Saturday, March 07, 2009

Chicago Radio Spotlight Update

This week I circled back to re-interview a half dozen people who have either been laid off, fired, moved to a new timeslot, or left town since I last interviewed them. Read what's up with Dan McNeil, Stan Lawrence, Leslie Keiling, Julian Nieh, Geoff Pinkus, and Kevin Robinson here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Cubbie Blues

Many of you know that I contributed an essay to the recently published book "Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year." Well, the publisher's website has been doing profiles of the authors who contributed to the book, and this morning they posted my profile. It's written by the editor of the book, Don Evans.

You can read the whole profile here.

This is a small taste of it...
" is so packed with interesting content, I was surprised to learn it’s essentially a one-man show. Rick Kaempfer.

It was my fascination and admiration with the work of that inspired me to contact Rick and see if he had any prose pieces that might fit Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year. While there are other very good Chicago Cubs sites out there, including Bleed Cubbie Blue, the Heckler and Cubbie-Blue, most matched the sensibility I brought to the anthology project.

Rick gave me a funny, personal essay called Go (Away) Sox. Originally a piece Rick wrote for his blog Half Empty, it’s the evil side of his co-blogger and good friend Dave. “We constantly fight all year-long about the Cubs and Sox,” Rick says. “I don’t have to watch the news; if anything bad happens, I will find out from Dave.”

The essay is notable for its keen comic timing. It’s a short, breezy piece that is perfectly executed, like a gymnast executing a stripped-down routine flawlessly. It hits on a longstanding civic debate, Cubs or Sox?, but does so in a fresh way."

They did an interview with me for the site too. You can read that interview here. It's all about my relationship with the Cubs.

I'll be making a couple of appearances to promote the book in April. I'll fill you in on those as we get closer to the date.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ken Sumka

News Radio WBBM's and WXRT's Ken Sumka is celebrating a birthday today. Last year I had a chance to interview Ken for Chicago Radio Spotlight. That interview is here if you'd like to read more about the birthday boy.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Clock is still ticking

I don't know if you've seen our latest innovation at Just One Bad Century, but we've got a clock keeping track of exactly how long it's been since the Cubs last won the World Series. As of today, it's 36,666 days. If you want the precise hours, minutes and seconds, you can go to the website and check it out.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Father Knows Nothing

If you missed this past weekend's "Father Knows Nothing," here's the link. It was about my youngest boy Sean, and I called it "Just Tryin' to Keep 'em Alive."

Here are a few comments I've gotten about it...

"My three year old figured out how to light the lighter. I haven't slept since."

"Hope he reads that some day…..maybe when he is a dad….lucky boy"

"The day my youngest went to first grade I cried. I felt like a total fool blubbering in the parking lot. I told him I got something in my eye."

Solving a mystery

I got the following e-mail and picture the other day...

"Rick, my name is Keith Iverson out in Rockford. I have a old Cub’s team photo ( 8”X10”) from I would guess the 1930’s - sometime. ?? I would like to confirm the year of this photo, and also see who each player might have been. Can you help me out, or direct me to a web site where such info might be available. Thanks for any help you can give."

This was my response to Keith after spending a little time with the picture. If you have any further info, let me know...


It's either the 1933 or 1934 Cubs. There are a few clues that helped me figure it out.

Clue #1--The big guy on the far left back row is Babe Phelps (also known as Blimp). He only played with the Cubs in 1933 and 1934. (He was the backup catcher). In 1933 he only had 7 at bats. He probably wouldn't have even been in the team picture in 1933, so my guess is 1934, but I can't be 100% sure.

Clue #2--The guy sitting on the far left in the second row from the bottom is Babe Herman. (photo) He also played on the Cubs only in 1933 and 1934.

Clue #3--Hack Wilson is not in the picture. Hack's last season with the Cubs was 1931. So it's after '31.

Clue #4--Charlie Grimm is sitting next to the guys in the suits (on the left of them), which means he was probably the manager. He became manager in 1932 and left in 1938.

Clue #5--Rogers Hornsby is not in the picture. He was the manager until mid-season in 1932.

Clue #6--The big guy in the last row (three in from the far right) is Pat Malone. (photo) His last year with the Cubs is 1934.

Clue #7--Phillip Wrigley is not in the picture. He inherited the team from his Dad in 1932, but didn't take over the day-to-day operations until 1935. I don't think his father is in the picture either, although the fattest guy in the suit does resemble him slightly. (Doubtful, however, because he died in January of 1932, and as I mentioned, Rogers Hornsby and Hack Wilson would have been in the 1931 Cubs picture, and Babe Herman and Babe Phelps were not on the team in 1932.)

The entire list of the 1934 roster is here, and the 1933 roster is here.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Rick Kaempfer

Monday, March 02, 2009

Jokes for a Monday Morning

It's called "Six Affairs" and it was contributed by "TK"

The 1st Affair

A married man was having an affair with his secretary. One day they went to her place and made love all afternoon. Exhausted, they fell asleep and woke up at 8 PM. The man hurriedly dressed and told his lover to take his shoes outside and rub them in the grass and dirt. He put on his shoes and drove home.

'Where have you been?' his wife demanded.

'I can't lie to you,' he replied, 'I'm having an affair with my secretary. We had sex all afternoon.'

She looked down at his shoes and said:

'You lying bastard! You've been playing golf!'

The 2nd Affair

A middle-aged couple had two beautiful daughters but always talked about having a son. They decided to try one last time for the son they always wanted. The wife got pregnant and delivered a healthy baby boy. The joyful father rushed to the nursery to see his new son. He was horrified at the ugliest child he had ever seen.

He told his wife: 'There's no way I can be the father of this baby. Look at the two beautiful daughters I fathered! Have you been fooling around behind my back?'

The wife smiled sweetly and replied: 'No, not this time!'

The 3rd Affair

A mortician was working late one night. He examined the body of Mr. Schwartz, about to be cremated, and made a startling discovery. Schwartz had the largest private part he had ever seen! 'I'm sorry Mr. Schwartz,' the mortician commented, 'I can't allow you to be cremated with such an impressive private part. It must be saved for posterity.'

So, he removed it, stuffed it into his briefcase, and took it home.

'I have something to show you, you won't believe,' he said to his wife, opening his briefcase.

'My God!' the wife exclaimed, 'Schwartz is dead!'

The 4th Affair

A woman was in bed with her lover when she heard her husband opening the front door.

'Hurry,' she said, 'stand in the corner.'

She rubbed baby oil all over him, then dusted him with talcum powder.

'Don't move until I tell you,' she said. 'Pretend you're a statue.'

'What's this?' the husband inquired as he entered the room.

'Oh it's a statue,' she replied. 'The Smith's bought one and I liked it so I got one for us, too.'

No more was said, not even when they went to bed. Around 2 AM the husband got up, went to the kitchen and returned with a sandwich and a beer.

'Here,' he said to the statue, have this. I stood like that for two days at the Smith's, and nobody offered me a damned thing.'

The 5th Affair

A man walked into a cafe, went to the bar and ordered a beer.

'Certainly, Sir, that'll be one cent.'

'One Cent?' the man exclaimed.

He glanced at the menu and asked: 'How much for a nice juicy steak and a bottle of wine?'

'A nickel,' the barman replied.

'A nickel?' exclaimed the man. 'Where's the guy who owns this place?'

The bartender replied: 'Upstairs, with my wife.'

The man asked: 'What's he doing upstairs with your wife?'

The bartender replied: 'The same thing I'm doing to his business down here.'

The 6th Affair

Jake was dying. His wife sat at the bedside .

He looked up and said weakly: 'I have something I must confess.'

'There's no need to, 'his wife replied.

'No,' he insisted, 'I want to die in peace. I slept with your sister, your best friend, her best friend, and your mother!'

'I know,' she replied. 'Now just rest and let the poison work.'

Uh oh, here we go again...

From the website Gambling911...

"Chicago Cubs fans don't despair. Your team is a bigger favorite to win the 2009 World Series than are the reigning champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Cubs would pay $445 at for every $100 bet. The Phillies would pay $530 for every $100 bet. Once again it is the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox that come in as the annual early favorites along with the Cubs. Each pay just over $400 for every $100 bet."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

First Cubs World Series prediction

I saw it with my own eyes...Steve Phillips of ESPN (former GM of the NY Mets) just picked the Cubs to win the World Series this year (over the Yankees). That sort of prediction used to make my eyes light up.

This time I just laughed...

Remembering Paul Harvey

A few previous Chicago Radio Spotlight interviews have discussed the Chicago icon, Paul Harvey, who we lost this past weekend at the age of 90. I dipped back into the archives to highlight a few of those memories...

Jack Landreth was one of his producers in the early 90s...

Jack: Every day, I would get to the Harvey offices and listen to Paul’s 7:30 broadcast. When he was finished, he would always stop by my office, take half a step in, and in his booming delivery, exclaim “Good Morning, Jackson!”. I will never forget those days. It was THE Paul Harvey, but I always saw him as the news guy. If I put him on any other pedestal, I would never have gotten my job done! Mr. Harvey will always be a news guy no matter what, but first and foremost, he was a family guy. The love he had for his wife Angel, and the pride he had for Paul Jr. was so prevalent during the short time I worked for him. Mr. Harvey is a legend in real man’s clothes. I love him!

Rick: What was your role when you worked with him, and can you give us an insight into how he puts his newscast together?

Jack: I would go through every newspaper from every town in the country. Again, this was before internet, so all of the “For What it’s Worth” stories came from the small town print papers. Besides working on those stories, I would help out where I could from mail to phones. In Paul Harvey’s office, no one had titles, no one was better than anyone else. Most of the time, Paul changed the ribbons on the news wire machines, simply because he was the first one in.

He would get in early, 4am or so, and put on his blue smock. It was one of those smocks that doctors wear, complete with an ABC logo patch, and the name “Paul” stitched on the right pocket. All of the wire machines had spit out stories all night, and he would scour each and every fiber of those paper rolls. He would then go into his office with the stack of stories, and start typing his scripts, large type and double spaced. He would then take the daily stories, add his famous live reads (Page two!), stack the stories and include whatever we had for him. Then off to the studio where he did Paul Harvey News for the world to hear. After that newscast, it was off to Rest of the Story land, and whatever else needed to be done. When the morning was over, he would walk down to the garage and drive off in his Buick. Yes, he drove a Buick every day. And yes, it took his assistant June Westgaard years and years to convince him NOT to park on Lower Wacker!

A few years ago I asked Bob Sirott which air personalities he most admired, and he answered...

Bob: Paul Harvey continues to entertain me endlessly. Many of his stories are quite interesting, but the way he writes them, the way he delivers them, the way he slides in his own "take" on them--well, let me just say you better listen to him every day because when he stops broadcasting that will be the end of an era that will be gone forever.

I agree with Bob. The passing of Paul Harvey isn't just the end of a broadcasting idol, it's the end of an era. He will be missed.

Father Knows Nothing

I just posted my latest "Father Knows Nothing" column at NWI Parent. This latest one is about my early struggles as the stay-at-home dad. It's called: "Just trying to keep 'em alive."