Saturday, May 23, 2020
Friday, May 22, 2020
Listen to it here.
On the day Jerry Lee Lewis announced in London that he had married his 13-year-old cousin Myra, (May 22, 1958), the Cubs beat the Phillies 7-4 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philly, behind the pitching of Moe Drabowsky and the hitting of Ernie Banks (4 RBI).
A president who can't handle a crisis is no president at all. pic.twitter.com/c1vnz3dHsp— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 22, 2020
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Listen Here: https://radiomisfits.com/podcasts/lossano-and-friends/
On the day Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross (May 21, 1881), the Cubs (known then as the White Stockings) broke protocol and batted first despite playing in Boston. They won 4-2. Cap Anson was hitting over .400 and ended the season at .399.
Rick: Ken, all of your books feature the main character of Grace Note. Tell us about her, where she came from, and who illustrated her.
Ken: Our girl character, “Grace”, did indeed have her origin story as a grace note — that was the magical story line of the Winter book in the Musical Adventures of Grace series.
The creative spark for Grace came from a question I asked my musically-talented son: What’s that little note on the music sheet page? Why is it so small…?
His reply — that’s a grace note; it’s usually insignificant in terms of hearing the music, but sometimes a conductor will have an orchestra play it louder as a way to add “color” to the music… and, as they say, the rest is history.
I, initially, was thinking about an underdog-type story (a small note that became a big note), but that morphed into the development of a story line where an insignificant grace note is changed into a little girl through the magic of a holiday concert…
The first 3 stories in The Musical Adventures of Grace series, sprang from that Winter event and were illustrated by Pam Frazier. But, nowadays, I use Jaime Buckley for most of my new character plots and spin-off stories.
Rick: On our site we switch out some of the Grace books by season. Right now you can find the Spring and Summer books about Grace. There’s also a Fire Prevention book available year round. Can you tell us a little bit about those books?
Ken: The Winter book gave me the opportunity to introduce Grace to the world as a new character; and the follow-up Spring and Summer stories allowed me to expand her world and bring new friends into the story mix. For example, the Spring book has Fortissimo and Harry (two brothers) moving into the house across the street from Grace. Spring also brings Arco the dog into their world, as Grace’s puppy.
The Summer story brings back Maestro Vik (from the Winter book) and has another adult, Curly-the-violin-maker, interacting with Grace & Arco.
As you can see, we try to sneak in some music terms & instruments for younger readers — with the ulterior motive of introducing a variety of music vocabulary into the story lines.
This was deliberate and organic – created from the advice I had received from music educators (who, in their STEAM teaching worlds, are trying to introduce music appreciation concepts earlier than the middle school years…)
The creation and production of the Burn Prevention & Fire Safety book served two purposes (1) a way to create spin-off health-related stories from the original Musical Adventures series, and (2) to begin a formal process that supported aspiring authors and first-time writers – a type of mentorship program.
For this book, my co-author, Paul Possenti, is a classmate of mine who became a Medical Director in a burn center. We developed an alliance over the paucity of patient education materials in the Burn Prevention / Fire Safety arena. We launched the book at the podium of the 2019 American Burn Association conference and presented it as a case study in community engagement.
Some of the testimonials we’ve received say the book will have an immediate impact on the work fire departments are doing…
It was a timely and fulfilling writing alliance, for many at-risk communities, and we have a new edition being produced, now.
Rick: Grace’s latest book about Covid 19 is providing a valuable service for parents with young kids. Tell us a little about what inspired you to write that, and where it is being consumed.
Ken: The upside-down world, resulting from this pandemic, essentially took away some traditional formats for authors to share their work with new readers. We can no longer host or be part of book signing events that allow prospective customers to touch and browse our books, in a live face-to-face environment. So, we have to find other venues or formats that let us be the creative advocates of our stories and characters…
In the case of my COVID book, I found (in communicating with my established customers) that there was some generic anxiety, among young parents, about how to explain our “new normal” and dramatic/mandated social behavior changes to the youngsters in the family.
So, “Grace Fights COVID-19…” and the Bug Squad idea was created, almost as a public service announcement for families with emerging readers.
We now have a tool parents can use to communicate (In kid-friendly terms) and explain what a coronavirus is, why it makes people sick, what we are doing about preventing that from happening to the people we love, etc.
I believe it’s the first kid-centric book that uses my characters to invite the young readers to “join the fight” by washing their hands and adopting socially distancing practices — for a better public health outcome.
We actually got a grant to distribute 185 copies of the Bug Squad book throughout communities.
So, I was part of an industrial Mask Giveaway and Food Drive community event, recently — A new way for an author to meet his reading audience.
I hope we’ll be able to participate in more of these public safety events. It’s a great way to show authors in a health & safety spotlight… one where you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see them.
Rick: You are a prolific gentleman. Coming next month you have yet another book coming out. Tell us about that one, and how that came to be.
Ken: I guess the pandemic gives us authors some additional germination time for new ideas…
My unique Musical Adventures model has the characters combine reading skills with the introduction of music vocabulary and uses their stories to promote health & wellness for the next generation of responsible citizens.
So, I wanted to explore other ways to use that musically-themed approach and the Musical Haiku Adventure book became a thing for me.
Now Grace is a poet, I guess. We’ll see if the reading world agrees with that new dimension of her personality…
Rick: And finally, there is a really exciting project on the horizon for you and this series. Tell everyone about who you are teaming up with, and what kind of books we can expect from this team in the near future.
Ken: I am really excited about this project. I have teamed-up with the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation and their TeachRock.org effort. We will be using a new children’s book “Grace’s Rockin’Roll Adventure” as a vehicle to bring the history of rock and roll to younger students. And the unexpected element of this story is that Steven Van Zandt (of Bruce Springsteen’ band fame and a major character in the Sopranos cable TV show) will be the character who gives Grace her first electric guitar— as part of the story!
We are scheduled to be shelf-ready for the Fall of 2020, with this joint-project, and certainly will have it available for this upcoming holiday season…
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
I like this tweet too...
How sad it must be - believing that thousands of scientists, scholars, historians, economists, and journalists devoted their entire careers to deceiving you, while a multiply-bankrupted Reality TV star with decades of well-documented fraud is your only beacon of wisdom & honesty.— Translate Trump (@TranslateRealDT) May 18, 2020
On the day Charles Lindbergh departed aboard the Spirit of St. Louis from Long Island, New York on the first transatlantic flight, (May 20, 1927), the Cubs were not far away, in Brooklyn, beating the Robins 7-5. The hitting star for the Cubs was pitcher Tony Kaufmann.
May 20, 1935, Babe Ruth came to Chicago for the last time as a player, as a member of the Boston Braves.
How weird does the Sears Tower look without power?! pic.twitter.com/nOoEahU6I6— Lauren Wilz & Barkevious Dingo (@LWilz) May 20, 2020
Here's the reason the lights went out, and how it affected Chicago radio and television stations.
Rick: I know the plot of this book is based on the plot of a movie that didn’t satisfy you as a kid. What was it about that original movie that bothered you?
Keith: I think I was seven or eight years old when I first saw the movie The Final Countdown. I always liked the film and I still think it’s a very good and thought-provoking story. However once I saw it again as an adult, a few things really stuck in my mind. First, the story follows a modern aircraft carrier that sails into a storm and suddenly finds itself in between the Americans and Japanese on the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ultimately, that same storm re-appears and sends them back home before they can have a big impact on things. That all seemed a little too random for me and as someone who likes a good “What if?” scenario, I also always wondered what would happen if they actually did successfully enter the fight. I thought just about any way you could come up with for a modern supercarrier to show up in the past, it would be random enough that it should be a one-way trip. My biggest complaint about the story though was the fact that it followed a very small number of characters and as a result virtually none of the story spends any time examining what the crew would be going through in a situation like that. Most of the crew is unaware of what’s happening until very late in the story, but even when they find out what’s going on there is no time at all spent on their reaction in The Final Countdown. When I wrote this story I was excited to come up with a way to get the ship back in time, and I really liked the thought experiment of what impact the people from the future would have the attack on Pearl Harbor and afterwards in WWII and beyond. I was most excited by the idea of following the crews reaction to everything though. Both the people in command, and the people below decks who are in the dark for most of the story but know something is wrong.
Rick: Time travel novels are tricky. There are so many implications you hadn’t considered yet when you began to write. What were a few of the time travel implications that struck you while you were writing, and how did that change the story (without giving too much of it away)?
Keith: I really wanted to take a deep dive into how the crew would react to that situation. I thought the most interesting part of the story was going to be the crew dealing with their sense of loss from being completely cut off from their family and friends and everyone they ever knew. That was more interesting to me then the fight with the attacking Japanese. That’s still the biggest part of the story, but I was really surprised at were the technological implications they would be dealing with right off the bat. I went into writing the story thinking the ships would have such a massive technological advantage over the Japanese from 1941 that it would not turn out to be much of a fight. In reality though, they’d actually be facing some pretty tough odds. It would be very tough for extremely difficult for them to contact the outside world immediately. There’s encryption with just about everything that the people in 1941 wouldn’t be aware of. Even talking on the radio would be a little like trying to run a VR simulation on a Commodore 64. So it’s not like they could easily warn Pearl Harbor as soon as they realized what was happening. Something that really surprised me was how much of an impact being cut off from the GPS network would have on the fleet. They would not be able to use most of their smart weapons without it, and even navigation would be very difficult. I think I came up with a clever, almost MacGuyver-like fix that gets them some of their gadgets back before they have to fight though, and I hope readers like it. It’s a lot for the crew to deal with though. They also have a lot of civilians under foot while all of this is happening. I decided to incorporate the Tiger Cruise element of the story because it really fascinated me to have the overwhelming majority of the crew facing the prospect of never seeing their family again while some of them actually have their family aboard the ship. It makes a complex and strange situation even more interesting. Once they are all aware of the situation, the crew is having to fix some pretty complex problems and invent new ways of going into combat at the same time they are dealing with the fact that most of them will never see their loves ones again. Plus, at the end story I would hope readers are thinking about the implications for the people from 1941. The presence of these people with their knowledge and technology is really going to change things.
Rick: The details about the aircraft carrier and the chain of command were so believable I thought for sure you must have served some time in the Navy. Where did you research that, and how did you create such an authentic military environment?
Keith: Very early on in the process of writing the story I reached out to Captain James McGrath, who was teaching at the US Naval War College at the time. I gave him a rough idea of the story I wanted to tell and asked about what problems the fleet would run into in a situation like that and what their game plan would ultimately be. He gave me a ton of useful information about how things work on the technical side of things. One of the very early inspirations for starting this project was the PBS miniseries Carrier, which gave a lot of insight into what it’s like to serve on an aircraft carrier. It follows the USS Nimitz through an entire deployment, and I think it gave me a pretty solid idea of who all of the players are and how things work. I was a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol when I was a teenager, and that also probably helped me understand military chains of command. I have also been fortunate enough to cross paths with a few people over the years who have served on carriers and they were kind enough to chat with me pretty in depth about their experiences and what daily life is like on an aircraft carrier.
Rick: Have you ever been to Pearl Harbor?
Keith: I have not actually been to Pearl Harbor personally. My mom and dad took a trip there several years ago however. Afterward when my dad was telling me the story of his visit to the USS Missouri and Arizona Memorial, he brought up the movie The Final Countdown, which got my brain thinking about the changes I thought that story could have used. Ultimately that led to me writing Righteous Might.
Rick: In your day job, you’re a radio producer in Chicago. I recognized a lot of names of people in the Chicago broadcasting world in the character names. Are those characters tributes to the people named or is there another reason you did that?
Keith: There’s a story behind most of the names in the book. A couple of the character names were intended to be a tip of the cap to The Final Countdown and a bit of an Easter Egg for people who are fans of that movie. I also incorporated a few names of people I went to high school and college with who ultimately went on to serve in the military. Although ironically, none of those people actually served in the Navy. So I hope there aren’t any inter-branch rivalries stocked by their names showing up in the story. Matt Stoltz for example is someone I graduated high school with, and he is actually still currently serving in the Army. There are three people: Pete Fanning, Scott Tucker and Ernie Scatton, who served in the Navy and at various times during my writing process allowed me to pick their brains about what daily life is like on a carrier. Ernie and I also worked together in radio, but I added him as a character name because he was nice enough to talk with me about his time serving aboard the USS America. There are also plenty of radio people sprinkled in throughout the story though. Some are people I crossed paths with very early in my career. Darla Taylor was named after Darla Jaye, one of the first radio hosts I worked with when I was still in college. I also tried to throw in people I worked with behind the scenes like Scott Straus and Michael Garay. Mostly because they went above and beyond the call of duty listening to me complain on days when things weren’t working out particularly well.
Rick: I know you are getting married soon. How hard has it been to plan a wedding during the COVID crisis, and how does your bride-to-be feel about her new husband becoming a published author?
Keith: Love in the time of COVID has been an interesting experience. Our wedding date ended up being right in the middle of the stay-at-home order in Illinois. We really wanted to keep that date though, so we just had to get a little creative to make things happen. We both have family and friends all around the country, so streaming the wedding online was always part of the plan anyway. Since the state is still under lockdown, we just canceled the in-person part completely and went with a completely virtual wedding and a party with all of our friends once we’re done dodging COVID and the murder hornets. Originally, we were going to stick with the same venue, but they backed out on us at the last minute causing another brief catastrophe. Luckily though, a hotel in our area was willing to help us out and allow us to do the stream from there and it actually ended up being a pretty swanky backdrop. The situation is not ideal, but we’ve both rolled with it pretty well. Even if we won’t have our family and friends with us there, it will still be an extremely memorable day. As for me becoming a published author, Misty tells me all the time that she’s very proud of me just for finally finishing the book. She is a very talented artist who is working on creating her own indie comic. It’s been a great experience to support her through that process while she supports my writing.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Rick: You’ve been thinking about writing a book for a long time. What was it that finally sent you over the edge and made you say, ‘I’m gonna do it?’
Roger: Four factors pushed me ‘over the edge’: you approached me and convinced me, Rick Kogan was intrigued by my stories during his WGN Radio program and encouraged me, my wife said I should do it, and i had lots of retirement time on my hands.
Rick: Many people know you as a newscaster on WGN Radio. In fact that cover photo was made famous by your live reports during a terrible Chicago snowstorm. You go into this in harrowing detail in the book, but can you give us a Reader’s Digest version of it here?
Roger: I knew the storm was coming and it was going to be bad. But my full time teaching job was my priority. As opposed to some teachers, I stayed at my post all day putting me at risk for the drive home. Once on the road, I had an over-abundance of confidence that I would make it safely home. Then Mother Nature and human nature laughed out loud! A lost car with ice-encased engine found two days later, frostbite and an adventure for a lifetime later and I’m blessed to be here to tell it.
Rick: The people that follow your broadcasting career probably have no idea that you also spent time working for Chicago’s first female mayor and first African American mayor. Tell us a story about each of them.
Roger: Wow, so many . . . I’m not sure what about me Mayor Byrne found so favorable but it resulted in having more-than-usual access to getting her reaction to news events while I was a reporter for WKQX-FM, including being able to call her early in the morning at her home for interviews. Mayor Washington reminded me of my Uncle Harvey – my dad’s brother – friendly, supportive, accepting, gregarious, a belief in the common good. This was especially evident when I went to his apartment to install the stereo system that his staff had bought him one Christmas.
Rick: Your broadcasting stories and brushes with greatness are fascinating, but to me, the most inspiring part of the book covers your years as a teacher. That wasn’t just a temporary diversion for you. You taught for decades. I know you go into some of those stories, but what part of your teaching career gives you the most pride?
Roger: I think it’s something about my nature – something I still search for and puzzle about every day. I love helping people, yet I feel so woefully inadequate at it. There’ve been a couple ‘watchwords’, I guess, that helped guide me as a teacher, a parent and a friend – that I’ve tried to pass on: 1) you won’t know until you try, even if it doesn’t work out; 2) never take no for an answer – time will let you know if you should move on; 3) it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them; 4) when you’re successful, I’ll be successful (so many of my former students say they remember that the most).
Rick: Now that family, friends, and colleagues are starting to read the book, what kind of reactions are you getting?
Roger: Well, my wife says I was a royal troublemaker as a kid – and she’s already known most of my exploits from back then. A few readers have commented that they feel like I’m right there sharing stories with them – and I’ve heard that before when I’d tell stories during my air shifts on WGN Radio with Rick Kogan, Brian Noonan, Matt Bubala and Dave Plier, amongst others. One close friend, whom I’ve known for about 30 years, called me an ‘f-ing dork’ when she read how Bridget and I first met in Bloomington/Normal IL. And she meant that in the most loving way possible. That was awesome!
Monday, May 18, 2020
To put things in perspective: After decades of layoffs, there were 88K newsroom jobs by the end of 2019, counting digital. According to the NYT, there have been ~36k lost jobs since then. There is now approximately one mid-sized town worth of journalists covering the entire US.— Brian Merchant (@bcmerchant) May 15, 2020