Friday, April 29, 2016

Dobie Maxwell on Mancow

I accompanied Eckhartz Press author Dobie Maxwell to this interview on Mancow's WLUP show the other morning.

You can listen to it here.

I had forgotten what an ADD free-for-all the show was. There were literally five things going on at once while he interviewed Dobie. There was a man who melted his face off. A portal to hell in Gary Indiana. A short one minute newscast of recorded headlines. A sports report. And a bit about Steve Dahl.

That may or not be your cup of tea, but it is definitely not like anything else on the radio.

Half-Time Rave Out By Pro Soccer Coach (2016 version)

For my fellow international soccer fans. A hilarious take on what it takes for a coach these days to give a half-time speech to his team...

The First Eight Presidents

Think you know who the first 8 presidents were? You don't. At least I didn't, and I'm a history dork. This is something you don't read about in the history books, but there were eight presidents between the end of the Revolutionary War in 1781 and the adoptation of the Constitution in 1789. They were 1-year presidents under the Articles of Confederation...

John Hanson (1781), Elias Boudinot (1782-83), Thomas Mifflin (1783-84), Richard Henry Lee (1784-85), John Hancock (1785-86), Nathan Gorman (1786-87), Arthur St. Clair (1787-88), and Cyrus Griffin (1788-89).

This fascinating article explains it.

Washington was just the first president under the Constitution.

Old Music is Outselling New Music

It's the first time in history this is true. Check out the details here.

There are at least three reasons old music is outselling new music. One--radio has lost its prominence. This was where new music was broken for the past half-century. Two--some of the biggest classic artists are dying and reviving interest in their music.

But the most important reason is this: New music sucks right now.

Sorry, but the truth hurts.

Helpful Hint

Thanks to "KS" for this one. This really cracked me up...

Is Trump Running As Revenge?

The New York Times has posited this theory, arguing that his humiliation at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner so infuriated him, that he decided to run just to stick it to the president.

The woman who sat right next to him that night has a different perspective. She wrote about it in this morning's Washington Post.

Reading this article reminded me of that whole Birther fiasco that Trump was leading in 2011. I watched part of his speech last night, and he was in full-voiced "nanny nanny boo boo" bully mode against Hillary. She should study the way Obama tore Donald apart with humor in 2011. For every "she's old" or "she screams" or "she plays the woman card", Hillary should say, "Why don't you run along and bring us that Obama birth certificate bombshell you promised."

Don't Look Now, But There's a Run on Media Companies

Comcast just acquired Dreamworks for $3.8 Billion with a B.

They are doing it to compete with Disney's recent purchases of Marvel Studios & Lucas Films.

The behemoths are getting behemoth-er (new word).

I have a friend who keeps asking me to update the end of "$everance" where I list what every company owns. It has changed significantly since I wrote that book almost a decade ago. I think it might be time to do that.

Just Say No, Kids.

The NFL Draft last night was one of the strangest drafts I can remember. Just as the draft was beginning, someone hacked the account of offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and posted a picture of him smoking pot with a gasmask on. The Ravens were going to pick him at #6 overall, and they passed on him. He dropped all the way to #13.

That very strange story is covered here at Deadspin, complete with the photo in question.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

May 29, 1973

That's the last time the Cubs and White Sox both had the best records in their respective leagues.

This is going to be a fun year.

Can't wait for the crosstown classic.

WLS Wins Newscast Award

From this morning's Radio-Online...

For the third consecutive year, the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association has named Cumulus Media's WLS-AM/Chicago as Best Newscast in the Large Market category. WLS-AM took top honors from a field of Illinois Large Market radio stations, including: WBBM, WBEZ, Rivet Radio and WGN. Winners of the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association contest were announced Saturday, April 23 in Springfield, IL.

VP/Market Manager Peter Bowen said, "Continuing to provide great local news is a key part of our growth plan for the Big 89. I credit PD/OM Peter Bolger and News Director John Dempsey and his excellent news team for their ongoing commitment to excellence in providing our community with the very best news programming that they can count on, day after day and year after year."

WLS-AM Program Director/Operations Manager Peter Bolger added, "I've been associated with the news business for many years, and I can tell you it is very difficult to win this honor three years in a row-especially in a market as competitive and as rich with talent as Chicago. Although it's a team effort, our winning entry was anchored by Jennifer Keiper -- and this is the second year in a row that she has anchored the award winner."

As the Sumner Turns

Remember when I posted that an agreement has been reached in the Sumner Redstone case? It turns out that deal fell apart. That'll happen when millions are at stake and everyone involved in demonstrably greedy.

All of the parties hoped that this trial could be private because it involved medical issues.

A judge ruled against that yesterday. This will be a public trial.

Get some popcorn and buckle up for the freak show of the century. I know I'll be watching.

Explaining Minutia Men

OK, so yesterday I was out of the office most of the day. I accompanied Eckhartz Press author Dobie Maxwell to his appearance on Mancow's show (The Loop), and Mancow had him on the show for an hour and a half. When I find the podcast of that interview, I'll post it.

As I was leaving for the interview, I noticed that Robert Feder posted the little tidbit about my upcoming podcast with Eckhartz Press co-publisher David Stern. I didn't really have time to explain the show yesterday, so I just posted Mr. Feder's article (it's a few posts down) with promises of additional information.

This morning I have a little more time to explain it.

Dave and I have known each other for more than 30 years. We met at the University of Illinois in the early 80s and instantly became best friends. Before we left town, Dave and I hosted a show together on the radio station there (WPGU). We mocked the powers that be at U of I (especially the Chief), and we ran for Homecoming King and Queen. We got a few job offers to do a morning show in a few markets, but Dave wanted to get his Masters Degree, so we turned them down.

I went into radio and got a bunch of jobs in Chicago. Dave moved to Chicago and went into sales. We both got married and had kids (I have three boys, he has three girls). This picture makes it look like we got married to each other, but actually we stood up for each other's weddings. I was Dave's best man (he says I was an OK man at best). When Dave calls my house and Bridget answers it, she says "Your first wife is on the phone."

We have been constant collaborators over the years. I had him appear as a character on radio shows I was working on (as a Cliff Dancer on Steve & Garry, as Bobby Bitterman on Ebony & Ivory and as a ridiculous letter writer on John Landecker's show), and we went through the Second City improv school together and created a show there. We formed an advertising agency together (AMISH Chicago Advertising), and a publishing company (Eckhartz Press). But Dave still wanted us to do a radio show (probably still feeling guilty for turning down those job offers in 1985).

The obstacle to our doing a show has always been that people in the business didn't know Dave. Over the years he has gotten to know my radio pals, and they all loved him mainly because he is a laugh riot. When we hung out at parties or restaurants or bars or golf courses, we inevitaby did the Rick and Dave show for everyone around us (with me as the straight man, essentially). For years we've been hearing..."you guys should do a show together."

Well, one time about a year and a half ago, the person who said that was Tony Lossano, and he just happened to be starting up this Radio Misfits podcast network with Ed Silha (the owner of the network). We kept putting it off, and I'll admit it was 100% my fault. I had an inkling what it took do a radio show, and I warned Dave that we didn't have the time to do it right. Podcasting required a technical expertise that neither of us possessed. We'd have to learn it, write a show, do the prep work, etc, all while doing our full time jobs (publishers of Eckhartz Press).

But I was thinking about it all wrong. I was thinking of the type of radio shows I used to produce. I was thinking of a promotional vehicle for Eckhartz Press with lots of authors coming on the show to discuss their cool new books, and fully produced comedy bits.

"That's not what we want," Tony said. "We want what you guys do when you talk to each other. That's the show."

"We don't talk about anything important," I pointed out. "It's just the sort of minitua that interests us at that moment, and stories about things that have happened to us. It's never ever something important or deep."

"That's whats so entertaining," he said.

"And," Dave noted, "we do that on the phone every day anyway. Let's just do it once a week on a podcast. We can handle that."

That's when Minutia Men was born. Tony and producer Chris Cwiak came out to my house and set up the equipment. In an afternoon they taught me how to use it (I'm essentially a technical moron), and Dave and I have done a few practice shows the past few weeks...and you know what? I think we've got something here.

A warning...the show doesn't have a defined length. We try to make it about 30 minutes, but it can be more or less than that depending on the many tangents. The subject matter varies, but it's never political. We share some of our favorite minutia stories we've discovered that week. We talk about things like parenting, the Cubs, balding, and rock and roll. Dave asks me to share some of my brushes-with-celebrities stories. In other words, we do a podcast version of what I post here on this blog.

That's the show. If you enjoy this blog, you'll enjoy the show.

Even if you don't, you'll enjoy Dave.

But if you're looking for a slickly produced comedy show, or a deep serious discussion about anything at all, Minutia Men is not for you.

This is the link to where the show can be found every Thursday. As long as people enjoy it, we'll continue to do it as a podcast. If people don't enjoy it, we'll continue to do it on the phone.

Twenty years from now, God willing, we'll be those two old men sitting in a booth at a diner comparing our medical maladies. There's still a chance if you tune in between now and then, you'll still get some humorous non-medical talk.

That's all we can promise.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rogers Hornsby

Another day, another Cubs Hall of Famer celebrating a birthday. Here's his write-up from Just One Bad Century's EVERY CUB EVER feature...

~Rogers Hornsby 1897 (Cubs 1929-1932)
It’s hard to imagine that one of the greatest players in history was not popular in Chicago–but Hornsby clearly was not. Hornsby had one great season for the Cubs, their World Series year of 1929, and he became the manager at the very end of the following year. Despite managing a notoriously rowdy team, he ruled with an iron fist. He didn’t just ban drinking (which, of course, was illegal at the time), he banned reading, movies, soda pop, smoking, and eating in the club house. He was so hated by his players that when the 1932 team won the pennant (after he was fired), the players voted to give him zero cents of a playoff share, even though he had been with the team for 4 months.

Their hatred of him went much deeper than his strict rules. He was in deep debt to many of the players on the team. The Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, became so alarmed by the reports he was getting about Hornsby, that he sent letters warning the team and the players about him. He also sent one to the NL President demanding any and all information he had about Hornsby’s gambling. Hornsby was defiant about it until the very end: “Gambling’s legal,” he would say. He never bet on baseball, only the horses. Probably influenced by Hornsby’s star power, Landis chose not to punish him. But his letters to the club led to an internal Cubs investigation. Team owner William Wrigley and team president William Veeck discovered that Hornsby had borrowed $11,000 from his own players. That’s when they fired him and replaced him with Charlie Grimm. Grimm led the 1932 team to the World Series. Hornsby never experienced the playoffs again.

Later in life he was hired by Wrigley’s son Phillip to become the teams first minor league batting instructor. The same prickly personality and inability to understand why people couldn’t naturally hit as well as he did, however, made him as lousy at that job as he was as a manager. As a player Rogers Hornsby had very few peers. His lifetime batting average is .358. He hit .400 three different times. He narrowly missed it a fourth time (.397). He won two MVP awards, two triple crowns, and seven batting titles. And he did all that while gambling away nearly every dime he earned.

Minutia Men

Thanks so much to Robert Feder for the nice mention of my upcoming podcast "Minutia Men"...

Rick Kaempfer, author, blogger, media critic, longtime Chicago radio producer and publisher of Eckhartz Press, is adding podcaster to his credits. Starting May 5, Kaempfer and co-publisher David Stern will co-host “Minutia Men,” a weekly podcast for the Radio Misfits network at Produced by Tony Lossano’s Oppih Productions, it’ll feature Kaempfer and Stern sharing stories and drawing on their vast treasures of worthless information (hence the title).

More info to come soon. I'll be on Lossano and Friends! on Saturday explaining the show a bit more, and then we debut next week.

Heading out of the office this morning. I'll be with "Monkey in the Middle" author Dobie Maxwell at Mancow's show.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Just found this guy on Twitter...

Over/Under Craziness

A Las Vegas oddsmaker puts the over/under on Cubs victories this year at 116.5

This is crazy. I'm thinking the odds are driven by optimistic Cub fans betting on their favorite team, but the over/under on wins this year is the all-time record? Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Happy Birthday Hack

~Hack Wilson 1900 (Cubs 1926-1931)
Hack led the league in homers four of his six seasons in Chicago (Photo: 1928 Baseball Card), and is still remembered for his record 1930 season when he drove in 191 runs. That year he was so fearsome at the plate, he inspired this poem in The Sporting News. (author unknown)

“How do you pitch to Wilson?”
Asked the rookie up from the sticks,
“I’m up to learn the hitters,
And know their little tricks.”
“I’ll tell ya,” said the veteran,
who had pitched for many years,
“When ya dish up Hack yer fast one,
You’d better watch your ears.
“He’ll drive that agate at ya,
Like ya never seen before
He’ll learn ya in a jiffy,
Not to show him speed no more.
“N’then y’ll try to curve him,
N’he’ll crash one off yer shins:
If ya keep on throwin hookers,
He’ll tear off both yer pins.
“N’then ya’ use year change of pace,
He might strike out on that;
N’perhaps he’ll ride the ball so far,
You don’t know where it’s at.
“I’ll tell ya son,” the veteran said,
“When ya see that sawed-off squirt,
Just flip one towards the platter,
N’take care ya’ don’t get hurt.”

But during his Cubs days Hack was known for more than just slugging the baseball. He was known as a notorious hellraiser. Wilson had several run-ins with the law, his teammates, opposing players, and even fans. For instance…

*In his first season with the Cubs (1926), Hack Wilson was arrested and charged with drinking beer in violation of the Prohibition Act. Four cops arrived at his friend’s house, and he tried to escape out the side door. While he was attempting to escape, his friend (a woman named Lottie Frain) threw a bookend at the cops. Wilson was caught and arrested.

*One night Wilson and his teammate Pat Malone 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.

*In 1928, Wilson charged into the stands to fight a milkman who had been heckling him throughout the game. 5000 fans stormed the field during the melee. Gabby Hartnett and Joe Kelly had to physically pull Wilson off the milkman. Hack was fined $100 for that.

*In 1929, Wilson got into two fistfights with players on the Reds, and was suspended for three games. In the first fight, he charged into the Red’s dugout to punch Red’s pitcher Ray Kolp…after he had just gotten a single. He was tagged out in the dugout. The second fight happened that same night at the train station with Red’s pitcher Pete Donohue—who was trying to stop Wilson from attacking Kolp again. Hack punched Donohue in the face twice.

*Joe McCarthy knew how to handle Hack Wilson and keep him functioning. He once took a worm and dropped it in a glass of whiskey. The worm quickly died. “Now what does that prove?” asked Joe. Wilson thought about it for a while and replied, “It proves that if you drink whiskey, you won’t get worms!”

Near the end of his Wilson’s life he appeared on a network radio show where he spoke about the effects of “Demon Rum.” This was just a few months before his death from an internal hemorrhage on November 23, 1948. He was only 48. His body was unclaimed for three days before National League president Ford Frick paid for the funeral.

Monty Python in Chicago 1975

Great WTTW promos in Chicago by the Monty Python folks...

Twin Peaks Cast List

I was a huge fan of the original Twin Peaks and am eagerly awaiting the revival...even more so now that I see the cast list. The ones with an asterisk are returning cast members. The others include a pretty eclectic array of actors and artists, everyone from Richard Chamberlain to Eddie Vedder.

Mike Tirico Leaves ESPN

This is big news in the sports broadcasting world. Tirico has been play by play man on ESPN's Monday Night Football for many years, and is moving to NBC to host their Thursday Night Football broadcasts.

Variety has the details.

Not from North Carolina

Thanks to MT for sending this one along...

Barber Cuts Two Inches Off Boy

This is my son Johnny awaiting his haircut yesterday afternoon. (Not photoshopped)

This is what he looked like after his haircut.

The second one should be a little more appropriate for his graduation and Eagle Scout ceremony.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rick Monday

Top that, fellas


First of all, he's a firefighter--the stuff of every girl's dreams.

Then he's a romantic firefighter--proposing in a dangerous and novel way.

All he needs is a secret fortune, and the romance novel is complete.

"Transparent" Wins a Peabody

I've always considered the Peabody Awards to be among the most prestigious awards for creatives.

"Transparent" was one of this year's winners, continuing the roll that show has been on.

Happy for Amy Landecker, one of the stars of the show.

Milwaukee Journal Reviews "Monkey in the Middle"

Dobie with book

Milwaukee's paper of record, the Milwaukee Journal, reviews Dobie Maxwell's "Monkey in the Middle" in their Sunday April 24th edition.

You can read the full review by columnist Jim Stingl here.

The article is mostly about the bank robberies at the heart of the book, complete with facts from the orignal Milwaukee Journal coverage, but here's an additional excerpt...

There has been talk of turning "Monkey in the Middle" into a movie. The book opens with Maxwell sharing his rough start in life, which included having a drug addict mother who abandoned him and his siblings, and a father who was in a motorcycle gang. Maxwell was separated from his siblings — they have since reunited — and raised from age 5 months by his grandparents near 20th and Hampton.

Maxwell calls himself a dented can and, sarcastically, Mr. Lucky. But he has made a life working on the radio in Milwaukee, Chicago, Reno and Los Angeles, and in stand-up comedy, now mostly as a regular at Zanies clubs in the Chicago area. He also teaches comedy.

Maxwell's humorous approach to life comes through often in the book, even in his exchanges with federal agents and prosecutors. "I realize you're a comedian, but this is damn serious," one of them warns him.

Monkey in the Middle is available right here at Eckhartz Press.

The Ron Magers Ad Controversy

Don't know if you caught this little story about Ron Magers that exploded over the weekend. The timeline, as far as I can tell is this...

1) Ron Magers appears on Tony Lossano's podcast (Lossano and Friends), and says something nice about the WGN-TV Morning News when asked about it.

2) WGN runs an ad in the Tribune, displaying that quote.

3) Ron Magers gets very upset about them using his words without asking for permission...something he says he wouldn't have granted.

And now everybody is mad at each other.

The whole thing is a bummer for me, because I'm going to be appearing on this coming weekend's Lossano and Friends (true story), and I have no news to break.

Actually...wait a minute. I do have some news to break. It's the reason I'm appearing on the show.

I guess you'll have to tune in to find out what it is.

RIP Billy Paul

From rock historian Ron Smith...

Billy Paul, the Philadelphia soul singer who took “Me And Mrs. Jones” to #1 in 1972, died Sunday at a hospital in his home town just one week after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 81. Born Paul Williams, he began his career at the age of 11 singing on a local radio station. From the West Philadelphia Music School, he graduated to the Granoff School of Music. Soon he was performing as the opening act for some of the biggest acts in music under his new name. In 1952 he recorded his first singles, but his early career took a detour when he was drafted by the Army, where he served with Elvis Presley in Germany. Upon his release he continued to record (mostly jazz) to little success. It was in 1968, though, that he met producer Kenny Gamble. Signed to the fledgling Gamble label, he also recorded for Kenny (now with co-producer Leon Huff) on their Neptune label. But success was still elusive until the producers formed Philadelphia International, which was distributed by CBS. “Me And Mrs. Jones” became his only gold record and won Billy a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. But it proved to be his only top 40 hit, due mainly to controversial follow-up records like “Am I Black Enough For You” and “Let’s Make A Baby.” He did appear 12 more times on the R&B charts, but “Thanks For Saving My Life” (#9-1974) was his only other appearance in the R&B top ten. Billy officially “retired” in 1989 but continued to perform in concert and even released a live album in 2000.

Wrote a parody of this song during the Paula Jones controversy. Kind of a no-brainer.

How Bad Are Trump & Cruz?

Charles Koch, of Koch Brothers fame, told ABC News that Hillary might be a better president than either Trump or Cruz.


The Republican's personification of Satan might be a better president, according to one of the guys who bankrolled the campaign to destroy her husband.

That's how bad Trump and Cruz are

Gonna be a fun election, isn't it?