Friday, December 29, 2017

Todd Manley

Radio Ink has a nice interview with new WGN boss Todd Manley.

Todd's a very nice guy. Wish him the best in his new role as the station manager.

RIP Rose Marie

As a long-time fan of the Dick Van Dyke show, and a Twitter follower (she was pretty active on Twitter, believe it or not), I was bummed to hear the news of Rose Marie's passing. She was 94 years old. The Washington Post has a great obit. I love this part...

Ms. Marie sang in a series of movie shorts including “Baby Rose Marie, the Child Wonder” in 1929 and appeared on vaudeville circuits until vaudeville’s demise. Among her friends was one of the country’s most notorious gangsters.

“My father worked as an arsonist for Al Capone,” she told People magazine in 2016. “He used to burn down your warehouse if things weren’t going the right way, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was a child star and to me Al was my ‘Uncle Al.’"

Northwest Indiana Press

Thanks so much to Tom Lounges for this mention in his year end column at

This was a year when a lot of folks felt the need to tell their stories, as books by and about some of the Chicago music scene's movers and shakers were published. Popular radio DJs became first time authors as they led the pack. Bobby Skafish ("We Have Company: Four Decades of Rock and Roll Encounters") and Mitch Michaels ("Doin' The Cruise") each dropped their titles via publisher Eckhartz Press.

The same is true of John Records Landecker, who updated and re-issued his previously-released 2013 autobiography "Records Truly IS My Middle Name" (Eckhartz Press), to tie-in with his being inducted this year into the National Radio Hall of Fame and being awarded the Hoosier state's prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash Award. Landecker is a resident of Michigan City. FYI:

Thursday, December 28, 2017

People Love Minutia Men

Over 22,000 downloads, and the reviews are coming in from around the world. These are just from this past month...

A Podcasting First
in iTunes by Chubby Smalls from USA on December 27, 2017
This is the only show that could seamlessly weave in topics as diverse as testicular fungus, psychosomatic heart attacks, and the sex life of widows into one episode and make it entertaining. Great job! Highly recommend and will be listening again!

Funny and mentally stimulating
in iTunes by L4999 from USA on December 26, 2017
Makes you laugh while making you think!

in iTunes by 94MK from UK on December 26, 2017
Top Podcast by two Hosts who are really easy to listen to The episodes fly by and are very nicely broken up. Personal favourite is the section about the Cubs and baseball as someone Who doesn't really know baseball I found this easy to understand and fun. The rest of the podcast is easy going chat that is great to listen along to and you'll find yourself wanting to respond. Great podcasting from either side of the pond πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

in iTunes by alfsmith23 from USA on December 26, 2017
This is a great show. Highly recommend!

A lovely listen
in iTunes by Besd1 from UK on December 26, 2017
This is a really enjoyable wander through bits and bobs of life, with two very welcoming and interesting hosts.

in iTunes by Cashhmonet from USA on December 24, 2017
Really entertaining ! Definitely binge listening for the holidays! Keep up the great work

Fun Podcast
in iTunes by LaughingLuchadores from USA on December 23, 2017
This is just an all around, well produced podcast. It is a lot of fun and although they talk about some Chicago based things it is still relateable to someone like me who isn't familiar with Chicago at all.

Great podcast!
in iTunes by Akshay-Blood on the Rocks pod from UK on December 22, 2017
These two are ace! Some great chemistry, stories, and solid humour go together a treat!

This Show Is Fantastic!!!
in iTunes by RayGFX from USA on December 17, 2017
I recently came across this show and i simply cant get enough, ive binged through 17 episodes already!!! These 2 guys have great chemistry, great production and one hell of an awesome show!! I highly recommend you hit that subscribe button you will not regret it!!

Easy Like Sunday Morning
in iTunes by Ericsubpar from USA on December 7, 2017
Really great laid back podcast. Super funny with wonderful topics. I loved hearing real talk from other dads. And these two have the greatest voices of any other podcast I listen to. Kick sand, Ira Glass.

This is funny
in iTunes by Mainethepain from USA on December 6, 2017
Had me from the beginning. Good show guys don’t scream at Santa guys.

good for morning commute
in iTunes by grandmastersmack from USA on December 4, 2017
reminds me of old school talk radio without the annoying music. good for a 30 minute commute to warm up your brain

Very soothing voices
in iTunes by The Hoopers Podcast from UK on November 28, 2017
I know this sounds flippant, but I very much appreciate that both speakers had excellent 'podcasting' voices. Don't underestimate that; great for paying attention and soothing to fall asleep to at the same time. Perfect! I envy you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

RIP DIck Orkin

So sad to hear about the passing of the greatest radio advertising man in history. Below is my interview with Dick Orkin back in 2012. Thanks to Robert Feder for mentioning this interview in his Dick Orkin obit...

Dick Orkin is the owner of the Famous Radio Ranch, and one of most acclaimed radio commercial actors and producers of all time. He worked in Chicago radio at WCFL in the late 60s and early 70s.

Rick: I still think WCFL in the 1960s was one of the best radio stations of all time.

Dick: I agree.

Rick: How did you get in the door there?

Dick: Ken Draper (photo) was a program director in Cleveland prior to that, and I worked with him there. When he moved on to Chicago, he invited me to come work with him again, and I accepted his invitation. We were together there for a few years.

Rick: Did you realize while you were doing it how special that place was--the sheer amount of talent in one place at one time--I mean here it is more than 40 years later and I'm still asking you about it.

Dick: I recognized very quickly that Draper had assembled a great group. It was a great station for talent; Jim Runyon, Barney Pipp, Jim Stagg, Ron Britain.

Rick: Tell me about the creation of Chickenman. How did that start?

Dick: The origin of Chickenman was the direct result of the popularity of the television show "Batman". It was huge. It was camp. It was fun. Draper decided that each of the DJs should choose a campy superhero mascot, and for the Jim Runyon show, we came up with Chickenman. I sort of based the character on the Broderick Crawford sheriff character--that sort of straight, know it all delivery of his. It seemed like a fun thing to parody. It began with that. I wasn't thinking about a chicken.

Rick: A good twenty years after Chickenman ran originally, my alternative rock station was still running it. It really did transcend the time and format, didn't it?

Dick: Oh yeah, no question about it. The funny thing is, it wasn't intended to run for that long. We were thinking maybe a month. That was the way Draper ran things. His style was to run with something for the short term, and then replace it with something new, to stay as current as possible. No one seems to remember that all of the personalities at the time had their own superhero mascot. Ours was just the one that caught on.

After it did, Draper decided to syndicate it from WCFL for a few years until I left the station, and then I bought it. Even after I left, it continued to run as a serial, and I continued creating new episodes. It probably still runs on a dozen stations or so. My brother, who handles that now, will still get an occasional call from radio stations around the country.

Rick: Chickenman, of course, wasn't your only radio serial. You also did "Tooth Fairy". How did that one come about?

Dick: I only did Tooth Fairy as a follow up to Chickenman. It was requested by Draper. If I'm not mistaken, the Dental Association wanted a short term thing, a PSA sort of campaign, and it also became popular, and turned into a full fledged serial. Tooth Fairy ran on more stations than Chickenman did, but it didn't have the same life.

Rick: In the early 70s, you made the decision to leave radio--at least the structured world of working at a radio station. What led to that decision?

Dick: Well, the changing of programming at WCFL was the main thing. A radio rep firm came in and decided the musical format needed to change, and those changes didn't allow for enough time to keep Chickenman. It was really that. They did change their mind about it, but I wasn't comfortable with the new format. Plus, I was production director by then, and that just wasn't as fun for me. I also wanted to go into business for myself, and I found a partner that was willing to do it with me, and the timing just seemed right.

Rick: I think it's safe to say that your radio advertising work is just as famous, if not even more famous than your earlier stuff. Everybody has a favorite Dick Orkin spot. What have you figured out in those dialogue spots that no one else can seem to figure out? Is it the writing, the acting, the timing?

Dick: I don't know how to answer that. I just did it. You know, my background was in theater--I went to the Yale School of Drama. So I was far more interested in the dialogue, and creating real characters. My partners and I, first Bert Berdis, and then Christine Coyle (photo), would discuss our days and what was happening to us, and that's where a lot of those ideas came from. Real life. Our characters and scripts were based on people we knew. Our families and friends.

Rick: In 1978, you decided to relocate to Hollywood--the current home of the Famous Radio Ranch. What was the reason you did that?

Dick: The bill collectors were chasing me (laughs). Just kidding. It was the weather. Honestly, I was suffering from respiratory problems, and the weather was just making me sick. That's really the reason we moved out here.

Rick: There are fewer and fewer advertisers focusing on radio advertising these days. What is it that they are missing about radio's potential impact?

Dick: I don't think they see it as a theater opportunity. There are no limitations to radio--they don't think of it that way. Radio has the advantage of creating any stage you want, with a limitless cast of characters, in any location in the world, your imagination is your only limitation.They're so stuck in that straight spot with a single announcer. Their concept of dialogue is a rote, 'he said, she said' thing, and they don't really deviate from that.

Rick: Your list of admirers is long and distinguished. At least a dozen of my previous interviewees have mentioned you as an influence. Whose work do you admire, then and now?

Dick: Back then I was an admirer of Bob & Ray and Stan Freeberg, and people like that. I always loved the husband and wife team Stiller and Meara (photo). I actually got to know them for a period of time and we frequently talked to one another in New York and Chicago. They did a Blue Nun commercial that really changed radio in the late 60s, early 70s, which, by the way, was also based on their own experiences and their own lives.

As for who I admire now, I really regret that there isn't anyone I can think of. I wish it wasn't so. When I hear spots on the radio today they are usually pale imitations of sitcoms.

Rick: You're in several broadcasting Halls of Fame, but in 2010 you asked the NAB to take down your plaque in the Broadcast Hall of Fame because you didn't want to be associated with Rush Limbaugh after his tacky comments in the wake of the Haiti earthquake. Do you still feel that strongly about that?

Dick: There was a whole series of things he said, that was just the last straw for me. It hasn't changed. He's still out there with his foul-mouthed racist attitudes. The foul mouthed stuff didn't bother me. I always loved Howard Stern. It's the racist stuff--there's just no call for that. But Rush just doesn't know when to stop. And the targets he chooses--like the college student Ms. Fluke. He just attacked her again the other day. He has a marvelous opportunity--there are so many pompous and stupid politicians to make fun of, but he's so pompous himself, he can't recognize the opportunity. He's a great talent, but that talent is simply wasted doing what he's doing.