Friday, February 16, 2018

It's not a hoax. It's not a witch hunt.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russians and 3 Russian entities for interfering in our election.

Yowza. This shit just got real.

The next time someone says "hoax" or "witch hunt" you will know you're dealing with someone completely divorced from reality.

Another Affair, Another Coverup

This is the backstory of the Playboy model who sold her story about a nine-month affair with Trump to the National Enquirer. The Enquirer is owned by Trump's friend. And the allegation here is that he (and a lawyer affiliated with Trump) bought the story to silence her. Same hotel in Beverly Hills as Stormy Daniels used.

By the way, did you hear that Stormy has a DNA sample on the dress she wore the night she spent with Trump? My parody muscles are starting to twitch. Mitch Ryder, take it away...

Porn star with a gold dress, gold dress, gold dress, Porn star with a Gold dress on.

Tambor Dropped from "Transparent"

This is a good news, bad news story for me. Bummed that Tambor is gone. But happy the show remains. I can understand the reasons he is gone. The Hollywood Reporter discusses those here.

It says something about the strength of the show that they can overcome the departure of the star. Lots of great characters in this show, including the part played by Amy Landecker.

FCC Investigates Chairman

Unfortunately, they aren't investigating Net Neutrality ruling (yet). This is about the very fishy rule change about cross-ownership that no-one was asking for, which immediately led to a lucrative Sinclair broadcasting deal.

The top internal watchdog for the F.C.C. opened an investigation into whether Chairman Pai had pushed for and timed the deal to benefit Sinclair.

The answer is yes, of course. The question is, can they prove it?

When Trump said "Drain the swamp" did you take that to mean get rid of people watching out for you and give everything to the rich whenever and wherever they want it? If so, you are getting exactly what he promised.

Rizzo at Florida Memorial

Anthony Rizzo gave a beautiful speech at his alma mater last night. It's clear that he too was touched by the tragedy...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Minutia Men, Episode 84

EP84: Rick and Dave discuss comfort animals, Valentine’s day minutia, band name mishaps, and Rick’s brush with Warren Zevon.

Click here to listen

Steve Kerr Speaks Sense

My old boss Dave Logan speaks sense too...

Rizzo's Alma Mater

This understandably didn't get mentioned in the coverage of the shooting yesterday, but Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is also the alma mater of Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

He was clearly shaken up by the news.

It's a new radio world

All of my radio producer friends will read this story with great interest. From this morning's Tom Taylor NOW column...

WBUR Boston-based talk-host Tom Ashbrook is fired for “an abusive work environment.” He’s not accused of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment – but “verbal assaults, intimidating actions, consistent bullying and unwanted touching,” says Boston University-owned not-for-profit news/talk WBUR/90.9. While Ashbrook says the decision “is profoundly unfair to me and the listeners who are such a part of” his fast-paced current-events show, “On Point.” To Ashbrook, management “failed in their responsibility to effectively address these issues when they arose, when they could have been more easily resolved.” Management admits it “repeatedly” talked with the host over the years. Boston’s WCVB-TV says BU hired both an outside law firm and a consulting firm to investigate the allegations of 11 men and women who’d worked around the show. The WBUR news department’s own story says “several producers said they were told or led to believe that they would lose their job and have trouble finding similar work elsewhere if they pursued complaints about Ashbrook.” Now he’s gone, from the NPR-distributed show that airs on about 290 stations.

You know what we used to call the environment described above? Tuesday. Seriously. I wrote a whole chapter in the Radio Producer's Handbook about how to deal with it. It was once the norm.

Not that that's right. It's just the way it was.

Stormy Unmuzzled

With the recent revelations that Michael Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels for her silence, lawyers for Stormy are saying that the non-disclosure agreement is null and void. (This has led to further problems for Trump and his lawyer)

My ever-enterprising business partner David Stern has acquired the URL "Tart of the Deal" just in case she wants to write a book. I was pushing for "Make America Felate Again", but I think Dave's title is better.

Working on a parody of the song "Stormy Weather". Just in it's infancy...

Don't know why,
One hundred thirty grand can't buy,
Stormy Daniels.

There are days when I miss being on the radio. It reminds me a little of the Clinton days. That was comedy nirvana for me. (Even though I voted for the guy)

Although, I must say, the Trumpsters are a humorless bunch. You should read the replies on my facebook page when Dave and I were joking about this yesterday. If we have come to a point when we can't joke about an affair between the president and a pornstar, you have to question the future of comedy in general.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

White Sox on WGN

I know one person who is super excited about this news. WGN's Super-Sox fan Wendy Snyder, who celebrated a birthday on Monday. What a great birthday present...


Available for pre-order beginning today! "Cameo" by Beth Jacobellis. The latest book from Eckhartz Press.

The future looms mysteriously in front of Samantha Ricks, who at the young age of twenty-three, finds herself at a crossroads. Through resilient friendship, tremendous loss and a true love that transcends the hands of time, Samantha’s destiny unfolds while a simple piece of jewelry becomes the unexpected link between the present and the past.

You can pre-order it here.

Chicago Architecture Tour

If you've never been, you really should go. I've gone about a dozen times with out-of-towners in for a visit, and I'll probably go another dozen times...(Great photo by Barry Butler)

Trump's Lawyer

There still may be official denials from Trump, but Trump's lawyer admits that he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000. In fact, he says he paid her out of his own pocket.

My old Loop pal Pugs Moran had a great retort about that on Twitter last night...

Steve Dahl

From this morning's RAMP newsletter...

Cumulus Media Chicago just launched a clever marketing campaign to salute market legend Steve Dahl's 40 incredible years in radio. Dahl, who currently does afternoon drive on News-Talk WLS-AM, is featured on this awesome billboard in a vintage photo with John "Bluto" Belushi, and any self-respecting Animal House fan will immediately recognize that immortal tagline... part of that classic sequence when Bluto rants, "Over? Did you say 'over?' Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!" Otter: "Germans?" Boon: "Forget it, he's rolling." Bluto: "And it ain't over now."

Congratulations to Steve for that incredible accomplishment.

Landecker's Diploma

I'll have the full story in the next issue of the Illinois Entertainer, but if you want to read more about this special day, the Grand Valley Lanthorn has the story here.

Robert Feder also mentioned it in his column today. Here's what he wrote...

John Records Landecker, another Chicago radio legend and National Radio Hall of Famer, was surprised last week to receive a diploma from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan — 50 years after he’d dropped out to pursue his broadcast dreams. Landecker had been invited to speak to students about his autobiography, Records Truly Is My Middle Name, when Dean Frederick Antczac and Len O’Kelly, assistant professor of multimedia journalism, presented the diploma. “I came in a dropout. I’m walking out a graduate.” Landecker quipped.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Sweetest Words

Bill Holub is an old friend and colleague from my days at the Loop. My first year writing this blog (Twelve years ago!) I asked him to write about a phrase he used to utter every year in the hallways of the Loop when he heard that spring training was beginning. He called it "The Sweetest Words in the English Language." It's become a tradition to repost his piece every year on that momentous day.

Today's the day for the Cubs!

And this year I can barely contain my excitement...again.

By Bill Holub

“Pitchers and catchers report”.

These are indeed the sweetest words in the English language. Friends have been hearing me recite this every year at this time. I once had an old poker playing friend who used to say the sweetest words have always been “I’ll play these”. This is the same friend who couldn’t win even when dealt a pat hand. That however is a story for another time and place, where an explanation of the relationship between the quantity of beer consumed, what the cards in your hand really look like and the amount of money you bet can be fully explored. It’s really something scientists should be looking at.

In the meantime, I apologize to all those who came here looking for a sentimental dialogue on romance. I’m sorry to say it but the sweetest words in the English language are not “I love you”. Now that I think of it, this may instead be a sentimental dialogue on romance and baseball.

It’s funny how the two always converge around Valentine’s Day. Spring fever is referred to as that time of year when things start to bloom as the weather changes and love is in the air. It is no coincidence that this is the same time the baseball season opens and brings hope to all of us diehard baseball romantics.

My love affair with baseball was re-ignited in 1987-88. There was only one place to catch baseball highlights from all over the major leagues back then. Once a week you could tune in to “This Week In Baseball” with good ol’ Mel Allen. During those two seasons I was hooked into witnessing two West Coast baseball Gods embodied in the forms of a young Mark Mcgwire and Jose Canseco. This is before anyone had ever heard of andro, anabolics and the other chemical cocktails that have since cast a pall over these two. Back then, I was treated week in and week out to mammoth sized home runs flying out of every ballpark in the country. The fact that these home runs were being hit by players wearing what my brother and I had always considered the coolest looking baseball uniforms in the world (the Oakland A’s green and gold) had me embracing the game I grew up on all over again.

By 1989 I was so hooked on this game I even started collecting baseball cards again, although as much as an investor as a fanboy. I also started another nasty habit that impacts my life to this day. That is when I started a fantasy baseball league with a bunch of guys at work. 1989 also happened to be a division winning season for my beloved Cubs, so I was in baseball heaven and haven’t looked back since.


I think we can honestly say that baseball is no longer the national pastime in this country. It has been supplanted by football. I can accept that. Although I would insist the true national pastime is gambling, which is the driving force that makes football the number one spectator sport in America. I suppose I could go off on a George Carlin type of rant here on the differences between football and baseball, but that’s not why I’m writing this piece.

I just want to point out there is one major difference between the two and that is commitment. I’m talking about the commitment between baseball fans and football fans. Football is a four month season requiring your undivided attention one day a week, or two if you’re both a college and pro fan. Baseball is a six month season requiring your undivided attention throughout with your favorite team(s) playing as many as five or more games a week.

Baseball is a commitment. I believe it carries as much of a commitment as love. They both require dedication and attention. They can both go awry despite the best laid plans. An early swan dive in the standings in May that ends a team’s season before it even had a chance can be just as painful as not having your phone calls returned after the second or third date. Meanwhile an October champagne shower celebrating a pennant or World Series championship is as sweet and memorable as a ‘yes’ to a question posed on one knee.


Once that warm baseball is back feeling starts sinking in every year, I like to get fully immersed by throwing myself into my favorite baseball movies before the games actually begin. This is my form of spring training.

You’ve got your “Bull Durham”, “Field Of Dreams”, “Major League” (only the first one, please), but there is one movie that hits me in the right spot. “City Slickers” is not a real baseball movie per se, but there’s one scene that remains among my all-time favorites. It’s where the three friends (Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby) are on the cattle drive and passing the time by discussing their favorite baseball memories. Billy Crystal remembers the first time his father took him to Yankee Stadium as a kid and how he had never seen grass that green before. Mickey Mantle even hit a home run that day. Daniel Stern recalls how growing up he and his father never saw eye to eye, but they could always talk about baseball with each other. “We always had baseball” he says.

As for me, one of my earliest baseball memories was getting to take the day off of school with my brother because my Dad got opening day tickets to Wrigley Field. I still remember wearing our warmest winter coats and knit hats, waiting to sit down while the Andy Frain usher brushed the snow off our seats. They don’t make Aprils in Chicago like that any more.


There is a sound that accompanies the words “pitchers and catchers report”. It is the sound of a ball popping into a mitt. The sound of a simple game of catch. It is more than the crack of a bat sound. The sound of a mitt popping brings the memories and feelings of a lifetime of baseball flooding your senses all at once. It happens every time, whether it’s major leaguers or just a game of catch with your dad or your kid. The week pitchers and catchers report there are no cracking bats, only popping mitts. The sweetest sound in the world. “Pitchers and catchers report”. The sweetest words in the English language.

How different will WGN be after Sinclair purchase?

For one thing, I'm guessing WGN News directors were never asked to contribute to the company's political action committee.

Buckle up, fellas and gals. They may be saying there will be no changes, but if that's true, it will be the first time ever for Sinclair.

Meet our latest author

My favorite part of being a publisher is the day we meet with the authors to give them the very first copy of their books. Yesterday we met with our latest author Beth Jacobellis who is holding the first copy of her upcoming Eckhartz Press book "Cameo".

It will be available for pre-order beginning tomorrow. Congrats to Beth!

Another war against PBS/NPR

From this morning's NOW newsletter...

President Trump again proposes to zero out funding for public radio and TV. The White House will likely run into the same phalanx of defenders that have guarded the Corporation for Public Broadcasting since the Newt Gingrich attacks of the 1990s. (Gingrich used to say that “public broadcasting” meant what the public likes. Therefore “Rush Limbaugh is public broadcasting.”) The Trump budget argues that “Services such as PBS and NPR, which receive funding from CPB, could make up the shortfall by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations and members.” It estimates that CPB funding makes up “about 15% of the total amount spent on public broadcasting” – but for many smaller pubradio stations, that percentage is much higher. They’d be threatened by a pullback of federal funds with which to create their own programming or buy “Morning Edition” from NPR, the “Classical 24” service from APM, etc. Variety reports the White House budget plan, which would eliminate the $445 million that’s flowed to CPB each of the last several years.

Not the way to start spring training

This probably wasn't the headline the Cubs wanted to see on the day that pitchers and catchers report: Iowa Cubs pitcher arrested after accidental shooting kills a coach

Monday, February 12, 2018

I guess the Cubs really did sign Darvish

This is the way you know. The jersey is now available...

Best Pope Ever

Chicago Writer's Association Conference

Attention fellow writers! The conference is less than a month away and only a limited number of seats are still available. There have been a few changes so check out the final conference schedule here, and read more about our presenters - it's a terrific line-up packed with professionals from Chicago, New York and beyond.

And, watch for an email with a special opportunity from best-selling author David Fisher who has generously agreed to mentor an attendee and get a manuscript in front of an agent. Really!

At the Saturday evening dinner you'll have a chance to network with fellow writers, conference presenters and CWA board members, and we will hear from Fred Mitchell, award-winning sportswriter (the first African-American sportswriter hired by the Chicago Tribune), author of 11 books, journalist and Hall of Famer, who will talk about his 41-year writing career and the people he has met along the way. (Please note that the dinner is an additional fee.)

As a member of the Chicago Writer's Association board, I will be there too. Looking forward to it!

Register soon.

Russian Bots & Fake News

You probably saw the story about how many fake news stories were shared by Russian bots during the election of 2016. The vast majority of those became part of the conservative news bloodstream.

According to Snopes, the Russian bots were largely responsible for pushing the Release the Memo hashtag, and are currently pushing anti-FBI and anti-Adam Schiff memes.

That's right, they are doing it RIGHT NOW. The Russians are still messing with our democracy.

Now Devin Nunes is creating his own "alternative news" site. He's already proven what kind of "news" he believes is true. Just wait and see how many Russian bots share those stories.

This is not a "both sides do it" phenomenon. Only one side is doing it, and they are doing it with the help of the Russians.

Yet the President still doesn't believe (or won't admit) the Russians intervened in 2016. He also claims anyone in the media that doesn't support him (which is most media--because he is a terrible president) is Fake News. And he's pushing that with the help of the Russians. RIGHT NOW.

If you believe the polls, 40% of the country is now on the same side of the Russians.

I'm sure Ronald Reagan would be very proud.

Dennis Miller

The former SNL cast member and radio host is coming back to radio...for one minute at a time. From the RAMP Newsletter...

Proving the old adage that yes, really can go home again, Westwood One proudly announces today's debut of The Miller Minute, two daily one-minute programs featuring Emmy Award-winning comic, writer, author and talk show host Dennis Miller. The Miller Minute launches today on more than 60 stations across this great land, including WMAL/Washington, WLS-AM/Chicago and KLFE-AM/Seattle. This new venture marks Miller's return to radio -- he previously hosted a highly successful weekday talk show on Westwood One for eight years.

Will FCC Fine NBC?

With a Republican in charge of FCC, there are no rules for media businesses in terms of anti-trust or buying/selling/making money. They do not regulate what the FCC was created to regulate in the slightest. However, they DO regulate speech, especially bad words. And there might be a big network in trouble in that regard. From this morning's NOW column...

Does NBC have a fleeting-expletive problem from the Olympics? The first U.S. competitor to win gold was also the first to unleash both the F-word and the S-word, while being interviewed as his scores were flashing on the screen. Gold medal-winning Red Gerard dropped both a “WTF” reaction and an unholy S-word, says Vanity Fair. Probably not an unusual reaction for 17-year-old on the world stage, but no doubt NBC producers and interviewers will be cautioning athletes for the next two weeks. And no doubt FCC Chair Ajit Pai will have some filed comments to look at, this morning. The Parents Television Council not only makes it easy for offended audience members to file complaints at the FCC, it also tells you what the organization itself has complained about. And mostly, over the last couple of years, it’s the Fox TV “Family Guy” show. Though the site does run this lead item – “Thanks, Justin! Overall, the Super Bowl was pretty safe for families.” We’ll see what they think about the Olympics. Knock on wood – the FCC’s hasn’t issued an actual indecency fine against a radio station since 2004. It’s held up a couple of station sales until a settlement was made. But it hasn’t laid down an outright fine. (Of course the FCC doesn’t regulate cable channels, so no enforcement action possible on NBC Sports Net or USA.)

Cowboy Sammy