Thursday, July 24, 2008

Media Notebook (July 24, 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

Spring Book Chicago Radio Ratings Released by Arbitron

(Chicago Tribune) Patrick Kampert writes: "WGN-AM 720 and WGCI-FM 107.5 pulled away from the pack as the No. 1 and No. 2 radio stations in the Chicago market in the spring Arbitron ratings released Tuesday, while Jonathon Brandmeier and the revitalized Loop (WLUP-FM 97.9) made a strong comeback with male listeners in the 25-54 age group. Among listeners 12 and older, WGN grew to a 6.3 share, with WGCI not far behind at 6.0. The spring ratings marked the farewell to radio diaries that are filled out by local listeners. After months of delay, the portable people meter, an electronic measuring system, will gauge radio audiences from this point forward."
(Rick's note: It should be interesting to see how dramatically this new system changes the ratings in the future)

European Press LOVES Obama
(Politico) Michael Calderone writes: "Last week, a Pew Global Attitudes study on “Obamamania Abroad” found that while the Middle East remains skeptical — including Jordan, the candidate’s first stop there — Europe is another story altogether. Toby Harnden, U.S. editor of the Daily Telegraph, told Politico that it’s almost as if the overwhelmingly popular Obama had been “designed by a committee of Europeans” with the goal of creating their ideal American presidential candidate. On the surface, there’s an obvious contrast in style between Obama and President Bush, who’s had low opinion numbers across the pond long before that trend hit U.S. shores. As a result of the electorate’s disapproval of Bush, Europeans largely view Obama as a shoo-in. Wishful thinking has become conventional wisdom."

Is Press Actually Being Too Easy on McCain?

(Washington Post) Howard Kurtz writes: "We interrupt the nonstop coverage of Barack Obama's overseas trip to bring you some breaking whispers about John McCain. He has been making a series of verbal slips -- invariably described as "gaffes" -- that are starting to ricochet from liberal blogs to the mainstream media. And fairly or not, some critics are suggesting the 71-year-old Republican candidate is showing his age. McCain referred to the "Iraq-Pakistan border" in a "Good Morning America" interview; since there is no such border, he must have meant Afghanistan-Pakistan. He has twice referred to Czechoslovakia, a country that ceased to exist in 1993; mixed up Sunnis and Shiites; and identified Vladimir Putin as president of Germany. There is a counter-narrative, which has taken root on the left, that McCain is the one being treated with journalistic kid gloves. In this view, Obama's every utterance is scrutinized, while McCain, who enjoyed warm relations with reporters during his 2000 White House campaign, pays little price for blunders."


Court tosses FCC wardrobe malfunction fine
(Associated Press) A federal appeals court on Monday threw out a $550,000 indecency fine against CBS Corp. for the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that ended with Janet Jackson's breast-baring "wardrobe malfunction." The three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Communications Commission "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in issuing the fine for the fleeting image of nudity. The 90 million people watching the Super Bowl, many of them children, heard Justin Timberlake sing, "Gonna have you naked by the end of this song," as he reached for Jackson's bustier. The court found that the FCC deviated from its nearly 30-year practice of fining indecent broadcast programming only when it was so "pervasive as to amount to 'shock treatment' for the audience. Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second-guessing," the court said. "But it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure."

At the movies with Ebert & Roeper loses Ebert and Roeper

(Chicago Tribune) Phil Rosenthal writes: "Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper said in a statement late Sunday that he will leave television's "At the Movies With Ebert & Roeper" next month after eight years, having failed to reach agreement with Disney-ABC Domestic Television on a new contract. Spokespeople for Disney were unavailable for comment. Also unavailable were Roeper and Chicago Tribune reviewer Michael Phillips, a regular fill-in lately for Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert, who has been sidelined the last two years because of health issues that have robbed him of his voice. Industry sources say Disney is contemplating a reinvention of the nationally syndicated movie review program with more of a Hollywood focus, along the lines of CBS Television Distribution's 'Entertainment Tonight.'"

Disney names new hosts of "At the Movies"
(Chicago Sun Times) Robert Feder writes: "One day after Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper signed off as hosts of "At the Movies," Disney ABC Domestic Television announced their replacements along with a new format for the Chicago-based syndicated movie-review show. Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz were named Tuesday as co-hosts of show when its new season begins Sept. 6. Lyons, the son of film critic Jeffrey Lyons and grandson of columnist Leonard Lyons, reported on movies for E! Entertainment. Mankiewicz, the grandson of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz and great-nephew of director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, was a host for Turner Classic Movies and Sirius Satellite Radio."


Is David Gregory NBC's Lame Duck?
(New York Observer) To me the most shocking revelation in this article is that David Gregory is only 37 years old. Felix Gillette writes: "From the moment the show kicked off on March 17, things looked grim. The format was essentially a high-tech version of, say, The McLaughlin Group, with various journalists sitting around debating topics of Mr. Gregory’s choosing. There was one innovation: Instead of sitting around a table, the heads of the various guests appeared in boxes. An unfavorable review of the show in The New Republic promptly described the look as “intergalactic Nancy Grace.”

Sumner Redstone must speak in Dan Rather trial
(NY Observer) Felix Gillette writes: "Dan Rather and his lawyers were back in a Lower Manhattan courthouse late Wednesday afternoon for yet another round in Mr. Rather's ongoing $70 million civil lawsuit against his former employers. Over the course of a 45-minute hearing in front of Justice Ira Gammerman, tempers occasionally flared as the lawyers for both sides argued over a number of issues, ranging from the scheduling of depositions to the transparency of the discovery process. On the latter issue, Mr. Rather and his lawyers petitioned the justice to release a number of key documents turned up in discovery. Mr. Rather's lead attorney, Marty Gold, suggested to Justice Gammerman that the documents, if released, would help refute CBS's repeated, public characterization of Mr. Rather's claims in the suit as a fantasy. He said that of the thousands of documents handed over by CBS, Mr. Rather would like to give the public access to roughly 10."

Michael Savage goes way over the line with autism slam
( Look, any parent that has a kid with autism or one that is on the autism spectrum has heard idiotic comments like this from ignorant relatives or acquaintances who have no idea what they're talking about. Walk a mile in our shoes, a**hole, and then give us your excellent "advice." He is rightfully getting hammered for it. Here's what he said:
“Now you want me to tell you my opinion on autism since I’m not talking about autism … a fraud, a racket. What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them don’t act like a moron, you’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up! Act like a man! Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.’”


Citadel teams with Premiere for Sean Hannity deal
(Radio Online) ABC Radio talk host Sean Hannity will be distributed through both the Citadel-owned networks and Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks, reports The Wall Street Journal. ABC will continue to distribute the show to Citadel's stations -- but starting in December, Premiere will handle syndication for the show everywhere else. 'It's an unusual deal, but it's a deal for the times,' said Citadel Chairman/CEO Farid Suleman. 'It hopefully sets the stage for more deals like that, sharing with another party to try to limit the risks.' Starting in 2009, Premiere will control most of the network advertising and major national sponsors. Hannity will remain on Citadel outlets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. Sources told WSJ that Hannity's deal is in the neighborhood of $100 million over five years. Plus, he gets a piece of the show's earnings.

Who are the biggest jerks in Cable News?

(Radar Online) I've always believed that the easiest way to discover if someone is a jerk or not in real life is to find out how they treat their staff. This is exactly what Radar Online did, and they have a top 6. Read why the following people are jerks: Keith Olbermann, Laura Ingraham (watch the video of her raging against her staff), Bill O'Reilly (we've all seen that video), Nancy Grace, Chris Matthews, and Brit Hume. Who are the nice guys/gals? Rachel Maddow, David Gregory, Sean Hannity, and (gulp) would you believe Robert Novak? I should note this story came out before Novak hit a guy with his car yesterday, and drove away.

Fallon will start "Late Night" on the web
(New York Times) Bill Carter writes: "With a new round of shake-ups in late-night television set to begin next year, Lorne Michaels has decided to try to get a jump on things by starting NBC’s next edition of “Late Night,” with its new host Jimmy Fallon, as a nightly entry on the Internet. Mr. Fallon has been named as the replacement for Conan O’Brien when Mr. O’Brien takes over the “Tonight” show from Jay Leno next year, and Mr. Michaels, the long-time boss of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” who also serves as executive producer of “Late Night,” told television reporters here Sunday that he wants Mr. Fallon to work out as many of the rough spots in his presentation as possible in performances on a website."


2008 Emmy nominees announced
(Entertainment Weekly) Mike Bruno writes: "NBC's 30 Rock and AMC's Mad Men led all series at the 60th annual Primetime Emmy nominations, announced this morning by Pushing Daisies' Kristin Chenoweth and How I Met Your Mother's Neil Patrick Harris (both Emmy nominees themselves this year). Men's 16 nominations led all drama series and included nods for outstanding drama series and a best actor nod for John Hamm, while 30 Rock led all comedies with 17 nominations, including outstanding comedy series and actor nods for Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Meanwhile, HBO's historical miniseries John Adams led all nominees with a total of 23 nods, including a best actor nomination for Paul Giamatti."

Radio Hall of Fame Inductees Announced
(National Radio Hall of Fame) The Class of 2008 includes former Coast to Coast host Art Bell, the late Bob Collins (of WGN fame), the late Jess Cain (morning legend in Boston), Howie Carr (also from Boston), Mickey Luckoff (GM of the powerhouse KGO in San Francisco), legendary L.A. DJ Charlie Tuna, the late Dick Whittinghill (another legend in Los Angeles), and Focus on the Family (founded by James Dopson).

Chicago Radio Spotlight interview with Jimmy "Mac" McInerney
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Last weekend I spoke with WERV production director Jimmy McInerney about his long radio career, including his stints with Brandmeier and Kevin Matthews, and the story about how he met his wife (fellow radio broadcaster) Wendy Snyder. Coming this weekend: WLS afternoon co-host Bill Leff.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Suburban Man: Public Tantrum Tips

By Rick Kaempfer

I call it the “Parenting Book Black Hole.”

Even though there are literally thousands of parenting books on the market offering tips on the best and most productive ways to discipline a child, as far as I’m concerned, none of them have the answer when it comes to the most humiliating parental moment: the public tantrum.

I’m not talking about the everyday whining for candy that every parent has to deal with at the checkout counter.

No, I’m talking about the Super Bowl of tantrums: the uncontrollable screaming, kicking, and punching by the demon-seed exorcism-candidate you brought to the store with you. The kid whose eyes look at you through the tears to say: “What are you gonna do about it in front of all these people?”

Kids are smart. They know that strangers don’t look at a rampaging kid and think – “Wow, that’s a bad kid.” They think – “Wow, that kid has bad parents.”

So…as your child convulses and squeals, you go through your options in your mind.

1) You can ignore the tantrum and let the kid stew in his own humiliation. That’s what some of the parenting books recommend. Unfortunately, the parenting books aren’t written with demon-seed exorcism-candidates in mind.

2) You can threaten serious consequences in a hiss-like voice with a smile on your face. Unfortunately, this takes years to perfect, and he knows you won’t do anything in front of strangers anyway.

3) You can try reasoning with him. Of course, you’re arguing from a position of weakness, and kids can smell weakness. That’s why you’re in this position in the first place.

4) You can give in. You know this is wrong on so many levels, but hell, the damn toy only costs six dollars and that’s a small price to pay for an end to your humiliation. Although, if you do that, you’ll face the exact same response next time.

None of those options will work, will they? And those are the only possible options, right?


I have another option for the pragmatic parent. This simple approach will allow you to leave the store without getting reported to DCFS, and without succumbing to the demon-seed. It isn’t going to win you any Parent-of-the-Year awards, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Just pretend like you’re on TV.

Wave to a rack of clothing. Talk into your sleeve. Say this: “Are you rolling, Bob? Good. He’s rolling, kid. Now keep that up, and remember not to look at the hidden cameras unless you hear the director yell ‘Cut!’ Got it? Great. Keep screaming. You’re a natural.”

Without a disapproving crowd, your child’s tantrum loses steam, which allows you to regain command. That’s when you remind him how sorry he’s going to be for putting you through this ridiculous experience.

And when you get back into the nearly soundproof car, you can exercise your own lungs.

An eye for an eye. An ear for an ear.

It’s practically biblical.

Monday, July 21, 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 "B". It's slightly naughty, but I got a kick out of it.

Stories you might have missed

1. Orin Hatch writes a song honoring Ted Kennedy
(I'm not making a joke. He really did. If this is it really crazy to think this is the Cubs year?)

2. A new celebrity mugshot: Andy Dick
(He looks like a scary child molester in this photo...and ironically, he is charged with sexual battery against a 17-year-old girl)

3. Photos of famous people on bikes
(I guess everyone is feeling the pinch of gas prices)

4. Indiana Cop wrecks his car only 29 minutes into first day on the job
(But for 28 minutes, he was one of the best)

5. Women arrested for participating in a sex competition
(This happened on a Greek island, but sadly not the isle of Lesbos)

Video of the week: The new Jib Jab campaign song. It's pretty funny.

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Photo of the week: Contributed by "N". "Worst Test Ever."


Regarding "$everance"

"Hey Rick, I just saw a really nice review of your book $everance. I don't know if you saw this or not. Here's the link:"

Rick responds: Thanks for the heads up.

Regarding Suburban Man: "More proof of global warming"

"Well I'm a (former) scientist AND I had to take my son to the emergency room in the last two weeks (seems like 6998...) with a broken arm. I can officially confirm that this is shaping up to be the longest summer ever. Amen."

"So I take it the Fight Board isn't working this summer? Hang in there!"

"So, Fight Board isn't working this year, I take it? Greatest commercial EVER. The Staples ad where the father is literally skipping down the school supplies aisle to the tune of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," as his two kids mope behind him, looking miserable. Dad waves pencils and post-its in their faces and tosses them into the cart with unabashed glee as the voice over proclaims "THEY'RE GOING BAAAACK!" I don't know if Staples realizes the sheer brilliance of that commercial. Or the accuracy. Oh look. It's been immortalized on You Tube. I knew they wouldn't let me down:

In the meantime, stock up on your favorite beverage to get you through the rest of the summer. Preferably one that you have to be over 21 to purchase."

Rick responds: Love that commercial, and no...sadly, Fight Board isn't working this summer. They are fighting less, but when they fight they really get their licks in now. I'm working on making alterations for the future.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Jim McInerney

Jim McInerney is the production director at WERV.


College Radio - KJHK FM Lawrence Kansas - Jock
WLUP FM - 1991-1996 Producer / Board op / Jock (concurrent with Johnny B until '96)
Jonathon Brandmeier Productions 1991-2001 Technical Producer
WCKG FM 2001-2007 Technical Producer "Buzz & Wendy" (01-02) / Executive Producer "The Kevin Matthews Show" (02-03) / Production Director (03-07) + Show Host "The Zeppelin Hour" (05-07)
Nine FM / WCPT Spring 2008 Fill In Production Director / Board-Op / Producer
WERV The River - 2008- present - Production Director

Rick: When I first met you in the early 90s, you were an intern with the Kevin Matthews show on the Loop. It was easy to tell which interns were going to make it in the business, and which interns weren't. You were one of those guys that did whatever you were asked whenever you were asked--from running the board on the Howard Stern show, to working with Kevin, and then eventually with Brandmeier. Talk about those early days and describe a typical day before Johnny hired you to come aboard his show full-time.

Jim: Something that made The Loop really cool back then was the camaraderie. There was a large group or us working there and we got to know each other really well. We all were working for the biggest names in the biz back then, and we were all very aware of it. I think we were really into what we were doing. It was very creative, and competitive. I worked on just about every show at The Loop during this time. It wasn’t uncommon for me to actually have my pillow with me because I was spending more time at the studio than at home! The demands and deadlines were always really tight, as is the nature of talk radio. It was a crazy time. We would almost come to blows over studio time…Then we would all go out to Flapjaws on Pearson for beer. Talent, management, producers, interns…We all would hang out, and sometimes even travel together. Whenever I see anyone from the old Loop, I feel like it’s a family reunion.

As for a typical day at The Loop in the early ‘90s…Was there such a thing????

Rick: You worked with Johnny B at two different radio stations (WLUP, WCKG), and I know you still have fondness for him. Everyone I know who has ever worked for him is still fiercely loyal. Why do you think that is, and how would you describe the experience of working for Brandmeier?

Jim: Johnny is a very straight up kinda guy. Always on the level. I loved the experience of working with Johnny (photo). I was an energetic and enthusiastic young dude and he was this super-intense, creative, motivated talent who just blew me away! He was an awesome role model for me because he knew how to focus his energy in a way I had never seen before – Deadly accurate. Plus, I was cocky as hell and he really knew how to put me in my place sometimes. Back in my 20s, I needed that guidance and he really was the older brother I never had. I think we clicked well, I worked with him for a long time and I even liked the whole LA to Chicago to LA arrangement. It was pretty wild and sometimes it frayed my nerves but I loved it!

Rick: It's difficult to sum up a decade, but what are a few of your favorite memories during the Brandmeier years?

Jim: We made a few trips to Upper Wisconsin to blow off some steam and those were really wild times! There were some other trips we made – Munich, Germany being a biggie - and big events like Loopstock in ’96, but nothing can compare with my memories of those trips to Wisconsin. Cold brew, pontoon boats, Wave-Runners, and a 12-gauge or two. I hung out with his dad and some other characters from his Wisconsin roots. We even dragged Piranha Man up there once! Talk about a walleye outta the water!!!

We did some wild stuff on the show as well and I felt we were really pushing the envelope with some of the audio production. We did some great phone scams. One time, I had a girl totally believing I was Jimmy Page! I created a ton of “Wacky Mac Edits” in which I would take sound-bytes of politicians, actors, whoever…And edit it waaaaay out of context. I loved putting those together. Back then, there was no internet or YouTube to find sounds. It was all done by creating your own collections. If you wanted audio from “Goodfellas” for example, you would have to get it from the film itself. In those days, I couldn’t just sit and watch a movie or tv. I was constantly stopping and starting it to grab sounds. And, I was babysitting about a hundred VCRs! But it was a blast and Johnny would always push me to do more.

Rick: You started as an intern for Kevin Matthews, and then when he came to WCKG, you produced his show there. I've worked with a Kevin a little bit (I still appear on his show occasionally in Grand Rapids to talk about my Cubs website You just never know where he's going to go next, or which character is going to talk to you. I've always said that in order to produce a show you have to be able to get into the head of the host so you can anticipate what he or she will need next. That must have been impossible with Kevin. Am I right or wrong?

Jim: I was always very much a fan of The Loop for music but when I returned home from college one summer, a friend recommended I listen to Kev (photo) because “he did a lot of funny Chicago shit...A lot of inside stuff”. I finally flipped over to AM1000 and sure enough, the guy was doing a lot of funny, inside-Chicago humor, but it was the crew of characters and bits that sucked me in. I was a big time Kev Head and I wanted to come to The Loop because of him. I got my foot in the door as a music intern, filing away the vinyl. It didn’t take me long to find my way around the station and talk my way onto his show staff. Fun times. His show was so spontaneous and you never knew which direction he would go in. Ideas would hit him at lightning speed and voices would start flying outta him like a possessed man. Quite honestly, Kevin doesn’t need a producer…He needs an exorcist.

Rick: In my book, "The Radio Producer's Handbook," I used you as an example of someone who took his producing career in a slightly different direction. How did you take that first step from producing to production director?

Jim: My home was always in the production studio. That is where I knew I could make my best contributions. The show producing stuff just came along the way. I do enjoy producing shows but my passion is audio production and that is what I do. So to become a Production Director was a very natural transition for me to make.

Rick: Congrats on your new gig at the River, by the way. How did that come about, and what are your duties there?

Jim: Thanks, Rick! The timing worked out perfectly and I was in the right place at the right time. I was talking to some good people at Next Media and they recommended me to Matt DuBiel (photo). The River was looking for a new Production Director because their current guy was being promoted. I knew Matt when he was an up-and-coming intern on The Wendy and Bill Show. I used to tell Wendy that I thought he was a sharp dude and now he’s my boss!!! The whole crew over at The River is great and I feel very comfortable there.

Rick: You're a huge Star Wars fan--and you produce and co-host a Star Wars podcast called "The Force Cast." Tell everyone where you are going this week and why.

Jim: I’m a totally outta the closet Star Wars fan! I’ve done various Star Wars coverage for every show I’ve worked on. I’m rather notorious for my fandom, I guess. In 2005, I produced The Star Wars Radio Special for WCKG to hype up the release of the final Star Wars film. Just a fun hour-long show featuring my interviews with many of the actors in the films. I really enjoyed producing that show and I wanted to do more stuff like that but there was really no mainstream outlet for me. The Force-Cast is the official podcast of the top Star Wars websites TheForce.Net and I hooked up with the crew of that show in late 2006 when the show was just getting off the ground and I was recruited to join the staff. Things have really taken off since then and we now average over 50,000 downloads a month. (visit www.TheForce.Net/Podcast)

Tomorrow, I board a plane for Tokyo to cover Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration Japan for The Force-Cast. It’s the thirtieth anniversary of the original film over there and it should be a wild time. The cool thing about podcasting is that I can take two of my passions - Star Wars and audio production - and combine them!

Rick: I know one of the highlights of your radio career was meeting your lovely wife Wendy Snyder. Tell the story of how you two met.

Jim: I remember the first time I met Wendy. I was in the infamous “Jock Lounge” at The Loop in the Hancock building. I was hanging with Stan Lawrence and some other guys when Wendy walked in. Stan said something along the lines of “Hey China White, you and Jimmy Mac need to throw down on the flip, flop and fly.” Or something like that. It was a cool introduction to the future mother of my children.

Funny thing about dating a co-worker is when you decide to go public with your relationship. You worry so much about how people will react. But in our situation, everyone was like “Yeah, of course!”

Rick: At one point you were even producing her show (The Buzz and Wendy show on WCKG). What was that like producing your wife's show?

Jim: Again, it all seemed very natural. I like working with Wendy on radio stuff. She’s passionate and she knows what she wants. But, she listens to me and I listen to her and we make a great team. That being said, there were occasionally “those days” here and there. I won’t lie to you. Sometimes our family lives would intrude on our work lives a little too much. I believe it’s what George Costanza would refer to as “worlds colliding”. But we both really loved working on that show with Buzz because he is our idol, our mentor, and our personal restaurant critic. That was a true radio family experience, but this time, our radio family extended to thousands of listeners!

Rick: Last question. I know you're a huge White Sox fan. Are they going to win it all again this year?

Jim: Let me put it to you this way. I got my walkin’ shoes for the parade ready to go!!!