Friday, May 27, 2016

Around the Publishing World (May 27)

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

1. How to Format An Ebook for Kindle or Smashwords
Of course you can hire someone to do it for you (like us), but if you are pretty tech-savvy and have some time on your hands, it's totally possible to learn how to do it yourself.

2. You learn by finishing things
This sounds like simple "duh" advice, but it's so true. Millions of writers around the world have a half-finished novel somewhere that they just can't finish. The act of finishing it, will teach you so much.

3. Tips on Writing from Famous Writers
Hemingway, Fitzgerald, King, and more.

4. What's With the Hieroglyphics, 'Merica? 5 Tips For Writing With Real Words
There are some excellent points in this piece, and not just for professional writers. These are useful tips for anyone writing anything at all in the age of social media and texting.

Woman Accused of Smuggling Drugs Across Border Inside a Burrito

The drug in question in meth.

What happens when you eat a meth-filled burrito?

The fastest BM on record.

The Five Tribes of Men's Fashion

Slate Magazine has a piece today about the various different "types" of men, based on their fashion sense...

There are, at this particular point in time, only five tribes from which to pick: the Perverse Prepster, the Arty Ninja, the Dedicated Follower of Satin, the Statham, and the Schlub.

I didn't even need to read about them to figure out which one was me. Care to guess? Hint: It rhymes with Cub.

Inside Radio's Q&A With Garry Meier

You can read the whole thing here.

Garry talks about his new podcast, Howard Stern, and the changing radio landscape.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Minitua Men, Episode 4

Our latest episode has been posted...

This week on Minutia Men with Rick and Dave…A man with $100,000 boobs, Batman Shakespeare Bust, A camel chews off a face, Cubs games on historical days, And Rick’s brush with Cindy Crawford.

You can listen to it here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Free Excerpt from Records Truly Is My Middle Name: Radio Star Wars

On this date in 1977 the original Star Wars movie was released. John Landecker was on WLS Radio at the time, and had incredible access to the stars. This story comes from the book "Records Truly Is My Middle Name"


When Star Wars came out, it was an ever bigger phenomenon. In fact, it was on the cover of Time Magazine the day we got a few of the movie’s stars to appear on our station.

The WLS morning man was on vacation, so Bob Sirott was filling in for him that day. Bob had a phone interview scheduled with Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). I was filling in for Bob on the afternoon show, and had Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) scheduled as an in-studio guest. Since we had access to two of the biggest stars from the movie, I came up with an idea for a bit, and wrote a script featuring all of us. Everyone agreed to participate.

I showed up at the station early in the morning and recorded Bob and Carrie Fisher reading their lines. Then I spent all day with the production guy, adding R2D2 sound effects, a Darth Vader voice (mine), music from the movie, and timing everything out. All of the pre-recorded segments were ready to go when I got on the air that day. The plan was to do the last part of the script, my interaction with Mark Hamill, live on the air. I really thought it would be easy to do. I don’t know how many times I told the engineer the cue. All he had to do was hit a button at the right time, but when the time came, he messed it up.

We tried it again. He messed it up again.

It was messed up so many times I had to beg Mark Hamill to stay for an extra twenty minutes. We finally got it right and did a perfect take of the bit, and afterwards I edited it down even further, and it came out great. It was played on the air many times, and became a well-known bit. It really does feature the real actors from the movie, but if you hear the perfectly edited version, keep in mind that while we were actually doing the bit live on the air, it was a complete train wreck.

This is the full transcript of Radio Star Wars from 1977. The newsman in the bit was Jack Swanson, who was later named the best program director in America at KGO-San Francisco. I played the part of Darth Vader. The remastered version of this, which we redid twenty years later for the rerelease of Star Wars, can be found on CD.

John: Mark Hamill is our guest this afternoon.

Newsman: John, John, I hate interrupt...

John: What are you doing here, I’m trying to interview Mark Hamill

Newsman: Look, I’m sorry to interrupt, but this is important.

(Star Wars music in and under)

John: Judging by the music, it’s very important.

Newsman: Yes, listen. There’s a guy on the phone here. He’s says he’s Darth Vader.

Mark Hamill: Hey! Wait a minute. He’s the villain from Star Wars. Stay away! He’s evil.

Newsman: Oh God, it’s terrible.

John: Relax, relax. What line is he on?

Newsman: Pick up Line 2.

John: Think it’s alright if I talk to him, Mark?

Mark Hamill: Well, I don’t know. He is the most evil force in the universe, but he is deathly afraid of ducks. John, please be careful.

John: OK. Hello?

(Sfx: Helicopter sound effects, heavy breathing)

Darth Vader: Hello, this is Darth Vader. Is this John Landecker on WLS?

John: Yes it is. Yes.

Darth Vader: Are you there with Luke Skywalker?

Mark Hamill: Oh yeah, I’m here, Darth.

Darth Vader: Listen to my demands. I have kidnapped Bob Sirott and the Princess Leia.

Bob Sirott: Help, John, Help!

Carrie Fisher: Luke, save us!

Darth Vader: I have stolen the WGN Traffic helicopter. Bob and the Princess are inside. We are flying over the Dan Ryan. If I am not given full control of WLS, Bob and the Princess will be dropped into the rush hour traffic below me. They will die!

John: Great googly moogly, what to do?

Mark Hamill: John, I think my experience as Luke Skywalker can really be of some help here.

John: How’s that?

Mark Hamill: Well, I’ve got the Millennium Falcon, the starship from the movie. It’s parked right outside the station. I’ve got my droid R2D2. I’d be willing to give it a shot.

John: You don’t mean?

Mark Hamill: That’s right, John. RESCUE!

(Star Wars music swells)

Darth Vader: Rescue is futile! Turn over the station to me now or Bob and the Princess are dead meat.

Bob: John, don’t do it.

Carrie Fisher: Oh Luke, be careful.

John: Wow, this starship is bigger than it looked in the movie.

Mark Hamill: Well, strap in, and be careful now while I program R2D2 for our flight. R2, set a course for the WGN traffic helicopter over the Dan Ryan and take off.

(R2D2 sound effects)
(Dramatic music kicks in, the battle is underway)

Darth Vader: You have thirty seconds.

John: Luke, shoot him down!

Mark Hamill: I can’t, John. My ray guns are too powerful. They’re designed for other galaxies. If I fire, all of Chicago will be destroyed.

John: Wait. Didn’t you say that Darth Vader had a deathly fear of ducks?

Mark Hamill: Yeah.

John: Well, I think I’ve got the answer. We’ve got an open radio channel directly into the copter.

Mark Hamill: Right.

John: I’ve got a cassette of the song “Disco Duck” right here.

Mark Hamill: And you want to blast that song right into the copter? Great! Give the song to R2D2 and he’ll program the song directly into the copter’s communication system.

John: OK. R2D2, take it!

(R2D2 sound effects)

John: Fire!

(The song “Disco Ducks” begins)

Darth Vader: Oh no, not that duck record! NOOOOO!


Bob Sirott: John, John, can you hear me? Darth Vader’s body exploded. I’ve got control of the copter. We’re all right.

Carrie Fisher: Oh John, THANK YOU!

(Star Wars theme kicks in)

Man in Hong Kong Drinks His Own Face

Great headline. The story isn't quite as interesting as it sounds, but I suspect this technology will be coming to a Starbucks near you soon.

Doubt and Losing

Paraphrasing a famous JOBC t-shirt...

Remember this classic?

As the Sumner Turns

Today's twist in the Sumner Redstone soap opera involves Sumner choosing new board members who are loyal to him to replace the people who were removed the day before. Did the 93-year-old wheelchair-bound cutthroat-vulture executive make these appointments himself (as this article claims), despite having difficulty speaking? I sure hope that his daughter Shari is finding some way to "chronicle" the moment Sumner made these decisions, or Philippe Lauman's lawsuit will end this.

The quotes from the three new board members (who are all loyal to Shari Redstone) are hilarious because they seem to be pre-justifying their positions, knowing that people have a hard time believing Sumner did this himself...

“I am honored that Sumner has chosen me as a trustee and am convinced that he did so knowing that I would be loyal to him and would work to accomplish the objectives of the trust,” Jankowski said.

“I met Sumner in 1994 when I was an equity analyst covering the large-cap entertainment companies for Salomon Smith Barney,” Krutick said in a statement. “We had a close working relationship over a 10-year period as Sumner exuberantly shared his views on Viacom with investors from around the globe, and I have continued my long-time relationship with the Redstone family.”

“I am honored to be named as a fourth generation director and look forward to contributing to the continued success of the company my family has built over the last 80 years,” Ostheimer said.

The third one is Sumner's granddaughter.

It's hard for me to pick a good guy/bad guy in this story. Dauman's role has always seemed a little fishy to me, as I've written many times. But Sumner had many chances to put Shari in charge when he was still lucid, and clearly decided not to do it. This does look like a power grab by her. On the other hand, Sumner is one of the most unlikable humans to ever walk the maybe this is justice?

Like I said, no good guys.

But definitely a daily soap opera.

Billionaire Bankrolling Hulk Hogan's Gawker Lawsuits

Why is it a story that a billionaire is secretly bankrolling Hulk Hogan's lawsuits against Gawker?

It's because this billionaire isn't doing it for the traditional legal reasons (he so strongly believes in the wronged person) or for the money (that's what the lawyers are doing). He's doing it, allegedly, to punish Gawker--to get revenge for articles they have written about him.

That has to be a little chilling for anyone in the press. Try writing about these billionaires accurately and fairly with the threat of legal destruction hanging over your head.

Ron Magers' Last Night

Robert Feder does a fitting farewell to Ron in his column this morning.

Hard to believe he's really signing off. Tonight is his last newscast.

I've met Ron many times over the years. The first time I met him was on the night of Steve & Garry's 10th anniversary show at the Chicago Theater in 1989. He had the honor of introducing them on stage. It was a crazy night. The backstage area was hard to describe (and I probably shouldn't describe it), and for a second I thought I saw a flicker of "Am I killing my journalistic credibility by being a part of this?" in his eyes.

But he was always a good sport, and that night was no exception.

Another time we had him on the Landecker show and the two men talked about their favorite records from the 50s and 60s. That was a fun interview because it exposed another side of Ron.

I don't need to mention his work on Chicago television (or radio--with Roe Conn in particular), because that speaks for itself. He was a pro's pro. One of the very best at thinking on his feet and staying in the moment. That's a great trait for a broadcaster.

I heard him on Steve Cochran's show not too long ago, discussing his plans for retirement. He mentioned he might consider writing a book. If so, Ron, I know a publisher!

A history of the Chicago-style dog

This is a long article in Thrillist, but it's interesting if you like a good Chicago dog like I do.

To this day Vienna uses the original natural-casing, all-beef recipe developed by Jewish immigrants that gives the Chicago dog its distinctive flavor profile, snap, and texture.

The Chicago dog is basically a Frankfurter made out of beef, because kosher dietary restrictions wouldn't allow pork.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Exactly How I Would Throw Out Ceremonial First Pitch

That's a promise, Cubs. Just give me a call...

Obama & Bourdain

Imagine listening to President Obama and Anthony Bourdain chatting in a restaurant in Vietnam.

It happened yesterday.

Betting that was a pretty interesting conversation. Also betting it would have been even more interesting if CNN cameras weren't filming it.

A stolen gun, a bunch of pot, and a box of squirrels

From the website Outdoor hub...

A man from Kimball, Michigan, was arrested earlier this month after a police search of his vehicle turned up a stolen firearm, drugs, and strangely enough, a box of live baby squirrels.

Sounds like the set up to a joke. A man walks into a bar with a gun, a joint, and a box of baby squirrels. I'm not sure how the rest of it goes, but I'm pretty sure the punchline includes the word "Nuts".

WGN drops CW network

This news came out the other day, so I'm a little tardy in reporting it, but it is a big deal when a station like WGN drops a network affiliation to become an independent station.

I only wish they had done it when they had the Cubs more often.

As the Sumner Turns

From this morning's Tom Taylor column...

Sumner Redstone turns 93 on Friday…And The Hollywood Reporter says the party has “a very different guest list” from a year ago. That one – with the theme “Passion to Party” – was arranged by two former girlfriends, both of whom were later booted from Redstone’s mansion. Manuela Herzer was also written out of Sumner’s will. Last year’s birthday party was held at the Vibrato Grill Jazz restaurant owned by Herb Alpert. This one will be at Sumner’s estate in Beverly Park, and some – definitely not all – of his family will be there. His ex-wife Phyllis is expected. Also their daughter and increasingly-prominent corporate force Shari Redstone. So will her sons Tyler Korff and Brandon Korff, plus her daughter Kimberlee, and Kimberlee’s own two kids. As the Hollywood Reporter says, “none was invited to last year’s event.” Not expected is Shari’s brother Brent, who previously sued Sumner and reached a settlement. Brent’s daughter Keryn sided with Manuela Herzer in Herzer’s recent court fight to have herself restored as Sumner’s health-care guardian. Keryn’s not on the guest list. Last year’s guests heard Tony Bennett entertain, but Bennett’s not appearing this year. Neither is Philippe Dauman (as you’d expect after the lawsuits). And neither is CBS Executive Chair/CEO Les Moonves. After all, this year’s birthday seems mostly about family, or at least some of it. And as close as Moonves has been to Sumner and now Shari – he’s not family.

Radio Hall of Fame Nominees

The list came out yesterday, and there are a few with Chicago connections (Eric & Kathy, Tom Kent). I think Eric and Kathy have a real chance this year in their category.

Here is the whole list...

Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more)
Jeff & Jer (Jeff Detrow & Jerry Cesak), San Diego
Charles Laquidara, Boston
Bobby O'Jay, Memphis
Garland Robinette, New Orleans

Active Local/Regional (10 years or more)
Tom Barnard, Minneapolis
BJ & Migs (BJ Shea & Steve Migs), Seattle
Eric & Kathy (Eric Ferguson & Kathy Hart), Chicago
Preston and Steve (Preston Elliot & Steve Morrison), Philadelphia

Networks/Syndication (10 years or more)

American Top 40 & On-Air With Ryan Seacrest, Ryan Seacrest
The Fabulous Sports Babe, Nanci Donnellan
The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Steve Harvey
Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!, Peter Sagal

Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more)
Delilah, Delilah
Gospel Traxx with Walt "Baby" Love, Walt "Baby" Love
The Jim Rome Show, Jim Rome
The Kim Komando Show, Kim Komando

Music Format Air Personality
Sean "Hollywood" Hamilton
Tom Kent
The Kevin & Bean Show (Kevin Ryder & Gene Baxter)
Bob Kingsley

Spoken Word Air Personality
Diane Rehm
Mike Francesa and Chris Russo
Michael Savage
Sean Hannity

Monday, May 23, 2016

Green White

My blogging will be sporadic this week because Green White Soccer Club is ridiculously busy this week, and I'm on the board of directors for both the youth and men's programs

The youth program is doing tryouts today, tomorrow and Wednesday. Hundreds of kids will be processed and evaluated, then placed on teams. Tons of work.

The adult program is staging a nationwide tournament--teams from all over the country are arriving on Friday. We'll be making over 300 pounds of sausage on Thursday night, and then my whole family will be out working at the tournament on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I'm taking the wife to the Cubs game next Monday to celebrate surviving the week.

The BTB Foundation

We raised $120,000 for families struggling with cancer at last weekend's BTB golf outing!

One of the families benefitting this year is my cousin Derek's family. His son Caleb is suffering through Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, and on behalf of the family, we greatly appreciate the help Tom & Bill are offering.

I'd also like to personally thank everyone who contributed prizes to the raffle like KP Lynne, Randy Richardson, Tricia Furnett Mladic, Linda Hertl Witzke, Harry Witzke, Bruce Malter, Rowena Felix Salas, David Stern, Eva-Maria Rill, and my buddies who agreed to golf with me Jim Wiser and Scott Redman (photo), not to mention those of you who came to the dinner (three tables full), the dozen or so who donated funds, and the group of dedicated folks who volunteered to help at the golf outing. We can't thank you enough for your help. Seriously. Deep, deep thanks.

1972 News

Floyd Kalber, Johnny Morris, Harry Volkman...a blast from the past.

As the Sumner Turns

One of the weirdest parts of the Sumner Redstone saga was the decision Redstone made to put his CEO Phillippe Dauman in charge of his medical decisions. Who does that? (Someone who has a family that hates him). Dauman was also given control of the trust that would take over the company after Sumner dies (which will be soon--he's in his 90s and ailing) ahead of Redstone's own daughter, who is a high-ranking executive with the company

Well, over the weekend that changed. The Hollywood Reporter headline says it all: It's War: Sumner Redstone Ousts Philippe Dauman From Trust That Will Control Viacom and CBS.

Looks like Shari Redstone (Sumner's daughter) is a chip off the old block, unless of course you believe that the 90-something Sumner is making this power play from his wheelchair using sign language and grunts. (I wouldn't put it past the old coot--but it does seem unlikely). I just think it's funny that's she's more concerned about getting control of the company than she is in getting control over her own father's medical decisions.

After the ruthless and cut-throat life Sumner lived, that's what they call Kismet.

Farewell Mr. Bunting

Did not see this coming. Pretty darn funny...