Musings, observations, and written works from the publisher of Eckhartz Press, the media critic for the Illinois Entertainer, co-host of Minutia Men, Minutia Men Celebrity Interview and Free Kicks, and the author of "Back in the D.D.R", "EveryCubEver", "The Living Wills", "$everance," "Father Knows Nothing," "The Radio Producer's Handbook," "Records Truly Is My Middle Name", and "Gruen Weiss Vor".
Friday, March 01, 2019
Free Kicks, Episode 31
Listen to it here.
Sherman and Tingle
The latest issue of The Illinois Entertainer is out, and includes my interview with the Drive's morning team of Sherman and Tingle.
Read it here.
Caleb would have turned six years old later this month. We had an early birthday party for him yesterday in his hospital room. Cancer has been a part of his life since he was only two. We're all going to really miss that boy. If you're the praying type, please send your prayers to our family. We could use your support.
A few years ago I wrote this poem to cheer him up. Feels appropriate to post it once again. He will always be Super Caleb to me. Toughest kid I've ever seen.
Trapped on planet Mayo-naise,
Where the bad Sea monster stays,
And makes people sad all day
Super Caleb knows that he just has to get away,
Remove the tubes and tape,
So he can reach his super cape,
And make his brave escape
He is Super Caleb,
You should see our hero fly,
He turns the Mayo people’s, sad faces into smiles,
He is Super Caleb,
And he’ll show you in a while.
Who can give him strength again,
And he better look out when,
Super Caleb flies again.
As Super Caleb sleeps, his friend in the white coat,
Sails through the sea monster’s moat,
In a very quiet boat,
And he’s bringing Caleb hope.
And he makes sad people smile,
The sea monster can’t keep the people sad when Caleb flies,
He is Super Caleb!
And he’ll be here in a while.
Looks down upon his chest,
Tubes are gone and he is dressed,
He knows how to do the rest.
He is Super Caleb!
And it’s time to watch him fly,
When they see him all sad people, cannot help but smile,
He is Super Caleb!
And he’s gonna win this time.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Radio Listening Times
Advertisers estimate more than half of all AM/FM radio listening happens during "drive times." According to Advertiser Perceptions, advertisers and agencies believe 28% of listening occurs during weekday morning drive, 6-10am, followed by Monday-Friday afternoon drive from 3-7pm at 24%.
According to Nielsen, middays are number one and weekend listening is greater than suspected. The highest share of time spent among adults 25-54 is middays 10am-3pm (26%). Morning (21%) and afternoon (21%) drive times are also strong. Despite advertisers believing only 13% of all listening occurs during the weekend, the Nielsen reality is actually 21%.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Testing the ramps at Wrigley Field. Pretty interesting picture. #Cubs @WrigleyRapport #Chicago #MLB pic.twitter.com/cp8BOIuTXf— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) February 27, 2019
John Records Landecker, the Radio Hall of Famer and lifelong fan of classic radio drama, will star as private detective Sam Spade in a live onstage re-creation of “The Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail Caper” from “The Adventures of Sam Spade.” Originally broadcast on CBS on December 4, 1949, the show will be presented by the SAG/AFTRA Senior Radio Players at 7 p.m. March 14 at the Claudia Cassidy Theatre in the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 East Randolph Street. The group also will present “A Shipment of Mute Facts,” first broadcast on “Escape” on March 13, 1949. Admission is free.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
How Do You Sleep?
Attention Kev Heads
Join me Sunday call 773-320-1157 for tickets, free book and hear the story of Broken Mary by Kevin Matthews pic.twitter.com/yTO6taeozY— Kevin Matthews (@Whatareyougoofy) February 26, 2019
Norm Van Lier
Tom Serritella was Norm Van Lier's producer at WMVP, and he sent this beautiful e-mail to me about his mentor and good friend. I had to share it with you, with Tom's permission.
I met Norm Van Lier in the hallway of the Loop/WMVP studio
hallway. Mind you I had talked with him several times on
the phone booking him for various sports talk shows but I
had never met him in person. The first thing he said to me
was, “You’re Tommy Serritella and you’re gonna be my
producer and we’re gonna have the best time you’ve ever
had!”. Two hours later I went into the Program Director’s
office and saw this woman sitting on one of the waiting room
chairs, I said hello to her and she greeted me back. I
took care of my business with the PD’s secretary and the
woman said to me, “are you Tommy Serritella?” Taken aback,
I said, “yes”.
She said, “I’m Susan Van Lier and I’m negotiating Norm’s
contract right now.”
I said, “don’t let these guys intimidate you, they really
Susan looked me in the eye and said, “I’m married to Norm,
no one intimidates me!” Then she told me that Norm told her
that on no condition should she agree to a contract that
didn’t include me as his producer. I had just met the man
in person, but he knew we would be a perfect fit as talent
and producer. The look in that woman’s eye made me think
that the best agent I could ever have would be my wife.
Talk about confident. She’s a brilliant woman and I feel so
sorry for her loss.
Knowing Susan was the way I got to know Norm in a way no one
Norm would talk to me(being a newlywed) about how important
married life is to a man. He wouldn’t just talk to me as a
friend but as a mentor, I knew it was important to him. We
would spend so much time together. I remember walking along
the streets of Chicago and he would make time for anyone who
recognized him. I would tire of his constant efforts to
make people happy and he told me, “I spent time in this city
when people didn’t like me, I’m making it up to them now.”
Norm did spend some difficult years in this town. He told
me how much it hurt him. He told me how much he tried to
give to the people of our city by giving his all and more on
the basketball court but he realized after the game was over
for him, people expected more.
After time he came to the realization that his career was in
Chicago and the only way to make a name for himself was to
be himself in the town he loved the most. I can remember
being at dinner with Norm and my wife and people would come
to our table and ask for autographs and tell stories and
Norm would always thank us for being patient because the
people of Chicago were important to him and he refused to be
I truly feel that Chicago is the best town in our country,
but today our town is less of a town because of our loss.
The emptiness I feel is felt by a great many. Norm taught
me to be patient with the people on our streets. The guy
who needs directions, give them to him no matter how late
you may be. The homeless guy selling StreetWise….Norm would
give the guy a buck and say, “keep the paper, sell it to
someone and make an extra buck.”……I did that all the time
after that. He taught me so much. He taught me how to like
people and not get annoyed at them. He taught me patience.
He taught me perseverance. He taught me kindness. He
taught me forgiveness. When others mock me for being kind,
I remember his words, “be good on the way up because the way
down is a longer ride.” I miss him so much already.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell some of the “Norm”
stories that he would love to tell. Norm was always telling
stories. He had boatloads!(side note….my 4 year old son
just came and gave me a hug and told me he feels bad for me
because my friend died…he gave me a big hug and as he ran
out of the room he said, “I love you!” Norm is smiling at
that…..I believe it)….oh yeah some stories.
When Norm came into the league, he was a top draft choice of
Cincinnati’s. He was so excited to play with one of the
greatest of all time, Oscar Robertson. In Norm’s first game
he got the ball and dribbled up court….he was a cocky rookie
with a lot of talent and moved his way into the offensive
zone….got a good look and lifted up…perfect form….and
swished a jumper from just outside the key. As they ran
back down court for defense, he saw Robertson calling time
out. Why would Oscar call time out after our first play he
thought…..as the team came to the bench, Robertson came to
Norm and said, “Son on this team you pass the ball to me.”
Norm would tell you he had 17 assists that night and Oscar
scored 42 points!” Norm would say, “you got to know your
place.” He never had a problem being the “assist” man.
Norm would give anything to see someone else do well as long
as the team won.
People often think that players in the league didn’t like
Norm. On the contrary! They respected the way he played.
Back in the 70’s, Norm would tell you, “we played our butts
off on the court but after the game we all went to dinner
together and then to the clubs.” The league was much
different then. Some of Norm’s best friends were guys he
Norm once told me how his team was dogged tired. They had
no timeouts left and he didn’t know what to do…..so he
decided to yell at a fan in the seats and cause a huge
commotion so that time would stop and his teammates could
get a breather.
Norm also told me that in the NBA the players are the
baddest of all the sports. Think about it, they’re all over
6’5” and strong as oxes. When a tough game against Slick
Watts came to blows he told me, “Tommy, the closest weapon I
had was a chair and I grabbed it and was ready to use
it…..that man would’ve killed me!” He must’ve told that
story in front of me 30 times and every time I laughed.
We used to play pick up basketball with Norm and a group of
my friends. I can remember playing on Norm’s team and he
was amazing. As a teammate you had to be ready for any
pass, even it was impossible, it would land in your hands.
But one time I’m going for a rebound and as I go to jump
someone’s standing on my foot! Ever try to jump when
someone’s on your foot…..I screamed, “Norm I’m on your
team!”…..”Ooops, sorry Tommy.” I was playing against one
time and going for a loose ball and someone had a hold of
the back of my shirt…..I turned around and there was Norm
smiling…..playing pick up ball with Norm was some of my
favorite memories of him because he was in total control of
the court and as happy as I’d ever seen him. God I miss him
Here’s some thoughts that most don’t realize. Norm came to
the Bulls as a young, cocky tough nosed kid out of
Pennsylvania. The Bulls were a seasoned team with the likes
of Sloan, Walker and Love. After losing to the Warriors in
the Finals, they weren’t the same. Walker got traded and
Sloan and Love retired. That left Norm alone from the
powerhouse that was the Bulls. Teams beat the crap out of
Norm because of how he played with that great supporting
cast. They harbored resentment and took it out on him
because the likes of Theus and Gilmore were soft. The
league knew it and abused Norm for the time he had such a
strong supporting cast. It cut his career short.
When I was Norm’s producer in radio, we had some great
times. Norm’s co-host was Lance McAlister. Lance was a
studier. He studied every newspaper, he scoured every news
story possible and was always seeking to the best “story”
to talk about. If you know anything about sports radio,
there are very few days where there is something intriguing
to talk about for 3 hours. Lance and I would scour the
papers in hopes there was something to talk about. Lance
would say to me 10 times a day, “Tommy, what are we talking
about today?” Often times I would say, “that’s what they
pay you for.” That didn’t go over well. Thankfully, more
times than not Lance and I would come up with some topics to
spew to the people listening. Norm would finally come in.
“What do you want to talk about today, Norm…..?”
“Sports,” Norm would say.
It wasn’t about sports he wanted to speak of, it was more of
the people who played it. Norm had a way of understanding
the people who played the game and why better than most.
One day we had nothing to talk about and Lance decided to
get Norm fired up for the good of the show…..Lance tells me
it was about Jimmy Collins being the next Illinois head
coach. Lance argued he had no experience and Norm got
fired up against Lance’s position and said on the air……”you
couldn’t be more wrong Mother F@&er”....well as the producer
I jumped on the dump button and we all laughed on the air.
Lance and I knew that Norm was always ready to explode.
That’s what we knew made our show listenable. God I miss
The thing I’ll always remember about Norm is this…..he made
everyone happy. He loved working. He loved the fact that
he got to talk to people about being happy. We had to weed
out all the calls we would we get from people just wanting
to thank Norm for being good to their kid or for Norm being
friendly to them when times were tough. Truth be told, I
had to weed the onslaught of calls to his show that wanted
to say nice things about Norm because it would’ve overrun
our entire show.
I used to walk with Norm after work along the streets of
Chicago. He was so generous and friendly to anyone who
approached it made me feel neglected. Norm would always
notice my feelings and say, “Tommy, these are the people who
make Chicago Chicago”.
I say it now and I will say it again tomorrow, Chicago is my
favorite city in this great nation……but it is a lesser city
because of the loss of Norm Van Lier.
I need a tissue.
In loving memory of the actors and filmmakers who have passed away in 2018. We will remember you for all time. #TCMRemembers— TCM (@tcm) December 14, 2018
🎶 “When The Night Is Over" by @LordHuron 🎶 pic.twitter.com/jXp0lYyWeD
Monday, February 25, 2019
firstname.lastname@example.org with "Submission for Publisher Panel" in the subject line. (I'm on that panel)
SUBMISSIONS for the Crafting a Killer First Page workshop (Sunday at 3:15 pm). DEADLINE: March 11. To Include your work for critique in the workshop, send the COMPLETE OPENING PROLOGUE OR CHAPTER (not just the first page) of your novel or memoir as a Word attachment to Ray Rhamey (email@example.com) with "Killer First Page Workshop" in the subject line. Ray will extract the first page (only the text, no names will be used) and put all the selections into a handout. You do not have to submit work to benefit from the workshop — the critiques will give you insights to apply to your own writing — but it's eye-opening to get feedback on your own work. SLOTS ARE LIMITED.
SUBMISSIONS for our live lit event, Let's Just Read! (Sunday at 4:45 pm). SPACE IS LIMITED and will go to the first 27 people who send their submissions. You will have TWO MINUTES to read (no exceptions), approximately 360 words. Send your selection as a Word document (not a PDF) to Kristin Oakley (firstname.lastname@example.org) with "Let's Just Read!" in the subject line.
See the FULL CONFERENCE SCHEDULE.
We look forward to meeting you at the conference. See you soon!
Also, I think we discovered that the Oscars don't really need a host. It ended at a reasonable hour.
UPDATE: OK, I went on twitter to check what was said. Here's my favorite...
The way that Gaga and Bradley are looking at each other during this Shallow performance has cleared my skin and paid off my student loans #Oscars— ilana kaplan (@lanikaps) February 25, 2019