Friday, February 20, 2015

Rick on NPR?

Looking forward to Monday morning--I'll be appearing on WBEZ (NPR in Chicago, 91.5 FM) on the Morning Shift between 9-10am. Jason Marck will be hosting, and we'll be talking about my book "Father Knows Nothing". Should be a good time! Haven't been to the palatial studios on Navy Pier since the Landecker book came out a few years ago. Please tune in if you're up and around.

How much did Joey owe Chandler at the end of "Friends"?

Somebody went through all the episodes and did the math.

Would you believe it was $120,760?

Follow the math here.

Don Lemon's "Slip of the Tongue"

I'm not posting this clip to weigh in on the "Bill O'Reilly exaggerates war coverage" story they're talking about in this segment (I'll wait until that story plays out a little more). I'm posting it because Don Lemon pulled another whoopsie-daisy.

RIP Harris Wittels

He was the co-producer of the show "Parks and Recreation" and considered one of the best comedy writers in Hollywood. In 2012 he coined the term and wrote the book "Humblebrag"--a very funny book calling out Hollywood people who are actually bragging while trying to sound humble. It was a drug-related death.

He was only 30 years old.

USA Today has the details.

MSNBC drops Reid and Farrow shows

Joy Reid and Ronan Farrow both had afternoon shows on MSNBC. I've seen both shows...and um...let's just say this is probably a good move.

Details are here at Adweek.

Opie & Anthony Are No Longer Friends

Sometimes radio teams aren't friends at all--just colleagues put together by a programmer, hoping they develop an on-air chemistry. Sometimes they become friends, and that's what creates the chemistry. And sometimes those friendships end over time, and they return to being professional relationships. That last example appears to be what happened to Opie & Anthony. From this morning's Tom Taylor column...

Separately, Anthony Cumia and Gregg “Opie” Hughes talk about how they drifted apart after 20 years together as a radio team. In separate interviews this week, they both say the distancing had happened long before SiriusXM dumped Anthony last year. That was a result of his encounter with a tourist in New York’s Times Square and subsequent comments on social media. reports its interview with Anthony, who appeared at the studio with the.40-caliber concealed handgun he usually travels with (and has a license for). Anthony is now fronting his own subscription podcast. On his SiriusXM show Tuesday, Gregg said “I lost my friend a long time ago, and I’m not blaming him. We changed as people.”

I saw this happen up close with another famous radio team. It happens. But after reading this interview in the Blaze with Anthony, it sounds like Anthony has gone off the deep end a bit, and that's probably part of the cause...

Cumia told TheBlaze why he “always” carries a gun on him — including during his interview at TheBlaze’s NYC studios.

“I always carry. Always,” he said. “It’s not paranoia or anything. It’s like not buckling your seatbelt once or twice, and all of a sudden, that’s when you get in an accident. I’d just rather know I am on equal footing to whatever threat might present himself.”

“To me, it’s like putting my shoes on in the morning,” Cumia added.

During the interview, which aired on TheBlaze TV at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Cumia was carrying an H&K .40-cal handgun.

WDCB Engineer Charged with Theft

This is a pretty serious case--WDCB (The college of Dupage's radio station) engineer John Valenta is being charged with faking repairs to the station's transmitters, and having his outside company invoice the station for those repairs. The bill was over $200,000. From the Sun-Times...

“The allegations in this case clearly illustrate the concept of simple greed,” State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a prepared statement. “The defendant had a good job for more than two decades before he allegedly decided to illegally supplement his income at the expense of the College of DuPage.”

Valenta, of the 1700 block of Lucky Debonair Court in Wheaton, was charged with felony theft and ordered held on a $400,000 bond Thursday, the state’s attorney’s office said.

If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said. Valenta will next appear in court March 2.

Every Cub Ever (B)

Today Just One Bad Century features EVERY CUB EVER beginning with the letter B. From Baczewski to Byrd–186 entries in all.

This is one of the best letters in the Cubs alphabet. What will you find there? Six Hall of Famers, 22 videos, 30 classic baseball cards, nine celebrity fans, four managers, four broadcasters, two songs, three classic audio clips, a Cubs movie star, a Cubs scribe, Brock AND Broglio, nine Browns, two brothers, six Bakers, several incredible mustaches, plus guys nicknamed Bunions, Sweetbread, and Trolley Line.

Check it out here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Sweetest Words in the English Language

Bill Holub is an old friend and colleague from my days at the Loop. Years ago I asked him to write about a phrase he used to utter every year in the hallways of the Loop when he heard that spring training was beginning. He called it "The Sweetest Words in the English Language." It's become a tradition to repost his piece every year on that momentous day.

Today's the day!

And by the way, Bill. Congrats on your recent wedding!

By Bill Holub

“Pitchers and catchers report”.

These are indeed the sweetest words in the English language. Friends have been hearing me recite this every year at this time. I once had an old poker playing friend who used to say the sweetest words have always been “I’ll play these”. This is the same friend who couldn’t win even when dealt a pat hand. That however is a story for another time and place, where an explanation of the relationship between the quantity of beer consumed, what the cards in your hand really look like and the amount of money you bet can be fully explored. It’s really something scientists should be looking at.

In the meantime, I apologize to all those who came here looking for a sentimental dialogue on romance. I’m sorry to say it but the sweetest words in the English language are not “I love you”. Now that I think of it, this may instead be a sentimental dialogue on romance and baseball.

It’s funny how the two always converge around Valentine’s Day. Spring fever is referred to as that time of year when things start to bloom as the weather changes and love is in the air. It is no coincidence that this is the same time the baseball season opens and brings hope to all of us diehard baseball romantics.

My love affair with baseball was re-ignited in 1987-88. There was only one place to catch baseball highlights from all over the major leagues back then. Once a week you could tune in to “This Week In Baseball” with good ol’ Mel Allen. During those two seasons I was hooked into witnessing two West Coast baseball Gods embodied in the forms of a young Mark Mcgwire and Jose Canseco. This is before anyone had ever heard of andro, anabolics and the other chemical cocktails that have since cast a pall over these two. Back then, I was treated week in and week out to mammoth sized home runs flying out of every ballpark in the country. The fact that these home runs were being hit by players wearing what my brother and I had always considered the coolest looking baseball uniforms in the world (the Oakland A’s green and gold) had me embracing the game I grew up on all over again.

By 1989 I was so hooked on this game I even started collecting baseball cards again, although as much as an investor as a fanboy. I also started another nasty habit that impacts my life to this day. That is when I started a fantasy baseball league with a bunch of guys at work. 1989 also happened to be a division winning season for my beloved Cubs, so I was in baseball heaven and haven’t looked back since.


I think we can honestly say that baseball is no longer the national pastime in this country. It has been supplanted by football. I can accept that. Although I would insist the true national pastime is gambling, which is the driving force that makes football the number one spectator sport in America. I suppose I could go off on a George Carlin type of rant here on the differences between football and baseball, but that’s not why I’m writing this piece.

I just want to point out there is one major difference between the two and that is commitment. I’m talking about the commitment between baseball fans and football fans. Football is a four month season requiring your undivided attention one day a week, or two if you’re both a college and pro fan. Baseball is a six month season requiring your undivided attention throughout with your favorite team(s) playing as many as five or more games a week.

Baseball is a commitment. I believe it carries as much of a commitment as love. They both require dedication and attention. They can both go awry despite the best laid plans. An early swan dive in the standings in May that ends a team’s season before it even had a chance can be just as painful as not having your phone calls returned after the second or third date. Meanwhile an October champagne shower celebrating a pennant or World Series championship is as sweet and memorable as a ‘yes’ to a question posed on one knee.


Once that warm baseball is back feeling starts sinking in every year, I like to get fully immersed by throwing myself into my favorite baseball movies before the games actually begin. This is my form of spring training.

You’ve got your “Bull Durham”, “Field Of Dreams”, “Major League” (only the first one, please), but there is one movie that hits me in the right spot. “City Slickers” is not a real baseball movie per se, but there’s one scene that remains among my all-time favorites. It’s where the three friends (Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby) are on the cattle drive and passing the time by discussing their favorite baseball memories. Billy Crystal remembers the first time his father took him to Yankee Stadium as a kid and how he had never seen grass that green before. Mickey Mantle even hit a home run that day. Daniel Stern recalls how growing up he and his father never saw eye to eye, but they could always talk about baseball with each other. “We always had baseball” he says.

As for me, one of my earliest baseball memories was getting to take the day off of school with my brother because my Dad got opening day tickets to Wrigley Field. I still remember wearing our warmest winter coats and knit hats, waiting to sit down while the Andy Frain usher brushed the snow off our seats. They don’t make Aprils in Chicago like that any more.


There is a sound that accompanies the words “pitchers and catchers report”. It is the sound of a ball popping into a mitt. The sound of a simple game of catch. It is more than the crack of a bat sound. The sound of a mitt popping brings the memories and feelings of a lifetime of baseball flooding your senses all at once. It happens every time, whether it’s major leaguers or just a game of catch with your dad or your kid. The week pitchers and catchers report there are no cracking bats, only popping mitts. The sweetest sound in the world. “Pitchers and catchers report”. The sweetest words in the English language.

Every Cub Ever--A

Every weekday between now and Opening Day I'll be featuring a portion of my new feature Every Cub Ever on Just One Bad Century.

Today we feature EVERY CUB EVER beginning with the letter A. From Aardsma to Aybar–64 entries in all. What are some of the highlights? Three Hall of Famers, six videos, twelve classic baseball cards, the oldest born Cub (1842), seven cubs named Adams, two current Cubs, two poems, two celebrity fans, a Cubs scribe, an entrepeneur, a Filipino-American, the Octypus, and the Bionic Cub.

Check it out here.

My interview with

I did an entertaining interview on about Just One Bad Century's newest feature--EVERY CUB EVER.

You can listen to it here.

Tom Collichio

I love the show "Top Chef"--it's one of my top 5 shows on the air right now. We all watch it together as a family in my house, and it's literally the only show that we all watch together these days, other than special broadcasts like the Super Bowl, the Oscars, or something like last weekend's SNL 40 special. Tom Collichio is the head judge and star of Top Chef.

But this seems like a strange move to me: MSNBC’s New Dish: Tom Colicchio is Named Food Correspondent

Here's a little part of the article explaining the hire...

Colicchio will host a new weekly show called “Stirring the Pot” on Shift, and contribute reports to “Morning Joe” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

“Tom’s values, expertise and focus on advocacy are a perfect match for MSNBC and we can’t wait to watch his original and in-depth reporting in action,” says MSNBC president Phil Griffin.

MSNBC says adding Colicchio “is part of MSNBC’s larger strategy to cover a broader set of stories that move and inspire Americans through its progressive lens, while investing in more original reporting from the field.”
I'll reserve judgement until I see it. Who knows? Maybe going this route is a better choice for MSNBC. Their ratings really are struggling right now. I don't see it working, but I've been wrong before.

Crystal Radio Awards

From today's Radio Online...

The National Association of Broadcasters announced the 50 finalists for the 28th Annual Crystal Radio Awards. Since 1987, the NAB Crystal Radio Awards have recognized radio stations for their outstanding year-round commitment to community service. Winners will be announced and the finalists will be honored at the NAB Radio Luncheon. The luncheon will be held Tuesday, April 14 during the 2015 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

Hubbard Broadcasting's three Chicago stations are all finalists...WDRV, WILV, and WTMX.

Vanilla Ice Charged With Burglarly

You may or may not know that Vanilla Ice has been doing home improvement shows for the DIY network the past few seasons. Well, yesterday he was charged with burglarly of items from the house next door to the house he was renovating.

Variety has the details.

Of course, this isn't the only time he's stolen something. The opening notes of his only hit "Ice Ice Baby" were clearly stolen from Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure".


Looks like he'll be the next one to give Loop mornings a try. The RAMP newsletter has the details...

It's Windy City media darling Erich "Mancow" Muller, famous in song and story for his many years of entertaining service at such notable Chicago radio stations as WKQX (Q101), WLS-AM, and the former WRCX (Rock 103.5) back in the day. In what can best be described as a non-shocking development, the news of Mancow's "surprise" appearance was broken by Mr. Muller himself during a freewheeling, early morning appearance on the local Fox TV affiliate.

Buckle up. "We'll be right back with how Obama is going to take away our guns, after this little diddy from Led Zeppelin."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hollywood & the Cubs

With the Academy Awards airing this weekend, I've written a special feature at Just One Bad Century. It's called "Hollywood & the Cubs" and it features over 25 stories about Cub connections to Hollywood. There's a story about the pre-Hollywood movie days, four Cubs-related Academy Award nominations, 14 films with a Cubs connection, and 8 television series.

You can read it here.

Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow--and we'll be kicking off our great new feature--EVERY CUB EVER. I'll fill you in on that tomorrow.

Understanding Germans

I found these two pieces online, explaining what it means to be German.

26 signs you were born and raised in Germany

9 American habits I lost when I moved to Germany

I would add a parenthetical title to the first article: (after 1980). There are few things on that list that are incomprensible to me (#2, 3, 16, & 23), but I've been in America since 1980. The rest of them are pretty spot on. The second article is an American's perspective, and boy did she nail it. Nicely done.

(Photo: My sister and I--1967)

The Drive and the Loop

The Drive made the Dan McNeil/Pete McMurray move official yesterday. They'll start sometime in March. Producer Scott Miller is following Pete to the Drive too. My old pal Kathy Voltmer stays on as the morning news anchor. (Kathy was my news anchor on WPGU in Champaign a thousand years ago). There's a lot of talent in that room--the questions will be--How do they mesh those very different personalities? and How do they gently abandon the more-music focus without driving away the more-music fans? I'll be following that one closely. John and I faced a similar challenge when we started up the John Landecker show on WJMK. It was a very bumpy ride those first few months as listeners left in droves, and management completely freaked out. It took a while to find our audience. Hopefully Drive management allows that to happen with this show.

As for the Loop, they've been trying out new personalities every week. So far I've heard a little bit of the Abe Kanan show, Shadow Stevens, and Liz Wilde. It's supposedly an on-air audition, and they are taking votes from listeners to decide who the new morning host will be. Right now, I don't think anyone has an edge. According to this morning's RAMP Newsletter, the Loop will keep on auditioning until they get someone who really connects with the audience. It's a novel approach. The Loop, by the way, faces a similar crisis when it comes to incorporating the fans of the more-music approach they've been following for quite some time now. I personally think the one guy who could pull it off is Johnny B. He and that station just seem to go together.

Chicago Radio Ratings

The ratings came out yesterday. The Cliff Notes version is that everything returned to more or less normal after the weird Christmas ratings book. Tom Taylor summed it up this way...

Chicago – iHeart’s all-Christmas hot AC WLIT slips 7.7-14.2-4.5 – better than last year’s Christmas-hangover 4.1. It’s in fourth place, behind an all-newser, an urban AC and another hot AC. On top is CBS’ all-news WBBM and its FM simulcast, 6.2-5.7-7.2. That ties their all-time PPM mark, set in January 2009. Second is iHeart’s urban AC “V103” WVAZ (4.9-4.1-5.2). Third is Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX (4.9-4.1-5.2). Then you’ve got “93.9 My FM” WLIT at its 4.5, and in fifth place, iHeart top 40 “Kiss” WKSC (4.3-3.8-4.0). This may be at least partially the bounceback that WGN boss Jimmy de Castro wanted for Tribune’s talk station (3.5-2.8-3.5). Red-letter month (best since a record-setting January 2013) for CBS all-sports “Score” WSCR (2.5-2.7-3.4). It’s tied with adult alternative sister WXRT (3.1-2.5-3.4). Also a bounceback for Cumulus classic hits WLS-FM (3.1-2.6-3.3). Too early to make any calls about the country war that began on January 5 when iHeart converted regional Mexican WNUA to “Big Country.” But here’s the number for CBS Radio’s established “US 99.5” WUSN (3.5-2.6-3.3) and then Big Country WNUA/now-WEBG (1.9-1.6-1.0). Highest PPM in nearly three years for SBS-owned regional Mexican “La Ley” WLEY-FM (1.8-1.8-2.3). Cumulus talker WLS dips, 1.4-1.2-1.1. The Windy City’s average weekly cume lead is held by CHR “Kiss” WKSC at 2,261,100

Robert Feder has the top ten for both mornings (HERE) and afternoons (HERE)

NPR cracked the top ten in mornings for the first time ever. Just as a footnote, I'll be appearing on that morning show, The Morning Shift, on Monday during the 9am hour to discuss my book "Father Knows Nothing".

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Fat Tuesday

College Rankings

Of the 484 public colleges/universities in America, the University of Illinois is ranked #11.

The Big Ten does very well in these rankings. Six schools are in the top 20 in the nation. Michigan is #1, Maryland is #8, Wisconsin is #10, Ohio State is #15, and Minnesota is #17.

Check it out here.

The SNL Post Show Party

I'm guessing this was one of the greatest parties of all time. It went until 4 A.M, and the house band consisted of McCartney, Prince, Taylor Swift, and more.

Details (including photos and videos) are here.

Talk About Love at First Sight

Or maybe "love" isn't exactly the right word...

RIP Leslie Gore

From this morning's RAMP Newsletter...

Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, best known for her timeless 1963 song of teenage angst, "It's My Party," died Monday, Feb. 16 of cancer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. She was 68. The Associated Press says the news of Gore's death was confirmed by her partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson, who commented, "She was a wonderful human being -- caring, giving, a great feminist, great woman, great human being, great humanitarian." Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, Gore was discovered as a teenager by Quincy Jones and signed to Mercury Records. Her other hits included "Judy's Turn to Cry," "You Don't Own Me," "She's A Fool," "That's The Way Boys Are" and "Maybe I Know." She also co-wrote (with her brother Michael) the Academy Award-nominated "Out Here On My Own" from the 1980 movie Fame and she co-wrote "My Secret Love" for Allison Anders' 1996 film Grace of My Heart. Gore also dabbled in acting, playing Catwoman's sidekick in the cult 1960s TV series Batman. She also appeared on Broadway in Smokey Joe's Cafe. Gore had been working on a stage version of her life when she died. In addition to Sasson, Gore is survived by her brother and mother, Ronnie.

Loved her in Batman...

Landecker mentioned her in his book "Records Truly Is My Middle Name". Leslie was an important part of his teenage years because of her songs "It's My Party" and "Judy's Turn To Cry". Those songs were about a teen couple named Johnny and Judy, and John's girlfriend (and later wife) was named Judy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

SNL 40th Anniversary Show

It was cool to see everyone back at SNL last night, but let's be honest...the show wasn't that great. I'm sure it was a ridiculous challenge for the writers to figure out ways to include everyone, but it really did feel like they were just shoe-horning bits into the show just so everyone could be seen.

Of the new bits that were done live, I most enjoyed the Wayne's World, and the Jeopardy recreation. But I was never a huge fan of the California bit, and that bit's reprise wasn't any better. Of all the bits from that era, why did they bring THAT one back? And the Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake number wasn't very good either. They didn't actually include any comedy in the lyrics this time. Kind of a key ingredient.

I thought the writers made a good choice by lumping together similar bits and presenting them. The one that reprised musical bits was pretty good--Martin Short is always great, Operaman was fun to see again, and Bill Murray killed the Jaws theme (although Dana Carvey's bit was pretty bad...of all his bits THAT'S the one they brought back?). Jerry Seinfeld's tribute to the "taking questions from the audience" bit was actually pretty funny too. Loved the chance for Larry David to get back at everyone there for not doing his bits when he was an SNL writer.

But I also thought the Weekend Update bit was a miss (Ooh boy Chevy Chase looked awful), although Melissa McCarthy did a kick-ass Matt Foley. And Chris Rock's introduction of Eddie Murphy was twice as long as Eddie Murphy's appearance on stage--and it appeared that he was just brought out for an applause break. They didn't even give him a joke. I love Dan Ackroyd too, but why have him redo the exact same old bit--the bass-o-matic? That was a weird choice.

But most of all, I hated the montages of old bits. It was just a hodge-podge of one-liners--the jokes without the setups. Not everyone has been around for all 40 years, you know. My kids looked at me during those video montages, completly oblivious.

As for the musical Paul was great and the other was not. I love McCartney, but wow did he butcher "Maybe I'm Amazed" last night. That was painful to watch. Paul Simon, on the other hand, did a wonderful version of "Still Crazy After All These Years."

I know it's hard to encapsulate 40 years into one night, and there were a few highlights, but most of all I was a little disappointed. I guess it would have been impossible (because of scheduling conflicts and inability to rehearse) to do a brand new show featuring all the biggest stars of the past, but they had them all there in one room for the first, and probably last time ever.

Stevie Wonder Tribute

I'll be checking out this Stevie Wonder tribute tonight on CBS from 8-10pm. The RAMP Newsletter has a sneak preview of who is doing what...

Beyoncé, "Fingertips"; Beyoncé & Ed Sheeran, "Master Blaster (Jammin')"; Beyoncé, Gary Clark Jr. & Ed Sheeran, "Higher Ground"; Tony Bennett, "For Once In My Life"; John Legend, "I Believe (When I Fall In Love Will Be Forever)"; Annie Lennox, "My Cherie Amour"; Lady Gaga, "I Wish"; Andrea Bocelli, "I Just Called To Say I Love You"; Babyface & Ariana Grande, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours"; The Band Perry, "You Haven't Done Nothin"; Ed Sheeran, "I Was Made To Love Her"; India.Arie, Janelle Monáe & Jill Scott, "As"; Pharrell Williams & Ryan Tedder, "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing"; Jennifer Hudson, "All In Love Is Fair"; (Stevie's daughter) Aisha Morris & Ne-Yo, "Isn't She Lovely"; Stevie Wonder, "Contusion," "Sir Duke," "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life," "Ribbon In The Sky" "Overjoyed," "Superstition," and Stevie and the Ensemble perform "Happy Birthday" and "Another Star."