Friday, February 12, 2016

Free Excerpt from The Living Wills (Lorne Greene)

Lorne Greene would have been 101 years old today. Why am I featuring an excerpt of our novel "The Living Wills" on Lorne Greene's birthday? Because, in a way, Greene helped launch this book. The following chapter is Chapter 6 in the final version of the co-written novel (with Brendan Sullivan), but it was the first one written. I wrote it and sent it to Brendan, and he wrote another chapter and sent it back to me, and we improvised the rest of plot line of the book around those two chapters, essentially. The Living Wills came out in November of was the first release by Eckhartz Press.



Delmar Dunwoody was in a hurry. He was always in a hurry. His customers were spread all over town, and Delmar was an old school salesman. As long as he made the effort to meet everyone face to face, instead of relying on the phone or e-mail, Delmar was confident he had a leg up on the younger guys. He always remembered what Oscar Case, his boss and bowling buddy, told him his first day at BM&P Toilets; “You’re not selling port-a-potties, Delmar, you’re selling yourself.”

He pulled into a parking space in front of a fancy frou-frou coffee shop called Al Cappacino’s. He could see through the display window that there were at least three people in line waiting for their vanilla mocha three scoop espresso whatevers, and all he wanted was an extra-large cup of coffee. Oh well. He could drive a few blocks to the next coffee shop, Common Grounds, or he could just suck it up and wait in line.

Delmar muttered to himself as he pulled the keys out of the ignition. He was still mad his neighborhood 7-11 had installed that damn security camera. That’s where he had gotten his coffee for the past ten years, but ever since that camera was installed, he couldn’t avoid looking up at the black and white monitor when he paid. There was only one thing on that monitor as far as Delmar was concerned--his huuuuuge bald spot. He would never get another cup of coffee from that place. What full-haired jerk came up with the idea to use that camera angle on the customers anyway? There’s a reason God lets most men experience male pattern baldness from back to front. It’s not right to rub your face in it.

Luckily, Al Cappacino’s didn’t have a camera. That fact alone granted them the first shot at Delmar’s business. The line moved pretty quickly too. Another feature in their favor.

“I’ll have a large cup of coffee, Gina,” he said to the cashier when he got to the front of the line. Delmar always read the name tag and always used the name; another pearl of wisdom courtesy of Oscar Case.

“Should I leave some room for milk?” she asked.

“Nope,” he said. “I like my coffee black like my...”

“Women?” Gina finished the sentence for him. She wasn’t smiling.

“I was going to say heart,” he deadpanned. Not even a flicker of a reaction from Gina. She was busy pouring his coffee.

“That’s a joke,” Delmar offered.

“I know.”

Delmar gave her his warmest sales smile. “Can I ask you a personal question, Gina?”


“Who is the most famous person you’ve ever served here?”

That was one of his standard conversation starters. Just about everyone loved telling stories about their brushes with greatness. Delmar would drift off during some of the tales (he still couldn’t believe his customer in Berwyn considered the weatherman from Channel 2 a “famous” person), but for the most part they were pretty interesting stories.

“Lorne Greene,” Gina said.

He didn’t say anything at first because he was waiting for Gina to crack a smile. Gina wasn’t the smiling type.

“That’ll be $2,” she said. She slid the cup of coffee across the counter.

“How long have you worked here?”

“Six months,” she said.

“And you served Lorne Greene here?” he asked doubtfully. He was giving her his absolute best ‘you’re messin’ with me, right?’ smile.

Gina simply nodded.

“When?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t remember exactly,” she said.

“How old are you?”


“Do you even know who Lorne Greene is?” he asked. He had never seen anyone who didn’t smile back at his ‘you’re messin’ with me, right?’ smile. Was this woman made out of stone?

“Of course, I know,” Gina replied. “Gigantic wide face, almost square shaped. Dimpled chin, white hair. Deep, sexy, authoritative voice.”

“You’re talking about Ben Cartwright?” he asked.

“I know who Lorne Greene is,” she said. “Ponderosa ranch. Adam, Hoss, Little Joe.”

Delmar kept waiting for a smile to betray her. Nothing.

“Two bucks for the coffee,” she said. “There are people in line behind you.”

“I think Lorne Greene has been dead for years,” Delmar said, as he handed over the money. “Like maybe longer than you’ve been alive.”

“Well then his ghost likes Grande Lattes,” she answered.

Delmar stepped to the side and very slowly walked to the door, shaking his head in disbelief. There was no possible way this girl had served a cup of coffee to Lorne Greene. She was completely full of it. On the other hand, who could keep a straight face while confronting the ‘you’re messin with me, right?’ smile? And if you’re going to lie about who you served, what normal 25-year-old would choose Lorne Greene?

He sat in his car, and tried to clear his head of this nonsense. He had about a thirty minute drive to get in the right mindset for his next client, the Taste of Hickory Hills. He checked his little notepad.

It read: “Jim Remak, Hickory Hills Sanitation. 3 kids. Oldest son plays baseball.”

He turned the key into the ignition and the engine purred, but Delmar couldn’t manage to put the car in reverse. He was staring at the girl behind the counter, clearly visible through two heavy-duty pains of glass, his windshield and her large display window. She was almost a head taller than the other girl working there. A delicious raven haired Amazon.

He turned off the car. Screw it. He had to get a closer look at her. The little bell rang when he re-entered.

“Maybe you were thinking of Shecky Green,” Delmar offered from the doorway. “He’s originally from Chicago, and I’m pretty sure he’s still alive.”

She poked her head around the first customer in line. “Nope. It was definitely Lorne Greene.”

“He’s dead.”

The first lady in line nodded in agreement with Delmar. “He’s right. He died a long time ago.”

“He showed me his driver’s license,” Gina said, holding her ground. “It said ‘Lorne Greene.’”

“What state was the driver’s license from?” Delmar asked. He walked back to the front of the line to continue the questioning.


“A-HA!” he screamed. He pointed at her. “Gotcha! Lorne Greene was a Canadian.”

Gina calmly put one finger in the air. “Was Canadian. Past tense. He’s naturalized.”

Still no smile.

Delmar looked at the other people in line. They were all actively involved in the conversation now, eagerly lapping up every word.

“Do any of you have a Blackberry?” Delmar asked. He was looking at the young metro-sexual at the back of the line, with his Mark Shale suit and his hundred dollar shoes. If any of these fancy coffee drinkers had a Blackberry it would be that guy. He shook his head apologetically.

“Sorry, not me.”

No one else had one either. It would have only taken a thirty second trip to Google to prove the year Lorne Greene died.

“Do you have any other witnesses?” Delmar asked. Now he was talking to her like she was a suspect, and he was a police detective. The others in line turned to see Gina’s reaction.

“Jose was here too,” she said. She screamed across the room. “Hey Jose.”

Jose was picking up the stray half-filled cups of coffee that people had left behind on the little planks of wood this place called “tables.” He looked up to see what she wanted.

“Remember that day Lorne Greene came in here?” she asked.

He nodded and smiled before returning to work.


The people in line were not convinced. Delmar spoke on their behalf.

“Hey Jose!”

He looked up again.

“Remember when Queen Elizabeth and her court were in here that one day?”

He nodded and smiled before returning to work.

“That’s what I thought,” Delmar said. His co-conspirators in line were openly smiling at him now. They had her. “Would you like to take this opportunity to revise your original remarks, Gina? If that’s really your name.”

“No I wouldn’t,” she said.

She crossed her arms in front of her. This girl had it all. A young beautiful face and the driest sense of humor he had ever witnessed. This was the ultimate challenge. He couldn’t help but smile. A real smile. Just for a second, a brief glimmer of a moment, he thought he saw the corner of her mouth turn upward ever so slightly, before returning to the original stone-faced expression.

“Well,” Delmar said, “next time he stops by, make sure you have someone take a picture or something, OK?”

“Jose will do it!” she screamed across the room. Jose looked up, nodded and smiled.

As Delmar pulled out of the parking lot, he recalibrated his brain. Jim Remak in Hickory Hills was probably itching to bitch about the stench in the latest batch of port-a-potties. Delmar had told those guys in the warehouse not to scrimp on the odor-cakes, but times were tough, and Old Man Sullivan was probably making them cut corners. Time to stop by Enchanted Pastries and pick up some frosted cookies. Another pearl of wisdom from Oscar Case: a box of frosted cookies has never failed to blunt customer complaints. You just have to make sure you show them the box before they start screaming.

Delmar looked in the rear-view mirror before he turned right on Addison, and got one more glimpse of the coffee shop. If they didn’t install one of those bald-cams, or replace the dead-panning barista, they had themselves a new regular customer.

The Grammy's

From this morning's RAMP Newsletter, a full rundown of what to expect in Monday's Grammy Awards broadcast...

The Recording Academy® announced the final round of artists set to perform at Monday's 58th Annual Grammy Awards®, and to no one's surprise, superstar Taylor Swift will open the show with a song from her Grammy-nominated album, 1989. Alabama Shakes, Joey Alexander, and Miguel are also set to take the stage on Music's Biggest Night®. They join an impressive slate of previously announced performers including Adele, Travis Barker, James Bay, Justin Bieber, Luke Bryan, Gary Clark Jr., Andra Day, Diplo, Ellie Goulding, Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, John Legend, Little Big Town, Demi Lovato, Pitbull, Bonnie Raitt, Rihanna, Skrillex, Chris Stapleton, Robin Thicke, Meghan Trainor, Carrie Underwood and The Weeknd. Also appearing -- the Broadway cast of Hamilton; Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry of The Hollywood Vampires, and Eagles members Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh will join Jackson Browne in a tribute to Glenn Frey. The Grammys will also honor Earth, Wind & Fire founding member Maurice White by recognizing the band's 2016 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award as the surviving members present the Grammy for Record Of The Year.

The Bill Simmons Show

Last we heard from Bill Simmons he was being fired by ESPN. The writer/commentator has since been hired by HBO and is putting a show together. According to this piece in The Hollywood Reporter, he has hired a few Daily Show writers and producers to develop the show for him. That's a good step.

I'm still not a Simmons fan, at least not on TV. I enjoy his writing, but he really comes off as a smarmy-know-it-all on television. Hoping the Daily Show folks and HBO can knock that out of him.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Free Excerpt from The Balding Handbook (Burt Reynolds)

Today is Burt Reynold's birthday, and the author of "The Balding Handbook: 5 Stages of Grieving for Your Hair Loss" would like to offer this free excerpt from his book, as one final plea to Burt. Poor Burt. Stuck in Stage One Denial now for more than 40 years.

TAKEN FROM STAGE ONE DENIAL: "Hell Toupee" (Pages 17-18)

There are two kinds of people in the world that can’t spot a hairpiece: blind people and dead people. You have a beaver on your head. People don’t miss that sort of thing.

Don’t be taken in by those tempting commercials of that guy swimming with his hairpiece. “Look! That guy can go swimming and it looks completely natural!” If you were on-set watching them film the commercial instead of watching it via your two dimensional television, you’d say something completely different. You’d say: “Hey buddy, you have a wet beaver on your head! Better drop that hot chick pretending like she doesn’t notice and run for your life!”

Don’t feel bad. Every single balding man in history has given it some thought. Every single one. Balding folks from all walks of life.

But you know in your heart that they don’t work, don’t you? Think of all the different celebrities you’ve seen wearing toupees in your lifetime. Each and every one of those guys is a gazillionaire and can afford the very best quality hairpiece, and yet, you can still spot their fake hair piles from a mile away.

Are you fooled by Burt Reynolds? He was balding in 1970, and now has a furry rodent living on his head. Although in fairness to Burt, at least he’s chosen to wear a gray one; 70-year-old Marv Albert’s fluffy hedgehog piece is Elvis-black. Looks totally realistic, Marv.

What about Elton John? He was almost completely bald by 1976, and now he has bangs. Greg Gumbel was a balding sportscaster working in Chicago in the 1980s, but has apparently been hit by a hair truck. You can actually see the tape on Sam Donaldson’s head. And William Shatner…dear Lord…your five year mission is, to boldly go where only one other starship captain (Jean Luc Picard) has gone before.

Hairpieces don’t work for those guys, and they won’t work for you. It’s OK to consider it, but the second you do, please understand that you are only doing so because you’re deep in the depths of Stage One Denial. But there is good news here, too. The hairpiece is often the end of the road, the last gasp, the final sign that you’re coming close to overcoming your Denial. Seeing how bad it looks is often the final nail in the Denial coffin.

Mark Your Calendars

Two Eckhartz Press authors will be featured in this production. John Records Landecker will play the narrator, and Joel Daly will be the yodeling cowboy...


It's Almost Time!

Must stay calm. Must stay calm. Must stay calm.

The Art of the Deal

What happens when you get Johnny Depp to play Donald Trump in a fake TV movie from 1989 called "The Art of the Deal".

You can watch it at Funny or Die.

It also stars Ron Howard, Alfred Molina, Robert Morse, Patton Oswalt, Jack McBrayer, Michaela Watkins, Henry Winkler, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Lloyd, Kristen Schaal, Andy Richter, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, Tymberlee Hill, Alf, Jordan Coleman, Joe Nuñez, Jeremy Konner, and Kenny Loggins.

It's not just a short. It's a full-length 50-minute film.

Possibly the Best Movie Tease Ever

Sacha Baron Cohen on Kimmel last night teasing his newest movie...I have to see it now.

When the Germans Call You Fascist...

The End

This story is too cool...

Guitars in The End from Alan Michnoff on Vimeo.

Garry Meier Coming March 12

Amy Landecker in the Windy City Times

Another great Amy Landecker interview. This time she is speaking to Chicago's LGBT newspaper, the Windy City Times.

Good stuff, here. She really does a great job in interviews. I know it sounds strange, but it's not so easy being yourself in situations like this. She pulls it off fairly effortlessly.

I can see why her dad is so proud of her.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

10 Years of Blogging: The Loop Interviews

This year marks my 10th anniversary as a blogger, so I've been going through my 30,000+ posts to find some of my favorites to share with you one more time. As you know, I've been interviewing Chicago radio folks for most of that time, and several of those radio folks worked at the Loop at one time or another. I had NO IDEA there were this many though.

Here's just one quote about the Loop from each of them that worked there during the station's heyday (1979--1995). I'm proud to call all of them my friends...

Artie Kennedy was a technical producer for Johnny B...
Artie: Mickey Rooney was in-studio and Carol Harmon (great executive producer with Johnny and still with him in another capacity) and I were laughing at a funny Mickey story about one of his like 8 wives when he suddenly switched into this sentence: "Of course you know my 5th wife Barbara was murdered." Well Carol and I were still laughing about his other wife story and he looks in and sees us laughing and says, "That's not funny...someone was murdered!!" I mean, I got yelled at by Mickey Rooney…a living legend! When Johnny and I e-mail each other these days, one of us has to mention MY 5th Wife Barbara!

Bill Leff was the co-host of a show with Wendy Snyder on the Loop...
Bill: Whenever Danny Bonaduce came to town to do stand-up, he'd have me open for him. Which was strange because when I was little I used to watch him on television, and tell my parents that some day we'd be friends. Strange, huh? Anyway, Danny got hired to work at The Loop. I had been doing stand-up for ten years and my wife and I wanted to have kids, and I didn't want to travel anymore, so I told Danny that if anything ever opened up, please keep me in mind. He instantly went to his bosses Larry Wert and Matt Bisbee, and they paired me up with Wendy Snyder. BRILLIANT MOVE!!!

Bob Stroud was the midday man on the Loop FM for many years...
Bob: It was dangerous. At any given moment anything at all could happen. One day, Tom Thayer and Steve McMichael came into the studio and duct-taped Kevin Matthews to a chair. While Thayer rolled Kevin down Michigan Avenue, McMichael literally took over the show. Stuff like that happened all the time. Remember the time Wiser was sent out to be a rodeo clown by Brandmeier? I can still hear him in that barrel at the rodeo… “Johnny, I’m not kidding around here! This isn’t funny!” The stuff that you producers had to go through was unbelievable.

Bobby Skafish was the afternoon drive disc jockey for ten years...
Bobby: The biggest names always came to the Loop. One of my favorites was the day I talked to Bob Geldof at the Loop the day the Band Aid record, "Do They Know It's Christmas" was released in 1984. That transcended the usual artist-working-his-record conversation.

Brendan Sullivan also worked as a producer for Johnny B...
Brendan: As I recall, we were on the Loop, and one morning the announcement was made that our AM station, which shared our space, WMVP was either going all-sports, or the all-sports concept was being dumped. It's a blur. But people were getting fired that morning and Johnny painted this picture of Nazi Germany with staffers hiding under their desks and stormtroopers marching down the hallways and cleaning out the offices. He told Jeff Hoover and me to 'do something with that.' And so we created Helmut and Wilhelm, who owned the radio stations and ruled with an iron fist. It was really more like Hogan's Heroes. Let me stress that. Helmut and Wilhelm were souless idiots, and that's where the humor came in. For the biggest promotional error I was ever a part of, some beer company sponsor sent us in 'uniform' to some bar in Morton Grove or Skokie. No one there knew that there was a radio promotion going on. They just thought we were Nazis, and they were not happy. We drank heavily and wrapped it up quickly before the riots broke out.

Bruce Wolf was a sportscaster on Brandmeier's and Steve & Garry's show, and for one year co-hosted a show with Steve...
Bruce: It was the second best thing I've ever done in broadcasting. I think I was the only real partner Steve ever had. Granted, I got to be his partner because Garry sacrificed his career and I came in through that little window when Steve was receptive to having someone argue with him on the air. (I mean someone other than Janet.) It was an amazing time. We would sit there for four hours, often with no calls, no guests and, well, nothing to talk about. But it was great. I would throw out all kinds of topics, suggestions, comments. I always felt like we were in Wrigley Field, and I was hitting fungoes out to Steve, who would try to field everything, including foul balls into the grandstand. He'd try to have a comeback for everything and most of the time did. Steve is brilliant. Howard Stern wishes he had Steve's imagination. I think the show was actually better than Steve and Garry...technically, that is. But listening to Steve and Garry was like being around for the invention of the wheel. Nothing will ever compare with that.

Buzz Kilman was the newsman/bluesman for both Steve & Garry and Johnny B...
Buzz: I recognized Johnny was going to be golden the first 30 seconds I heard him. I was walking by Tim Sabean’s or Greg Solk’s office, I can’t remember which, and they were listening to this tape of his show from Phoenix. I’m huge fan of boxing, and this guy on the tape was framing some surprisingly erudite question to Muhammed Ali, and I was impressed at the way he put the question together—and the fact that he had Ali on his show, so I stopped to listen in the hallway. But when the answer came from “Ali,” it sounded like it came from a 12-year-old white kid. That’s what it was—a 12-year-old white kid. This kid knew everything about Ali and was answering the questions totally seriously as if he really was Ali. That Bob & Ray school of comedy is my favorite—and Johnny was like Bob & Ray on crack—especially in those days when he had free reign on the phones. Brandmeier changed the face of radio.

Cara Carriveau started at the Loop on the Kevin Matthews show, but later hosted middays on the Loop FM...
Cara: Dennis DeYoung once sat in on the show with me and I had the most amazing experience of being alone in a room with him while he sang "Come Sail Away" live on the air.

Carla Leonardo worked at the Loop in the late 70s. (Carla sadly passed away a few years ago)...
Carla: The station was one of the coolest places to work at. Patti Haze, Dave Logan, Bill Evans, Tommy O'Toole, and Garry "Mondo" Meier, who was working overnites at the time. All the big bands used to come thru, and those that were definitely on the way up: Van Halen visited on their way to Haymakers! I was morning news/traffic/sidekick to a couple of really great guys: Ken Noble and Les Tracy. I feel lucky to have had a chance to work with them. I also met a young intern there, who later went on to become a brilliant programmer and power in radio, none other than Greg Solk.

Cheryl Raye Stout covered sports for the Loop AM...
Cheryl: I was standing behind the Cubs batting cage and some ladies came up to me. They asked me who I was, and what my job was. They were Hillary Clinton’s assistants. When I told them what I did, they said she would be interested in meeting me. She came to the press box, and I was called over and had a great chat with her.

Chet Coppock hosted "Coppock on Sports" on the Loop AM for many years...
Chet: Think about what we had in those days. We had Brandmeier and Buzz Kilman, Kevin Matthews, Jim Shorts, and Shemp and those guys, Steve & Garry and you and that crew, and Coppock on Sports after that, with our incredible boy-quarium. I really believe for a four or five year period there we had the best radio station in Chicago radio history. We were cutting edge. Every day was a thrill. We were treated like royalty. When I hired Dan McNeil as my executive producer, I was desperate. We were going to go on the air on Monday, and I needed somebody, so I pitched de Castro and Solk and said, look, “hire this guy, and within a year he’ll be able to fill in on the weekends and knock people’s socks off.” I didn’t actually know whether or not it was true, but I knew he was going to bust his hump, that he had a great desire to succeed. It turned out to be true.

Cindy Gatziolis was the promotion director of the Loop during some it's headiest days. (Cindy unfortunately passed away last year)...
Cindy: It was a challenge to say the least to please all the people all the time. YES! Luckily I didn’t have to work alone. Between Larry Wert, a myriad of program directors, my excellent staff and the hard-working, seldom-appreciated producers, we managed to make things work. I do recall one day that was nearly 24 hours, waking up at 3am to be at Dahl & Meier remote, working on all sorts of details for the Brandmeier 10 year anniversary show during the day, resting a couple hours and going to a Danny Bonaduce event that went until about 2am. What made it possible for me to do the job without going insane, is that I believed in those shows, and that goes for all of them…the FM jocks like Skafish and Stroud, and Wendy Snyder who maybe didn’t have the light shining on them as often. There will never be a more perfect job for me than that one and I truly loved all those people.

Dan McNeil was Chet Coppock's Executive Producer...
Dan: I admired Steve Dahl a lot when I started at the Loop in ’88. From him, I observed many things I should do, and a few things I shouldn’t. Chet Coppock taught me the ropes as I was cutting my teeth.

Danny Bonaduce will forever be Danny Partridge, but he really caught lightning in a bottle when he hosted a show on the Loop AM...
Danny: Car Carioke was my all-time favorite bit. I loved that! That was the very best thing I’ve ever done in entertainment talk radio, and the best I ever will do. The Hancock had this eight story spiral ramp going up to the parking garage, and the bit was that you had to come into the car with me and sing a song all the way down while I drove as fast as I could, and if you could do it without screaming, you’d win. No one could ever do it, because I knew something they didn’t. That garage ramp was engineered in such a way that a car couldn’t flip over. And I didn’t care if I scraped it up or dinged it, so I would hit the sides, and sparks would go flying and everybody, and I mean everybody, screamed. Nobody made it down that ramp without screaming. One day Johnny B told me that he thought he could do it, and so I took him down the ramp too. And I went fast, but not real fast, not as fast as I could have gone, and he was singing Happy Birthday or something like that and was doing great until we got to the bottom of the ramp. When we reached the bottom, he saw a woman standing there with a baby carriage, and it was right in our way. Well, I slammed into that baby carriage at full speed, and it went flying through the air, and Johnny B FLIPPED OUT. I mean flipped out! And then the woman, my ex-wife, got the baby carriage and showed Johnny there was a doll in there.

Dave Benson was the music director of the Loop during it's 80s/90s heyday...
Benson: The list of talented and/or crazy people all under one roof was amazing. Steve & Garry, Johnny B, Kevin Matthews, Bob Stroud, Bobby Skafish, Patti Haze, Chet Coppock, Ed Schwartz, Tony Fitzpatrick, Wendy Snyder, Stan Lawrence, John Fisher, Sandy Stahl, Bill Evans, Buzz Kilman...It was nearly impossible to get in trouble for saying something outrageous at the Loop. My God, Steve Dahl called Wally Phillips an "ass wipe" on the air! Working at the Loop required that you be ready to defend your turf, verbally or otherwise, at any moment.

Eddie Schwartz was a WGN legend (and frequent on-air target of Loop talent) who surprised everyone by signing with the Loop in the early 90s. (Eddie sadly passed away a few years ago)
Eddie: I loved every minute at WGN, make no mistake. It is a very special place to me. Simply put, when my last contract expired the Loop offered me a job. The facts were presented to my bosses. All they had to do to keep me was was offer me 1 dollar more than the LOOP. They refused to let anything or anybody influence their decisions. They didn't take me seriously because NOBODY ever left. I never expected to myself. I could have put 20 or more years in there easily. I was actually very mad at their stupid gamesmanship. But it also gave me a chance to re-energize myself in a new environment and to work with some great people. I can't say enough about the talent of people like Wendy Snyder, Kathy Voltmer, Johnny B, Mitch Rosen who came with me as producer from WGN and a bunch of other folks who made working there a ton of fun. That includes the former GM and my boss Larry Wert.

Ed Tyll had a stint as the late-night man on the Loop AM in the early 90s...
Ed: Chet’s Coppock's intro to my show used to be three minutes long. It was a riot. He would wind up this huge buildup by calling me BIG ED TYLL, and in would walk in this 5’6, 115 pound guy. Working on the Loop was like being on tour with all famous guys, all the time. I do remember one night when all of us got together for an event on the same night, and it was awesome. They did a poster for Budweiser with all of us, and we came out on stage at the same time. That was something.

Greg Solk was the program director of the Loop for many years, but he actually got his start as Steve & Garry's producer in the late 1970s...
Greg: I interned weekends and summers in 77 and 78, and again, purely by chance one weekend morning in early 1979, I just happened to be at the station when a guy knocked on the door carrying a big box of tapes. He said: “I’m Steve Dahl, and I’m going to be the morning guy starting on Monday.” And I helped him carry his stuff in, and get his tapes ready, and during the process Steve asked if I had any interest to work as a producer on his show. I started right away – and got paid! I was very lucky to work with him. I was still in high school, and here I was working with Steve Dahl. I learned more about radio from him than I learned from anyone, before or since. He taught me the genius of connecting “on an emotional level” with the audience. He’s the smartest radio guy I’ve ever met.

Harry Teinowitz was part of several different shows on the Loop AM...
Harry: One night I was doing a stand up gig at The Improv, and the owner told me that Keith Van Horne and Tom Thayer were doing a show on the Loop and that I should stop by. He said—bring a case of beer—they like that. When I got there they already had a case of beer. I was supposed to be on at 1:00 am, and by 2:00 they hadn’t asked me into the studio yet. I was actually just about to leave when they finally came out and got me. Once I got on the air with them, it went great. The next day I got a call saying that Greg Solk liked me on the show very much.

Jack Landreth briefly produced Kevin Matthews show...
Jack: I would come to learn that Matthews, along with Brandmeier, Steve & Garry, and later on, Bonaduce were talents that would help me focus on what mattered the most….entertaining the audience with compelling content. That’s what mattered most. Years later, I talked to Steve, and thanked him for those years. Every now and then I run into Danny, and love to talk those old “Loop” days.

Jack Silver was the program director of the Loop AM during the early 90s...
Jack: One of the things I learned is that the listeners have a boss too, so if you become a boss that can be made fun of, the listeners seem to absolutely love that. I probably met more of the listeners than any other program director, because they knew me. This whole radio thing is about the listeners, and when you put yourself out there, they go out of their way to meet you. The guys that sit in the offices and don’t get out there are usually the guys who never been on the air, and don’t really understand what a personality is thinking or what they’re dealing with, that moment of panic that can set in when you’re not 100% what you’re going to say next. If you haven’t had that, haven’t experienced that, what good are you?

Jeff Hoover is now a producer for the WGN-TV News, but he got his start on Brandmeier's show...
Hoover: I moved to Chicago in 1991 and didn't get the idea to call in to his show until he had a Jerry Lewis impersonation contest in 1993. Johnny had tickets to see Jerry at the Drury Lane in Oakbrook. I was working at a marketing company and heard this and thought this was my chance to play. I asked the HR manager if I could use her office for a minute and closed the door and made the call. I had never tried to say anything more than "LADY" in the Jerry voice so I was nervous and anxious. Luckily, some of the Second City improv training kicked in when it came to my turn. After riffing about my colostomy bag looking like a Steakum, I won the tickets. Now, this is going to sound really dorky, but the greatest feeling during that first call was making Johnny laugh. I still have the tape and it is great to hear Johnny, Buzz and Robin together. And, to this day, the best thing that I can ever hope to do, is to make people laugh. Jesus, I really sound like Jerry Lewis now.

Jeff Schwartz was the sales manager of the Loop back in the Disco Demolition days...
Schwartz: I was the GSM, but I always involved myself in promotions. I realized it even back then that we weren't just selling numbers. I couldn't sell numbers. I never did. I always sold emotion. And those promotions were part of what I did. Dave Logan was the promotion director in those days, and if you look at the Disco Demolition video you can see him running on the field. He got to do the fun stuff. I had to get on a plane the day after Disco Demolition to calm down our biggest client in Detroit who wanted to cancel all of his advertising after witnessing the spectacle.

Jimmy "Mac" McInerney produced for Kevin Matthews & Johnny B...
Jimmy Mac: Something that made The Loop really cool back then was the camaraderie. There was a large group or us working there and we got to know each other really well. We all were working for the biggest names in the biz back then, and we were all very aware of it. I think we were really into what we were doing. It was very creative, and competitive. I worked on just about every show at The Loop during this time. It wasn’t uncommon for me to actually have my pillow with me because I was spending more time at the studio than at home! The demands and deadlines were always really tight, as is the nature of talk radio. It was a crazy time. We would almost come to blows over studio time…Then we would all go out to Flapjaws on Pearson for beer. Talent, management, producers, interns…We all would hang out, and sometimes even travel together. Whenever I see anyone from the old Loop, I feel like it’s a family reunion.

John Swany Swanson is the producer for Eric & Kathy now, but he got his start working for Brandmeier...
Swany: When I worked for Johnny, I once swam in the Chicago River to win a bet with him. While the Michigan Avenue Bridge was under construction, there was a story in the Sun-Times about a guy who sat in a boat all day to retrieve anything that fell into the river. The only way to get him on the air was to swim out to him. Johnny bet me I couldn't get to him. I didn't quite get there, but it was great radio, even though I almost drowned. About a week or two later, a cab crashed onto the sidewalk and knocked somebody into the river. That same guy in the boat had to retrieve him--so Johnny sent me back out there again. The cab was up on the sidewalk against the rail. Johnny told me he would give me $5000 if I got in the cab and drove it off the bridge. I did get in the cab, which could be heard clearly on the air, but I didn't drive it off. I'm crazy, but I'm not stupid. People still talk to me about that bit, though.

Kevin Matthews was the midday man on the Loop AM and was right in the middle of all the mayhem, but he says it's only the second craziest station he ever worked for, believe it or not...
Kevin: I started at a college station and we were wild too. Our advisor dropped acid and would do two days shows—I swear that station was like the Manson Ranch. But it was so much fun. I learned about music there—everything from John Coltrane to the Sex Pistols. My roommate and I did a show we called the Dos Equis hour. We brought in a case of Dos Equis, drank it live on the air, and played Spanish songs. It was so much fun—probably too much fun. We lost our license when we said that President Lubbers (the President of the University) had been mutilated and killed. They came in like Animal House, took away the license, and turned it into a hair salon. That’s where it started for me. My first station--and we lost our license.

Laura Witek worked as a news anchor for both Kevin Matthews and Steve & Garry...
Laura: I will never forget my very first newscast on the LOOP….Kevin’s show. I hadn’t really listened to him before, (too busy watching/listening to the news!) but I did my homework in the few days I had before I started. Of course, as I listened to his show I thought he had to have some guests…SOME help. He couldn’t really be all those characters, right? When I got to the studio that first day, I was surprised to find only Kevin. So, I start to read the news and proceed to get interrupted by Jimmy, Devon, Bill Cartwright and Raymond Burr. I remember thinking: I’m not in Kansas anymore.

Les Grobstein did sports at the Loop in the early 90s, but he also very very briefly worked there in the late 70s...
Les: I was called in by (news director at the time) Reed Pence at the Loop and a couple of other people over there, and they were interested in having a sportscaster too. That chance died when they put together their deal for Disco Demolition. Part of the deal was Mike Veeck would come in and do what was basically nothing more than a promotional announcement for the White Sox. He did that for about a week and a half before the actual event. Obviously after it blew up in their faces, they dumped the idea. Mike Veeck was out.

Leslie Keiling did traffic on several Loop shows...
Leslie: I was on with Steve and Garry around the time I was getting married. They told everybody I would be wearing red. They also taught me exactly what an on-air team should sound like. Johnny B. = fun. If he was a dog, he'd be a Jack Russell terrier. I'd get within 5 feet of him, and get scared that he'd steal my life force to keep it all going.

Lisa Dominique did traffic on Brandmeier's show for a few years in the early 90s...
Lisa: I have nothing but memories of that time of smiling, giggling, and laughing until my guts ached. What a fabulous and golden time in broadcasting that it was for all of us. Those 'wacky weenies' that listeners would create for Johnny's show and send in for Johnny, Buzz and me were amazingly creative and it was most flattering to have somebody take the time to do something like that for the show with you, in particular, in mind. I still have a cassette tape of about 20 of them about me that Wiser kindly ran off and gave to me. I came across it in 2008 in a shoebox of tapes that I thought had been drowned in a basement flood several years ago. After listening to them (after spending about a week trying to locate a cassette player!), I was flooded with the warm feelings of the good times that we all had together on the Loop and AM 1000.

Matt Bisbee worked at the Loop for the entire hey-day run. He was a jock, production director, and even briefely the program director...
Matt: The fun days were probably the 80s. It seemed like everyone we added to the puzzle made us better and better. Bob Stroud, Bobby Skafish and Patti Haze! Some of the best jocks of all-time. Brandmeier, Dahl & Meier, Kevin Matthews—man, what talent. It was a special moment in time that you couldn't recreate if you tried…although I guess they're trying now. It's hard to restart that fire, though, because it wasn't just the great on-air talent. With Decastro walking the hallway, and Greg Solk, and then later Larry Wert, even the management was well-known, entertaining, and special. It was an unbelievable collection of people, between the AM and the FM. People are what make a radio station great, and we had great people.

Mitch Michaels did the afternoon cruise on the Loop in the late 70s/early 80s...
Mitch: It is hard to describe how big the Loop was in those days. It seemed like it was everywhere. I had worked at some big stations, but nothing like this. I think the marketing plan, the music, the air-talent, everything was just perfect for that time and place. The t-shirts, the Lorelei commercials, obviously Dahl & Meier, and that whole Coho Lips thing, it was just all over the place. I actually found one of those old coho lips buttons in my basement the other day. I distinctly remember one time I was driving in to work. I was living in Oak Park at the time, and it was this time of year. Everyone had the windows in their cars rolled down. At every single stoplight I pulled up alongside another car that was listening to the Loop. One after the other. It was amazing. Everyone was listening.

Mitch Rosen now runs WXRT and the Score, but he came to the Loop with Eddie Schwartz in the early 90s...
Mitch: At that time the Loop was the coolest station in America, and I was thrilled that Eddie asked me to go along for the ride. The truth is I didn't know it was the Loop until the day before he announced he was going there. I really thought we were going to WLS. I never imagined for a second that The Loop was the next stop on The Eddie Tour. I can still remember his call to me when it was close to being official. (Now try to imagine this in Eddie's high pitched voice). He said: “Kid, were going to the LOOP!!” I said "Really?" He said it was going to be fun and all the big boy personalities were on board. Larry Wert did something that I will never forget. He sent Eddie a box of hats; one for Brandmeier, Dahl and Meier, and Kevin Matthews, and a note that said throw your hat in the ring. Eddie never forgot that. We went in open minded about the personalities and their treatment of Eddie over the years, but the guys really treated him great. He felt cool. One of the funniest nights was the night that Kevin and Dahl sent a stripper to the studio to surprise big Ed. Ed quickly put on one of his 15 minutes jazz instrumentals.

Pugs Moran worked on several Loop shows, most notably Kevin Matthews...
Pugs: I was kept sequestered from Kevin for the first month or so. Then one day while working in the green room, the one with the great window view on 37, Kev walks in eating a homemade sandwich from a brown paper bag. He just stood over me staring for what felt like hours but was probably as long as it took him to chew. I was frozen at the idea that the most creatively gifted guy I had ever heard was looming over me. I expected his first words to be something hysterical, something that would come from way out in left field. He finally said, “Hey bud, you want half of my sandwich”? That was first contact, then the next morning while listening from the office I remember hearing Jim say “hey Kev, who is that fat kid that’s always hanging around?” I became the fat kid that would do “anything for the show”. I was pure slapstick and I don’t know if any of it was funny but I know one thing, I made Kevin laugh and to me that was the golden wonka ticket. If we all have a radio family we spring from then mine is, Kev, Mitch, Geli, Peggy, Swanny, Dorothy and my big brother always the late and loved Doc.

Robin Baumgarten is the morning anchor on WGN-TV News now, but she got her start on Brandmeier's show...
Robin: I have such fond memories of that show – Johnny is the best. I was new to the business, and Johnny, Buzz Kilman, and Bruce Wolf were all so accommodating about making me part of the team. It was a blast going to work every day. One of my favorite memories is of the Donny Osmond/Danny Bonaduce fight that Johnny organized at the old China Club. He brought in the late, great Jack Brickhouse as an analyst. As Jack was waiting to go onstage, and I was waiting a few feet behind him, he turned his head and “hocked a lugey” over his shoulder and it landed right on my shoe. No matter what else I do in this business, I'll forever be known as the girl that got “lugeyed” by Jack Brickhouse. A true honor.

Roman Sawczak was Steve & Garry's producer in the mid-80s...
Roman: A lot of celebrities came through the studio but I will never forget Warren Zevon. He was the only person ever allowed by Steve and Garry to smoke in the studio. That's how much they respected and were in awe of his visit. I had the honor of co-hosting when the boys were on hiatus with people like Joe Walsh, Richard Belzer, Richard Lewis and many others. Of course there's the time Janet was out of town and entrusted me to stay at the house with Steve. We ended up staying out all night and Steve could not make it to the station for the show. He called Garry and did segments over the phone. Garry was not a happy man.

Scott Dirks was the overnight guy at the Loop FM for many years, beginning in the late 70s...
Scott: When I started out at the college station I became friends with another one of the jocks there, and we followed almost identical paths for a while – he ended up working weekend overnights at WMET, when I was doing the same shifts at the Loop. The Loop and WMET were bitter rivals in a legendary rock radio war, but he and I were friends, and lived not too far from each other. We’d carpool to work together, or meet after we got off in the air in the morning and go have breakfast somewhere. While we were on the air we’d usually get each other on the phone and have these epic all-night conversations to keep each other awake and on our toes through the overnight shift. One New Years Eve we were both scheduled to start work at midnight, so we met up a little earlier, toasted the New Year with a drink or two, and then went to work. For me it was just a slightly sloppier than usual airshift, but when he got to work, he kept drinking, and eventually decided it would be a good idea to throw the ‘more rock and less talk’ format out the window, and do very lengthy on-air commentary about the state of the radio business, share his thoughts on various other people on the air, his bosses, etc. I’d made plans to drive him home that morning. When I get there, and there are listeners wandering up and down the halls of the radio station, the studio door was propped open and people were just walking in and out, and the unscheduled talk show has taken a somewhat less than G-rated turn. I stood in the studio and basically watched this guy commit career suicide for the last hour of what, as you might imagine, was his last shift in Chicago.

Stan Lawrence was a regular contributor to the Steve & Garry show, and later co-hosted the Best of Steve & Garry (with me) and Ebony & Ivory...
Stan: When Steve went to the Loop (in 1979) and starting doing the show with Garry, they had a contributor named “The Prince” who called in pretty regularly. Well, apparently he became a bit of a nuisance, and they were looking for somebody else. One day Steve was talking about the boat people living in the Orange Bowl in Miami. He said that he wanted to get one of them to be his housekeeper. I called in to say “Yeah, I bet you do. You want to get between those golden arches, don’t you?” He had never heard that term before, thought it was funny, and gave me the coveted hotline number. I’ve been a contributor to the show ever since.

Steve Cochran worked at the Loop in the mid-90s...
Steve: The Loop was probably the most fun of any station I worked at because of the incredible line up. I was there at the tail end of it, but at one point it was Johnny, Kevin, Danny and me during the day, and just to be a part of that was great. To work with Jimmy de Castro, who really is a genius, and Larry Wert, that was a heck of an experience.

Terry Gibson was the overnight jock on the Loop-FM in the late 80s...
Terry: Steve & Garry were celebrating their 10-year anniversary together. I had the bright idea of writing a parody song about their ten years together, and I dragged Wendy into it with me. After I got off the air one morning, and turned it over to Johnny B, Wendy, Mike Davis (known on the air as “Igor”), and me went into the production studio to record the song. We’re not exactly great singers, but that didn’t matter to us. It was really more about the lyrics—a tribute to Steve & Garry. Well, somehow Johnny B (photo) got wind of us doing this, and put our studio on the air while we were singing. We had no idea we were on the air. Johnny thought it was hysterical, so he called Steve up on the phone. Mind you, this was 6:15 in the morning. Steve was out cold when Johnny called, and he wasn’t happy about being awakened. I heard the tape later, he said: “Johnny, I don’t do mornings anymore, babe.” Anyway, it took Steve a long time to figure out that the song was about him, but he wasn’t quite getting the concept because he was so groggy. After he hung up, Johnny called into the production room and Wendy answered. He told her that the entire thing had been live on the air. We were mortified. I could feel the red in my cheeks. By then though, we had finished the song. I was listening that afternoon when Steve & Garry played it on the air, and all the embarrassment we felt that morning was worth it.

Vince Argento is the production director of the Loop today, but he got his start on Steve & Garry's show. He was their producer the day they broke up...
Vince: After Garry’s wedding he was gone for two weeks and we all assumed he was going to be back that next Monday. That morning Steve called me on the producer’s line, and I told him “Garry must be late. He’s not even here yet,” and Steve said “I don’t think he’s coming Vinnie.” I’ll be honest with you; I don’t really remember what we did on the show that day. We were in all in a fog. At some point, they pulled Steve off the air, because they were worried that he was going to say something that would mess up the chances of getting them back together—so Stony and I hosted the Best of Steve & Garry while they negotiated behind the scenes. Every single local news outlet was reporting that they broke up—there were reporters in the lobby, in the hallway, and here’s me and Stony on the air...we had no idea what to do. When they finally decided what to do, Garry got his own show mid-days on the Loop FM, and Steve was put on mornings on the AM along with Leslie (Keiling), Laura Witek (photo), and I believe Les Grobstein. I stayed with Steve.

Wendy Snyder got her start at the Loop as an FM jock. She later worked with Kevin Matthews, Brandmeier, and both Steve & Garry...
Wendy: Here I was, 23 years old and working at the same station as Jonathon Brandmeier, Buzz Kilman, Steve and Garry, Kevin Matthews, Bob Stroud, Bobby Skafish, Patti Haze--I grew up listening to many of these people and now I was working with them. Too cool. Later on, throw in a Danny Bonaduce, Chet Coppock, Eddie Schwartz, ’85 Bears Tom Thayer and Keith Van Horne, Artist Tony Fitzpatrick, Stan Lawrence, and Rick Kaempfer. It really was a blast back then….one big happy family. And, of course, the Loop is where I met my future husband, Jimmy “Mac” McInerney.

Of course, that wasn't the only Loop wedding. I also met my future wife Bridget working there in 1988. This coming November we'll be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.

Around the Publishing World (February 10)

At Chicago Author Solutions (a division of Eckhartz Press), we stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.

1. How to Be Creative (Tips from Picasso, Einstein, Stephen King)
You can always learn from the greats. This was in a recent issue of Time Magazine.

2. How to Gain Followers on Instagram
Instagram is a very visual social media, so it's not perfect for all authors. For authors of more visually-oriented books, however, it's a must. This article has some good tips about how to increase your instagram presence.

3. Amazon to put final nail in B&N coffin?
Interesting note. Barnes and Noble has lost approx 60% of it's value in the last 6 months. They have 76 million shares outstanding at approx $7.40 share. This means that the company is valued at about $600 million, while Amazon is worth approx $250 Billion. Amazon could buy (or initiate a hostile take over) B & K with .2 % asset allocation. Tick tock, Barnes and Noble. Now Amazon is launching retail outlets too.

4. Kindle cracks down on e-book quality
For those of you who don't follow the whole Kindle world, there's a movement that tracks free e-books and promotes them. Many Kindle readers used to sniff at paying anything at all for an e-book because so many of them were free. Ah, but you get what you pay for, don't you? The quality was often horrible. Not just content-wise, but also formatting-wise. Authors tried to do it themselves to save money and made lots and lots of mistakes. It's gotten so bad that amazon has been forced to crack down.

5. A great interview with Adam McKay, the man who transformed "The Big Short" into a motion picture
The Big Short is a great book by Michael Lewis. It's now also a great film. Adam McCay is the man who transformed it into a movie, and this feature in the Washington Post is a great read.

In Appreciation of Bob & Ray

Ken Levine is one of the all-time great sitcom comedy writers, and his blog is a must read for geeks for me. Today he pays tribute to comedy greats Bob & Ray.

You can read it here.

Glenn Frey Tribute

The Grammy's will pay tribute to Glenn Frey, according to this piece in Entertainment Weekly.

The Eagles and Jackson Browne will perform "Take it Easy" during the broadcast. I was just saying to my family the other night that there was no need to watch the Grammy's this year (We had just seen the promo--nothing of interest to a geezer like me). This news changes it for me.

Radio Still Making Money

From this morning's Tom Taylor column...

Chicago radio’s top ten billers for 2015 –All-news/Cubs baseball WBBM/WCFS (CBS) remains #1, up from $39,215,000 to $43,827,000., Second is Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX, up 3.1% to $31,875,000. Third is Tribune’s talk WGN, down 16.1% to $24,540,000. Fourth is urban AC “V103,” the first of the iHeart-owned stations, and it’s up substantially (+22.2%). WVAZ improved from 2014’s $19,515,000 to $23,857,000. Fifth is iHeart’s top 40 “Kiss 103.5” WKSC, also up double digits (+11.5%), to $22,502,000. The second five begins with CBS’ all-sports “Score” WSCR, off just slightly to $21,886,000. (A reminder here that the Cubs are shifting to the Score from all-news WBBM.) Seventh is CBS-owned rhythmic “B96” WBBM-FM, down 11.7% to $20,034,000. Eighth is Univision’s regional Mexican WOJO, gaining 5.4% to $19,483,000. Ninth is iHeart’s urban WGCI, down 4.7% to $17,324,000. And tenth is CBS Radio’s country “US 99.5” WUSN, perhaps showing the effects of a new format rival and budget cuts. It’s down nearly 20%, to $16,960,000. Just outside the top ten is another strong-performing iHeart station, hot AC/all-Christmas WLIT, up 15.8% to $14,621,0000. Twelfth is CBS radio’s adult alternative WXRT, off 21.3% to $13,318,000. And thirteenth is SBS-owned regional Mexican “La Ley” WLEY-FM, up a whopping 42.2% to $12,224,000. Cumulus had a solid year with the adult alternative station it LMAs from Merlin. WKQX jumped 47.3% to $11.5 million. Though its classic rock sister “Loop” WLUP was off 1.6% to just below $5.5 million. Of the stations Cumulus owns, its talk WLS ranked seventeenth, down 14.7% to about $8.1 million. Classic hits WLS-FM improved 26.1% to just shy of $6.9 million.

Van Halen

On this day in 1978, Van Halen released their very first album. I was a fan immediately. They toured Germany the following year. (It was still called "West Germany" back then). I lived in Heidelberg at the time, and my buddy and I took the train to Ludwigshafen to see them perform. I'm pretty sure I damaged my hearing that night...

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

"Monkey in the Middle" by Dobie Maxwell

Announcing our newest Eckhartz Press book: "Monkey in the Middle" by comedian Dobie Maxwell

For years Dobie Maxwell has been told that his incredible life story should be a book. This is it. Dobie was born in Milwaukee, to a biker father and drug abusing mother. When he was only five months old, his mother abandoned him and his two older siblings. Dobie was separated from his siblings and sent to be raised by his paternal grandparents. It was there, in his grandparents’ neighborhood, that Dobie befriended another societal misfit. The two became best friends.

Years later as Dobie pursued his dream as a professional comedian and radio personality, that same “friend” robbed a local bank. He used Dobie as his unknowing getaway driver as they took a cross country trip to Las Vegas in a rental car in Dobie’s name. The same friend robbed the same bank again two years later. This time he did it disguised as a Gorilla Gram–a robbery so audacious it made all the local television news programs. Who would have done such a thing? Law enforcement thought it just might be the work of a comedian, and all trails led to Dobie.

Dobie was dragged into the story against his will, and eventually had to make the excruciating choice of either testifying against his life-long friend in court or going to prison for crimes he did not commit.

Monkey in the Middle is hilarious, tragic, joyous, dark, and smart. In short, it’s just like the real life narrator of the story; Dobie Maxwell himself.

Monkey in the Middle is available for pre-order now! It ships on March 14th.

Lisa and Ray

Last night Ray Stevens posted this on Facebook about his buddy (and US-99 co-host) Lisa Dent, who is in Nashville getting recognized as an inductee in the Country Radio Hall of Fame...

"To be nominated for the country music Hall of fame is unreal, but when they send you the paper work and you don't fill it out you don't get inducted (Me). My pal Lisa Dent did, and she's in. This article was done by another longtime friend Rick Kaempfer. It sums up the day Lisa got the news. I was told to wait and management would tell her later that day. This is a woman who has shared my highest highs and lowest lows. When you're doing radio with a partner, it's that person you live and die with, not the suits. This read sums up the day Lisa got the news. Needless to say she got the news from me over her favorite dirty martini."

Thanks Ray, and congrats to Lisa!

Super Bowl Ratings

Before the game all the experts were predicting it would be the highest rated show of all time.

Close. It was third.

111.9 million people tuned in.

How Low Can You Go?

This really happened at a Donald Trump rally last night. A woman (that's right, a woman) screamed out a phrase while Trump was ripping Ted Cruz. What did she yell?

"He's a pussy!"

And how did Donald Trump respond? He made her repeat it. And just in case not everyone in the joint heard her, he repeated it too. And then, with a smirk on his face, pretended to be offended by it.

And the crowd cheered wildly.

Making America great again.

A Jeb in Winter

Samantha Bee's new show debuted with this little film about Jeb...

Bill Veeck

From Just One Bad Century...

~February 9, 1914
Wrigley Field (then known as Weeghman Park) was just a few months away from opening its doors for the first time when a boy was born to Chicago sportswriter Bill Bailey and his wife. Bailey’s real last name was Veeck, and he named his son after himself, William Veeck Jr. The elder Veeck became the president of the Cubs when Bill Jr. was still a little boy, and was probably the greatest innovator of his time. He was the first man to bring Ladies Day to the big leagues, and was the first to realize how important it was to broadcast the games on the radio (The Cubs were the first team to do so). While other teams were afraid of giving away the product for free–Veeck Sr. saw it for what is was–a free 3 hour commercial for the team and the ballpark.

At the age of 11, young Bill started helping out his dad at the ballpark. He worked on the grounds crew, as an office boy, and a vendor. (Photo: Bill with manager Joe McCarthy) As a fifteen year old kid, he was taking care of the Ladies’ Day passes at Wrigley Field by day, and was tagging along with baseball hero Hack Wilson to the speakeasies in Cicero by night.

“With a father who ran a ball club, my boyhood was the kind most kids dream about,” Veeck says in his autobiography. It’s no wonder that Wrigley Field meant so much to him. Young Bill wasn’t only hanging out with famous ballplayers like Wilson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, and Charlie Grimm, he really felt like he was part of the team. After his father died in 1933, Veeck quit college to work for the Cubs full-time. He eventually rose to the job of Treasurer, but when he wasn’t given the job of President a few years later, he moved on (in 1941). His most lasting accomplishment at Wrigley Field is something that still draws fans into the ballpark seventy years later…the ivy on the walls. Veeck was the one that planted the ivy in 1937.

In his final years Veeck re-adopted the Chicago Cubs. He was a frequent sight at Wrigley Field, often found sitting in the bleachers without a shirt. He had owned several different teams in his long baseball career (The Browns, the Sox, the Indians, and the Brewers), but when he could go to any ballpark in the big leagues in any town in America, there was only one ballpark he came to again and again as a fan. He came home to his favorite place; the place of his childhood dreams, Wrigley Field.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Adam McKay Interview

Adam McKay is the director of "The Big Short", which has been nominated for five Academy Awards. After reading this incredible interview in the Washington Post, I absolutely have to see this movie. It's a long piece, but it's really illuminating. Highly recommended.

McKay spent his formative comedic years here in Chicago working at Second City and as part of the improv comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade. I met him once or twice in those days, although I'm sure he has no memory of that. It's not like we had long conversations or anything. He's a friend of my co-author (of "The Living Wills") Brendan Sullivan. Brendan sent him a copy of our book when it first came out.

I'm rooting for McKay. He's one of the good guys.

Free Excerpt: Joel Daly Commentary February 8, 1974

Joel Daly's book "The Daly News" is a great chronicle of a very interesting and tumultuous time in Chicago history. One of the best parts of the book, is when Joel dips into his archive of commentaries. He did them every night for ten years and won several Emmy's for his work. This one was delivered on this date in 1974. It was the last day of NASA's Apollo program...

The problem with being a dreamer is that you tend to close your eyes, and, for me, the space program, which came to an end today, was the “stuff” of which dreams are made.

Forty-one Americans ventured into the black frontier during the past decade, and they all returned. Their achievements were generally measured in technological terms: how far, how fast, how much.

But, I was more fascinated with the human adventure.

For every flight, every mission, including the one that ended today, succeeded only because man was there, still the most flexible, adaptive, non-mechanized creature to come along.

I remember when Neil Armstrong took that “giant step for mankind,” when he put his footprints on the moon, I sat up all night trying to find the right words:

“By reaching for the planets,” I concluded, “Man reaches beyond himself and takes another giant stride away from the primeval caves, where he first learned fear, and the feuding tribes, where he first learned war. By conquering space, he conquers himself.”

But, I was wrong. I was dreaming! The space program was primarily an engineering feat, quickly forgotten, and, in the final phases, almost ignored.

But it’s my hunch that, say, 10,000 years from now, it won’t be Watergate or the energy crisis that will dominate the history of this era. It will be our achievement in space, man’s first tentative steps into the foothills of the Universe.

History? Ten thousand years from now? Perhaps, that, too, is the mark of a dreamer.

Carpool Karioke

James Corden is riding this bit, and for good reason. It's a winner. He's done lots of them, but saved Elton John for Super Bowl Sunday. I couldn't stay up to watch it, but I looked it up this morning...

Trump Valentine

Think Bridget will like this one?

There are nine more at I have to admit, they made me laugh.

Re-examining Figures from History through today's Mental Health Lens

This piece in the New York Post is actually quite good. (That's a sentence I've never written before)

It takes a new look at some notorious figures from history. Was Howard Hughes OCD? Andy Warhol a hoarder? Albert Einstein on the autism spectrum?

Definitely worth a read.

Bern Your Enthusiasm

This was probably the best bit on SNL with Larry David. Bernie himself showed up in a later (not nearly as funny) bit.

My Favorite Commercial

I thought the commercials were subpar this year, but this one is my favorite...

The Real Super Bowl Controversy

If you've ever been to Vegas during a Super Bowl, you know that you can bet on absolutely anything. You can bet on the coin flip, the number of turnovers, the name it.

One of the things you can bet on is the length of the National Anthem. This year the betting line for Lady Gaga was 2:20. How long did the National Anthem last?

That's the controversy. The Washington Post has the controversial details.