Saturday, August 30, 2008

Have a great Labor Day Weekend

I'm taking this weekend off, but I'll be back on Tuesday with a new Suburban Man column.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Media Notebook (August 28)

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

Jay Mariotti quits the Chicago Sun Times
(Chicago Sports/Chicago Tribune) Jim Kirk writes: "The highly-paid Mariotti quits after just signing a three-year contract extension in June. At that time, Cooke said that Mariotti was a focal point of the Sun-Times sports section, praising his pull no punches approach. Commenting on his 17 years at the paper, Mariotti said he loved every minute of it. But he said that with the troubled times newspapers face, it was time to consider a new future. 'I'm a competitor and I get the sense this marketplace doesn't compete,' he said. 'Everyone is hanging on for dear life at both papers. I think probably the days of high stakes competition in Chicago are over. To see what's happened in this business...I don't want to go down with it.'"

Trib to start calling itself Trib

(Editor & Publisher) Joe Strupp writes: "The Chicago Tribune has long been nicknamed "The Trib." But if a redesign prototype being passed around the Web becomes the final choice, that nickname will be a formal part of the paper. A prototype obtained by E&P offers a radical change to the Tribune's legendary flag, with the older "Chicago Tribune" title placed in small letters at the top and a blown-up "trib" (in lower case type) set in white against a black background."


Brawling anchors on MSNBC
(NY Post) Richard Johnson writes: "At a forum on Sunday, when Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called MSNBC 'the official network of the Obama campaign,' Tom Brokaw said, 'I think Keith has gone too far. I think Chris has gone too far.' Insiders say Olbermann is pushing to have Brokaw banned from the network and is also refusing to have centrist Time magazine columnist Mike Murphy on his show. 'The idea of anyone trying to ban Tom Brokaw is ludicrous,' said one MSNBC-er. Brokaw was on MSNBC for an hour yesterday afternoon. Murphy, who was bumped from Olbermann's show on Monday night, told us, 'They told me technical problems and I have no reason not to believe them.'"

2008 Olympics: Most viewed TV event ever

(NY Times) Brian Stelter writes: "The Beijing Olympics will be remembered by media executives as the most-viewed event in United States television history. The Summer Games of 2008 were seen by a cumulative audience of 211 million Americans through Saturday, one day shy of Sunday’s closing ceremonies, according to Nielsen Media Research. That number surpassed the 209 million who watched part of the Summer Games in Atlanta 12 years ago, NBC said on Sunday. The cumulative figure counts any viewer who watched the Olympics on one of NBC’s networks for six minutes or more. It amounts to more than two-thirds of the total United States population."


Mini Interview: The Manno Brothers
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Every week I'm featuring excerpts from my SHORE Magazine article about 14 local radio voices. This week: The Manno Brothers from Q-101.

Chicago Radio Spotlight interview with Mark Edwards
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Last weekend I spoke with former WLIT and current St. Louis program director Mark Edwards about his years in Chicago, his current gig, the future of radio, and his beloved Cubs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Suburban Man: The most ridiculous fight ever

By Rick Kaempfer

I had to transcribe the "conversation" leading up to the most ridiculous fight of the summer. This will give you a small glimpse into what my summer has been like. The participants, as always, are Sean (age 5) and Johnny (age 10). They have just been told to get in the car because it's time for swimming lessons. They are both standing by the back door, inches away from the electronic garage door opener. I'm in the bathroom brushing my teeth. I can hear their whole conversation but I can't intervene because my mouth is full of toothpaste.

Johnny: Sean, hit the button for the garage door.

Sean: No.

Johnny: Just hit it.

Sean: You're standing right next to the button.

Johnny: So are you.

Sean: I'm not going to do it. You do it.

Johnny: JUST DO IT, Sean!

Sean: If you want it open, you hit the button. I'm waiting outside.

Johnny: You won't be able to get in the garage if you don't hit the button. I'm not doing it.

Sean: Fine.

Johnny: Sean, you better not go outside without opening that...

(Sfx: Back door opens, Sean exits)

Johnny: That's it, mister!

(Sfx: Back door opens, Johnny exits)

Johnny: Get back inside and open that garage door now, or you'll be sorry.

Sean: You're not the boss of me.

Johnny: Oh yeah?

Sean: Hey! Give me my towel back!

Johnny: Not until you open that garage door!

Sean: Fine. Keep the towel. Dad will make you give it back to...OW! That hurt.

Johnny: You deserve that for...OW! Hey! Get back here you little brat.

Sean: Dad, help! Dad, help! Johnny's trying to kill me!

It's only two more days until school starts. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Musings

Every Monday stop by for jokes, links to stories you might have missed, amusing photos and video, and more. Contributions and suggestions are welcome and encouraged. Click on the "Email Me" link on the right to contribute.

Joke of the Week:

Early one morning during the Presidential Campaign, John McCain heard a knock on his front door. He opened the door to find a high-school-age girl wearing a "Vote for McCain" t-shirt.

"I saw you on TV last night, debating with Barack Obama," she said.

McCain nodded. "Obama says I'm too old," he said. "He says I'm losing my memory and that I won't be able to remember the names of foreign leaders if I'm elected. But I'm going to prove him wrong."

"Good," said the girl.

"Now tell me, young lady," said McCain, "what is your name?"

The girl looked confused. "It's ME, Grandpa."

Stories you might have missed

1. Cubs fan makes futures bet on World Series tickets
(Am I insane for not thinking he's crazy?)

2. Ryan the Soothsayer sees great things for the Cubs
(When the NY Times starts doing profiles, you know this is going to be huge)

3. AUDIO: Rush Limbaugh song "I'm a Nazi"
(This is very funny. I know it's been around for awhile--but it's fantastic. Using Rush's real voice, and putting it to music.)

4. VIDEO: How many houses does John McCain own? He can't remember.
(I just checked my closet. McCain has more homes than I have shoes.)

5. VIDEO: Rogue Monkey loose in Tokyo Subway
(It's just fun to watch a monkey on the loose)

Video of the week: Hilarious rap song called "Stay at Home Dad." Contributed by "B"

- Watch more free videos

Photo of the week: Contributed by "C." He calls this "driving with your wife."


Regarding "Suburban Man: Hats"

"Johnny needs to learn the power of arbitrary authority that defies explanation. How else will he be able to cope with DMV later in life?"

"My son is/was a lot like Johnny. Once he was old enough to keep a hat on his head without flinging it across the room, or taking it off and chewing on the bill, he had to have one. When he was little, he had a laundry basket full of ball caps. He had at least two for every favorite sports team plus a few that other people gave him just to piss me off. I told him the Dallas Cowboy hat was not allowed in my house at ANY time. I found THAT rude and offensive. Once he started t-ball and graduated into Little League, Babe Ruth, and then high school baseball, he had a whole new collection (thus necessitating an explanation as to why he was wearing a Yankee cap for so long. The Yankees were his Little League team for years). Once he got into high school, the adjustable caps became "uncool." "Only a dork wears an adjustable cap, Mom," all the while scrunching up his nose as if he was smelling something foul. Oh, back to your original question. Why is it rude to wear them at the table? I don't know, either. It just is. And yeah, you probably should enforce it because when you're in a restaurant and Johnny is sitting at a table with a ballcap on his head, the old busy bodies aren't going to think HE'S rude. He's a kid. They're going to look at YOU and think "Why doesn't that man teach his child some manners."

"I have the same answer you gave your son: it just is. I’m thinking maybe it’s because a baseball cap is so ‘casual’, and dinner is supposed to be a more formal affair? Or maybe because a cap casts a shadow on your face, so it’s harder for you to have meaningful conversations while wearing one at the one place families are supposed to talk? Not sure, but we use the same rule. That being said, a Cubs hat should be allowed everywhere…it should be a law."

"On your hat question: Removing the hat has long been a show of respect. Have you noticed that at the end of a round on the PGA, golfers remove their hats as they shake hands with their playing partners? People used to remove their hats when going indoors, or when in the presence of a lady, or when our national flag passed by. To remove the hat at dinner shows respect for one's dinner partners, the family. It shows respect for the people who made the meal. If grace is said, it shows respect for one's God. In school, removing the hat respects the teacher and the educational process, which should, in my opinion, be treated as if kids take it seriously. By implication, to not remove the hat is to show that respect is not needed in the situation in question. Call me old fashioned, but I think there are too few things these days that are treated with the respect that a civilized society should give them. Just my take on it."

"As far as school goes, hats were banned about 10 years ago in most areas b/c of gang markings. Depending on the angle the hat was worn, it represented different groups. As far as dinner tables, I must admit this one I didn’t know the background on, so I looked it up on Emily Post. I was just curious. Here is what she has to say about it.:
Q: I know back in the day, it was bad manners for a man to wear a hat (baseball cap) to the table. My grown sons wear them all the time and my husband is forever getting upset if they wear their hats to the table. If we have a formal dinner, such as holidays, they always remove them. Is it now acceptable for them to wear their hats to the table for casual meals?

A: No, it is not. Basically, hats are removed when going indoors as a measure of respect. Therefore, caps and hats should be removed when entering a home (which includes while eating at the table), when entering a place of religion, or when going to a restaurant. When entering a store or other “public area” like a train station, the hat or cap may remain on. This applies to baseball caps worn by men or women. Hats and caps are always removed for the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem.Women’s hats that are part of their ensembles and therefore fashion accessories may be worn indoors, including at a restaurant table, etc. If they are large-brimmed, they should be removed in a theater or other place where they block the vision of the person behind. Aside from garden parties and formal teas where hats are often left on, women generally remove their hats when dinning in someone’s home. The guidelines for wearing of hats by men and women are still an important part of our manners today. Hat traditions and manners may have originated in medieval times when knights lifted their face guard to show who they were, or in the days of the cowboys when a hat was lifted and removed to show there was no weapon hidden underneath. It became a sign of respect to others that has always remained.

I hope that answers your question

Rick responds: Thanks for your responses. That really does help.

Regarding "Just One Bad Century"

""Believe it or not, I`m a long time Cubs fan! I`m 30 years old, and live in Guatemala city, and have been a Cub fan, since cable TV came to us! We had only a few channels including Atlanta Braves TBS, and of course WGN TV Chicago, were I watched every noon cubs game coming from school every day, an watched Harry Caray sing take me out to the ballgame! Back in those days you remember those great players, Andre Dawson, Ryno, Mark Grace, Greg Maddux, Shawn Dunston, Damon Berryhill, and the best manager Don Zimmer!!! I still remember all of then winning the Division agaist the Montreal Expos, when Mitch Williams struck out Mike Fitzgerald! I think it was 1989!

Those were nice days, and still now after all that time, a huge cub fan!

I cried with Steve Bartmans play, and have been praying for this season! THE TEAM IS IN GREAT SHAPE! My dream is to go to Wrigley Field once in my life! Go Cubs Go!!! This is our year! Greetings from Guatemala!"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards is the director of programming for KEZK and KYKY-St. Louis, but in the 1990s he helped build WLIT into a local powerhouse.

Rick: First of all, I have to ask you this. What is it like being a die hard Cubs fans in the middle of Cardinals nation?

Mark: Its actually a lot of fun. Cardinals fans are WAY more intense about their dislike (its not quite hatred, but close) for the Cubs than Cubs fans are about the Cards. I take advantage of showing my love for THE TEAM OF DESTINY as often as I can, and I have tons of Cubs stuff in my office, including a picture of me at my first Cubs game when I was 4 years old. The die hard Cards fans hate having to visit the Programming Den, especially when the Cubs are doing better than the hapless Cards.

Rick: We remember you in Chicago, obviously, for your incredible run at the helm of the Lite. I can't believe it's been almost ten years since you left that station. What are some of your fondest memories from those years?

Mark: First, landing a truly dream job. I grew up in Chicago, learned to love radio by listening to everthing from WLS to WCFL to WBBM when I was a kid, and always wanted to work at a Chicago radio station. I was in Worcester, MA, the 101st market, when the call came from Phil Redo to join him at WLIT. We got there in January of 1990 and the situation was dismal. We were the fourth out of four AC stations in the market. We did our research, made a plan, stuck to it, and after about six long years became the only AC station ever to be #1 25-54 adults. It hadn't happened before, and it hasn't happened since. When Phil and I got to the station in 1990 we told the staff that we could make it number one 25-54. They thought we were nuts, but we did it. We had a great team in those days, and everyone's dedication and talent got the station to those lofty heights.

Rick: During the 1990s the Lite absolutely dominated in the ratings in Chicago. Why do you think that's no longer the case?

I could say that there was a bonehead decision to fire me in 1999, but while that would be a true statement, that would be mean. I think the market has changed considerably,both demographically and competetively since those days, and once LITE got huge, people started trying everything they could to slice a piece away from the station here and there. The station didn't stay focused after it left Viacom's control, and listeners went looking for something they liked better. One of the great tools we had when Viacom Radio owned LITE was a hefty marketing budget with impactful messages. That went away as soon as Viacom sold the station and its never come back at the levels it once was at.

Rick: You've worked for all of the major radio conglomerates, including a stint with CBS, Entercom, Bonneville, and the company that eventually became Clear Channel. From a corporate perspective, how do each of these companies approach their product differently?

CBS is a tremendous company led by programmers, and they have a lot of respect for the product. Right now, I can't think of a company more committed to content, no matter what the delivery platform is. That committment goes through every cluster CBS owns, and we've got some new innovative things on the horizon. I've been with CBS in St. Louis for almost five years now, and I know the other companies have changed since I've worked for them, so its hard to talk about each of them. I follow the Chicago market closely and I admire what Bonneville has done wth its cluster. Their performance in that market is quite impressive.

Rick: You've also had the chance to work with a lot of talented air personalities. Why do you think the relationship between management and talent can so easily become adversarial, and what are your tricks to avoid that from happening?

Mark: I think sometimes management doesn't let talent do what they were hired to do. Whether its a big money morning man, a rookie weekender, or a PD, you have to let your people do their jobs. I have a tremendous amount of respect for great Air Personalities, partly because I was never that good on the air, but mostly because I've always tried to build a team with people who are specialists in what they do. When you clamp down on any kind of talent, you don't let them do what you hired them to do, so I'd rather let them do their "act", critique when its necessary, and make sure they know their limits, whether it be what they can talk about or how long a bit should be. Great local talent will always be broadcast radio's best weapon, and you have to let them be themselves as well as good station ambassadors on and off the air.

Rick: You've obviously proven that you know your stuff when it comes to the soft-rock/adult contemporary format--your track record speaks for itself. People have been predicting the death of that format for years now, but it seems to persevere. What do you think are the strengths of adult contemporary, and what are realistic expectations for what that format can accomplish in this new people meter world?

Mark: Adult Contemorary radio, no matter what flavor it is, has a very bright future if the station is well positioned. The key is to intimately know your target audience, super serve them, and make sure everything your station does makes sense to them. That includes music, promotions, personalities, web content, everything associated with the brand. Adult radio will do very well in the PPM world, and smart programmers will fine tune their stations to take advantage of the new methodology. You don't have to give the call letters after every song in a PPM environment, but you've got to give people reasons to keep on really listening to your station, not THINKING they listened to it when they fill out a diary.

Rick: I know you're a big fan of using new media to help super-serve your target audience. What are some ways your stations in St. Louis do that?

Mark: Of course, we stream both AC KEZK ( and Adult Top 40 KYKY ( and have for a long time. We're using the robust new CBS streaming player that delivers lots of visual content along with an incredible quality stream. You can also hear our stations live on AOL Radio and the iPhone. We've got two HD2 channels on the air now and plans for more. One web-only stream will be re-launching in September, and there are plans for more very specialized web and HD services after that. Content is king, and we'll put it out on whatever delivery platform consumers want. AM and FM radio will always be important, because they can and should be very local. We'll be offering content that is especially for St. Louis on new delivery platforms, but there are lots of other new and exciting services in the pipeline that will have literally worldwide appeal.

Rick: Who are some of the radio professionals in the Chicago market that you admire and why?

Mark: The late Art Roberts was kind enough to let me sit in with him at WLS when I was a very young kid. I'll always remember those times in the old Stone Container Building. When I was 5, I did two weeks of Romper Room on WGN TV, and that's when the TV and radio stations were both on Bradley Place. I got to see Wally Phillips (photo) work one morning and I knew then that I wanted to do what he did. John Gehron is an exceptional broadcaster, and I've always admired hm professionally and personally. I grew up listening to tons of incredible Air Personaliteis, too many to mention, but I learned and admired all of them. Buddy Scott was once the PD at B96, and he was the first person to put me on the radio as a 14 year old guest DJ at WIFE in Indianapolis. I'll never forget that night, and I still have the tape of what was a horrid broadcast to this day. Dave Martin, Jhani Kaye, Jim DeCastro, Larry Wert, Drew Horowitz, Barry James, and so many other people were very kind to me during my time in Chicago and since, and it was an honor to be able to travel in the same circles as those giants of Chicago radio. Dave Robbins, Norm Winer, Derrick Brown, and Tom Langmeyer are world class broadcasters in the market today, and I admire them greatly.

Rick: And finally, most importantly, is this finally going to be the year of the Cubs?

Mark: If they can stay healthy, this is their best chance in a long long time. Let's just say I've got the vacation request forms ready to be turned in to I can see some October baseball at Wrigley Field.