Friday, February 12, 2021

Free Kicks

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Eagle Scout

 Congrats to Son #3 who officially became an Eagle Scout last night (joining his older brother in that category). I think you'll have a hard time finding someone less likely to have two Eagle Scout sons, but somehow, it happened. Remember, they are only 50% from my gene-pool.


Minutia Men Celebrity Interview--Myke Cole

 We spoke to author/tv star/cyber security expert Myke Cole last year. We checked back in with him this week to ask about the cyber issues facing America today...

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Alex Burkholder

 Happy birthday to Eckhartz Press author Alex Burkholder. He wrote the book about the tragic Our Lady of the Angels fire in Chicago, Death of the Angels. It’s a subject he had been studying for more than 30 years–attempting to unveil how that fire began. The book was released in December 2018 to coincide with the 60th anniversary.


Alex Burkholder was born and raised in Chicago. He received a Master Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.During his younger years Alex rode on Chicago Fire Department apparatus and helped fight fires. Alex began his forty-six-year career in journalism with Chicago’s Lerner Newspapers in 1962. Next he moved to WGN Radio and Television News for twenty-one years. That experience was followed by twenty-four years at ABC7 Chicago mainly as an investigative producer and recipient of an Emmy Award. He is a founding member of the Fire Museum of Greater Chicago. Alex and his wife, Barbara, reside in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Kevin Matthews

 Glad to hear the latest news about my old friend and colleague Kevin Matthews in today's Robert Feder column...

Kevin Matthews,
 one of Chicago radio’s all-time greats, is one of the principals behind a new multimedia platform for music and performance artists. Now living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Matthews teamed up with Big Event Studios and partners Bob Neumann and Bob VanProyen to form Elevator a GoGo, a recording studio designed to “elevate the way the world discovers music.” (Videos are produced in an empty freight elevator inside an old Grand Rapids warehouse.) Matthews will host a Valentine’s Day Watch Party from Valentine, Texas, featuring live performances from six Texas-born musicians. The free event on Facebook starts at 4:45 p.m. Sunday. (Here is the link.) Matthews, 64, who enjoyed an 18-year run on Chicago radio (with alter ego Jim Shorts), was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008. Since then he’s hosted a podcast and written a book about his triumphs and challenges, Broken Mary: A Journey of Hope. Matthews talks about his new venture and a whole lot more in a wide-ranging interview with Steve Cochran today on Live From My Office, Cochran’s twice-weekly podcast series. (Here is the link.) “He’s had a career that spans from middle school with Madonna to becoming a legend,” Cochran said of Matthews. “And now he’s making freight elevators cool.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Johnny B & Danny B

 Big thanks to Jonathon Brandmeier for mentioning my @ie_entertainer article about Danny Bonaduce. He does a great job bringing those old Loop days back to life. (JB still sounds great, by the way. Listen to it here. )

Monday, February 08, 2021

This Might Actually Work

 One of the biggest problems we have in America is that we live in information bubbles. Disinformation is allowed to flourish in this environment, in ways that we never could have imagined even a decade ago (although I did read a great novel called "$everance" that predicted it could).

The question has been, how do we fix it? We can't police thought or speech through regulation. That's a slippery slope that will lead us to places we don't want to go, depending on who is in charge at the time. We can't police it through education (like fact checkers), because people don't read those, or just assume that the fact checkers themselves are biased. We can't put the genie back in the bottle (be reinstating the Fairness Doctrine), because that will only be perceived as putting a thumb on the scale of what is bias and what is not. Who decides that?

The one thing we can do is punish flat out lies, particularly those that defame, libel, and slander. There are laws on the books to do this. 

How do we know that Fox News realizes they have been provably lying to their audience? Because the Dominion vote machine company sued them for billions, and while Fox News said all the right words about defending themselves, they also fired the man who has been telling that Dominion lie more than anyone else, Lou Dobbs. Trust me, they know they are in deep doo doo. They can't prove what Dobbs said, and the Dominion people probably can prove he's a liar. That's an assumption on my part, but if you disagree, perhaps you can give me another explanation for canceling their top-rated anchor.

In another good development, simply calling something Fake News (or a lie or defamation) isn't good enough in a court of law--you have to prove it. See the case of OAN vs. Rachel Maddow. OAN sued Maddow for calling something on their air "Russian propaganda." Unfortunately for OAN, Maddow COULD prove it, and OAN could not prove their case. So, not only did OAN lose the case, their case was so shaky it was declared frivolous, and they had to pay Maddow (and her network MSNBC) $250,000 in legal fees.

It's a clunky solution. 

But until someone comes up with something better, it's the best solution we have right now. 

We are still miles away from just getting back to sane. That first step is necessary before we take another.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

This week's birthdays

 Posted on the Eckhartz Press "Studio Walls" blog on Friday...

Eckhartz Press co-publisher Rick Kaempfer is a former radio producer and host and still writes about the media regularly as the media columnist for Illinois Entertainer. This is his 30th year as a media writer, so we are featuring excerpts from the more than 200 current and former Chicago radio and television stars he has interviewed, including the following people who are celebrating birthdays this week...

Josh Liss celebrated a birthday on January 31. He is the morning sports anchor at NewsRadio WBBM (780 AM). Rick interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer in 2016, just after the Cubs won the World Series. Liss was in Cleveland to report on Games 6 & 7 of the World Series.


“I still have not come down from that high,” he admits, “and I hope I don’t. It was tough riding the fine line between supporting and reporting, being objective and all, but I think I did a good job. After going through that – the whole month of playoffs, going to Cleveland for Games 6 & 7, and the parade coverage, that buzz is still there – and I hope it lasts until spring training because it makes the rest of the Chicago sports scene more palatable.”

Though the Bears may be sliding toward mediocrity, and the Bulls may have a difficult time reclaiming their former glory, they can never take away this once in a lifetime experience from him. “That World Series is without question the greatest sports story I’ve ever covered and I don’t even sense one on the radar that can possibly top it. The generations of fans that stuck with this team—and some of them who didn’t make it to see the championship. To pop that cork with so many people hanging on it for so many years and carrying the emotional investment – to see it pay off. I don’t think it will ever be topped in my career.”

Click here to read the entire Josh Liss interview.

Lisa Greene’s birthday is February 3rd. She lives in Los Angeles now, but when Rick interviewed her in 2008 she was a radio veteran in Chicago (WJMK, Love-FM, Shadow Traffic, etc.) and had just been named the midday disc jockey on WCFS (105.9FM) in Chicago. Rick asked about her favorite moment on the air…


I was doing WGN traffic on a Saturday morning with the big-voiced Lyle Dean on news. I called him ahead of time to alert him of a scanner report of a naked guy running in an intersection in Palatine, but couldn’t confirm it yet. He said to run with the item and follow his lead. When I generically reported “police activity” in Palatine, he matter-of-factly asked, “and, *what* is the activity?” I replied, dryly with a smile, “that would be…a…naked guy running in the street. Details as they become available.” He called me off-air and said, “that was SO good!” Maybe you had to hear it, but it was hilarious.

Click here to read the entire Lisa Greene interview.

Steve Bertrand’s birthday is February 3rd. He is currently anchoring the afternoon drive slot at WGN Radio, a news magazine show. Steve has been with WGN for 35 years and has seen it all. When Rick interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2012, Steve admitted there were a few bumpy eras during his long run.


I’m not going to insult you or your readers by pretending there weren’t a couple hellish years. I think everyone who worked at the station knew we needed to shake things up but the atmosphere became almost oppressive. I’ve come to hate the phrase “change is good.” Change for the better is great but change just for change sake, without forward direction, is demoralizing. At one point I was told to stop pronouncing the “t” in President Obama. It sounded too newsy. So for more than a year I referred to the President of the United States as “Presdeh-Obama.” I’ve pretty much kept my feelings to myself until now but am comfortable saying this knowing we are headed toward brighter days.

Read the entire Steve Bertrand interview here.

Mitch Rosen’s birthday is February 5th. He is currently the program director at the Score, WSCR AM 670, the flagship station for the Chicago Cubs. Rick interviewed Mitch ten years ago (2011) shortly after he started in that position. Rick asked Mitch about his early days, producing for the legendary Chicago Ed Schwartz.


Eddie was flat out the best teacher I ever had in radio. He taught me how to chase a story, to be on top of the news of the day, how to track down guests, and the urgency radio is. No doubt he had his quirkiness, but he taught me radio in Chicago. He was an aggressive personality and at one time had a 20 share in overnight radio. I think the secret was that Eddie treated overnight like a prime time day part. I wrote him a note as a high school senior, then ended up interning at WGN, and then became a full-time producer. In a weird way, it was a radio dream come true.

Read the entire Mitch Rosen interview here.

Ed Tyll’s birthday is February 6th. He was part of the legendary AM Loop lineup in the early 90s. He hosted the late night slot. When Rick interviewed him in 2010, Ed was living in his native New York and working as a stand-up comic and a radio talk show host. He had great memories about working in Chicago at the Loop.


Working at the Loop was like working on radio’s Mt. Rushmore. I even got to interact with Johnny B, because I stayed late after my show working on stuff, and so I was still there when the caravan would arrive. Johnny B introduced me to Gary Busey once. After my first show on the air at the Loop, Steve and Garry crank-called me out of bed the following morning—they got a big kick out of that. I was in the station during the day for meetings and what have you, and would run into Kevin Matthews. He and Shemp and Jim Shorts, that show was just magical. These are the flashbacks, and positive ones too. What about Chet Coppock!  Chet’s intro to my show used to be three minutes long. It was a riot. He would wind up this huge buildup by calling me BIG ED TYLL, and in would walk in this 5’6, 115 pound guy. Working on the Loop was like being on tour with all famous guys, all the time. I do remember one night when all of us got together for an event on the same night, and it was awesome. They did a poster for Budweiser with all of us, and we came out on stage at the same time. That was something.

Read the entire Ed Tyll interview here.

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