Saturday, September 09, 2017

The Sagamore of the Wabash

I spent yesterday afternoon in Michigan City, Indiana. It was my honor to help introduce John Landecker, who was receiving the state of Indiana's highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash. The local paper did a nice job of covering it. (A few excerpts below, read the whole piece here). The photos are mine...

MICHIGAN CITY — A Chicago radio icon, who for the past 15 years has made a home in Northwest Indiana, was honored at Barker Mansion on Friday ahead of his induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

John Records Landecker — who for decades entertained legions of listeners from the broadcast studios of WLS, WLUP and others — cracked jokes Friday during the ceremony, which was attended by a small group of dignitaries and friends.

“With John, what you see is what you get,” said long-time fan, friend and co-worker Rick Kaempfer of Chicago.

Landecker was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash by state Rep. Scott Pelath on behalf of Gov. Eric Holcomb. He also was presented with a proclamation from Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer noting Landecker’s accomplishments in radio, his Hoosier connections and his ongoing contributions to the community.

Landecker said he “discovered” Michigan City 15 years ago while looking for a property large enough to build his rescue shelter for dogs, a program he continues to run.

He seemed genuinely surprised by the appearance of longtime broadcast partner Leslie Keiling and was pleased to hear from a number of longtime friends and associates.

Kaempfer for 20 years was Landecker’s producer and more recently a co-writer and publisher of the book “Records Truly Is My Middle Name.”

“For my generation of radio fans, there was no bigger star than John Records Landecker,” Kaempfer said. “From the very first day, he treated me as an equal, which I certainly was not.”

Landecker was already a radio legend when they met, Kaempfer said. Landecker had just been awarded Personality of the Year honors by Billboard magazine and only months later would be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

“But it wasn’t until I worked side by side with him that I got to appreciate the brilliance of John Landecker as morning man at Magic 105 in Chicago,” Kaempfer said.

Kaempfer shared stories of Landecker dressing up in a giant diaper and carrying an oversized bottle during a tribute to baby boomers. He once convinced Kaempfer to hire an Elvis impersonator to wake up people at their homes at 6 a.m. — all to entertain and enlighten listeners.

“My first thought was that, there are many things that could go wrong here,” he said. “But we all followed him, wherever he wanted to go, because he had great ideas and because we all knew this guy was gonna be fun.”

Landecker is scheduled for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame on Nov. 2 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.

A few more photos from the official photographer...

Friday, September 08, 2017

Going Back to Indiana

I'm heading to Indiana to be part of the ceremony honoring John Landecker. It will be at 2pm today at the Barker Mansion, 631 Washington Street in Michigan City. John is receiving the state's highest honor (The Sagamore of the Wabash) and the day is being proclaimed "John Landecker Day" in Michigan City. They've asked me to say a few words. As his former producer (10 years!) and the co-writer of his memoirs (Records Truly Is My Middle Name), there is no shortage of potential material about John. I'll do my best to keep it clean.

See Ya Later, Pal

If there was ever a person I was happy moved out of our city, it's this guy.

He calls his farewell article: Goodbye Chicago: What It’s Like To Live In A City You Tried To But Couldn’t Love

By the third paragraph of his piece about how Chicago didn't live up to his expectations, I was ready to drive him to the airport myself. See ya later, pal.

Maybe Irma Isn't a Hoax After All

The most irresponsible broadcaster in America, Rush Limbaugh, told his listeners on Tuesday that reports about Hurricane Irma and global warming were overblown, and that Florida shouldn't worry.

Not saying that now...

Doin' the Cruise

Thanks so much to Tom Lounges of the NWI Times for his nice mention of the book...

Congratulations to long time Chicago radio jock Mitch Michaels on the release this week of his new memoir -- "Doin' the Cruise: Memories Of A Lifetime in Radio and Rock & Roll" (Eckhartz Press) -- which was written with assistance from Highland resident/author Ken Churilla. I've known Michaels and Churilla for a lot of years and have just dived into the pages myself, expecting nothing less than an excellent read as Michaels shares many great stories. Watch for my interviews with these two local talents in this column. More: or

The Mix Fires Kathy Hart

Everyone knew this day was coming, but it still was a bit of a shocker because she is part of the "Eric & Kathy" show name. They will obviously have to change the name, although they haven't decided what to call it yet.

Robert Feder has the details.

This is the part of the article that caught my eye...

Behind the scenes, (agent) Mandell was working to resolve the impasse one way or another. Sources said he and Hart met in Chicago recently with Ginny Morris, chair and chief executive officer of Hubbard Radio, to plead their case that Hart should either be reinstated under new working conditions or receive a substantial financial settlement.

By that point, insiders said, it was too late. Hubbard Radio had decided to move on.

While Hart sat out month after month (through a succession of agents), her absence seemed to have no effect on the station’s ratings. In Nielsen Audio figures released this week, The Mix remained No. 1 with a commanding 7.4 percent share of all morning-drive listeners and an 8.8 share of adults between 25 and 54. By all accounts, “The Eric & Kathy Show“ continued to do very well without Kathy.

I think in the end, the fact that the show did just as well without her was the final straw. If the ratings had taken a dive, they would have figured out a way to bring her back.

I interviewed Kathy in happier times, back in 2007. You can read that here.

Q & A with Eckhartz Press Author Lee Kingsmill

Lee Kingsmill's book "Safe Inside" is a beautiful memoir set in 1940s Chicago. It's available NOW via Eckhartz Press. I recently got a chance to speak with Lee about his book...

Rick: Your book evokes such vivid descriptions of your south side neighborhood in the 1940s. Were those vivid memories still in your head or did you have to do some research to rekindle that flame?

Lee: The memories set up camp in my head and seem to have a permanent lease there. I did, however, take some steps to refresh them. I poured through microfilm of Tribunes from the 40's at the main library in Chicago to find the exact date that Mom took me to "Christmas in Connecticut," and to get the period ambience as correct as I could manage. I did the same for the scene of my grandparents' anniversary party.
John and I drove slowly down 79th street, and I'd get out frequently to walk and remember. Most helpful of all was going into the Avalon, now the New Regal, and throwing ourselves on the mercy of Loyal Griffin, the manager, who let me graze for hours, making notes and sketching. I had the place to myself and I reveled in it shamelessly. If I could reach him now, I'd certainly send him a copy of what he called, with some amusement, my great American novel.

Rick: You deal with such important and serious issues like mental illness, divorce, and sexuality. Those are some of the most heartbreaking moments of "Safe Inside." Were they more difficult to write than some of the others?

Lee: Writing about those aspects of the book was certainly not easy. I couldn't have done it while my parents were still alive, though I like to think they'd see it was written with abject love. In a way, writing "Safe Inside" was a way of explaining my family not just to the reader but to me.

Rick: There's a story within a story in "Safe Inside": The exploits of the Blue Leopard. What came first, the plot of "Safe Inside", or the creation of the Blue Leopard, and why did you choose to merge those two story lines?

Lee: The plot came first. The Blue Leopard was pure fun, like writing an old cliff hanger serial. The book is drenched in movies and their effect on us, and this was a way to address another genre. Shorty needs to conjure up the Blue Leopard, who is everything he is not, each time the outside world threatens to overwhelm him.

I hope the reader spots some of the Blue Leopard characters as avatars of Shorty's family. In his comic books, he's able to deal with them rather ruthlessly, in a way his nature wouldn't let him in real life. The tone of two Blue Leopard stories also show his changing attitude at different stages of his development. Even in the second BL tale, he still has a lot to learn about himself.

Rick: In your previous life you were an English teacher. I suspect virtually every English teacher in the country harbors a secret desire to write a novel. Has that been a dream of yours for long, and how have your fellow teachers responded to the book?

Lee: Breathes there an English teacher who isn't convinced he or she has a compelling book to write? I don't think so. I was a late bloomer, but the desire, and frankly, the confidence was always there. Life and lesson plans got in the way. My colleagues have been most kind and supportive so far. After they've read it, who can say?

Rick: Now that you are a published author, what's the most satisfying aspect of your new status?

Lee: I love holding the book in my hand, flipping to a page at random and thinking, "That's not bad. I'd buy this." One of my happiest moments was delivered by you, Rick, on Christmas Day, when you e-mailed that you were reading bits aloud to your wife and she was loving it. That feeling is a tonic I heartily recommend.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Minutia Men, Episode 64

EP64 – Rick and Dave discuss the all-girl’s Lord of the Flies, tinder dating terms, lego thieves, an infamous high five, and Rick’s brush with local Chicago sportscaster Mark Giangreco.

Listen to it here.

RIP Gene Michael

Second former Cubs manager to pass away this year (Don Baylor).

Sad news.

Michael was 79.

The Wonky Angle's Top Stealy Dan Songs

This youngster was obviously raised correctly. He hosts a Youtube channel called "The Wonky Angle" which normally reviews electronic music. This week he paid tribute to Walter Becker by reviewing his favorite Stealy Dan songs.

John Landecker's Radio Hall of Fame Edition

We have a cover! We have four new chapters about John's extraordinary life. We have 70 new pictures. John is going to autograph every copy of this limited edition. It's in the hands of our talented book designers right now, and will ship in October.

And it's available for pre-order beginning today!

This is a big week for John. Tomorrow he is going to be awarded with the state of Indiana's highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash, in a ceremony in Michigan City. (I will be there for that too). It will also be the official "John Records Landecker Day" in Michigan City.

Congrats to John on all his incredible success. The National Radio Hall of Fame will be inducting him on November 2nd.

The Big Get

"The Big Get" is what we call scoring a big interview that everyone wants. CBS scored two of them on Sunday.

Charlie Rose will interview Steve Bannon for 60 Minutes.

Jane Pauley will interview Hillary Clinton for CBS Sunday Morning.

It's the first interview with Bannon since he left the White House (and he didn't give many interviews before that). It's also the first interview with Clinton since she lost the electoral the 2016 election.

Facebook Ads by Russians

Yesterday Facebook admitted that shady Russian groups spent over $100,000 promoting fake news stories on Facebook during the election. Those stories were spread via Facebook ads in targeted areas...battleground specifically targeted precincts even, and they were all either Anti-Hillary Clinton or Pro-Trump. Fake stories. Untrue stories. Targeting swing voters in swing states. Bought and paid for by Russians.

Even if Trump didn't collude with the Russians (which is still possible), this is a huge story. A foreign country is messing with our elections. We have to stop them. But one party isn't even seriously looking into it. Next time they may be trying to help the other side, fellas. Stop trying to protect the president and get to the bottom of it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Mitch Michaels on WGN Radio

More photos of Mitch Michaels on with Bill & Wendy this morning (WGN Radio) discussing his Eckhartz Press book "Doin the Cruise". The highlight of the interview had to be when Mitch gave Bill & Wendy lessons in how to say "Doin the Cruise"

WGN Reporters Answer Viewer E-mail

This one's a gem.

Funny bit on this morning's WGN Morning news.

Chicago Radio Ratings

From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

Chicago shows you can lose nearly a share total-week – and still win. That’s if you’re iHeart’s urban AC “V103” WVAZ (6.1-6.7-5.9). It wins every individual daypart except for third-place Steve Harvey in mornings. Clinging to second place overall is Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX (4.6-4.7-5.0). Mix is #1 mornings with the Kathy-less “Eric & Kathy.” Third is CBS Radio’s news WBBM/WCFS (4.7-4.4-4.7, and second place mornings), followed by the best topline since October 2014 for “US99.” That’s CBS Radio’s country WUSN (3.4-4.1-4.2). It’s just ahead of iHeart’s top 40 “Kiss” WKSC (3.8-3.8-4.1). How did iHeart’s country “Big” WEBG perform? Down 2.1-2.8-2.2, tied for 22nd place. Overall, Hubbard’s classic hits “Drive” WDRV ranks #6 (3.9-4.2-4.0), and its Sherman & Tingle morning show ties for second. Lurking behind the Drive is CBS Radio’s sports “Score” WSCR (3.8-3.7-3.9). The Score runs second at night with Cubs baseball. The Windy City’s top cume station is CHR Kiss at just over two million.

Harvey Telethon

The Networks will all be airing a star-studded telethon for Harvey relief . Set for September 12th (next Tuesday). The stars include Oprah, Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, and George Clooney.

Of course, by then it looks like we'll need another special for victims of Hurricane Irma. It looks terrifying (see below)

And then we'll need to do one for Jose. It's right behind Irma...

Mitch and Ken on the River

Yesterday was the official release day of "Doin the Cruise" and Mitch and Ken were on the River (WERV) talking about it yesterday afternoon. Today they'll be on with Bill & Wendy at WGN Radio at 10:30am. Be sure to tune in!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Gary Spears Moving Out of Town

He announced the news on Facebook over the weekend, and the RAMP newsletter has more this morning...

Major market personality Gary Spears, who is currently doing afternoon drive at CBS Radio Classic Hits WJMK (104.3 K-Hits)/Chicago took to social media to announce his impending relocation to sunny Florida next month. As Spears explained via Facebook, "Those of you who know me know that I been going to Florida for vacations now for six years, as I have a house there that I am planning on moving into this October." He added, "I guess I became a weather snob after living in L.A. for nearly 15 years and the thought of another Midwest winter doesn't thrill me." Spears' last day at K-Hits will be Friday, October 13.

He added, "I want to thank the great people in Chicago who have supported me here over the past 6+ years and my other two tours of duty in the '80s and '90s at B96." Spears joined K-Hits March 2011, first in middays, and later, shifted to afternoons. In addition to those aforementioned stints at B96/Chicago, Spears is also known and loved for his many years of service at KIIS-FM and KBIG/Los Angeles.

I interviewed Gary when he first returned to Chicago in 2011 for Chicago Radio Spotlight. You can read that here.

Donald Fagen's Tribute to Walter Becker

Rolling Stone magazine published this heartfelt tribute...

Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.

We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.

Walter had a very rough childhood - I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.

His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.

Donald Fagen

September 3 2017

Top AOR Stations of All-Time

Radio Ink asked three radio programming legends (John Sebastian, Lee Abrams, Fred Jacobs) to rank the top AOR stations of all-time. AOR stands for Album Oriented Rock--in other words, rock stations. Only one of three had any stations from Chicago on their list, and it wasn't Lee Abrams who once programmed the legendary Loop.

Sebasian had the Loop at #7. The other two said that no station in Chicago cracked the top 20. The on-line listener poll agreed.

Maybe I'm being a homer here, but that's a load of hooey. That's right, I said hooey.

How Much Are Newspapers Losing?

Consider this. Tronc (formerly Tribune Media) just bought the New York Daily News for $1.


On the other hand, they do have to take over the operating costs, which is about $30 million in the hole every year.


A Hotel in Belgium is causing a stir because they are now offering the option of "renting a fish" to guests who are lonely. From The Independent.

Some people were enthusiastic and stated they would definitely book the fish, while others reacted angrily, saying hiring out animals was abusive and raising concerns about the size of the bowl.

Hotel manager David Dillen told The Independent that the fish rental service has been running for several years and is popular with guests.

He said: “We started a few years ago. The idea was to surprise our guests, as we always try to do.

“It’s brilliant to see how people react to it. They smile, they take pictures to put on social media. We rent a few fish per week.”

For those of you concerned about the fish, don't look at the room service menu.

Finding the next generation of radio talent

Inside Radio takes a deep dive into a subject matter radio has ignored for far too long: Finding the next generation of radio talent.

There are some good insighgts in that piece. I guess I didn't realize just how bad the bench was at major radio stations until Dave and I got a call to do fill in and were treated like exciting new talent by listeners and staffers. (Really)

Dave and I are in our 50s.

Although...we really are ready for our close up, Mr. Deville.

100th anniversary of radio

From this morning's Tom Taylor column...

National Radio Hall of Fame preps for radio’s 100th anniversary. There are often challenges to the dates of a “first” this-and-that, but 1920’s a good year to agree on as the beginning of today’s radio industry. The Chicago-based Museum of Broadcast Communications announces that it’s renovating the second-floor space devoted to the National Radio of Fame to “create an interactive experience through emerging technologies and architecture.” The new “100 Years of Radio” exhibit opens in the Fall of 2019. That doesn’t affect this year’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on November 2. But it will put the 2018 ceremony on the road to New York City. That’s a first, and it follows the 2014 road trip taken to Los Angeles, not long after Kraig Kitchin got more involved in the National Radio Hall of Fame. That worked out well – and Kitchin’s no doubt already working on New York. This year’s event, in Chicago as usual, honors Chicago’s John Records Landecker, KFI L.A.’s Bill Handel, Premiere’s Sean Hannity, Robin Quivers of the Howard Stern Show, Minneapolis jock Tom Barnard, Premiere’s Bobby Bones, Entercom founder Joe Field and Bob Sievers of WOWO Fort Wayne.

I will be there too, but just as a guest.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Sunday Night Radio Listening

Two Eckhartz Press authors will be on the radio tonight (Sunday). Bill Paige (Everything I Know I Learned from Rock Stars) will be on with Rick Kogan (WGN) at 9pm. Bob Shannon (Turn it Up) will be on with Walter Sterling (WLS-AM) at 10:30. Tune in if you get a moment. Both authors are great interviewees. Both books are available at

RIP Walter Becker

Sad sad news. One of my favorite bands, Stealy Dan, has lost 1/2 of their heart and soul. Becker was only 67.

Great day at the ballpark

We got up on Saturday morning, saw it was a beautiful day, looked at our empty calendar, and thought...what the heck, let's go see the Cubs. We got some inexpensive upper deck seats and had the time of our lives. Cubs won 14-12. The game featured a grand slam and a bases-clearing triple.

Sean went for nachos and found himself eye-to-navel with two Cub greats Fergie Jenkins and Lee Smith. Both men took pictures with him seperately, and then together. What a day!