This week, Huckabee is meeting with Fox officials about plans to host his own show on the network. Plus, he’s subbing for Paul Harvey on ABC Radio Network and appearing on a number of existing Fox shows. A former Arkansas governor who upended the Republican presidential race with his upset victory in the Iowa caucuses, Huckabee continued campaigning for the nomination after it became mathematically impossible for him to catch John McCain in the delegate race. That prompted speculation that Huckabee was more interested in boosting his profile than in a future in politics, though his name is still bandied about as a possible running mate for McCain. Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, worked in local radio as a teenager. And, on the campaign trail, he won raves for his quick wit and folksy delivery."

Fox News defends hiring Karl Rove as analyst
(Broadcasting & Cable) Marissa Guthrie writes: "The messy debate about media bias that has permeated coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign was given a thorough -- and, at times, combative -- airing at a Television Critics Association Q&A with Fox News Channel personalities Monday. Appearing with Karl Rove and Howard Wolfson -- former advisor to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and the network’s newest liberal voice -- Fox News host Chris Wallace took critics to task for repeatedly questioning Karl Rove’s credibility for refusing a subpoena by a House Committee investigating Rove’s role in the conviction of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman on bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud. 'I’m struck by what I think is a double standard in the questions that particularly Karl is being asked here,' Wallace said. 'I don’t understand why it is that if Congress and the White House are having a fight over executive power, that should any way constrain an independent news organization’s decision about whom to have on its payroll. I question whether if it were a conservative Congress that had subpoenaed James Carville, let's say, whether you’d be asking CNN why they’re [employing] James Carville.'"

Brit Hume to step down after election
(NY Times) Brian Stelter writes: "Brit Hume, the pre-eminent political anchor on the Fox News Channel, intends to step down from his nightly newscast after the presidential election, three people close to him said this week. Mr. Hume, 65, has expressed an interest in 'reducing his role' but will likely remain with Fox News as a panelist on 'Fox News Sunday,' two of the people said. The people requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of his contract negotiations, which are ongoing. Mr. Hume’s departure from 'Special Report' would represent one of the most dramatic changes to Fox’s powerhouse schedule since the channel’s inception nearly 12 years ago."


Tony Snow dies at 53
(Washington Post) Howard Kurtz writes: "Snow, who died Saturday at 53, had the knack of making people like him, even those he would slap around as a commentator, television host or presidential press secretary. He once told CNN's Ed Henry to 'zip it' during a tense exchange over the war, but would later flash that smile and let you know he could separate the personal from the political. CBS's Jim Axelrod had a phrase for it, saying Snow knew how to play the "affability card."

Obama slams New Yorker portrayal
(Politico) Mike Allen writes: "The Obama campaign is condemning as 'tasteless and offensive' a New Yorker magazine cover that depicts Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in a turban, fist-bumping his gun-slinging wife. An American flag burns in their fireplace. The New Yorker says it's satire. It certainly will be candy for cable news.”

How Joe Scarborough transformed himself into liberals favorite talk show host
(New York Magazine) Despite his complaints about the hours, Scarborough lobbied hard for this job, which opened up in April 2007 when Don Imus made his ill-advised foray into color commentary of women’s college basketball. 'Not to dance on anyone’s grave,' says Scarborough, 'but the second I heard about Imus, I told my wife, ‘Honey, it’s gonna be a busy weekend.’  For the previous four years, he had been unmemorably hosting Scarborough Country, an evening show on MSNBC in which he came off as a B-team O’Reilly impersonator. But he’d always been convinced the format was the problem. 'All of my executive producers had always told me the same thing: ‘We’ve got to get you off the prompter more—you’re best when you’re just talking off the top of your head,’  he says. Imus’s morning slot seemed like the perfect opportunity."


Is Paul Harvey’s show just quietly fading away?
( Tom Taylor writes: "It’s been nearly 2-1/2 months since the death of his beloved wife and professional colleague Angel. I believe Paul was just recovering from his own medical situation and preparing to come back to the mic when that sad event hit him on May 3. Since then – the Harvey clan’s been very quiet. While Ron Chapman seems happy as a clam, doing the fill-ins for old friend Farid Suleman at Citadel and ABC Radio Networks. Some affiliates suspect things are just going to go on and on…toward the horizon. That depends on Paul’s own health, state of mind – and, from listening to recent recorded commercials for Bose and others – the condition of his peerless vocal instrument. You can find theories of all kinds on the News/Talk board of, including the prediction from talk consultant Holland Cooke that Harvey will return for one last goodbye. From my own chats with folks at ABC over the years, they know there’s not a “next Paul Harvey”

WLS changing lanes
(Chicago Sun Times) Robert Feder writes: "In what's being billed as a momentous alliance among Chicago radio stations, Clear Channel Radio's traffic division has signed up two local outlets owned by Citadel Broadcasting. Starting Oct. 1, Total Traffic Network will provide traffic to Citadel's news/talk WLS-AM (890) and oldies WLS-FM (94.7). The two stations have been clients of Metro Networks/ Shadow Broadcast Services for three decades. 'It's a great deal and a great partnership for both of us,' said Mike Fowler, president and general manager of WLS, who made the agreement with Earl Jones, president and market manager of Clear Channel Radio Chicago. In addition to serving Clear Channel's stations here, Total Traffic Network also reports for Univision Radio Chicago and Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32."

Chicago Radio Spotlight interview with Cisco Cotto
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Last weekend I spoke with Cisco Cotto, who along with Big John Howell, co-hosts the morning show at WIND-AM 560. We talked about his reporting days, conservative vs. liberal talk radio, and the origin of his nickname "The Reverend." Coming this weekend; an interview with WERV Production Director Jimmy "Mac" McInerney.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Suburban Man: More Evidence of Global Warming

By Rick Kaempfer

I should preface this by saying I'm not a scientist.

I don't even know a scientist.

On the other hand, I'm living with proof that global warming is real, and since I don't know any scientists personally, I thought maybe one of you could send this post along to a scientist you know. I'm sure they can always use another bullet in their "global warming is real" gun.

So here is the proof. Ready?

Today is only the 15th of July and this summer has already been 7000 weeks long. That's right, it was 7000 weeks ago when the school year ended for all three of my children. At this pace, they won't be going back to school again until I'm elderly enough to be placed in a home.

Take me now.


I mean it.

You can tell it's an Olympic year because my boys have been training for the brawling events ever since we got back from vacation. (See my earlier post about our perfect vacation--I knew it was too good to be true). In the 6998 weeks since we returned (my calendar actually only counts this as 14 days), we've had two black eyes and two bloody noses, although knock on wood, we still haven't had to make a trip to the emergency room yet.

If for some reason my boys discover they aren't in the same league as some of the other great brawling brother competitors from around the world (my wife says the Irish are the early favorites--she can say that, she's Irish), they've already decided that the Whining/Complaining Gold medal is within their grasp. I'm not just being one of those stage-parents when I say that all three of my boys are truly gifted in this event. They don't just get by on sheer talent. They work hard at it.

I hear some of their training exercises now.



Only 7000 more weeks to go.

Scientists are right. We need to find a solution to this Global Warming problem, and fast.

Monday, July 14, 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 "T"

An archaeological team, digging in Washington DC, has uncovered 10,000 year old bones and fossil remains of what is believed to be the first Republican...

Stories you might have missed

1. Man tries to rob bar with a cheese grater

(Read the comments under the article. Hilarious. H/T to Steve Rhodes at the Beachwood Reporter)

2. Baseball's Best Mustaches

(Um...that's what you call outright thievery. Who else has been doing mustache jokes since January?)

3. Jesse Jackson says he wants to cut Obama's nuts off

(The video is available here...Hey Jesse! You were at Fox. That little thing attached to your lapel is a microphone. Even if you whisper they can hear you.)

4. Anchors/Reporters struggle with Jesse's words
(This is funny. Watch the video of these guys trying to say 'nuts' without saying 'nuts')

5. Woman overpowers thief with tea and sympathy

(Works every time. Ladies, carry some in your purses.)

Video of the week: Drunk Referee. Contributed by "P"

Photo of the week: Billboards for old people. Contributed by "T"


Regarding Just One Bad Century

"As a Cubs fan and, obviously, a mustache purveyor, I was thrilled to find your site today. Very nicely done.
Aaron Perlut
Executive Directore
The American Mustache Institute
(877) STACHE-1
"...a mustache is a terrible thing to shave"

"Dirt--great nickname and great mustache. It's two for Tuesday!"

"Hi, Rick - Technically, I'm not a die-hard Cubs fan, but my mother is (born in 1932 - raised in Chicago, but came out to live in SF - but all of our Chicago-Naperville cousins somehow became White Sox fans - go figure). Anyway, it was one of our White-Sox fan cousins who mentioned this website back in early May when my mother went back to visit - and though I cannot make your website my homepage (sorry, there are other business interests that I just HAVE to look at first), JOBC is now prominent in my FAVORITE sites."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Cisco Cotto

Cisco Cotto is the co-host of the morning show at WIND-AM 560 every weekday, along with Big John Howell.

Rick: It's too bad there's nothing for a political talk show based in Illinois to talk about this season. How do you manage to find topics?

Cisco: Everyday on the way to work I bite my fingernails to bloody stumps as I worry about finding topics!

Rick: The conservative talk radio audience is fiercely loyal, even in one of America's bluest states. Why do you think that conservative talk radio has been so successful, while liberal talk radio has failed to catch on?

Cisco: For decades conservatives felt as though they didn’t have a voice. They were on the outside and liberals edited many of the newspapers, NPR, and network TV. Then Rush Limbaugh decides to plant his flag on conservative mountain and a new genre is born. Conservatives are still suspicious of “mainstream” media outlets and look to conservative talk radio for checks and balances.

Now, about the liberals. The folks running liberal radio shows took a long time to learn an important lesson: the main ingredient in successful radio is entertainment! The liberal shows came to the microphone simply with hatred for George Bush. Hatred isn’t enough to make good radio. They also didn’t hire radio people to do the shows. Al Franken & Janeane Garofalo are funny people, but they don’t know the nuances of radio. The bosses are starting to come around by making some good hires. Ed Schultz gets it and Stephanie Miller is beginning to.

Rick: You're obviously conservative yourself (your Facebook picture is Ronald Reagan), and you've worked in the media for many years now. Do you think there is a liberal bias in radio too, or is radio essentially excluded when a conservative talks about the liberal media bias?

Cisco: The Reagan picture on my Facebook account was a joke, but no one believes me!

As a news reporter for many years I worked with some of the best in town: Larry Langford, Bill Cameron, Lynn Holley, Jim Johnson, Doug Cummings, Steve Scott, Jennifer Keiper, Susan Carlson, Bob Roberts, and Pat Cassidy (photo). That list just includes the people who worked in the same newsroom, not the people I saw out in the field. I can honestly say I never detected a bias in any of their coverage. They just always wanted to get the story fast and right. I do see more of a bias on the national level in the kind of stories they cover and the way they are covered. Read Bernie Goldberg’s book Bias. It should be required reading in any journalism school. Tim Russert made such a good name for himself because in spite of the fact that he was very liberal in his personal political leanings, he threw hard questions at both sides and was fair. The same can’t be said for some others on the network level.

Rick: I interviewed your morning show partner John Howell last year, and he called you the "compass of the format for the show" because of your years at WLS. I don't want to get too inside here, but if you were advising a newcomer to the format (as you did with John), how do you break it down? What are the key elements of a successful talk radio program?

Cisco: Don Wade (photo, with Roma) once told me that he didn’t become a good talk radio host until he realized he wasn’t going to change the world. He was getting at the entertainment aspect of radio. If you are hosting a show because of some agenda you are going to struggle (See Air America). Instead, every host has to be entertaining! There are so many options for people from 30 different radio stations, to satellite, to I-Pods so they certainly don’t have to listen to you. You have to give them a reason to want to. That means you have to be entertaining and informative.

They have to get something from you that they can get from no one else. Usually this means distinct humor or opinion that makes them think. Keep a focus to the segment so the listener can tell you’re going somewhere. Otherwise the show just sounds like 2 guys talking.

Rick: You've now been a co-host with John Howell for a few years. How do you like your current role compared to your previous reporter role at WLS or WMAQ?

Cisco: Working with John (photo) has been amazing. I’ve listened to him on the radio since I was a kid (he LOVES it when I say that) so working with him has been very cool. Though he does talk quite a bit about missing his early morning backrubs from Ramblin’ Ray.

I was a news guy at WLS and WMAQ and tried my best to keep my opinions to myself (on the air that is!). I loved being at those stations and getting mail, calls, or emails screaming about my “liberal bias.” It meant my conservative stripes were not showing through. Now being a talk show host allows me to say just about anything I want without having to worry about destroying my journalistic credibility. I miss not being at the big story of the day and I don’t see as many parts of the city as I did when I was chasing stories. But doing a talk show has forced me to be creative in ways I didn’t have to before. And I’m trying to prove that I’m not simply a shill for the GOP like many conservative hosts. There are times when the Republicans need to be chastised too.

Rick: You've covered some big stories in your reporter days, and you've conducted some big-time interviews in your current role. Talk about a few of your favorite moments at each of your radio jobs in Chicago.

Cisco: So many little space. My favorite WMAQ moment was my very first. I was an intern and there was a fire at the Allerton Hotel. All of the reporters were out on other stories so the news director, Mike Krauser, handed me a cell phone and said “Don’t screw up.” I was almost convulsing because of the nerves, but I did two liveshots from the scene and mostly held myself together. I must not have screwed up too badly because a month later they gave me a job. I also loved covering Jesse Jackson during his protests in Decatur. During Jesse’s arrest, a guy yelled the “F” word loudly right next to Tressa Pankovits (of WBBM-AM) during one of her live shots. The anchor, Keith Johnson, had to come on the air to apologize. Too funny!

At WLS, let’s see, I fell asleep on the air once and Steve Scott (photo) had to wake me up, Don & Roma coerced me into shaving my head, and another time a beauty consultant gave me a pedicure. What a cake job that was! I liked covering Mayor Daley because off camera and microphone you get to see a different side of him. He is very in control and intelligent. The bumbling fool we see on TV is just an elaborate ruse. But I’d have to say I enjoyed the feature stories most. I got to train as a firefighter, ice fisherman, UPS driver, Schaumburg Flyers baseball player, & NASCAR driver just to name a few. And I called doing those stories “work!”

Rick: Talk about the pros and cons of having your air studios located in the suburbs.

Cisco: It stinks. It really stinks! I understand why WIND has its studios there. Cheap rent and only one local show. But I really miss the energy of the city and feeling like I’m in touch with what’s going on. I live in Oak Park and my wife and I take the Green Line downtown quite a bit, but it’s not the same as being there every day. I really hope to be working downtown again at some point. We keep telling the WIND folks to get a small studio ANYWHERE downtown.

Rick: I visited the WIND studios not too long ago with some broadcasters from Germany, and my first impression was this: It's the quietest radio station I've ever seen. I'm not sure why I was so surprised by that, but I really was. Is it always like that, or did I just happen to arrive there at a particularly quiet time?

Cisco: Moment of honesty here that may get me fired! I hope you’re happy Rick! Most radio stations have the sound of the station blaring through speakers in every hallway of the office. It is their product after all! But WIND shares its facilities with AM 1160 WYLL and no one seems to be able to navigate the tough inter-office political waters to decide which station to pipe through the speakers. So instead of making one station’s staff feel marginalized they just play no station. It’s amazing!

Rick: I've heard you referred to as "The Reverend." Your regular listeners know the origin of that nickname, but some of the readers of this blog might not. Would you mind explaining it?

Cisco: I’m 6 years into a 3 year Master of Divinity degree at Moody Bible Institute. I’m hoping to be done in about 2 years, but part-time is difficult. My wife just graduated from Moody with a Master of Biblical Studies. We met there on the first day of our first class. Who knew theology could be such a turn-on? Jay Marvin thought it was cool that I was going to Moody so one day on the air at WLS he started calling me “The Reverend.” It stuck. Listeners new to the show often wonder if I run a church or perform weddings. Not yet, but if radio ever kicks me out….

Rick: How do you think that Masters of Divinity will change the arc of your career path?

Cisco: That’s the million dollar question. Will I stay in secular talk radio? Move to Christian radio? Switch to church ministry? Go back to work at McDonald’s??? At this point I don’t know, but I’m really excited to see what God will work out.