Saturday, March 19, 2016

Beat Bill & Tom Golf Outing (For Caleb)

I've previously written about my cousin's 3-year-old son Caleb. He is suffering from Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, cancer of the adrenal gland. My cousin Derek and his wife Stacy are immersed in caring for him. They are about to enter the hospital (again) for a very long stay because Caleb needs a stem-cell transplant.

Everyone always asks...What can I do to help?

Well, thanks to the very generous folks at the BTB Foundation, there is an easy way. They are staging a golf outing called "Beat Tom & Bill", and all the proceeds from that outing will go to nine families dealing with cancer. Caleb's family is one of the nine.

What is this "Beat Tom & Bill" golf outing all about? It's not your average golf outing. It's a really fun event. The brothers (Tom & Bill) go out a few weeks before the event, and golf to set a score that has to beaten. They aren't that great...just average golfers. On May 20th (a Friday), golfers who have signed up for the event, go out in two-somes and try to beat their score. What they don't tell you is that they have set up obstacles and distractions throughout the course to disrupt you. Nuns may jump from the bushes and paddle you while you line up your shot. Bagpipers may start to play. You never know what's going to happen.

We'd love for you to come out and join us that day at the golf course (White Pines in Bensenville). The cost is $150 for those who only want to golf. There's also a dinner afterwards with a silent auction/raffle which raises lots of money for the cause. If you golf and go to the dinner, it's $200. If you only want to come to the dinner, there's another option--it's only $75. You can also simply donate.

Here's the link: The BTB Foundation.

Anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated. A lot of my friends have already donated prizes to the raffle (and some really great ones too). If you have something that you'd like to donate, that would be wonderful too.

Thanks in advance for your help. And thanks so much to the BTB foundation. They have already raised over $750,000 for families dealing with cancer.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Baseball Star Kris Bryant Pranks a College Team as ‘The Transfer’

This is priceless...

The Biden Rule

Mitch McConnell has been calling his refusal to even consider a nominee "the Biden Rule" because Joe Biden once said that President Bush shouldn't nominate someone during an election year.

He did say that...but in that same speech, he later explained what he meant by that. He didn't mean don't send anyone at all. He meant send someone that is a compromise candidate. Watch the video...

That's exactly what President Obama has done, by the way. He has sent a moderate candidate that has been widely praised by Republicans in the past (and even recommended by Senator Hatch). The exact type of nominee that Joe Biden recommended in the clip above.

Next time you hear someone mention the Biden Rule, keep this video in mind.

How Great Was Gretzky?

Last night Jaromir Jagr (photo below) pulled within 1000 points of the all-time NHL points leader, Wayne Gretzky. And Jagr is in SECOND PLACE all time. Amazing. That's why they called Gretzy "The Great One"...

Happy Birthday Rich King

Podcast Movement

There's a podcast convention coming to town this summer. Tom Taylor's NOW column has the details...

The third annual “Podcast Movement” conference lands in Chicago, July 6-8 at the downtown Hyatt Regency. (Last year’s edition visited Fort Worth.) Organizers call it “PM16” and are designing it for “anyone currently involved with, or looking to get into, podcasting and the podcast industry.” There should be over 100 speakers across 80 sessions.

Among the director Kevin Smith.

Everyone's doing a podcast these days. Garry Meier's podcast began this past week, and I got a chance to listen to part of his interview with Howard Stern. Howard gave a lot of credit to Robin (Quivers), and talked about Garry's "divorce" from Steve...

"I know with you and Steve it was a rough thing at the end. It's really no joke--it's like a marriage when you so work so closely with someone. It's sort of mind-blowing how much time you spend together. And we know how many of those relationships can go bad, but I think at the end of the day Robin and I just have a great love for each other and value what we do."

If you're a Garry or Howard fan, it's worth a listen. Howard sounds incredibly mellow.

As for me, I'm jumping on the podcast bandwagon myself. My podcast partner will be my long-time pal and business partner (and former radio partner in Champaign) David Stern. All of the equipment was set up in my house last week, and we're doing our first test-podcast today. The working title of our show is...Minutia Men.

Coming soon (within a few weeks) to a downloadable site near you.

The Republican Munsters

Alzheimer’s ‘lost memories’ may one day be recoverable

If your family has ever been touched by Alzheimer's (and that's just about everyone), this story in the Washington Post is one of the most exciting articles ever.

The full headline is: MIT scientists find evidence that Alzheimer’s ‘lost memories’ may one day be recoverable

Scientists had assumed for a long time that the disease destroys how those memories are encoded and makes them disappear forever. But what if they weren't actually gone — just inaccessible?

A new paper published Wednesday by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Nobel Prize-winning Susumu Tonegawa provides the first strong evidence of this possibility and raises the hope of future treatments that could reverse some of the ravages of the disease on memory.

“The important point is, this is a proof of concept," Tonegawa said. "That is, even if a memory seems to be gone, it is still there. It’s a matter of how to retrieve it."

They still don't know how to retrieve it, but this is a huge breakthrough for eventually finding a way.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Beat Tom & Bill, Support Families Touched by Cancer

Registration is open today for the Beat Tom & Bill Golf outing, which benefits families dealing with cancer.

This year my cousin's son Caleb (who just turned 3) is one of the recipients. Please support this great cause. My family will be out there in force! Thank you in advance for your help. The outing is on May 20th.

You can register here.

Supreme Court Tweeting With Bruce

Yesterday I got into a mini-Twitter-battle with my old pal and colleague Bruce Wolf. Bruce is a staunch conservative and I am not. It all started when I saw this tweet from Bruce to Brett Baier at Fox News...

This lawyerly tweet--which Bruce knows doesn't have the slightest relevance to the current situation--led to the following back and forth...

RIP Frank Sinatra Jr.

Sad news, reported by TMZ. Frank Sinatra Jr. has died. He was 72.

When I saw Frank Sr. at the United Center in 1993, Frank Jr. was the band director. He was also a tremendous singer in his own right. He sang "My Kind of Town" with his dad on the second Duets album. He talks about it in this video below...

From 1989...Frank Sr. & Frank Jr. on Entertainment Tonight...

St. Patrick's Day 1997

From left to right...John Landecker, Rick Kaempfer, Tommy Kaempfer, Bridget Kaempfer, Andi Kuhn (McFarlane). South Side Irish Parade.

Chicago Over 200 Years

Cool GIF that was posted today at

Making America Grate

Thanks "BP" for this one...

Every Cub Ever (Named Pat)

On St. Patrick's Day we salute EVERY CUB EVER with the first name Pat.

Paddy Driscoll~Paddy Driscoll (Cubs 1917)
Paddy Driscoll is a football hall of famer, but he also got a cup of coffee in Major League Baseball thanks to the Cubs. In 1917, the team’s second season at what is now known as Wrigley, he played in 13 games and got 32 at bats. Unfortunately, he only managed three hits. Among the games he played in was the famous double no-hitter on May 2, 1917, featuring Hippo Vaughn and Fred Toney.

~Pat Hughes (Cubs announcer 1996-present)
Pat has been the radio play by play for the Cubs for nearly 20 years and before that he worked in Milwaukee on Brewers broadcasts with Bob Ueker. We interviewed him once and asked him to compare and contrast Bob Uecker and Ron Santo. This is what he said: “In some ways the two of them are similar: They’re among the most popular figures in the history of their respective cities, they’re both ex-players, although granted—a slightly different caliber—Ron was a great player and Uecker was more of a mediocre one. But I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have worked with both of them. In addition, I worked with Harry Caray for two years, and did Marquette basketball with Al McGuire. Those are some larger than life personalities. I’m lucky to have known and worked with all of them.” Pat will also be in the Hall of Fame someday.

~Pat Luby (Colts 1890-1892)
In his rookie season of 1890, Luby won 18 straight games for the Cubs (then known as the Colts). That was a strange year in baseball history because there were three professional leagues, including a Player’s League (featuring many former Chicago players). After that season Luby only 20 more games in his career.

~Pat Mahomes (Cubs 2001)
Mahomes was a well-traveled journeyman pitcher who lasted eleven seasons in the big leagues. He pitched for the Twins, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers, Pirates, and Cubs. His lifetime ERA was over five, and he never registered double digits in either wins or saves, but he pitched in over 300 big league games. With the Cubs, Mahomes was 1-1, with a 3.86 ERA.

Pat Malone 2~Pat Malone (Cubs 1928-1934)
Malone was a two-time 20-game winner with the Cubs and led the team to the 1929 and 1932 World Series, but he also hung out with Hack Wilson. When they weren’t playing baseball, they were either drinking or brawling. The stories are legendary. In Malone’s first season with the Cubs his roommate was Percy Jones. They didn’t get along. Jones insisted on getting a new roommate after Malone trapped some pigeons on a hotel ledge and put them in Jones’ bed as he slept. One night Malone and Wilson got into a huge fist fight in a hotel. They were walking down the hallway of their hotel, and Wilson laughed. Someone in a hotel room mimicked his laugh. Wilson and Malone broke into the room and beat the hell out of four men, until all of them were out cold. One of the men was still standing and Malone kept punching. Wilson pointed out that he was already knocked out. “Move the lamp and he’ll fall.” Malone moved the lamp, and the man fell to the ground. It didn’t end well for either man. Wilson was only 48 years old when he drank himself to death. Malone didn’t even last as long as Hack. He was only 40 years old when he died in 1943.

~Pat Moran (Cubs 1906-1909)
Moran was a member of the last two championship teams, the 1907 & 1908 Cubs, as their backup catcher. He later managed in the big leagues, and led the Cincinnati Reds to the World Series championship in 1919. It’s not Moran’s fault that the Reds’ opponent, the Chicago Black Sox, threw the series.

~Pat Perry (Cubs 1988-1989)
The Cubs got Perry in the trade that sent Leon Durham to the Reds. He was a member of the division champion 1989 Cubs team, but he was used sparingly out of the bullpen (19 appearances), and didn’t make the post-season roster. They released him in December of that year. He did manage to win two games and save two games during his tenure with the Cubs.

Pat Pieper 2~Pat Pieper (Cubs P.A. announcer/1916-1974)
He was known for his trademark opener…”Tention! Attention Please! Get your pencils and scorecards ready and I will give you the correct lineups for today’s game.” He got the job in 1916 when the Cubs first started playing in what is now known as Wrigley Field, and he kept the job until his death in 1974–an incredible streak of 59 years. When he first began, he had to do his job with a gigantic megaphone (this was before a public address system had been invented.) He said the starting lineups to the crowd from third base, and then did the same thing on the other side of the field from first base. In 1932, the Cubs finally installed a public address system. Pieper was the PA for 6 World Series, but he also handled those chores for the twenty consecutive seasons the Cubs finished in the bottom half of the league (1946-1966). When he died shortly after the 1974 season (October 22nd), the Cubs had just finished their most successful stretch since their World Series days.

~Paddy Quinn (White Stockings 1877)
Paddy was 16 years old when the Civil War ended–living in his hometown of Chicago. He embarked on a baseball career by the time he was 20, and played for several teams before the National League was founded. Paddy was 27 when he played for the Cubs (then known as the White Stockings) for four games in 1877. Unfortunately, the outfielder only managed to get one hit in 15 plate appearances.

~Pat Ragan (Cubs 1909)
Ragan had a couple of good seasons as a starting pitcher in the National League, winning 15 games one year for the Dodgers, and 17 games for the Braves another. He spent just a fraction of one season with the Cubs–his rookie season. Ragan appeared in two games as a reliever.

~Pat Tabler (Cubs 1981-1982)
He was involved in the same trade that brought Warren Brusstar to the Cubs, though neither of them were the main bargaining chips. The Cubs acquired Steve Trout in that trade, and the White Sox got Dick Tidrow. Tabler ended up playing in the big leagues for 12 seasons, and won a ring with the 1992 Blue Jays. His nickname was Mr. Clutch.

~Pat Wright (Colts 1890)
Wright was a second baseman who played 14 seasons in the minor leagues, and exactly one game in the big leagues. On July 11th, 1890, just a week after his 22nd birthday, Wright started at second base for the Cubs (then known as the Colts). He went 0 for 2 with a walk. Chicago lost the game 6-0 in Boston.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

10 Years of Blogging: The WLS Interviews

This year marks my tenth anniversary as a blogger, and I've been dipping into my archives of 30,000+ posts to feature a few of my favorites. One of the great priviledges of this gig has been interviewing countless radio greats who worked at the radio station that meant the most to me in my childhood--WLS, the Big 89. Here are a few highlights from those many interviews...

Chuck Buell was a night-time jock at WLS in the late 60s, and was blown away by the station's reach...

Chuck: While we paid exclusive attention to our home town on the air, it was always fun to hear from those who were listening thousands of miles, and at times, an ocean away! (Remember, this was well before the world-wide blanket of the Internet!) I once heard from a girl who listened to our evening radio shows in Chicago as she was getting ready to go to school in Australia “the next morning!” Some US Navy radio communication specialists once wired up their ship’s radio shack receiver on their Naval battleship off the coast of Vietnam to listen when they could. One night, they actually called me on the phone, ship-to-shore, shore to landline, landline to satellite, satellite to land, and landline to Chicago! We had to yell at one another to be heard. Over!


Jeff Davis was the voice of WLS for decades. He still works on WLS-FM. He's also a WLS historian, and I asked him to give me a few stories...

Jeff: Almost everyone knows that WLS stands for World’s Largest Store and in its first several years was owned by Sears. Since its inception it has been responsible for many radio “firsts” and a stack of awards. The WLS First National Barn Dance was the inspiration for The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, having been brought to Nashville by George D. Hay, WLS’ first announcer. In the early 1930’s we were the first to simultaneously broadcast from land, sea and air. In 1937, WLS feature reporter Herb Morrison reported from Lakehurst, New Jersey as the Hindenburg derigible exploded and uttered the, now famous, words “Oh The humanity!” We won a DuPont Award from Columbia University in 1948. We’ve won many awards from news agencies such as AP and UPI and multiple wins of the Edward R. Murrow Award over the years and Legendary Station props with a MarconI Award. The number of awards won by our personalities is staggering.

WLS has also been home to legendary radio people who have gone on to Hollywood including Western movie stars Gene Autry, Rex Allen and Max Terhune. George Gobel (your parents will remember him as “Lonesome George”) was a national television pioneer who also was a regular on Hollywood Squares, Patsy Montana, Andy Williams, the legendary Pat Buttram (Mr. Haney on “Green Acres”)..There were many, many people who transitioned to even bigger careers from WLS.


Tommy Edwards had just about every job at WLS from production director to program director to air personality...

Tommy: Along with having fun in the production studio, we did cause some mischief. The time we spent calling listeners to ask them about their favorite radio station, we used the outgoing news telephone lines. Our special studio for that was small and located in the isolated area of the station. We could hear our news people making outgoing calls to news sources. Well on more than one occasion after our news person was put on hold, I'd pick up the phone and say: "Peacock. This is Ted Peacock can I help you?" The news person would identify themselves and we'd chat - not knowing it was actually me and my production engineer Al Rosen. They'd ask for a statement and I'd start to come up with something until I heard a click on the other end and stop talking. The real news source would start the conversation and our news person would say: "never mind, I got what I need from Ted Peacock". Well, then it would get very funny when everyone would be searching for this guy Peacock. We eventually got caught by the news director. But we were all known for causing mischief and having fun.


John Gehron was the PD, and worked with some of the biggest radio stars in WLS history. I asked him about his philosophy of dealing with those guys (and gals)...

John: I always found the big stars had an intensity about them, and part of my job was getting out of their way. The good ones knew what they wanted to do, and the great ones had a vision, and I had to give them the freedom to realize it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for talent—for their creativity. I know how hard it is to do what they do, to walk in and create something like that, because I can’t do it.


Les Grobstein was a sportscaster on WLS during the early 80s. He was in the studio the day that Larry Lujack threatened to fight Steve Dahl...

Les: I thought I was going to have to break up a fist fight. It was Thanksgiving eve, the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, and the office was almost totally empty. Steve was ripping Larry on the air, which he did nearly every day. Garry had a broken foot. Larry was hanging out at the station, which is something he did on occasion, long after his show was over.

Well, Larry walked into the studio and wished Steve & Garry a happy Thanksgiving. It was very tense. They went back and forth, and back and forth, and one of Steve’s kids was there, and he started crying. After that, Larry left. After Larry was gone, Steve said "If he ever comes back in here, I’ll break both of his legs."

Well, things continued in the days to come. I flew to Miami for the Dolphins-Bears game (1985), because Steve & Garry were doing the show from Miami Beach. I got a lot of Bears players live on the air with Steve and Garry. We had Fridge, Fencik, etc. So anyway, I'm doing a sportscast from there, and at the end of the sportscast, Larry came on from Chicago to say “Hey Les, did you hear about my new feature? It's called 'Whose afraid of the big fat pig? The truth about to Steve Dahl.' Needless to say, this got back to Steve.

So, we're back in the studio in Chicago, and I'm doing my sportscast, talking about the Bears, when all of a sudden the door opens and Larry comes in and my mic is still open and I say “Lar, why couldn't you do this when Jim Johnson was in here?” Of course, he came in while I was there on purpose because I was on both of their shows. Jim was a Steve & Garry partisan, but I wasn't allowed to choose sides.

Steve says “Larry get out.” But Larry says, "I heard what you said the other day, so I just wanted to see if you’re going to break both my legs before I throw your head through the wall." It wasn’t a bit. It wasn’t fake. Then Larry says he is going to promote his new feature, so Steve and Garry leave the studio, and Steve says "Let’s leave Mr. Insane alone in his insane world." Garry, who has a broken leg remember, hobbles out of the studio. Lujack sits down at the console and says "So, I guess I’m finishing the show. He said 'Les, we were talking about football, right?' I did the sign off and got the f*** out of there.

About ten minutes later three Chicago coppers got off the elevators and most of the employees were gone. I greeted the cops and they said they got a report that a riot had broken out at WLS, and I told them there was nothing to worry about.

The next morning I was in studio with Larry for what was supposed to be the "Whose afraid of the big fat pig" thing, but he didn't do it. He said that he and Steve had a nice chat and had resolved their differences. Of course, within two days Steve was ripping him again and the war stayed on for the rest of their time there.


Bob Hale was one of the original jocks on WLS who introduced rock and roll to a generation of Chicagoans...

Bob Hale: In early 1960 I was sending a tape every two weeks to Sam Holman the to-be-program director of WLS. One afternoon, home in bed with a fever, and a couple of shots of Dr. Jack Daniels with honey and lemon - the late winter cold had struck - I received a call.

"Bob, it's Sam Holman at WLS, in Chicago."

Instant sobriety! INSTANT!

"Yes, Sam, how are you?" Actually, I didn't care how he was; I wanted to know why he called!

"Bobby, (right then I knew I was in! - 'Bobby') I'd like to come on to be my all-night man starting May 2nd. Interested?" Oh yeah...was I interested! "Besides, Bobby, you keep sending me all those tapes---I've got no room for more."

Dick Biondi and I were brought in early so that the three of us could make the rounds of newspaper people, record promoters and writers. Within 20 hours of that call two record promoters drove from Chicago to "meet me, and say hello." I had arrived!

When I came to WLS that first day at the old Prairie Farmer Building on West Washington Blvd, Sam and Dick and I were taken to lunch at Fritzel's--THE place to be seen! We weren't there more than 10 minutes, guests of Archie Levinson, well-known record promoter and husband of Fran Allison, of Kukla, Fran and Ollie fame, when we were joined by Milton Berle! I leaned over to Sam and said, "I wonder who they'll fly in tomorrow to impress us?"


Karen Hand was a newscaster on WLS in the late 1970s...

Karen: Being a 20-something wide eyed Okie, fresh in the big city, I fondly remember the mighty Larry Lujack walking into the studio just before I keyed the mic for my first newscast on WLS and said “Hi, I’ll be listening. Don’t fuck up!” I was TERRIFIED!! And THRILLED!!! And when Ronald Reagan’s deregulation ended overnight news on WLS, and I was set free from the overnight shift, Larry called me offering his support and any help he could offer in finding the next gig. I have always been very touched by that! And I remember Larry Lujack as one of the quietest and hardest working jocks I’ve ever seen.

My first night at WLS was Steve King’s last night on the air there. He took several hours to welcome me to the station and to Chicago. He was very kind! Steve is definitely one of the nicest people in radio.

Larry Langford worked at WDAI and took me under his wing to show me around Chicago and teach me about the city.

When things went wrong back in Oklahoma, we always said; “I’ll bet it doesn’t happen this way at WLS!” But when I got to ‘LS…I was amazed at how many things did go wrong! My favorite story is the fly that shut down the station. There were two transmitters out in Tinley Park designed so that if one took a power hit, the signal would automatically jump over to the second transmitter. Until that one fateful moment when a fly landed in the transmission path at exactly the same time as a lightening strike and off the air we went….or so the story goes...


Catherine Johns was a newscaster at WLS in the 70s and 80s, working alongside legends Larry Lujack and Fred Winston...

Catherine Johns: I started out in news, mainly because back in the ‘70’s that’s where opportunities were opening up for women. I worked at all-news stations reporting and writing and reading the news; I considered myself a serious broadcast journalist, and I brought those skills to WLS. My sidekick role grew out of that. The WLS GM called us in one day and said he wanted Larry to “interface with the newspeople.” You know Larry – he’s not the kind of guy who wants to interface with anybody.

(He once told a Tribune interviewer the best time of his life was the summer he spent as a look-out in a national forest – alone for about three months!) But the interfacing turned out to create a pretty good show. And what a blessing for me – it gave me the chance to become a “personality.” It was also an opportunity to learn from one of the best in the business how to tell a story for maximum impact. And perhaps most importantly, when to shut up.

Much as I loved being part of Larry’s (and later Fred’s) morning show, I loved hosting a talk show even more … for the freedom, the opportunity to connect with listeners, the chance to play with words. But doing a solo talk show is quite challenging – you’ll notice, not that many people do it. What I’d really like is to do a two-person, equal-partners, don’t-call-me-sidekick talk show.


Jim Johnson was part of the huge WLS newsroom in the 1960s and 1970s and stayed with the station for more than 30 years. Those early days were very different than the closing days...

Jim: In the 70s, we had up to 17 people in the newsroom including reporters, news anchors, and editors. I was a newswriter and editor who doubled as an on air reporter (belonging to two unions for awhile). I later became a full-time on air reporter and anchor covering city hall and breaking news and also filling in for various news anchors on vacation. I was also the “assignment editor" for awhile. I did not like being a so-called boss and eventually got rid of that chore.

In the late 1970s I also worked as a weekend on air reporter for WLS TV. The late Sixties and Seventies were like a scene from the TV show Mad Men....three martini lunches with the sales department and the older city hall reporters were quite common. And the Women's Lib movement had barely begun back then. There were more than a couple scandals involving on air people and young women who worked as assistants and secretaries. (My lips are sealed)


John Records Landecker was the night jock at WLS during it's 1970s heyday...

John: I came to WLS in 1972 just as the Watergate story was breaking. ("Make a Date with a Watergate") Everything started clicking shortly after that. There was 3-4 year span where WLS was in total synergy from programming to air personalities to sales to promotions. We got along. We hung out together. We were actually friends…and the station was super duper successful.

And there were some individual high points for me too. I was just thinking about one the other day. It was in the news that the space shuttle took a light saber from Star Wars because it was the 30th anniversary, and it made me think of my Star Wars bit…Radio Star Wars. I don't know how we did it, but we actually got Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to participate in the bit. Rick Dees' song "Disco Duck" was a part of that bit too, and I've been talking to his company lately, so I just sent it to him too. It was a great kick to listen back to it. Bob Sirott was in it. The newsman in that bit, Jack Swanson, is now the GM of KGO Talk radio in San Francisco.

Those were some pretty incredible times. One day I was doing something like that, another day I had that memorable afternoon at Woodfield Mall with John Travolta, and another time I was doing the show from the original great America when it was owned by Marriot's. They flew me out there in a helicopter to be the very first person to ride "The Tidal Wave." There was a plaque up there for years.


Larry Lujack is probably the biggest star in WLS history, and Animal Stories was the all-time most popular bit. Larry passed away in December of 2013

Larry: WLS aired a farm report during mornings to satisfy FCC requirements for public service. The farm show had previously consisted of reading hog and grain prices, and it was really boring. So I started going through newspapers and magazines finding weird stories about farmers and their animals and reading those instead. I was amazed by what happened next. I started getting letters from all over the Midwest. In little towns the newspapers are filled with these stories. I read them on the air and before I knew it, people were calling to say, ‘I wish the farm show was longer!’ That blew my mind.

Tommy Edwards used to be in the studio getting ready for his show because he was on after me. At first he didn’t take part, he was just getting his music and paperwork together. He made fun of me, and giggled, and laughed, and scratched his ass, and sometimes I asked him a question or he asked me a question about whatever the story was that day. I started referring to him as Little Tommy and it gradually evolved into a two-man bit.

AM radio was no longer the hip thing by the late ’70s, early ’80s. These FM drug addicts would throw cabbages at our station vans when we were in parades. They thought we sucked! So I suggested we change the vans into ‘Animal Stories Mobile Units,’ and all of a sudden it completely transformed people’s opinions. They cheered the vans instead. From that point on, even the station’s commercials featured ‘Animal Stories.’ That one thing changed the image of the whole station.

We had a staff meeting at WLS one day to come up with a unique concept for a movie trailer to promote the station. Nobody was coming up with anything, so I raised my hand and said, ‘I know how to hypnotize a chicken.’ They loved the idea. The only problem was that I had never actually done it. I had only seen a guy do it once on a kids’ science show many years earlier. I was sweating bullets. I thought, ‘If this doesn’t work, they’ll have wasted thousands and thousands of dollars on the dumbest thing ever.’ But it worked like a charm, and I breathed a humongous breath of relief.


Ron Riley was a jock at WLS in the 1960s and had an on-going on-air "feud" with morning man Clark Weber...

Ron: I was the big Beatles supporter on the staff, and Clark took the other side of the Beatles argument. He was on the side of the other bands—Beatles competitors like the Dave Clark 5. I was called Ringo Ron, so he began to call me Ringworm Ron, just to rip me.

I used to take calls from these kids, and had them take shots at Clark on tape, saying things like “Down with Weber,” and I’d intersperse this into the show. I’d pretend to call him at home at night, (it was pre-recorded), and when he answered I’d make a loud trumpet noise, and he’d get all mad, “Riley, don’t you know I have to get up early!”

It was all this silly stuff. I had this character Bruce Lovely, and at Halloween, Bruce would drop pumpkins on Weber. It was just good clean dumb fun. This was ’65 or so. I’ve done twenty-plus years of radio and twenty plus years of television, and this is something I still hear about. A woman came up to me in the supermarket in Maryland just recently and said “Down with Weber!” Isn’t that something?


Bob Sirott was the afternoon star at WLS in the 1970s...

Bob: Working on WLS in the 70's was thrilling. After all, I was now broadcasting from the same studio where I would watch all those legendary jocks work when I was in the visiting room in the early 60's.

There really wasn't any competition at all--not friendly or otherwise. No rivalry. Not sure why, but we we were all just into doing our own thing. A few of us even spent a lot of time together off the air. JJ Jeffrey (10am-2pm) John Landecker (6-10pm) and myself (2-6pm) used to hang out with each other on weekends, and many times during the week after John would get off the air. What we did is still classified, but will be released to the public after we're all dead! Seriously though, mainly we would just go out for dinner--with or without our respective significant others--many times along with our great production engineer Al Rosen. I think we all kept each other in-line--nobody could get a big head or become too serious about what we were doing on the station because the rest of us would just heckle that person back into his senses.


Jim Smith was a music director at WLS during the mid-70s. He was there when a new slogan was created in a meeting with PD John Gehron...

Jim: It was in one of those meetings -- and the focus of this lengthy digression -- that we were kicking around one of those huge-nationally-but-not-scoring-in-the-Midwest tunes as a topic of discussion. John liked it. I did too but preferred to wait. He wanted me to make the case for not adding it that week. He was new to the station, after all, and wanted to make sure that my recommendations were solid.

"But Jim," he pleaded, "it's a good song." (Actually, it was. But my belief was that it would not be a Chicago home run, whether we played it or not.)

"But John," came my response, "there is a lot of good music. We have to play only the best music."

His head jerked. He looked wide-eyed at me, looked at the paper, looked at me again, looked back at his desk, and picked up his black felt-tip. I had no idea what was taking place, as he started to write "the best music" on the paper and underline it.

"That's it!" he said. "I am going to be cutting new jingles next week and am looking for slogan lines. 'We play the best music.' I'm going to use that."


Clark Weber was one of the iconic voices in Chicago during the 1960s as the morning man at WLS. Among his duties during those years...introducing the Beatles...

Clark: Capitol Records threw a luncheon that afternoon for WLS and the Beatles at the Saddle & Cycle Club on Lake Shore Drive. A good friend of mine, Jim Feeley, was dating a model named Winkie, and I invited them to come along. Well, Winkie showed up in a two-piece tennis outfit, and she looked incredible. I sat her next to George Harrison and his eyes almost popped out of his head. She made nice with him for a little while and George really thought she was going to be staying with him all day. When Winkie got up to leave a few minutes later to go to a modeling audition, George was wounded. “You’re not going anywhere,” he said. Winkie replied: “Oh yeah? Well watch me.” Later that night Feeley called me and asked if she could come to the concert, and I said—‘You’re really pushing it’, but I did get her in. So, flash forward twenty years later. A photographer from the Sun-Times called me up to say he had a photograph he wanted me to see. It was the Beatles on stage at Comiskey Park. I’m standing to the side of the stage and so is Winkie, and George Harrison is on stage looking right at Winkie, giving her the dirtiest look imaginable. Winkie later married a pro football player, moved down to Texas and had five kids, but George never got near her. As soon as Bernie Allen and I walked onto the stage, the crowd went crazy because they knew what was coming. There were 38,000 screaming teenage girls and the sound was indescribable. I told Bernie to hold his hand out with his fingers spread. We could feel the vibrations in our fingers. I don’t think anyone in that ballpark heard a single second of the show. I was standing right next to the stage and I didn’t hear it.


Fred Winston had every major shift on WLS in the 70s and 80s. When we spoke he named his dream line up of radio personalities. One person he didn't mention is someone who would be on mine...Fred Winston.

Fred: My night-time guy would be my good buddy Dick Biondi. He is such a great people person. He has more energy than two people 1/3 his age. He's the ultimate survivor. I'd also have Dan Sorkin. You may not remember him, but he was on WCFL in the '60s and was way ahead of his time. Very funny--a true personality. I'd also have the great Ken Nordine doing an overnight jazz show. Can you imagine how cool that would be? Plus, you have to include Larry Lujack and Steve Dahl. Larry is a great performer, and I love how dark he is, and Steve has his own distinctive style. No one can copy his style--he's a true original. All of those guys have one thing in common. They are all really intelligent.

Here Come Da Judge

In honor of Obama's announcement of his Supreme Court Nominee, this great tune from 1968 by Shorty Long...


Thanks to "KK" for this one...

Who Will Buy CBS Radio Stations?

CBS announced yesterday that their radio division was for sale. Inside Radio this morning speculates who might be interested in purchasing portions of that stellar radio lineup.

Among the suitors listed: Hubbard Broadcasting (owner of WTMX, WSHE, WDRV).

Not listed: Jimmy de Castro. I'm going to be keeping an eye on Mr. de Castro. Don't forget he was on the look out for an FM station when he came aboard at WGN. At the time, there was nothing available. There is now.

Stormy Night in Chicago

An incredible shot by my old pal Barry Butler...

Civic Duty

Three of the Kaempfers voted (Rick, Bridget, Tommy). Johnny just turned 18 on Saturday, so he wasn't registered yet. But proud of my son Tommy who took the train out to the suburbs between classes yesterday just so he could vote, then took train back downtown for his evening class. Good citizen, young man.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CBS To Sell Radio Group

Wanna buy a radio station? CBS is selling.

They have 117 stations in 26 markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

In Chicago they own WBBM-AM, WBBM-FM, WSCR-AM, WJMK-FM, WXRT-FM, WUSN-FM and whatever the FM version of WBBM News Radio on 105.9 is called these days.

Hamilton Rap for the President

The star of the Broadway smash "Hamilton" does an improvised free-association rap for the President. Pretty impressive...

The Ides of March on the Ides of March

More Media Love for Dobie's Monkey in the Middle

Dobie with book

Dobie Maxwell has been making the rounds lately promoting his book Eckhartz Press book "Monkey in the Middle".

Later this week he'll appear on Big John Howell's show on WLS Radio (890 AM), but he also appeared on the following shows...

Dobie 4

Dobie on WGN Radio with Bill Leff & Wendy Sndyer (Photo above, audio at the link)

Wisconsin's Morning News on WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee (audio at the link)

"Fly by Night" on WIND-Chicago with Ken Sevara (audio not yet available)

"Stone & Double T" on WXRX-Rockford (audio not yet available)

Many many more appearances to come this week in Chicago and next week in Milwaukee. Stay tuned.

Dobie's Book Release Party

We had a great time at Zanie's last night with Eckhartz Press author and comedian Dobie Maxwell to celebrate the launch/release of "Monkey in the Middle". Dobie MCed the night, introduced several comedians who performed short sets, and Dobie was serenaded by the crowd with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" (it was also his birthday). Dobie then closed the show by telling the infamous bank robbery story.

The house was packed, we sold a bunch of books, and a good time was had by one and all. Thanks so much to Bert at Zanies for allowing this special night to take place there. The next stop on the Dobie publicity tour is an event at Shank Hall in Milwaukee next Monday night.

Dobie with his publishers...

Full house...

Signing books...

Former radio partner (WLUP) Spike Manton in the house...

Happy birthday to Dobie...

Breitbart Reporter Resigns

Last week there was a story about a reporter being roughed up by Donald Trump's campaign manager. A Washington Post reporter was on the scene and confirmed that it happened in real time. Since then, an audio tape also emerged supporting the Breitbart reporter's account of what happened.

Unfortunately for her, however, her "news" organization has spent the last six months hyping Trump's campaign as his cheerleader in chief. After initially supporting her, Breitbart became the only "news" organization to cast doubt on the reporter's story, implying that it wasn't the campaign manager who roughed up her up.

That has led to a whole series of resignations at Breitbart, most notably from the reporter herself. The New York Times (an actual news organization) has the story.

Chicago Radio Ratings

The ratings came out yesterday, and Tom Taylor's NOW column has some of the details...

Chicago – All-news WBBM/WCFS has a bigger lead than it did last month, just by being consistent. It’s a steady 6.8-6.8-6.9. (‘BBM is #1 in every daypart except nights and weekends.) Tied for second are Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX (4.2-5.2-5.5) and iHeart’s urban AC “V103” WVAZ (5.8-6.0-5.5). (V103 is #1 on weekends.) Fourth is iHeart’s hot AC/former all-Christmas WLIT (13.9-4.7-4.5). That’s better than the year-ago January-4.5 and February-4.1. And this time WLIT is #2 in middays. From fifth-on-down is where the Chicago PPMs get crowded. There’s iHeart’s urban WGCI (3.5-3.5-3.8), sister top 40 “Kiss 103.5” WKSC (3.4-3.7-3.7) and Tribune’s talk WGN (3.3-4.2-3.6). The sports rivalry is tight, between Disney-owned/ESPN-run all-sports WMVP (1.9-2.3-2.5) and CBS “Score” WSCR (2.0-2.6-2.4). Remember that the Score is taking over the Cubs from sister WBBM – which won’t be splitting up its simulcast with 105.9 during baseball season. The White Sox are moving from the Score to Cumulus talk WLS (1.6-1.8-1.8). It’s a PPM record-tying number for Chicago Public Media’s non-com news/talk WBEZ (2.1-2.4-2.7). And here’s a shout-out for Weigel-LMA’d easy oldies WRME, on the audio of a low power Channel 6 TV signal (1.4-2.2-2.4). Chris Huff consults the historical records and says “The 2.4 is the largest share ever for a TV6 ‘Franken FM’ in any PPM market.” The Windy City’s leading cume station is top 40 “Kiss,” at nearly 2.2 million.

Robert Feder has a more thorough look at the 6+ numbers.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dobie on WGN Radio

I accompanied Eckhartz Press author Dobie Maxwell to WGN Radio this morning for his appearance on the Bill & Wendy show. It was a great 30 minutes. Thanks so much to Bill & Wendy (and WGN) for the opportunity.

Garry & Howard

Inside Radio has the scoop about an upcoming guest on Garry Meier's podcast. He'll be interviewing Howard Stern.

This is a major coup for Garry and should be a really interesting interview. Those of us who remember the old days when Steve & Garry and Howard were both coming up realize how big of a deal this is. At that time they were on similar trajectories. In fact, Steve & Garry were syndicated BEFORE Howard, and their material was even edgier. Steve often accused Howard of stealing his material, and some of it was suspiciously similar.

I know Garry has been friendly with Howard for years now, so the tension isn't there anymore, but I'll still be tuning in to hear it. This will be part of a two-part podcast March 16 & 18.

A Free Excerpt from Father Knows Nothing: Pi Day

Today is 3/14, which my math-genius son calls "Pi Day" (The first few digits of Pi are 3.14). In honor of "Pi Day" about seven years ago, I wrote a math-oriented Father Knows Nothing column for him. He hated it. I'm not sure why...

These simple story problems will not only help your child with math, they will help explain the frustration that eventually emerges in all parents.

Remember, boys and girls, to show your work.

#1: One of Freddy’s jobs is to make sure he changes his underwear every day. If his mother does the laundry every Friday, and there is only one pair of Freddy’s underwear in the laundry, how many days has Freddy neglected to do his job that week?

#2: George is a very bright boy. He gets 100% on every paper he turns in, but he only turns in seven of the ten papers that were due. If each paper is worth 100 points, and he receives zero points on every paper he doesn’t turn in, what is his final grade for the class?

#3: Billy has been brushing his teeth all by himself twice a day (morning and night) since the day he turned three years old. Unfortunately, Billy never remembers to do this until his parents remind him, and each time they need to remind him three times. By the time Billy reaches his 15th birthday, how many times have his parents had to remind him to brush his teeth?

#4: Sissy and her mother go to the supermarket to buy vegetables. Her mother asks the grocer how many different types of vegetables he sells, and the grocer replies “70.” Of these 70 varieties of vegetables, only three can be served on a plate to Sissy without inducing loud whining. What percentage of the available vegetables will Sissy eat without making dinner miserable for everyone around her?

#1: 6 days in one week (85.7% of the week)
#2: C Minus
#3: 52,560 times
#4: 4.28571% of available vegetable varieties

Bonus Question: If you had been a parent for many years, and your children didn’t do their jobs 6 out of 7 days a week, got below average grades despite being really smart, had to be reminded to do the simplest of tasks like brushing teeth more than 50,000 times, and complained at the dinner table more than 95% of the time, how quickly would you lose your temper if one of those things happened again?

Bonus Answer: “Please don’t interrupt me now, Dad, I’m doing my homework in my fresh new pair of underwear. We can chat right after I eat my spinach and brush my teeth. Until then, please tell my brother I love him.”

Around the Publishing World (March 14)

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. Steve Martin's advice for how to "make it"

2. Five Ways to Improve Your Book's Description
Once you've written your book and the finish line is within your grasp, you have a tendency to slack a little when it comes time to write a description of your book. This is a gigantic mistake. This article gives you a few good tips to help you through the drudgery.

3. Why Having an English Degree Is More Useful Than You Think
English degrees are widely mocked by society at large, but the writer of this piece presents the other side of the story. The true side.

4. New JK Rowling Story About Magic
Yes, it's about magic, but it's about Native American magic. More info at the link.

5. Google Copyright Takedown Requests
If you have a Youtube channel you may have already noticed this, but wow are they getting aggressive in pursuing copyright claims. Youtube and Google shoot first, and ask questions later. According to this piece, the number of claims jumped 75 million over the past month.

6. Blogging IS self publishing
The author of this piece points out something bloggers have known for years...blogging IS self publishing. Every blog post is published. For a writer, there's no better writing practice. Take advantage of it.

7. Monkey in the Middle Book Launch Party
The party is tonight! Come one, come all. 8:30pm.
Dobie Zanies

This Week in 1908

This week in 1908...

The new Cubs uniform debuts this week, the first one ever to sport a “Cubs” logo. The logo features a bear holding a bat. This logo cements the Cubs name, which is really only a few years old. However, that uniform didn’t arrive to their spring training facility in Mississippi without issues. Manager Frank Chance actually forgot the suitcase with the uniforms at the train station in Chicago last week. It was recovered and sent down to the Cubs, but Chance didn’t have a key to open it. So, he enlisted the help of the porter who “trains the bulldog that fights the badgers”. The porter’s bulldog managed to get it open in time for the Cubs first game.

Green River

Saturday was the day...

Amish Ideas

Thanks to "PO" who sent me this--undoubtedly because my former advertising agency was called AMISH...