Friday, March 04, 2016

Save the Date: May 20

My cousin's son Caleb is one of the recipients of this years Beat Tom & Bill Golf Outing. Thanks to everyone who sent me prizes for the silent auction/raffle. (I got some great prizes!). If you'd like to participate in the golf outing itself, registration opens on St. Patrick's Day In the meantime save the date: Friday, May 20. Golf is at the White Pines Golf Course - Bensonville, IL. Dinner will be at the Diplomat West Banquets - Elmhurst, IL. Your support means the world to me, and of course to Caleb's family (and the eight other families being helped this year).

Chicago's Birthday

Some beautiful pictures. She doesn't look a day over 150.

Ted Cruz Eats a Booger

I missed this last night...

Knife Found Buried at OJ's Estate

One of my guilty pleasures the past few weeks has been watching the FX series about the OJ Trial. It's really well done. The guy who plays Johnny Cochran is particularly great. I feel like I'm watching the real guy. Same for the actor playing Chris Darden. (Travolta is terrible as Robert Shapiro, but he's really the only one who doesn't do a good job)

While the actual trial was going on I was the executive producer of the John Landecker show on WJMK, and we followed this trial incredibly closely. We did four different songs about it. We did untold bits about the news of the day. We created the "Dancing Itos" concept that was later stolen by Jay Leno. I watched the trial daily to get bit ideas. And I remember it incredibly well. So, when I say they are doing a great job recreating it, I know what I'm talking about.

And now, while this series is being shown on television, new evidence has emerged. According to TMZ this morning, a knife has been found buried on the grounds of OJ Simpson's former estate. Remember, the murder weapon was never found. They searched the woods here in Chicago for it (because he flew to Chicago the night of the murders), and they searched his estate, but they never looked to see if it was buried there. And, according to the article, the knife appears to have blood residue on it.

Of course, even if it proves to be the murder weapon, OJ cannot be charged with the crime again. He was acquitted. Double Jeopardy precludes a second trial. But still, wouldn't it be nice to know?

RIP John Rook

Former WLS program director John Rook has passed away. From today's RAMP Newsletter...

We've lost another legend -- longtime programmer, consultant and station owner John Rook, best known for his successful stints at KQV/Pittsburgh, WLS and WCFL/Chicago and KFI and KABC/Los Angeles, died on Tuesday, March 1. Rook, who was 78, had been living in Coeur d'Alene, ID with his sister Dot and his adopted son Jason. Veteran programmer Dennis Constantine was a close friend of Rook, who hired him at Y100/Miami in 1973 and brought him out to do nights at KTLK/Denver six months later. Constantine told RAMP he and Rook had spoken on the phone almost every day over the past few years. "John was most proud of his years at ABC, first at KQV/Pittsburgh, then at WLS/Chicago," he said. "Years later, he competed against WLS when he went to WCFL. He has programmed and consulted many amazing radio stations with a very simple philosophy -- play the hits! He had a great ear for picking hits and he was a great coach for air staff. He was the first who taught me about 'one thought per break.'"

When I interviewed Clark Weber for Chicago Radio Spotlight a few years ago, he mentioned that Rook was the man who replaced him as PD at WLS in 1966...50 years ago.

"I learned I wasn’t prepared to be the program director. I was just lucky that everyone there got along well. It wasn’t really until Lujack arrived that I started to run into problems. That’s when they brought John Rook in to be the PD, and I was the happiest guy in the building."

Totally Presidential

Donald Trump last night during the Republican debate:

"I have to say this: he hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I have never heard of this. Look at those hands. [Holds hands up] Are they small hands? [Laughter] And he referred to my hands — if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you, there is no problem. I guarantee you."

Donald Trump responding to the blistering Mitt Romney speech yesterday afternoon:

"I don't know what happened to him. You can see how loyal he is. He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees.' He would have dropped to his knees."

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Now that is one gigantic fence

Reminds me of this scene in "Dumb & Dumber"...

Melissa Forman Interview

My latest media column has been posted by the Illinois Entertainer. This month I spoke with Melissa Forman from WCIU-TV.

You can read it here.

The Who's 50 Greatest Songs

Rolling Stone Magazine has put together their list, and of course, it's bound to spark disagreement among Who fans. As for me, this one (that didn't make it in their top ten) is the greatest Who song ever...

Spring Training "Opening Day" lineup

The Cubs are playing their first spring training game today, and they just announced their lineup...

1. Kyle Schwarber - LF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Jorge Soler - RF
5. Miguel Montero - C
6. Javy Baez - CF
7. Tommy La Stella - 2B
8. Dan Vogelbach - DH
9. Munenori Kawasaki - SS
Travis Wood - P

I am so ready for this season to begin.

Mitt's Speech

Full text of Mitt Romney's anti-Trump speech is here. I know I'm only 52 years old, but I have never seen anything like that in my lifetime. The last presidential candidate begging people not to vote for the frontrunner of the same party.

Meanwhile, the FBI has offered immunity to the guy who created Hillary's e-mail server, which is surely not a good development for her.

This election in the fall could be amongst the two most hated candidates in history; one who is clearly emotionally unstable and despised by a majority of his own party, against another who could be facing an indictment. Unbelievable.

This is the first presidential election my two oldest sons are eligible to vote. Good luck picking a candidate, boys.

Tribune Publishing

I wrote about the troubles at Tribune Media the other day, but let's not ignore the tumult at Tribune Publishing. In the past week or so they have had a complete revamp of executives.

Adweek has the ugly details.

This is America

Joe Walsh & Bad Company

This is a heck of a double-headliner show: Joe Walsh and Bad Company.

Details (and tour dates) are available here. They come to Chicago on June 23.

I'm going to try to make it to this one (and as many others as I can). The way these guys have been dropping over the past year or so makes we want to see them all one last time.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Fox News Receives Its Marching Orders

Look for the anti-Trump talk to immediately disappear from Fox News...

The suits are figuring out that the monster they created still needs to be fed. Unfortuately for them, the monster now gets to order whatever it wants from the menu.

Norm Winer Quits WXRT

Not completely shocking news because his role had been diminished recently. And yet, totally shocking news, because Norm Winer was WXRT.

Robert Feder has the details and the full text of Norm's farewell to his co-workers.

Couldn't help but notice this comment from Norm: "I’ll soon have plenty of time to start writing my memoirs while I can still remember all the names, places, and punchlines that have given me so much pleasure – or at least adrenaline—for so long."

Norm, I know a publisher. Give me a call.

10 Years of Blogging: Bonus Father Knows Nothing "Dad's on TV"

This year marks my tenth year as a blogger. Once a week I'm going through my archives of 30,000+ posts to re-post a few of my favorites. This week, I'm offering a bonus "Father Knows Nothing" column that didn't make it into the book. During my "Father Knows Nothing" years I appeared on television about a dozen times. This column was written in 2011, after one of those television appearances...

My kids never tire of hearing stories about my childhood, but there is one thing they will never ask me about under any circumstances.

My career.

They just don't care. I can understand that on a certain level. My own father was an engineer, and I remember that after I discovered he wasn't a train engineer...he was just a civil engineer...his job didn't interest me in the slightest. Even when I attended a school that he had personally designed (Heidelberg American Middle School), I wasn't impressed. I remember telling him: "The hallways are a little confusing."

So, I suppose it's only fair that my own kids are similarly unimpressed with my career. When they were little, I worked in radio. My two oldest sons Tommy and Johnny were even featured on the show quite a bit. But I remember their reaction one time when a stranger was impressed by meeting them because he had heard them talking on the radio.

They thought the guy was nuts.

When this fan asked Tommy what it was like hanging out with a famous disc jockey like John Records Landecker, he just shrugged his shoulders. So did Johnny. To them, John was just one of Dad's friends. No big deal. And being on the radio was also no big deal. It's just a bunch of people sitting in a room with microphones.

When my first book came out, I gave an autographed copy to my oldest son. He put it in the closet. When my first novel came out two years later, I gave copies to all three boys. Two of them have no idea where their copies are now. When my most recent novel came out, none of the boys wanted a copy. None of them even asked me what it's about.

But there was one time, I did something that I thought might actually interest them: I was interviewed on television.

I mentioned it to the boys at breakfast that morning as I put on my suit.

"Is it going to be on the Internet?" Sean asked.

"I'm not sure," I said. "I hope so. If not, I can probably post it on YouTube."

"Do you know how to do that?" Tommy asked.

"No. Do you?"

He just shook his head and continued eating his waffles. No follow up questions. Not the slightest bit of interest. After they came home from school I asked them if they wanted to watch the interview. All three of them said no. Bridget, to her credit, actually did want to see it when she came home from work. I even heard her guilting the boys into watching it too. Only two of them were moved by her techniques; Tommy and Sean. Johnny still didn't care. He stayed in his room reading Captain Underpants.

The rest of us watched the segment together. After it was over, Tommy said: "That's it?"

"Yup," I replied.

Sean didn't say a word, he just walked away. Bridget said: "That was pretty good, but..."


"You were a little slouchy."


I must say, there's very little chance of getting a big head in this household. I suppose that's probably for the best. But I also have a pretty good idea now how my Dad felt when I told him the hallways in his school were a little confusing.

41 Years of Thunder Road Live

Still one of the greatest songs. Great job on the editing...


Thanks to "JR" for this one...

Daniel Day Lewis as...Obama


Steven Spielberg's Obama Trailer

A trailer for Steven Spielberg's Obama starring Daniel Day Lewis and Tracy Morgan.

Posted by Consequence of Sound on Saturday, February 27, 2016

How Bad is iHeart's Debt?

It's even worse than I thought it was. From Tom Taylor's NOW column today...

Bloomberg says in the last full year under the Mays family, then-Clear Channel had net income of $938.5 million for 2007. That’s good. But that figure turned upside down following the mid-2008 go-private deal led by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners. They financed it with a lot of debt, which is typical (“other people’s money”). Bloomberg says “in each year since then, the company has lost between $219.5 million and $4 billion, partly due to interest payments on its debt.” Looking ahead, Bloomberg says $193 million worth of notes mature this year, $230 million (in a revolver) come due in 2017, and what Bloomberg says is “more than $1 billion in obligations maturing in 2018, and $8.3 billion in bonds and term loans due in 2019.” Do Bain and THLPartners still have any equity in iHeart, or has that been wiped out? Probably the latter. In the dance being performed by the company and the lenders led by PJT Partners, there’s some debt that’s already trading very cheaply – like at one-third its face amount. Bloomberg says “the cheapest of the bonds being targeted for paydown…last traded at 32 cents on the dollar.”

Woah. Bain Capital, in case you don't remember, is Mitt Romney's outfit.

Chris Christie

This is a very funny take on the terrified expression Chris Christie had on his face as Donald Trump gave his victory speech last night. Courtesy of Alexandra Petri from the Washington Post...

His were the eyes of a man who has gazed into the abyss, and the abyss gazed back, and then he endorsed the abyss.

It was not a thousand-yard stare. That would understate the vast and impenetrable distance it encompassed.

He looked as if he had seen a ghost and the ghost had made him watch Mufasa die again.

He had the eyes of a man who has looked into the heart of light, the silence. A man who had seen the moment of his greatness flicker, and seen the eternal footman hold his coat, and snicker.

That's just good writing. I can't post the photo, but you can see it at this link. But then again, do you even need to see it? Her words have already shown it to you.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Another Happy Author

There's still nothing like that moment an author gets to see his (or her) book the very first time...even if you have to drive up to Gurnee in a snowstorm to witness it.

Dobie Maxell with the very first copy of his Eckhartz Press book "Monkey in the Middle". The book ships March 14th, and Dobie is having a book launch party that night at Zanies in Chicago. (A free stand up comedy show/book launch party).

If you pre-order the book at our website, Dobie is adding a lifetime pass to see him perform stand up comedy. For a comedian who still does about 150 gigs a year, that's no small bonus.

Around the Publishing World (March 1)

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. From the Librarian Hall of Fame
No, there isn't actually a librarian hall of fame, but if there were, this 60-year library veteran would be in there.

2. Building your author platform
Great advice in this piece, including this little tidbit: "As old fashioned as email is, it is still by a very long way, the most powerful means of getting your message out. To be really blunt, 100 Facebook posts do not even come close to having the same affect as one well written and targeted email." TRUTH.

3. Diversity in publishing
Hollywood isn't the only place that has an issue here. Good piece by the Creative Penn.

4. Four Mindsets That Could Doom Your Social Media Marketing Efforts
Both ends of the spectrum are tackled here. Don't be an "I'm everywhere" or an "I'm nowhere". You need a good balance.

5. Seven Traits of the Social Writer
We particularly endorse the first one: "Embrace proactivity. If you have never written a blog post, never Tweeted or made a YouTube video, now is the time to learn. Old dogs can learn new tricks. See a post as a short article you have been asked to write, a Tweet as a link to something interesting and a YouTube video as a chance to talk."

6. The "Monkey in the Middle" Book Release Party
Eckhartz Press' very own Dobie Maxwell is hosting a free party at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago (on Wells Street) on March 14th at 8:30pm. Comedy...and a book! You can't beat it.

Roger Daltrey

The lead singer of The Who is 72 years old today. He didn't only sing Who songs. He also released a few solo albums. Of all his solo material, this one is by far my favorite...

Joke for a Tuesday Morning

Thanks to "BC" for this one...

A woman and a man are involved in a car accident; it's a pretty bad one. Both cars are totally demolished but amazingly neither of them are hurt.

They crawl out of their cars, and the woman says, "So you're a man, that's interesting. I'm a woman. Wow, just look at our cars! There's nothing left, but fortunately we are not hurt. This must be a sign from God that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace for the rest of our days."

The man replied, "I agree with you completely we should meet and be friends."

"This must be a sign from God!" The woman continued, "And look at this, here's another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of wine didn't break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our amazing good fortune."

Then she hands the bottle to the man, The man nods his head in agreement, opens it and drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to the woman.

The woman takes the bottle, immediately puts the cork back in and hands it back to the man.

The man asks, "Aren't you having any?"

The woman replies, "No. I think I'll just wait for the police."

Play Dead

Thanks to "CA" for this one...

Happy Birthday Harry

Harry would have been 102 years old today. From Just One Bad Century...

~Harry Caray 1914 (Cubs announcer 1982-1997)
Harry was more than just the announcer for the Cubs. He was the symbol of the team during his time on the North Side. He had some great moments in the division winning year of 1984, but Cubs fans truly got a taste of what it would be without him when he had a stroke in 1987 and had to miss some time. When Harry Caray finally returned to the broadcast booth in May of 1987, it was a big deal across the country. He had been out of commission for the first month of the year, and WGN’s Superstation trumpeted his return across the nation. It seemed that every baseball fan in America was tuning in that day Harry returned. It also happened to be in an era when the President of the United States was a big Cubs fan, and he even called into the booth to wish Harry well. Most people would have been thrilled, but Harry took the phone call in stride, even when President Reagan said: “I just wanted to welcome you back. The Cubs need you, the baseball world needs you, and the country needs you. You’re great for baseball.” President Reagan went on to talk about Nancy, and Chicago, and his broadcasting days. Harry didn’t really seem to be paying attention to what the President said. Instead, he cut him off by saying “Mr. President, Bob Denier just singled and I’ve got to let you go.” Then he hung up on the President. How many people can say they have done that? Obviously, Ronald Reagan didn’t take it personally. The following season he came to Wrigley Field and did an inning with Harry in the booth. Harry passed away in February of 1998. He was replaced in the Cubs broadcast booth by his grandson Chip.

(In 1994, Harry also had the first lady of the country in the booth. It didn't turn out so well for her...)

Oscar Ratings

The show was not good, and that's reflected in the numbers.

Only 34.3 million tuned in--making it the lowest rated Oscars since 2008 (when Jon Stewart hosted).

I was in the grocery store yesterday and the cashier and bagger were discussing it.

"Too much black/white stuff," the bagger said.

"Too much Mad Max," the cashier replied. "I saw that movie. My son made me watch it. Steaming pile of crap."

The people have spoken.

Everything Must Go!

Tough times at Tribune Media these days. Check out this headline in Variety this morning: Tribune Media to Explore Sale of Company or Assets, Takes $385 Million Write Down

Now mind you, this is the part of the Tribune company that was supposed to be healthy--the part that was split off from the "dying" Tribune publishing. From the Variety article...

Tribune Media said it had no definitive timetable to complete its strategic review, and would not comment on the process “until such time as any definitive agreements may be entered into in the process or as otherwise appropriate or required.”

The company will continue its efforts to gain financial reward from its real-estate holdings, which include the Tribune Tower located in Chicago and the north block of the Los Angeles Times Square property located in Los Angeles.

Tribune also said it had secured agreements with top executives that will have them continue their employment. Liguori signed entered into a new two-year employment agreement, while Chandler Bigelow was named executive vice president and chief financial officer. Tribune Media’s general counsel, Eddie Lazarus, was named chief strategy officer.

Pfew. The executives are still being paid millions. Thankfully their payday will be unaffected as they hack and cut their way to solvency. Everyone else? Watch your back.

March Comes In Like a Lion

RIP Charlie Tuna

Charlie Tuna never worked in Chicago, but he was a radio legend in Los Angeles, one of the all-time great Top-40 jocks. Sad to hear the news. I listened to his show on Armed Forces Radio when we lived in Germany.

From All Access...

TUNA was honored with a star on the HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME in 1990.

In 1997, CHARLIE was voted one of the Top 10 L.A. Radio Personalities Of All Time by readers of the LOS ANGELES RADIO PEOPLE.

He was heard around the world daily on the ARMED FORCES RADIO NETWORK for a 25-year 6,000-show run from 1971 to 1996, as well as on numerous nationally syndicated radio shows, since the early '70s.

He could also be heard across the U.S., CANADA and internationally on his syndicated five-hour daily and weekend shows, plus a daily HOLLYWOOD MINUTE entertainment feature.

TUNA was the announcer for the television game show "Scrabble," which ran for seven years on NBC, and a dozen other TV shows ranging from "THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW" and "THICKE Of The Night," to "AMERICA'S TOP 10 WITH CASEY KASEM." He hosted "Cinema, Cinema, Cinema" for 30 years, an internationally syndicated TV show featuring the top movies in the U.S. each week, with clips from the films. He also hosted the international TV show "Inside HOLLYWOOD" for three years.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Ultimate Trump Takedown

Trump's opponents should just ask John Oliver if they can run this as an infomercial in every Super Tuesday state. If they don't want to use it, I'm sure Hillary would. Wow.

Leap Day Birthday

Only one Cub in history was born on Leap Day. This guy...

How Low Can You Go?

Look, it's obvious that Trump overcompsensates for something. Anyone who puts his name in giant block letters on everything he owns, clearly has some issues. And I know that Trump says things like this all the time, but I'm still shocked that Marco Rubio said the following (from

In response to the property mogul calling him "little Rubio," Rubio conceded that Trump was taller than him. However, the Florida senator suggested Trump had small hands for his height. "And you know what they say about guys with small hands," Rubio said with a smile, prompting stunned laughter from the crowd.

Seriously? You're going after the size of little Trump?

Without question, this is the lowest point in American political history.

Leap Day Grand Opening

A momentous day in Leap Day history in Chicago. On February 29, 1960, the first Playboy Club opened in Chicago.

DNAinfo has the details (and pictures)

Leap Day #1s

From Ron Smith's facebook page. I love this little tidbit of minutia...

Leap Year #1's in Chicago 1948-1988:

2/29/1948 - I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover-Art Mooney
2/29/1952 - Blue Tango-Leroy Anderson
2/29/1956 - Poor People Of Paris-Les Baxter
2/29/1960 - The Theme From "A Summer Place"-Percy Faith
2/29/1964 - I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You Beatles
2/29/1968 - Love Is Blue-Paul Mauriat
2/29/1972 - Without You-Nilsson
2/29/1976 - December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)-Four Seasons
2/29/1980 - Rock With You-Michael Jackson
2/29/1984 - 99 Red Balloons/99 Luftballons-Nena
2/29/1988 - Pump Up The Volume-M/A/R/R/S

This has to be the last #1 song in America sung in German...


I may be biased because "The Producers" is my favorite comedy of all-time, and Trump is my least favorite Presidential candidate of all-time, but I consider this bit on Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscar show last night pure brilliance. Really. It's fantastic...

The Oscars

Was it me, or was that an incredibly boring Oscars this year?

I thought Chris Rock did a good job. His best joke: "Jada boycotting the Oscars this year is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited."

Biggest oversight: Abe Vigoda. How dare they forget Salvatore Tessio?

By the three hour mark, I thought, "Point made. We get it. Not enough diversity."

By the four hour mark, I thought, "I don't care if it wins 12 Oscars, I'm still not going to see that Mad Max movie."

Finally, in the last few moments, Leo DiCaprio won his Oscar. Finally, that poor guy can get laid.

In case you were wondering, for this year's Oscars I wore my favorite designer: Adi Das...sweatpants.