Friday, April 08, 2016

Best Trump & Bernie Impersonations

I Resemble That Remark

The Onion Headline says it all: Dad Suggests Arriving at Airport 14 Hours Early

I happen to think he's just being prudent.

Happy birthday Julian Lennon

He's 53 years old today...

Terri Hemmert: Rock and Soul

The WXRT great is also a teacher at Columbia College teaching a class about the history of rock and soul.

The Chicago Tribune has a great piece about her today.

OJ is Hot Again

This looks like it will be good too...

Around the Publishing World (April 8)

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. 50 Great Resources for Writers
Everything from research to grammar to character prompts. Really valuable. Bookmark this article.

2. How to Beat Creativity Block with 7 Tips
Every now and then a writer faces the blank page and it doesn't speak to them. A few tips to restart that conversation.

3. 6 Ways to overcome writer's block
More tips. Don't tell me we aren't helping you here.

4. Science Can Help You Beat Writer's Block
You can't deny our help. It's scientific.

5. 8 tips to writing an unreliable narrator
Advice from Deb Caletti. Caletti is an award-winning author of 12 books for teens and adults.

6. Ten tips for writing the book inside of you
Regina Brett wrote this piece for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

7. 12 Tips for being a productive stay-at-home freelancer
If you want to write for a living, you need to get income while you work on major writing projects. Although, ironically, this is written for the Huffington Post, which famously doesn't pay.

As the Sumner Turns

Looks like the very strange and sordid Sumner Redstone case is coming to an end. The parties involved have agreed to a settlement. From this morning's Hollywood Reporter...

The full terms are still being held tightly, but the deal includes a payout to Herzer, allows Viacom to remain in the hands of chief executive Philippe Dauman and will eventually designate Redstone's care to his daughter Shari, who is set to take on a larger role at Redstone's companies after her father passes. For now, Redstone will still be in charge of his own healthcare. Attorneys for the sides haven't yet commented on the settlement, but a source close to the talks adds that the payout to Herzer will be substantial, but less than $70 million and remove her permanently from Redstone's life. Shari is said to be instrumental in engineering the deal, which will be taken to a judge soon for approval.

To translate for you...the gold-digger gets a boatload of cash, the creepy CEO gives up "medical supervision" in exchange for getting to stay on after Redstone's death, and the daughter agrees to step in to help the father she doesn't even like, in exchange for getting more control of his companies after he dies.

It's really a touching, beautiful story.

WGN Walk of Fame

Robert Feder reported the news this morning regarding the latest inductees...

They are: Max Armstrong, agriculture and business reporter; Floyd Brown, retired announcer and program host; Jim Carollo, retired director of engineering; Dan Fabian, onetime college intern who rose to vice president and general manager; Marilyn Miller, longtime producer of Wally Phillips’s morning show; Tom Petersen, former news director and morning news anchor; and Dean Richards, program host, entertainment reporter and critic.

I've interviewed two of those WGN pros in the past, if you'd like to read more about Max Armstrong and Dean Richards.

I Wonder Why They're Switching

From this morning's Tom Taylor NOW column...

The average user of AM/FM in the car switches the station at least 22 times per commute.” So says a new Edison Research study titled “Hacking the Commuter Code.” That’s compared to much less switching – about 9.3 times per commute – for those entertaining themselves with non-AM/FM audio sources. Edison’s based in commute-prone central New Jersey, which may’ve helped inspire this national study of 1,117 adults employed full-time or part-time, who commute to work at least 20 minutes in vehicles they drive themselves, and who “listen to any type of audio.” Edison identifies “three discrete groups – The Restless (the 21% who constantly switch). The Seekers (the 52% who switch occasionally). And The Keepers (the 27% who mostly stick with one choice).” Why do people punch around? One reason, certainly, is commercials. Others factors are “age, the type of content being consumed, and access to streaming or satellite radio, or integrated multi-media systems.”

Let's face it, radio. It's the commercials, not the integrated multi-media systems.

New Afternoon Host at US-99

From this morning's RAMP Newsletter...

Kongrats to Mike Kasper, who is packing up the Family Truckster for a major move to Chicago to assume the weighty mantle of afternoon drive personality at CBS Radio Country WUSN (US99.5), with a start date of Wednesday, April 20. Kasper will segue from his current three-year run as APD/MD/afternoon dude at iHeartMedia Top 40 WRVQ (Q94)/Richmond... and his bonus pm drive shift at sister WKDD/Akron, OH. "I've been a fan of Kasper's for many years, and I'm very excited to have him join the air staff at US99.5," said Jeff Kapugi, who doubles as CBS Radio VP of Country Programming and PD of US99.5. He added, "Kasper joins a talented on-air team featuring Lisa and Ray in the morning, midday host Drew Walker and 'Jax' at night."

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The People Vs. OJ Simpson

The ratings are in, and the FX Series "Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson" did very well.

I admit it. I watched every single episode. I loved all the twists and turns, many of which I had forgotten (despite the fact that I covered this trial every single day for our radio show).

I thought it was incredibly well done (other than John Travolta's really really really weird portrayal of Robert Shapiro). My favorite part of the show was the way it focused on the behind-the-scenes stuff involving the attorneys. I thought it really humanized Marcia Clark and Chris Darden.

The subject of race was also handled deftly, I thought. There really were racists cops in the LAPD, and that Fuhrman tape proved it. When OJ was declared "not guilty", the people weren't cheering that OJ was free...they were cheering that a black man had exposed the brutality and racism of the LAPD. It felt like vindication.

OJ found out how the rest of society felt about the trial in the closing scene when he attended a party at his estate, only to discover that none of his friends were there. His friends, nearly all of whom were white, had watched the trial differently. They had no interest in celebrating a verdict that had let a guilty man free. It was a really compelling way to end the series.

Good job, FX.

Sounds of Silence

The song "Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel is a top ten rock hit again for two big reasons. One is the cover of the song by Disturbed.

Another reason is this incredibly funny video called "Sad Ben Affleck". As a huge fan of The Graduate, I laughed out loud. This video has been viewed over 21 million times...


Guess who has a cereal? Anthony Rizzo. Crain's Chicago has the details.

I tweeted last night that I would try it (and was retweeted by Jewel--which I thought was funny), and my old pal ("The Sweetest Words in the English Language" author) Bill Holub tweeted this back to me...

Ryan Manno

The former Chicago radio man has landed in Los Angeles. From this morning's RAMP newsletter...

KOST/Los Angeles has augmented its already killer crew with the appointment of Ryan Manno as the new Senior Producer and on-air contributor for The Ellen K Morning Show. In his vitally important new position Manno (pictured here with the talented Ms. Ellen K) will be responsible for morning show guests, on-air and digital content and audio production.

Señor Manno is already a known quantity in the hallways of the company's Burbank HQ, having previously done weekends for clustermate KYSR (ALT 98.7)/Los Angeles. He also did middays for sister KFOO (ALT 102.9)/Seattle. Manno began his radio career in his hometown of Chicago as a morning show producer/on-air personality at Emmis Alternative WKQX (Q101) and also hosted NBC Chicago's Emmy-nominated JBTV. Ellen K remarked, "Ryan's morning show experience and warm personality make a great addition to the morning family we are building at KOST 103.5. I'm thrilled that he's with us!" KOST PD Michael La Crosse added, "Ryan's skill as a great producer and his engaging on-air perspective is a perfect complement to The Ellen K Morning Show."

Note that the program director Michael La Crosse is also a former Chicago radio vet (WLS-FM).

My New Favorite Story: The Panama Papers

The incredible story of the shady law firm in Panama that helped gazillionaires around the world hide their money has officially become my new favorite story. The Washington Post this morning tells the story of how this massive data dump fell into the hands of two German reporters, who in turn, have shared it with hundreds of other reporters around the world.

Doubt the significance of this data dump? Here's a small sample of what has already been made public...

The first wave of stories — the disclosures could go on for years — has already led Iceland’s prime minister to tender his resignation over revelations of his offshore holdings. Among the thousands of people named in the documents are Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s family members, close associates of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s late father, Ian, and soccer superstar Lionel Messi. The news reports prompted President Obama, among others, to call for international tax reform.

Sorry Sumner Redstone and Rupert Murdoch. We can still be friends, but I'm moving on to someone new.

For the Kevheads

The Kevhead blog (at contacted me last week and asked if I would contribute an essay to their blog about what it was like working with Kevin Matthews. I said I'd be happy to. Below is my contribution...

Hey Kevheads,

Kevin Matthews and I started at the Loop the same week. They broke him in slowly, first letting him fill in on the Loop FM overnight show. I was a peon—working as an unpaid intern in the Loop promotion department. I met Kevin when Greg Solk brought him to a concert at the Hard Rock Café to see a group I can’t recall for the life of me. Suffice it to say, Kevin ended up being a bigger star than the group.

I worked pretty closely with Kevin for the next few years; initially as a worker in his manager’s office (he shared a manager with Steve & Garry for a few years). In that role, I attended virtually all of Kevin’s Comedy Jams—working backstage, procuring props (like the bladeless chainsaw Kevin liked to ram up his crotch during his set), shuffling comedians to and from the gigs, or whatever else was needed. Kevin also had me record a few voices for production bits he was creating during his stint in the 7-Midnight slot on the Loop AM.

By the next year Kevin was doing middays, and I was Steve & Garry’s producer. Every day as I prepped for Steve & Garry’s show, I had to make periodic visits to the air studio to get something during Kevin’s show, and he often asked me to go to the microphone and participate in whatever was going on at that moment.

The only proviso was that I wasn’t allowed to speak English. Seriously.

Kevin knew that I grew up in Germany, so he asked me to conduct every on-air segment with him in German. Of course, Kevin didn’t speak German, but Jimmy Shorts spoke it “fluently”. Jimmy would say some German-sounding gibberish, and I responded as if we were conducting a completely normal German conversation. This is when Kevin started referring to me as “Rick the German Boy”, a moniker that would follow me for the next fifteen years (including my years with John Landecker at a different radio station).

When I was given my own show (with Stan Lawrence called “Ebony & Ivory”), Kevin tried to convince me to do the whole show in German. I didn’t, of course, but we always did at least one German bit as an homage to Kevin. When the Loop started up a magazine called “Loop Scoop” and I was named one of the primary writers, one of my first interview subjects was Jimmy Shorts.

We did the interview in German.

People used to ask me what it was like talking to Jimmy face to face on the air: Was it weird seeing Kevin do the voice? I always gave the same answer to that question.

“I didn’t speak to Kevin. I spoke to Jim.”

And that’s a totally true statement.

If you like to see how Jim Shorts responded to this, click on the Kevhead blog and see for yourself. At least it's in English.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

RIP Merle Haggard

He died today on his 79th birthday. TMZ has the details.

RIP Merle. In 1981 he wrote a song called "I Think I'm Gonna Live Forever"...

This Esquire piece came out the same year. Good reading.


Held off on my excitement as long as I could because I consider myself a Cubs realist. But...currently clearing my October calendar of all social events.

The Cubs are 2-0 for the first time since 1995. (I know. It's been a rough 21 years.)

I'd like to apologize in advance to my business, my writing projects, and my family because I'll be busy at least 160 more times between now and the end of the season.

Garage Sale Sign

Thanks to "JC" for finding this. We're doing a garage sale in May, but I don't think Bridget would approve. It would bring in the customers though...

Gracious in Defeat

Donald Trump's reaction to losing Wisconsin last night to Ted Cruz...

As the Sumner Turns

There aren't many stories in the news that I follow as closely as the Sumner Redstone case--his former "companion" suing to challenge Sumner's mental capacity. This case has had all sorts of twists and turns, but to me the judge really caught the gist of it last time it was discussed in open court. The New York Times summarized it this way...

The judge also raised concerns about who — if anyone — was looking after Mr. Redstone. He questioned whether the relationship between Mr. Redstone and his daughter was as smooth as she had described in a court filing. He also said that it was perplexing that Mr. Redstone had named Mr. Dauman as his health care agent rather than his own daughter.

Mr. Dauman is Viacom's CEO, and Sumner is the chairman of the board. Shari Redstone (his daughter) is also on the board. Very weird indeed.

It was all due to come out in court on May 6th...a day I had actually marked on my calendar. But alas, the Redstone estate finally got wise. Even if they consider the former "companion" a gold digger, it's better to pay her off than publicly explain the incredibly weird arrangement. From this morning's New York Times...

Lawyers for the ailing media mogul Sumner M. Redstone have entered settlement talks over a lawsuit brought by a former companion who has challenged his mental capacity, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions. A settlement would prevent the salacious dispute from going to trial, which had been scheduled for May 6 in Los Angeles Superior Court. It also would prevent a judge from deciding on the competency of Mr. Redstone, which could have set off succession plans for his controlling stakes in Viacom and CBS.

How much do you want, honey? How does a hundred million sound?

A Joke for the Writers

Thanks "KM" for this one...

A Lesson From Frank

(Ironically posted by a guy wearing sweat pants)

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Ohio Getting Overrun by Cicadas

This is not your ordinary Cicada's the one that happens every 17 years. Here's my favorite part of the article from the Columbus Dispatch...

That hum you hear the cicadas singing? It’s the males trying to attract a mate.The female reply is a wing flick that sounds a little like a muted finger-snap. Once the male cicada gets the go-ahead, he flits over to the female. Copulation can last from 30 minutes to 50 hours, depending on the weather, Cooley said. The longest recorded cicada mating session lasted three full days.

50 hours of mating. Who do these cicadas think they are; Sting?

I ate a cicada once, when I was Steve & Garry's producer. (They made me). Even though it was chocolate covered, it still tasted like crunchy vomit.


Thanks to "AD" for this one...

What Happened to Rock and Roll?

Not a thing. They just call it country now...

The Generation Gap

Great piece by Tim Clue today on his blog. Tim is an old friend (and a great writer and comedian) who cleans up on the corporate speaking circuit.

In this piece he demonstrates the generation gap by doing a game show with his audience. Easy questions for the 50+ crowd and easy questions for the 25 and under crowd...but questions that are impossible for each other to get correct.


As a 50+ dad with three 25-and-unders living in the house, I can relate.

Full Year of Full Frontal

I've only seen Samantha Bee's TBS show a few times, but it's a good one. TBS obviously agrees, and has renewed it through the entire 2016 year.

Time to set the DVR. It airs on Monday nights at 9:30 Central.

In this crazy election year, I'm missing Jon Stewart (and the old version of Stephen Colbert) tremendously. John Oliver and Sam Bee do the best job of filling those holes...even if it's just once a week each.


They won the opener, 9-0.

At this pace (if my math is correct), the Cubs will be outscoring their opponents 1458-0.


As someone who grew up in Europe and traveled extensively in my youth, I endorse the wisdom of Mark Twain. There's something about meeting people from all over the world that makes it impossible to be prejudiced.

When we lived in Heidelberg, we even lived in a community called "Mark Twain Village". It's true.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Happy Opening Day

Not Gloating, Just Noting

At least until about midnight or so tonight...

Free Excerpt from Records Truly is My Middle Name (Stevie Wonder & MLK)

April 4th, 1968 is a momentous day in American history. John Landecker remembers it well, and tells the story in his book. From "Records Truly Is My Middle Name", page 68...


I can tell you the exact date of my most memorable experience at WILS-Lansing. It was April 4, 1968. We had a very special guest in the studio that day; Stevie Wonder. Stevie was a big star at the time for Motown Records in Detroit, but he also supported a local school for the blind in Lansing, so he came to town semi-regularly. The music director at WILS (Craig Dudley) knew Stevie, and knew that he loved playing disc jockey, so he invited him to come to our station, sit at the control board, play records, and talk on the air.

I was there that day, and was lucky enough to watch him in action. It was just an amazing sight. He cued up the records, turned the knobs, turned the microphones on and off; you name it. Even though he couldn’t see a thing, he knew exactly what he was doing. There were a few Motown Records employees with him, but he was doing it all by himself. I was standing in the back of the studio watching the whole thing, in awe of his abilities.

That’s when the news came across the wire that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot.

At first it wasn’t clear if King was dead or not, but we all suspected he was. An instant tension filled the room. The Motown executives didn’t say a thing. None of the radio station employees (including me) responded, and neither did Stevie. But we all knew we were experiencing a significant moment.

Even though this clearly affected him, Stevie was a total pro. He finished the show.

Couscous Magic

Really interesting. Watch what he does with couscous on a table...

Radio is Going to Hal

Dick Taylor is a radio vet who writes a blog. This post is really good. It's all about how radio has become like the HAL computer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Really it's about the pros and cons of the computer-run radio world; an inside-baseball sort of piece for people in the industry.

Most Popular Decade?

Well, if you go by the ratings at CNN, the 80s is the big winner. The ratings for their docu-series about the 80s got the highest ratings, followed by the 60s. Last place winner was my decade, the 70s.

Actually, I thought all three of them were very well done.

Pioneering Blogger is Back

Andrew Sullivan was probably the first blogging superstar. His political blog, The Dish, was incredibly influential for 15 years before he put it out to pasture last year. After a full year away from the limelight, he announced his return yesterday.

He's not returning to blog, however. He's returning as a long-form writer at New York Magazine.

The New York Times has the details.

RIP Dave Mitchell

Sad news. Longtime WBBM News Radio anchor Dave Mitchell passed away yesterday in a car accident. He was only 60 years old.

CBS Chicago has the details.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

The BTB Golf Outing

The BTB Golf outing this year is helping to raise money for my cousin Derek's family among others. Derek's 3-year-old son Caleb is in the hospital right now, slowly recovering from a stem cell transplant he received to help treat Neuroblastoma (a cancer of the adrenal gland).

But the BTB Golf Outing is much more than just a fundraiser, and it's completely different from any golf outing you've ever attended. It's a fun time for everyone who wants to participate. This video does a great job of explaining what it is...

There are four different ways to help.

1) You can just golf ($150)
2) You can just go to the dinner ($75 a head...or $750 a table)
3) You can golf and go to dinner ($200)
4) Or you can simply donate

Go to the BTB Foundation website ( and help us out today. Anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated.