Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

May you be like George Bailey in 2015, the richest guy in town.

Happy New Year!

Green White

One of my ongoing writing projects is chronicling the history of Green White Soccer Club; a club co-founded by my father Eckhard. The project will culminate at the end of 2015 with a book that celebrates all 60 years.

Today's post goes back to the 40th anniversary in 1996.

Father Knows Nothing on the Radio

I spent the morning talking on the radio in my old college town, Champaign-Urbana, on the #1 station in town there, News-Talk WDWS.

Here's a link to the interview: Father Knows Nothing on the Radio

Thanks so much to Elizabeth Hess for having me on. She was my intern at WJMK about 15-20 years ago. It's a small world.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reader Reviews for Father Knows Nothing

The reviews are starting to come in via amazon readers. Here are a few excerpts from those 5-star reviews...

"I knew he was a good writer, but I didn't know exactly HOW good. Few books, even very funny ones, make me laugh out loud. Father Knows Nothing did, several times. And not just chuckles either, but LAUGHS. Rick is a funny guy, and even funnier in written form. I started reading it on Christmas Day, and finished the next day. This, with two little kids running around. THAT'S how good it is."

""Father Knows Nothing" is laugh out loud funny! I can't decide if it is a work of complete fiction, or the most insightful book on parenting that I have ever read."

If you've read the book, please add your reviews too. Every little bit helps to spread the word. Thanks!

I'll be back on the air tomorrow morning promoting it in my college town of Champaign Urbana. Looking forward to it.

Castro Questioned Again

Starlin Castro questioned in ANOTHER shooting? Looks like he isn't involved in this one either, but what in the world is going on down there in the Dominican? The Cubs are worried.

Details are here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

End of the Year media stories

1. Is the AP's North Korea office under control of the North Korean government?
That was the charge made over the weekend by a watchdog group who supposedly got a copy of the AP's agreement with the North Korean government, in which they vowed to print anything the government says it should. The article linked above is the AP's response to that charge and that document. Sounds to me like that was an earlier draft of the agreement (not the final), but they also aren't exactly denying it. Read it for yourself to make up your mind.

2. WXRT hires a new music director
This is something that only happens once a generation or so. People generally do not leave WXRT. The new MD's name is Kelly Ransford and she comes from two highly respected stations out west, KFOG in San Fran and the Mountain in Seattle.

3. Chicago Radio ratings were released over the weekend
From Tom Taylor's column: "Traditionally, urban ACs aren’t much affected by all-Christmas – and in fact iHeart’s AC/all-Christmas WLIT (3.8-3.7-7.7) almost didn’t win the 6+ crown, despite doing much better than last year’s December-book 6.5. This was a superb book for urban AC sister “V103” WVAZ, 5.7-5.9-7.3. Third is CBS Radio’s all-news WBBM and its FM simulcast, 5.6-5.7-6.2. CBS-owned country “US 99.5” WUSN was dented by Christmas, down 4.4-4.1-3.5. Also a bad book for Cumulus classic hits WLS-FM, 4.0-3.4-3.1. WLIT claims the cume lead, up from 1,824,800 to 2,427,500."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lennon or McCartney

I watched this whole video...famous and not so famous artists choosing which one they preferred, John Lennon or Paul McCartney.

More said Lennon, and that would be my first choice, but upon reflection, I'm not so sure it's the right choice. I think long after we are gone, it will be McCartney that is considered the musical genius. He may be the greatest songwriter of all time. His melodies are timeless. (The songwriter from Counting Crows agrees with that assessment in the video.)

I listened to "Let it Be" again the other day, and that is a perfect song. Absolutely perfect.

Also, just as a side note, they are using the music from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" as the soundtrack to this video. That's a George Harrison song.

Casey Kasem Finally Buried

He died months ago, and his body has been transported all over the place, but it appears his final resting place is Norway.

Details here in People Magazine.

He literally has no connection to the country at all. His wife just wanted to keep him away from his children. What a sick and weird story.

Conducting His Own Exit Interview

This is really interesting reading.

Chris Courtney worked at the Tribune for 14 years and recently resigned. He wasn't offered an exit interview, so he conducted one on himself and posted it on his blog.

After reading it, I'm afraid the corporate media world hasn't changed in the slightest since I wrote $everance nearly a decade ago. I suppose I knew that, but it's still depressing reading it in such detail.

Twas the Day Before Christmas Eve

A New Pee Wee Herman movie?

It appears that it's finally going to happen. Judd Apatow and Pee Wee Herman have signed a deal to produce a new Pee Wee Herman movie for Netflix. Pee Wee's got to be 60+ years old by now, and that may be a bit disconcerting when we see him doing the little kid voice, but I'm all for him getting another chance.

Is there a Hollywood star who has paid a longer pennance than Pee Wee? His "incident" occured almost 25 years ago, and if there was ever a victimless crime, that was it.

The Rolling Stone Rape Story Under Review

This story has been getting headlines for weeks now, but I haven't chimed in, because I didn't think of it as a political issue. (Even though, somehow, it's being treated as one).

To me, it has always been a journalism issue. How in the world did this get published?

And now it's being treated as such. Rolling Stone is bringing in Columbia Journalism School to find out how and why this happened, and they vow to publish the results. That's the right way to handle it.

I suspect the answers won't be pretty for the writer and the editor.

Way Ahead of My Time

Here's a story about Stay at Home choice.

We make up 16% of the population now.

Ten years ago (when I started) it was only 5%. Although, after reading the article, I see some things haven't changed. There's a story of a guy who is treated like a moron at the dentist's office. The medical world still universally thinks dads are idiots, for some reason.

Monday, December 22, 2014

RIP Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker has passed away. Sorry to hear it. He was one of the greatest rock and roll vocalists of all-time...

Here he is with Joe Cocker impersonator John Belushi...

An E-book Gifting Tutorial

Don't forget our big Christmas seller "Father Knows Nothing" is now available as an e-book at amazon. You can pick it with a single click, right here: FATHER KNOWS NOTHING e-book.

It only costs $5.99.

Were you hoping to buy "Father Knows Nothing" as a present for someone else? You can do that with an e-book too. It's actually one of the most perfect late Christmas gifts you can purchase, if you think about it. There's no delivery required. This little graphic will show you how to do it...

How to do e-book

Nearly every Eckhartz Press book is also available as an e-book.


You can find their e-books here...

Rich King's Back in the Game

John Records Landecker's Records Truly Is My Middle Name

Bruce Bohrer's Best Seat in the House: Diary of a Wrigley Field Usher

Joel Daly's The Daly News

David Stern's The Balding Handbook

This Eckhartz Press author (Randy Richardson) has two books available as an e-book...

Lost in the Ivy


And that's not all (he said, using his best K-tel Records voice). These two guys below (Rick Kaempfer and Brendan Sullivan) wrote the very first book for Eckhartz Press, which was also our very first e-book.

The Living Wills E-book

Wait a minute? Isn't that Rick guy also the same guy who wrote Father Knows Nothing? And isn't that available as an e-book now too?

Yes it is. Right here.

And please, if you do purchase any of our e-books via amazon, review the books there, especially if you like them.

That's a good way to help us spread the word.

Thanks to everyone, and happy holidays!

Media Tracks

Congrats to my old friend Reed Pence on the 25th anniversary of his company. From Chicagoland Radio & Media...

The Des Plaines-based MediaTracks Communications, a leading producer of radio public affairs programming, celebrated its 25th anniversary on December 22nd. The company was founded by Shel Lustig and Reed Pence. Lustig had previously been Production Director and host on WXRT-FM, as well as a host/producer for the WBEZ-FM. Pence was previously a reporter/producer for WLUP-FM, the AP Radio Network, and CBS Radio. MediaTracks began operations as producer of the syndicated "The Search for Mental Health," created for Forest Hospital in suburban Des Plaines. The company launched its flagship half-hour public affairs program, "Radio Health Journal" in 1992 on 53 stations. Today the program airs on 485 stations with a weekly audience of more than 3 million. In 2000, MediaTracks added a second weekly offering, "Viewpoints," a general interest news program now airing on 509 stations nationally. Each of the programs has won multiple national and regional awards. MediaTracks Vice President and co-founder Reed Pence said: "It speaks to the quality of the programming we provide. We have always been focused on providing our stations and their listeners with the best content available on air."

Personal Delivery

Last second Xmas shoppers, I feel your pain. For anyone in Chicagoland who purchases 10 books or more from eckhartz press ( before Christmas Eve I will personally deliver the books. The kids are all home and Daddy is more than happy to leave the house.

(This is a serious offer)

Steve Dahl

Mike Thomas interviews Steve Dahl for the Chicago Sun Times.

Nice piece. I didn't know a lot of this stuff.

Fun Time Waster

The Hartford put this out, so there's a very short commercial at the end, but it is a fun little time waster...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bears Grinch

Thanks to fellow Bears fan JRS for this...

The Father Knows Nothing E-book

The e-book is now available in ALL e-book formats for only $5.99.

Pick up your copy at...


Barnes & Noble

Apple Ibooks


Shameless Selling of Father Knows Nothing

You may see the rolling Father Knows Nothing van around Chicagoland over the next week. If you do, tell me to pull over, and I'll sell you a book. Look, they're right there in the trunk. I've already gone through three boxes. Oh, and don't tell me that you're thinking of picking up a copy when you talk to me in person, because I will go right out to the car and put one in your hands. I'm not shy about selling this timeless classic from Eckhartz Press (

Colbert's Farewell Song

I got a little misty watching this last night. The show will be missed...

WFMT in Shanghai?

From Tom Taylor's NOW column this morning...

Chicago’s commercial-classical WFMT (98.7) will supply programming to “Classical 94.7” – in Shanghai, China. The Chicago Tribune says it’s part of a cultural exchange between the U.S. and China, with WFMT supplying concert performances from the New York Philharmonic, the L.A. Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony. The WFMT Radio Network already produces and distributes such programming to affiliates in the U.S. and elsewhere, and now its GM Steve Robinson is ready to hop the Pacific Ocean. WFMT will literally be traveling to Shanghai in April, to record at the Shanghai International Music Festival – and those performances will air back in the U.S. on the WFMT Radio Network. The two-way exchange is being underwritten by Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories, which the Tribune says has “a major presence in China, headquartered in Shanghai.” WFMT is a rare commercial-classical station, operated by the not-for-profit Window to the World Communications. Shanghai’s Classical 94.7 is supposedly the only “professional classical music station in China.”

FCC Won't Penalize Broadcasters for Saying "Redskins"

A professor from George Washington University petitioned the FCC to consider "Redskins" a racial slur, and to fine or revoke licenses from any broadcast outfit that used it. The FCC rejected that argument yesterday.

Good call by the FCC. Even if you think "Redskins" is a racial slur (which I do--I mean c'mon--use it in a sentence without being racist), it's not right to penalize broadcasters for using it as long as the Washington football franchise refers to themselves as the Redskins. That's their team name. The decision of whether that's right or wrong isn't the broadcaster's.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Father Knows Nothing on GoodReads

I have a favor to ask. My book Father Knows Nothing has now been listed on Good Reads. If you've already read the book, would you please post a review on Good Reads for me? It will help spread the word. Here's the direct link to the Father Knows Nothing page on Good Reads.

Thanks for the many kind e-mails and notes so far. We just ordered our third shipment of books. I'm so thankful for your incredible support.

The Bears Bench Jay Cutler

I'm a little surprised by this move, but I certainly understand it.

Cutler has been beyond awful this year. I would have benched him at halftime of the second game against the Packers. In fact, it's a good thing I wasn't in charge of the team during that game because I would have fired the entire team and coaching staff. (I was a bit upset)

Of course, new starter Jimmy Claussen is worse than Cutler, but a statement is being made here. And if we lose these last two games, at least we'll move up the draft chart.

Plus, I'm rooting for the Lions now. You have to pick someone in the playoffs when you're team doesn't make it, and I've never hated the Lions. They are the Cubs of the NFL.

Sean Hannity Smackdown

While most of his conservative pundit counterparts have figured out a way to dog whistle to the base, Hannity is too much of a hack to do it with any decorum. His discussion of Jay-Z the other night is a perfect example. Jon Stewart and the Daily Show called him on it...

The Terrorists Really Have Won

Sony gets hacked by cyber terrorists (maybe, possibly North Korea itself). The hackers release sensitive information. Then, the hackers threaten to blow up movie theaters if the new Seth Rogan movie is released. All of the movie theater chains drop the movie. Sony then also decides not to release the movie. (Full details are here)

Literally, this is all the cyber terrorists wanted, and they got it.

I'm sure they've learned a valuable lesson here.

Seth Rogan has somehow created an international crisis. Now that's a shocking development.

College Basketball

Four of the biggest names in college basketball history will be playing a tournament at the United Center this weekend...UCLA, Kentucky, Ohio State, and North Carolina.

This would be a good time for North Carolina to hand over their championship banners (and everything else that says "champion" on it) from 2005. Now that they've been busted cheating, and I mean reeeeeeally cheating (fake classes, etc), it's time to award the championship to the team the cheaters beat in the final that year.

I'll give 'em a call. They're only 150 miles or so south of the United Center.

Your 2005 National Champion University of Illinois Fighting Illini.

SNL Torture Bit

I'm a few days behind on this, but I finally got around to watching SNL last night. This cold open bit about Torture is one of the best written bits they've done in years. Great social, more's very funny.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mark Giangreco Apologizes

He's in a bit of hot water because of a graphic he put on the screen when he was talking about the Bears. It said: "Cut Him Or Cut Your Wrists" under a picture of Jay Cutler. People complained that it trivialized suicide, and Mark apologized. Robert Feder has the details. I wasn't offended, but I can see why anyone who is touched by suicide would feel differently. Giangreco did the right thing when he apologized.

As for me, I was more open-jawed about a song he brought in carolers to sing in the pre-game show before the Bears game. It was a Christmas parody song ripping the Bears, and I can't seem to find it anywhere online. If you have it, please send me the link. I thought it was very well done...but very surprised the stuffed shirts allowed it.

German Cashiers at Christmas Time...

...rock out an all new Jingle Bells.

The 25 Best Simpsons Episodes Ever

I was a big fan of the Simpsons the first ten years or so, and I'll still watch an occasional episode, but my sons are Simpsons fanatics. They collect all the DVDs and binge watch it over holidays. I'm sure that has somehow skewed them forever.

Entertainment Weekly has a list of what they consider the top 25 episodes ever.

I've seen 24 of the top 25, but that's probably because only one of them aired in this century.

(Photo: Rupert Murdoch)

Eckhartz Press Holiday Sales

We're having a great holiday season at Eckhartz Press. Thanks to everyone for their orders from around the country...except you, North & South Dakota.

LATE UPDATE: North Dakota comes through with an order for the Balding Handbook. South Dakota, you're still on my list. Also, this is interesting (to me anyway). Father Knows Nothing is selling very well in downstate Illinois for some reason...

Jon Lester is on the cover of SI

No pressure, Jon...

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Class

The announcement was made yesterday. From today's RAMP newsletter...

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yesterday unveiled its 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees -- The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Bill Withers will join the Class of 2015 in the performers category, while 1950s R&B group the "5" Royales will receive the Early Influence award and Ringo Starr will be honored with the Award For Musical Excellence, becoming the last member of The Beatles to be inducted into the Rock Hall as a solo artist, following John Lennon in 1994, Paul McCartney in 1999 and George Harrison in 2004. The Beatles were inducted as a group in 1988.

I've got no problem with any of the people that made it, but I do have some problems with those that still haven't. I was on a show recently with Dick Biondi and he told me he asked to be taken out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until they inducted the band Chicago. That does seem to be a needless oversight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Is That A World Series I See Over There?

I think Jon Lester's son sees it. (Photo: Jose M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune)

Another Publication Closes It's Comments Section

This time it's The Week. Fishbowl New York has the details. I like the way they are spinning it, which I believe is correct...
And so today, the smartest, most thoughtful, and most spirited conversations are being driven not by pseudonymous avatars in the comments sections of news sites, but by real people using their real names on the social web. It is no longer a core service of news sites to provide forums for these conversations. Instead, we provide the ideas, the fodder, the jumping off point, and readers take it to Facebook or Twitter or Reddit or any number of other places to continue the conversation.

Alex Quigley Pushed Out at WGN

Alex Quigley is out at WGN as operations manager, effective immediately. Chicagoland Radio and Media has the details, including the memo from Todd Manley announcing the news to the staff, and Quigley's farewell via facebook. He's going to remain in the stable as an occasional replacement host at WGN.

You'll remember that Alex was on the air with Ben Finfer a few weeks ago when Finfer discovered live on the air that his job was being eliminated. I watched Quigley's facial expression during the segment. He was obviously incredibly uncomfortable, because he had already been told, but hadn't yet shared the information with his on-air partner. You can see the conflict in his face. As a management guy--but also a friend of Finfer's--he was in a terrible position.

I've met Alex a few times over the years. I've interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight, and recently featured him in the Illinois Entertainer as part of the article about WPGU alums in Chicago. He's clearly a smart guy, and a good broadcaster, and I hope he has learned from this incredibly odd WGN experience. I suspect he may not truly gain perspective from it until he is removed from it for a while, because he has been in the middle of a firefight for a few years now.

He cut his management teeth at WGN working alongside Kevin Metheny, who was famously combative. I remember one conversation Alex and I had at the Billy Goat at a WPGU reunion party during that era. We were breezily discussing my radio blog, when he told me that he and Charlie Meyerson considered my interview style to be like Oprah--a sort of feel-good happy talk. They looked at each other after he said it, like "uh oh, we probably shouldn't have said that out loud." But it didn't bother me. They were right. I wasn't a conflict-seeking journalist when I wrote that. I was writing a blog to spotlight radio talent.

It's not like I hadn't scratched that conflict itch. My novel "$everance" is a scathing satire that could have been titled Chicago Radio Conflict. And the last five years of my radio career could have been called the same thing. But my conflict was never with the talent. My conflict was with the people who forgot that the whole point of the medium was to connect with the audience--not the advertisers, and certainly not the stockholders. I sat in meetings where promotions and remotes and partnerships were discussed, and when I asked aloud what was in it for the listeners, they looked at me like I was a moron. "Nobody cares about that, Rick. Why do you?"

To which I always replied: "Why don't you?"

I still occasionally speak out against that sort of attitude, but I also consciously accentuate the postive when I see it, and that more often than not comes from the talent. For instance, I'm going to feature Ray Stevens of US-99 in the January issue of the Illinois Entertainer. Some day I'll probably feature Alex again too.

I don't know him well, but I do wish him well.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Twelve Days of Teen Christmas

The latest promotional video for Father Knows Nothing is a song called "The Twelve Days of Teen Christmas". I appreciate the irony that the video was produced by the same person who inspired the song--my son Tommy Kaempfer. Nice work, kid. Vince Argento is the singer and producer of the song.

Watching the Sausage Get Made

The leak of the e-mails and documents in the Sony archives has opened a lot of eyes about the way Hollywood works.

Today, there's a new twist. There's an example of how Maureen Dowd of the New York Times puts her columns together--at least while working with Hollywood bigwigs.

Fascinating stuff.

Jon Lester to be introduced as a Cub today

I'll be sure to be listening around 1pm.

Here's the funny part about this press conference though...the location. They're introducing him at Spiagga restaurant. Spiagga restaurant. I'm sure Sox fans will get a chuckle out of that one.

I'm not sure why they chose Spiagga, but I'm guessing they don't want the backdrop of a torn down Wrigley Field.

Details about the press conference are here.

Christmas Music is Data Driven

The folks at the data-heavy have discovered just how data driven radio formats are. Specifically, the new all-Christmas formats that pop up everywhere this time of year.

More details are here.

Maybe I'm getting a little Scroogy in my old age, but I'm tired of all of them. Every single Christmas song. And I used to love most of them. We are in desperate need of a few new Christmas classics. You can only re-arrange the same twenty songs so many ways before you hit a breaking point. Maybe you're not there yet, but we're pushing 70 years on some of these tunes.

Then again, as I said before, maybe I'm just getting a little Scroogy in my old age.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Come Out to the Billy Goat Tonight!

Very excited about our book signing tonight. If you swing by the original Billy Goat between 5-7pm, you can meet Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Landecker, Broadcasting Icon and 38-year ABC Channel 7 anchor Joel Daly, and the nicest man in Chicago television history--Rich King from WGN-TV. Oh, and me too. All of us will have our books there to sell and sign, and all of them make perfect holiday gifts for at least one person on your list. (I'm hearing that The Balding Handbook's David Stern will be there too, and Wrigley usher/author Bruce Bohrer too. It's an author smorgasbord!)'s at the Billy Goat at dinner time. I recommend the double cheesborger with (no fries) chips and a (no coke) Pepsi. It's also happy hour, and last time I checked, they do serve happy beverages too. See you there!