Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit Wins

The leaders of the pro-Brexit movement are already taking back most of their promises to the people. Many "Leave" voters are already re-considering their vote. Oy.

And Bridget and I had England on our short-list of possible sane places to live if Trump wins. Now where?

As the Sumner Turns

A few months ago, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman was assuring the courts that Sumner Redstone's health was just fine--because that's the position that helped him defeat the lawsuit of Sumner's ex-girlfriend. After the lawsuit was over, Sumner's daughter swooped in (allegedly) and led a full-fledged mutiny of the board of directors at the supposed urging of her father. Suddenly Dauman was out on his ass. Dauman is insisting on an immediate mental health exam of Sumner. From Variety...

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman is pushing for an immediate medical exam of Sumner Redstone, as the two longtime allies continue to battle over control of the entertainment conglomerate. Dauman made a motion to a Massachusetts family and probate judge “because Mr. Redstone’s mental condition is ‘in controversy’ and good cause exists for ordering an examination in light of, among other things, the lack of equivalent alternative evidence of Mr. Redstone’s mental condition.”

I gotta grab some popcorn. This is a doozy.

Rush Limbaugh Update

It won't be anywhere near his old deal, but don't worry about Rush. His the-other-side-is-wrong-about-everything-and-I-am-right-about-everything audio-poison-festival will still be around (how do you really feel, Rick?). From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

It’s up to him whether he signs, but the deal’s reportedly on the table in front of him. (Or on his Mac computer screen.) Tuesday’s NOW lead story said “All’s quiet on the Rush Limbaugh renewal front,” and that’s probably because Premiere boss Julie Talbott wants it that way. She wants a nice clean renewal with no drama. But the circumstances are so different from 2008, when Premiere signed Rush to a reported eight-year deal worth $400 million. Rush is now 65 and almost certainly isn’t looking at another eight-year contract. There may be option windows, but the initial term’s probably not eight years. Other ways 2016 is different – Rush’s show has ratings issues in some (not all) key markets, and it also isn’t bringing in the ad revenue it did in 2008. Same for those fat affiliate fees in some markets like Boston. (Though Premiere mines gold from ancillary ventures such as the website and subscription newsletter it runs for Rush.) At one of Rush’s renewals, he reportedly asked for and got a plane. But how many more perks does he want or need? The question about Rush’s future with Premiere is relevant because his deal’s up – and he’s not likely to jump ship to SiriusXM or take the Glenn Beck route and start his own venture. Premiere wants to keep him happy and in the fold. But how much are they willing to spend? Expect an announcement pretty soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Minutia Men, Episode 8

Dave valiantly fights through heartburn, Rick presides over technical Armageddon, and they discuss baby Cheerios, vanity plates, The Rolling Stones at the Playboy Mansion, and Rick’s brush with Dennis Hopper.

You can listen to it here.

HBO Cancels "Vinyl"

The Hollywood Reporter has the behind the scenes reasoning by HBO, but I really think it came down to one reason.

It wasn't very good.

And I really wanted it to be good, too. It had all the elements I thought I would love, but I just didn't. Mostly because the lead character was such an unlikable one.

Late Night at the Conventions

It looks like the Republican and Democratic conventions are drawing a crowd they don't normally draw: Late night comedy shows. Add Stephen Colbert to the list of late night hosts who will be doing their shows from the convention. Bill Maher has already announced that he'll be there, and so will the Daily Show. Samantha Bee might be there too.

Good. We'll need some comedic relief after watching whatever the bozos at those conventions have programmed for America.

Knew This Was Coming

Moments after the Bulls announced they traded Derrick Rose, I got this in my e-mail box from "PM"...

Around the Publishing World (June 23)

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. Improve your writing by studying critical thinking
This seems like a no-brainer, but how many writers actually do it? A mind opened leads to a pen being opened. (See? I just thought of that bumper sticker-quality phrase right there)

2. The biggest e-book sales-killers
You won't be surprised by the insights at, but it bears repeating. For one thing, don't believe it when people say they don't judge books by their covers...even e-books.

3. How to Become a Successful Playwright
This is advice I couldn't give you because I know so little about the theater. Backstage (the magazine) on the other hand, is the expert. Great advice here.

4. Three Ways Authors Can Plant Meta-Data In Their Book Blurb
This is really getting in the weeds of digital marketing, but it's an area most authors don't bother researching. Definitely worth a read.

5. Writing Tips from Deena Goldstone, Author of "Surprise Me"
The Penguin/Putnam author has been published by one of the big boys, so she presumably knows a thing or two about her craft. My favorite insight in this piece is: "Surprise yourself when you're writing."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

John Dillinger, Cubs Fan

Today would have been John Dillinger's 114th birthday. Here's our story about his Cubs-love from Just One Bad Century...

~John Dillinger 1902 (Cubs fan 1902-1934)
He was Public Enemy #1--so hounded and hunted by the FBI that he underwent drastic plastic surgery to change his appearance. The surgery left him disfigured, but didn't do a very good job of disguising his appearance. Other bank robbers and gangsters tended to lay low while they were "on the lam," but die-hard Cubs fan Dillinger couldn't stay away from Wrigley Field. In the weeks before he was shot, in June and July of 1934, Dillinger attended several games. He went to Wrigley on June 8th, and again on June 26th. He was convinced his new face was fooling everyone. At that June 26th game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, a fan in the stands (Robert Volk from Crown Point) couldn't keep his eyes off the man sitting two seats away from him. There was something familiar about him, but he just couldn't put his finger on it. Was it possible? Was, it couldn't be. It looked like it could have been him. He introduced himself to the man, who shook his hand and introduced himself as Jimmy Lawrence. A reward was being offered for Dillinger's capture dead or alive, so Volk considered turning him in, but he couldn't be sure. Would John Dillinger really take a chance by going to a Cubs game? Nah, it couldn't be him. On July 8th Dillinger went to his final Cubs game. Jim Weaver was on the mound for the Cubs. He was the fifth starter on the team that year, an 11-game winner at season's end. But it wasn't the Cubs pitching that drew fans to the ballpark that year; it was their hitting. Future Hall of Famers KiKi Cuyler and Gabby Hartnett paced the most feared offense in the league. They pounded the Pirates that day, 12-3. The next day the Cubs left on their longest road trip of the season.

They were only three games out of first place on July 22, 1934. (Photo: The Biograph in 1934) That afternoon they played an extra inning game against the Phillies in Philadelphia. Dillinger probably didn't know that the Cubs had blown it in the bottom of the 12th inning because he was in one of the only cool places in Chicago--the Biograph Theater. He was watching the movie "Manhattan Melodrama" with his girlfriend. When he emerged from the theater and back into the scorching heat (it was over 90 degrees that day), he felt a different kind of heat. FBI Agent Purvis related what happened next. "I was about three feet to the left and a little to the rear of him. I was very nervous; it must have been a squeaky voice that called out, 'Stick 'em up, Johnnie, we have you surrounded.'" Dillinger ran to the alley and allegedly reached for his gun, but he was cut down quickly by the agents on the scene. Agent Purvis was among the first ones to examine the body. "Probably I will never forget, although I would like to, the morbidness displayed by the people who gathered around the shooting. Craning necks of curious persons, women dipping handkerchiefs in Dillinger's blood. Neighborhood business boomed temporarily. The spot where Dillinger fell became the mecca of morbidly curious." Cubs fan John Dillinger went to his grave thinking that 1934 might be "the" year for the Cubs. Needless to say, it wasn't. They ended the season in third place, eight games out of first.

Chicago Streetcars

If you've ever been in Chicago neighborhoods, you've seen train tracks in the middle of streets that seem to go nowhere. Those are the old abandoned street car tracks that were used for the last time yesterday in 1958.

DNA Info has a great piece about that.

This is obviously before my time, but I do wonder if the choice to move to buses was the correct choice in the long run.

Ringo's Plan

Michael vs. Lebron

We get very protective of our heroes here in Chicago. This was sent to me by "KM"...


I love this quote from Angela Merkle in the Washington Post today. She was asked what made Germans special, and responded: “No other country can build such airtight and beautiful windows.”

That could be the most German response I've ever heard. (I'm allowed to say that...I'm German myself)

Notre Dame Moves to AM 1000

This little tidbit was also announced yesterday. WLS has lost the broadcast rights to ESPN 1000 in Chicago. From Radio Ink...

As part of the just-announced multi-year deal, ESPN Chicago 1000 will broadcast every Notre Dame football and men’s basketball game beginning with the 2016-17 seasons. The station previously carried the games from 1999-2005. WLS carried the games up until this new deal. ESPN Chicago 1000 will produce Notre Dame basketball games, while IMG will produce Notre Dame football games, as part of IMG’s Notre Dame Football Network.

The bummer about this news is that Chet Coppock has lost his gig. He posted this on his facebook page yesterday: "bad day in the office. WLS has lost the rights to Notre Dame football to ESPN 1000. thus my 10 year run as host of N.D. football on 'LS is history. Will truly miss the gig. ‪#‎GoIrish‬."

Edward R. Murrow Awards

The Edward R. Murrow Awards were announced yesterday afternoon, and our very own WBBM-AM was a big winner. Congrats to the newstaff there. WBBM-AM was awarded "Best Breaking News Coverage" for their continued coverage following the public release of the video capturing the shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Also, WBEZ won another. This American Life won for Continuing Coverage (with WBEZ) and Documentary.

We still have some quality radio in this town.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Eight Days A Week

Must. See. This.

Weirdest Video Ever

I have no explanation for just appeared on my facebook feed.

Why Aren't More Women in Sports Radio?

That's a question posed by the Chicago Tribune, and I think it's a good question.

Good article written by Shannon Ryan. I particularly like this quote...

"Sports radio is sort of the last bastion of the bro, frat-boy culture," said Julie DiCaro, an update anchor at WSCR-AM 670 who occasionally hosts shows. "I feel like every (other medium) has moved on. There's such an untapped audience of people who want more intelligent conversation and want to hear from women. But nobody is going down that road. I don't know exactly why that is."

NBA Ratings

The Warriors/Cavs Final was the highest rated NBA Finals since the Michael Jordan era.

I'm not surprised. It was the only NBA Finals I can recall people talking about while it was going least here in Chicago.

Dan Sorkin

Just heard the sad news that Dan Sorkin passed away in California. You may not remember Dan's name, but he was a superstar in Chicago radio in the late 50s and early 60s. I was lucky enough to interview him in 2010. He was such a gentleman. He told me that if I ever came out to California to look him up...I was welcome to stay with him if I needed a place to crash.

Below is that interview, re-run in honor of his impressive life...

In the 50s and early 60s everyone in Chicago knew the name of Dan Sorkin. He was an important figure on the radio dial; the morning man at WCFL. He's retired now, and living in California.

Rick: A few years ago I interviewed former WLS great Fred Winston and asked him to put together his all-time dream lineup, and he chose you as his morning man. His description: "Way ahead of his time. Very funny--a true personality." How would you describe your old WCFL show to those that never got a chance to hear it?

Dan: Satirical, whimsical, JAZZ, Big Band, current, relevant.

Rick: People still talk about that old WCFL lineup today, fifty years later. You led off the "all-day personality parade." Putting together that much talent and ego and creativity could have led to some combustible moments. Did it?

Dan: No! My best friend in that line up was JAZZ great Mike Rapchak. We shared an office together.

(Photo: Mike Rapchak from his WGN days--1980-1995)

Rick: One of my former colleagues had a copy of your 1960 book "The Blabbermouths" (co-written by Joe Price, who sadly passed away last year, with a foreword by Shelly Berman). That book was hysterical. I particularly enjoyed your description of the 9 types of disc jockeys. What do remember about that experience?

Dan: Joe Price sat in the WCFL studio behind me in a comfortable chair taking notes. In 6 months it was a book.

(Photo: Joe X. Price. Price later wrote another book; a biography of Redd Foxx, and he worked for years as a music writer for the Daily Variety. He was good friends with Dean Martin).

Rick: The late 50s and early 60s was an exciting time in Chicago history. The swinging Playboy Mansion and Club were brand new, but some of that glamorous old Chicago, like the Chez Paree and the Pump Room were still places to see and be seen. You were a young man, well-known around town. You must have some stories from those days. Have any that you'd share with us?

Dan: I went to the Chez Paree once with a date. She wanted a toy bear the lady with mesh stockings was selling. It cost almost all the money I had.

For dinner I had water, she had steak and drinks. I never saw her again.

I conducted Interviews in the Ambassador East Hotel Pump Room. The most memorable was with the Adler Planetarium Director as we dissected the "Big Bang Theory" and Quantum Physics.

Rick: One of your claims to fame was discovering a mild mannered comic/accountant named Bob Newhart. I saw an interview of Newhart a few years ago and he gave you credit for giving him his big break. How did you and Bob initially cross paths?

Dan: Playhouse 90 writer Jim Gallagher and I were friends. Jim and Bob had put together and were selling to radio stations a 5 minute taped comedy "man on the street show" for $5 a show. It cost them $7 a show to produce. The more successful the sale, the more money they lost. I loved the comedy routines and asked Jim to Bring Bob to the WCFL studios for a live interview.

He did.

Bob performed several of his routines on air.

When Warner Bros. President Jim Conkling came to Chicago I performed Bob's routines for him and suggested a contract. Jim Conkling contracted and had Bob booked into the Tides Hotel in Dallas and recorded live, "The Button Down Mind Of Bob Newhart".

Rick: Bob later asked you to be a part of his first television show. How was that experience?

Dan: Wonderful. Every Friday after finishing my WCFL Morning Show I would cab to the roof of the Merchandise Mart where a helicopter took me to O'Hare Field in time to Catch a Continental Non-Stop to Burbank where I had a Honda Motorcycle stashed at the air freight office. I strapped my bag to the Honda and drove to the NBC Burbank sound stage where I arrived in time to announce the Bob Newhart TV Show. It was a wonderful year!

Rick: Your life took an unexpected turn, almost literally, in 1964. You were working as a disc jockey in San Francisco at the legendary KSFO when you suffered a terrible motorcycle accident. How did that change your life?

Dan: It improved it considerably. Because of a broken back and left leg amputation my outlook on life and the value and perspective of day to day living took on new meaning. The motorcycle accident grew me up. It gave me a wider understanding of how others cope with life. It sharpened my sense of humor & purpose. It caused me to found a whimsical global amputee support network called Stumps 'R Us ( Stumps 'R Us is now in 15 countries & 22 states. I also decided to earn an Instrument Flight Instructor's Certificate at age 75 (7 years ago). I teach 2 to 3 days a week at Buchanan Field in Concord, CA using a Peg Leg to fly. My students think it is cool!

Everybody in Stumps 'R Us is either an amputee or the spouse or significant other of one. We meet once every two months to Fly, Ski, roller blade, tour museums, take San Francisco Bay Cruises on an 1891 Scow Schooner named ALMA or simply have lunch or barbecue. The venues are always different but the theme is the same. We socialize & share experience POSITIVELY. We usually have a speaker on anything from Medical Hypnosis to the latest state of the art of Prosthetic design.

(VIDEO: Dan Sorkin being interviewed about his great work with Stumps R Us.)

Rick: I know you're retired and living in California, but you keep busy, don't you?

Dan: Yes. In addition to running Stumps 'R Us, I teach Instrument Flying, teach Computer Science to Rossmoor Residents (where my wife Jody & I live) in Walnut Creek, Ca and play a lot with a Rag Doll cat named Ella, (for Ella Fitzgerald) our cat sings a lot. That & enjoying life with the most wonderful girl in the world (my wife of 30 years Jody) keeps me busy & engaged.

Monday, June 20, 2016

King Trump

The king of the radio DJ parody songs, Bob Rivers, has a new song about Trump.

Cleveland's Long Nightmare is Over

52 years of no championships is a very long time. Congrats to Cleveland (even Lebron) for winning it all. I was at the Cubs game last night, and people were keeping an eye on the game on their phones. As Cubs fans, we had a natural affinity for Cleveland's long drought.

Of course, 52 years is nothing for Cub fans.

But as my friend from Cleveland always point out to me--Chicago has had a Bears championship, a White Sox championship, three Blackhawks championships, and six Bulls championships since the last time any team from Cleveland won it all.

Finding Dory

I don't have little ones at home any more, so I'm probably not going to see this latest Pixar hit, but it looks like the folks at Disney have another megahit on their hands. "Finding Dory" earned $136.2 million on it's opening day.

It's summer. Families with kids need stuff to do. Everyone already knows the character. It's voiced by the incredibly popular Ellen DeGeneres. This was a no-brainer.

And because Disney let the actual Pixar people write it, it's also very good (according to the reviews). Here's one from the Wall Street Journal...

What was a fertile comic notion in the original—Dory’s short-term memory loss—is now at the core of her seriously affecting, though sometimes repetitive, search for her parents. This sequel redefines the notion of loss leader. Dory lost track of her mother and father long ago; Marlin and Nemo, having lost and found each other, help her on her quest. Still, the movie’s main source of energy is screwball comedy. “Finding Dory” can be touching, sweet and tender, but it’s compulsively, preposterously and steadfastly funny.

Father's Day at Wrigley Field

Had a great time at the ballpark yesterday with my oldest son Tommy and wife Bridget. Thanks for the memorable Father's Day...