Friday, May 15, 2015

RIP B.B. King

He was 89 years old. The King of the Blues and his guitar Lucille will be missed.

King was 45 when he had his first song on the pop charts in 1970. This is it...

Important Benefit

Two of my childhood friends, Mark Gelinas and Noreen Heyde, are battling cancer and their bills have been mounting. Tomorrow night we're holding a benefit to raise money for them to help them pay their medical bills. There will be an auction (I donated a few things, including copies of all my books), and we're charging $20 to get in. All of that money will go to Mark and Noreen. Thanks in advance for your help...

Instant Articles on Facebook

A few major news organizations (including NBC and the New York Times) have reached an agreement to work with Facebook on something called "instant articles". Articles from news sources will now load instantly on Facebook--which will decrease the loading time tenfold.

It will also, of course, keep people on Facebook, and off the sites of the major news publishers. Have they really decided to give up, or am I missing something here?

Eddie & Pete

The photo is Eddie & Pete singing "Behind Blue Eyes" last night at the Rosemont Theater. Great show. A couple of fun surprises...appearances by Joe Walsh, Rick Nielson, Joan Jett, Simon Townshend, Zac Starkey, and Roger Daltrey. Joe Walsh was on fire. He sang "The Kids are Alright". Joan sang "Summertime Blues" and "Can't Explain". Eddie nailed "Red, Blue & Gray" and sang a cover of "Sooner or Later" by the English Beat (along with Pete). But the highlight had to be the grand finale--all of them out there jamming to "Won't Get Fooled Again". Loved it. Thanks Doug Bensing for thinking of me and getting me a ticket.

Harry Shearer Leaving Simpsons?

This sounds like a negotiating ploy from the producers, but if it's not, they really should shut down shop. No Harry Shearer. No Simpsons. From this morning's RAMP Newsletter..

Longtime fans of The Simpsons were more than a little upset to hear that one of the show's most famous voices, Harry Shearer, is reportedly leaving the show after 26 seasons. Shearer beautifully breathes life into the personas of Montgomery Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner. On Wednesday night he announced his departure from the show, tweeting, "This because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work." As Variety reported, Simpsons Executive Producers Matt Groening, Al Jean and James L. Brooks released a statement that read, "Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed. The show will go on and we wish him well. Maggie took it hard." Al Jean also said Shearer's iconic characters would be recast, saying, "Burns and Flanders will not die. They are great characters and will continue." After all this very public back-and-forth... why do we have a weird feeling that this issue is not really over? Fellow fans of Harry -- stay tuned! The Season 26 finale of The Simpsons airs Sunday night on Fox.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chicken Dance Day

Today is officially "Chicken Dance Day".

I don't like to brag, but I so rarely have the credentials to claim expertise on a subject, I can't help myself today. You see, I was once a professional Chicken-dancer. This is a photo of me on stage with Landecker & the Legends leading the crowd in the Chicken Dance--which I did with the band for seven years. I once led a crowd of more than 30,000 people at Lambs Farm. My mother is very proud. She bought me the lederhosen.

Kris & Anthony, Pete & Eddie

I'm taking a Rick day today.Going to the Cubs game this afternoon, and then Pete Townshend and Eddie Vedder tonight. Hopefully the kids will figure out how to get into the house when they get home from school. If not, there's yardwork to be done.

Comedy Writing & Radio

Ken Levine is one of the greatest sitcom writers of all time. He wrote for every great sitcom you can name (which means none in the last ten years or so), including M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frazier, etc.

He also writes a great a blog that I read as often as I can. Today he analyzes a great radio talent.

This blog post is about Howard Stern.

First McDonalds

30 years ago today McDonald's turned the very first McDonald's into the world's very first fast-food museum. It's in Des Plaines, Illinois--about fifteen minutes from my house. I still drive by there all the time...

One Last Smooch

I strongly suspect Dave will never get a chance to do this to Julia Roberts again...

Another Reason Jon Stewart Will Be Missed

Another Fox News takedown last night. A really good one, with lots of video evidence.

This one is about Fox News' portrayal of poor people (leeches, sponges, and lazy), and their sactimonious denial of ever saying any such thing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chicago Radio Ratings, Part 2

From this morning's Tom Taylor column...

Question – what happens when you pull the usual FM simulcast (WCFS/105.9) away from CBS Radio’s all-news WBBM/780? Now that we’re in baseball season, we can answer the question, since the Cubs air only on the AM signal. Losing the simulcast is enough to drop WBBM to second place, 7.4-6.8-5.4. (Though no doubt the Cubs bring some nice additional billing to CBS.) The all-news FM by itself pulled a 2.2 share in this April book. #1 is iHeart’s urban AC “V103” WVAZ (6.3-6.5-6.9). Third is Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX (5.2-5.6-5.2). Fourth place is a tie between CBS rhythmic “B96” WBBM-FM (3.9-3.9-4.0) and iHeart’s top 40 “Kiss” WKSC (4.2-4.2-4.0). Former Cubs flagship WGN, the talker owned by Tribune, holds 3.1-3.3-3.4. It’s just behind CBS Radio’s classic hits “K-Hits” WJMK (2.9-3.6-3.5). Meanwhile, Cumulus classic hits WLS-FM drops (3.7-3.4-2.6). These are not the best of times for iHeart’s urban WGCI (3.3-3.2-3.1). Chicago’s got a country rivalry, between CBS Radio’s “US99.5” WUSN (2.8-2.6-2.7) and iHeart challenger “Big Country” WEBG (1.7-2.3-2.0). The former WILV, Hubbard’s re-branded AC WSHE-FM, repeats its fourth straight 2.2 share. No updraft for Cumulus talker WLS, the new home of Jonathon Brandmeier and Steve Dahl (1.2-1.2-1.1). The Windy City’s cume leader is CHR “Kiss” at 1,354,800.

Verizon To Buy AOL For $4.4 Billion

Has there been a more over-valued company in history than AOL? How many corporations have nearly perished overpaying for them? When I saw this story this morning my first thought was..."AOL still exists?"

My second thought was $4.4 billion? Maybe the Bears should see if Verizon has any interest in Jay Cutler.

Happy Birthday Satisfaction

Mick and Keith wrote "Satisfaction" 50 years ago today. I'm thinking they've gotten their fair share of satisfaction since then...

George Carlin

If he were alive today, George Carlin would be celebrating his 78th birthday. I met George a few times, but the story below is my favorite George Carlin story...

In American politics we often hear talk of “Pre-9/11” thinking. This usually involves national security debates, but I'm here to tell you that Pre-9-11 thinking also existed in the world of comedy.

My story involves comedian George Carlin.

I’ve always considered him one of the finest comedians that ever lived. He was courageous, utterly unafraid of saying what he really thought, and was consistently funny for five decades.

When we had him on the John Landecker show, I was not disappointed. He came into the studio with guns blazing, trying out brand new material that he hoped to include in his upcoming HBO Special.

The tentative name of the special at the time? “I kind of like it when a lot of people die.”

The date of his appearance on our show? September 4, 2001.

His routine was shocking even then (in a pre-9/11 world), but it was laugh out loud funny. We were holding our sides as he recounted the way he cheers when stupid people die doing stupid things and how he roots that they take down as many stupid people as possible with them.

Landecker and Carlin began riffing about stupid ways for people to die, and after the hilarious segment was over, George asked if he could have a tape of it so that he could use some of the material in his special.

Our station management thought it was such a funny interview, they submitted the tape for that year’s Achievement in Radio Awards. The tape went into the mail on September 9, 2001.

Needless to say, we weren’t nominated that year.

When Carlin’s special eventually did come out on HBO, it had a brand new name. It was called “Complaints and Grievances.”

Not quite as catchy, is it?

Timing is everything.

Monday, May 11, 2015

John Oliver on Mother's Day

I Love Watching You Play

This is great advice for parents who have kids in youth sports. All of us fall short of this, but it's an incredibly noble goal. Try saying nothing other than "I love watching you play".

Waaaaay harder than it sounds, but wow is it good advice.

Chicago Radio Ratings

Robert Feder has the latest radio ratings for Chicago.

Among the news here: disappointing numbers for Brandmeier, encouraging uptick for McNeil & McMurray, NPR continues to surge, and WBBM's numbers go down in the afternoons after adding Cubs baseball.

Happy Mother's Day Bridget

My son Sean's team won a wet and rainy Mother's Day soccer game for their moms yesterday. Sean even scored a goal for Bridget (and his grandmother and godmother were both there too).