Saturday, January 15, 2022

Minutia Men


The latest episode is out.

David Bowie’s early years, Led Zeppelin’s wild party, Liver tattoos, the best Popes of all time, a crackpot COVID rap, and Lassie’s amazing life saving techniques are discussed by Rick and Dave.

Listen to it here.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Free Kicks

Free Kicks is back for a new season. In this week's episode...

Little known clubs from places like Hartlepool, Boreham Wood, and Kid’minster take on the big boys in the Premier League.

 You can listen to it here.

Cubs Birthday Tweet of the Week

His story is told in EveryCubEver, and this week, on Twitter...

Photo of the Week

 Vince Argento sent this picture of Bridget and me this week. It was taken at his wedding in 1998. Look at these two kids.

Eckhartz Everyday

*On this day in 2018, the Eckhartz Press book Out the Door was named the Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association. See a photo gallery here of the proud author M.L Collins and her publishers at the event. Out the Door is still available at Eckhartz Press.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Another Sign of the Apocalypse

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2012, Brendan Sullivan and I sat down and discussed our book The Living Wills. This is the video of that interview...

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

SAG Award Nominees

 My favorite category is below. Variety has all of the categories.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”)  

Brett Goldstein (“Ted Lasso”) 

Steve Martin (“Only Murders in the Building”)  

Martin Short (“Only Murders in the Building”)  

Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”)  

Video of the Week

It's official. The entire country is crazy. 

Minutia Men Celebrity Interview

Dave and I welcome the newest member of the Radio Misfits stable, Nick Digilio, in a fun free-wheeling interview. @MinutiaMen

Click here to listen.

Rick O'Dell

 Thanks so much to Robert Feder for mentioning my Illinois Entertainer article in his column today. Here is what he wrote...

Rick O’Dell, program director of WRME 87.7-FM, the Weigel Broadcasting soft-rock oldies station known as MeTV FM, offers encouraging words for fans in an interview with Rick Kaempfer in the January issue of Illinois Entertainer. (Here is the link.) “Everyone else is chasing the younger viewer and listener, and if you want them, you’re only going to be able to get a much smaller slice of the pie,” said O’Dell, who’s been a Chicago radio treasure for four decades. “The stations focused on listeners 25-54 are in panic mode as the average age of the radio listener climbs up and up. Still, Weigel Broadcasting, in their radio and television products, is successful in targeting the older viewer and listener. That means we’re not in crisis mode, and we’re putting out a product that overlaps with my own taste and preferences, and we’re filling a niche for people in that age group by giving them music they really have no other place to get.”

Eckhartz Everyday

*Today is the anniversary of Andy Frain getting the job handling security at Wrigley Field. Of course, Andy's tale is told in the pages of EveryCubEver. The new version of that book is now available at Eckhartz Press. 

This account of Andy's time with the Cubs comes from Just One Bad Century...

~In January of 1928, Andy Frain pitched William Wrigley on providing security for the ballpark. At the time, Wrigley Field was known as a place that ushers would take bribes to allow people into the good seats. Frain offered to give back Mr. Wrigley’s money if he wasn’t completely satisfied with his performance . Wrigley was so impressed he hired Frain to run the entire show, and gave him $5000 for uniforms. Those uniforms became his company’s trademark. In the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, the Notre Dame blue and gold Andy Frain uniforms were on hand at every major sporting event in Chicago, including football, baseball, and hockey games. They also kept the peace at political conventions, the Kentucky Derby, and more.

Here are a few tips for keeping the peace, directly from the mouth of Andy Frain…

*”Never trust a man with a mustache or a man who carries an umbrella”

*”No muscle is gonna clip me. I never had a nickel. Finally after a lot of hard work I made something of myself. They’re gonna take that away from me?”

*”Ninety percent of the public wants somethin’ for nothin’. When you run a big sports event, every one of those seats is there to be cracked. They throw every gimmick in the book at you.”

*”The only color I’m interested in is the color of the customer’s ticket.”

*”There’s nothing like a six-footer in uniform to control a panicky crowd. Besides that, a tough guy isn’t so likely to give you an argument if you’re lookin’ down on him. That’s psychology.”

*”Never let a standee sit down. Once they sit down, you can’t get ’em up.”

Andy died in 1964. His sons carried on the company until 1982 when they sold it to a group of investors from Cleveland. The people that bought it went belly up a few years later and the Frain brothers repurchased the company once again. They finally sold it off for good in 1991.

Studio Walls

Every week I send my Minutia Men Co-Host Dave Stern a list from our audio archives for this week's Studio Walls feature. These are the possibilities for this week. Which one will he choose?

*This week in 1863, the London Underground opened. Emma Clark (voice of London Underground) story about getting the Mind The Gap gig (Listen to entire interview here)

*Donald Fagen's birthday is January 10. Recording engineer Bill Schnee tells story of working on Stealy Dan's Aja album. (Listen to entire interview here)

*David Bowie died on January 10, 2016. Photographer Mick Rock tells his David Bowie story (Listen to entire interview here)

*The Sopranos debuted on January 10, 1999. Actor Joseph (Vito) Gannascoli tells story about working on the show (Listen to entire interview here)

*The Kings song "The Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide" hit it's top chart position on the WLS Radio charts in Chicago January 11, 1980 (#9). Mr. Zero from the Kings talks about the song. (Listen to the entire interview here)

*Andy Frain is hired to provide security at Wrigley Field, January 12, 1928. Chicago Literary Hall of Fame president Don Evans tells childhood story about helping out Andy Frain ushers. (Listen to the entire interview here)

*Led Zeppelin releases their first album January 12, 1969. Jim Peterik tells the story of when his band the Ides of March toured with Zeppelin and were invited to a Led Zep party. (Listen to the entire inverview here)

*The Maharishi was born on January 12th. Filmmaker Paul Salzman was there when the Beatles visited him in India. (Listen to the entire interview here)

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

From the Writing Archives


On this day in 2007, I reviewed a great media book about the dangers of media consolidation, a subject that is near and dear to my heart, in the Beachwood Reporter. Even though the media landscape has changed dramatically over the past  15 years, if you can find the book out there, it's still highly recommended.

“Fighting for Air”

Reviewed by Rick Kaempfer


As a long-time radio veteran, and someone who has followed the story of media consolidation as closely as anyone in the country, even I was appalled by the details of the Minot, North Dakota train derailment story from the introduction of Eric Klinenberg’s “Fighting for Air.”

According to Klinenberg’s excellent narrative, local officials tried to contact the radio stations in Minot to declare an emergency because a toxic cloud five miles long, two and a half miles wide, and 350 feet high was heading right for town.

There was only one problem with this plan.

Clear Channel owned every radio station in town, and all of the programming was coming from elsewhere. There wasn’t a single person in any of the radio studios to answer the calls, and therefore, there was no-one to alert the public about the impending danger.

By the time the cloud had dissipated, one man was dead, and more than a thousand people needed medical care. If Minot’s radio stations hadn’t been consolidated and downsized, the town could have been easily evacuated before the slow-moving cloud reached the town limits.

And that’s just the introduction of “Fighting for Air.”

Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist from New York University with a reporter’s gift for uncovering the stories behind the stories, methodically chronicles the effect of consolidation on every medium since the disastrous Telecommunications Act of 1996; including network and local television, network and local radio, mainstream and alternative newspapers, and the Internet.

Why does radio suck now? Klinenberg explains it.

Why does 24-hour cable television news cover so little news? Klinenberg explains it.

Why does it seem like we have more media options than ever, yet less information and entertainment? Klinenberg explains it.

He effectively and meticulously presents evidence of the cost cutting that follows all big media mergers, and shows how that has led to decreased news staffs in every medium. That, in turn, has led to a country that only appears to have more information available, while it actually has far less.  (What’s more terrifying than an uninformed electorate? An uninformed electorate that actually thinks it’s informed.)

He shows how the increased power of these few media corporations has led to several big stories being buried in the broadcast media; including, and especially the effect media mergers have had so far, and the fact they are trying to get even bigger and even more powerful as this book went to press.

He chronicles the complete disregard the current FCC (and the one headed by former FCC Chairman Michael Powell) has for public, professional, and scholarly opinion about consolidation.

The arguments against media consolidation are clinically enumerated by Klinenberg, most convincingly in the sections about the loss of local news and information. The arguments that were presented by big media before the Telecommunications Act of 1996 are also thoroughly and convincingly proven to have been far off the mark. For instance, instead of the 1.5 million new jobs promised, 500,000 have been eliminated.

So what is the argument for further deregulation? I thought this was the funniest quote in the book. In a report often quoted by former FCC Commissioner Michael Powell: “The real danger to Americans is that outdated and unnecessary FCC restrictions will limit improvements in media markets and technologies, limiting the benefits that they can provide.”

Got it? They aren’t making enough money to improve technologies. If you just let them own it all…they’ll work harder at making it better.

Is there honestly someone in the world who believes that? Certainly no-one who has ever worked in the media. So why aren’t members of the broadcast media (who would personally be most harmed by further consolidation) coming out to aggressively point out how ridiculous this argument is? Simple.

To tell the truth about your corporate media bosses is to commit career suicide.

To tell the truth about the FCC is to bring down the wrath of the FCC on your bosses, which is an even more effective way of committing career suicide.

“Fighting For Air” isn’t the first book to tell this story, but it’s probably the most impressively researched and well written.

My only quibble with Klinenberg’s book is his assignation of political motives to some of the big media CEOs. In my experience, these guys don’t have a political agenda as much as they have insatiable greed. Scratch the surface of an apparent political agenda (even Rupert Murdoch’s), and you’re bound to find just another money grab.

At its heart, however, “Fighting for Air” tells an important truth: The big media corporations have completely abdicated the public interest obligations required as a precondition of operating the public airwaves, and the FCC, which was founded to keep an eye on this above all other things, is helping them do it.

I guess it takes a sociologist to tell the real truth about the media.

But at least he tells it well.


Rick Kaempfer was a Chicago radio producer (Steve Dahl & Garry Meier, John Records Landecker) and host for twenty years. He is the co-author of the Radio Producer’s Handbook (Allworth Press, 2004), and the author of the upcoming satirical novel about the broadcast media “$everance,” available in April on ENC Press ( He calls the writing of that novel “a cathartic experience.” Rick covers the media regularly and is a frequent Beachwood contributor.

David Bowie

He passed away six years ago today. I posted this about my favorite personal David Bowie moment...

Eckhartz Everyday


*On this day in 2017, the Eckhartz Press book Monkey in the Middle was reviewed by Nate Weatherup. His review gives you a good idea of how special this book is...

So two months ago Dobie Maxwell gave me a copy of his book Monkey in the Middle to bring back to LA for a mutual friend and I told him I would, on the condition that I got to read it first (once an English teacher...).

Dobie is a Milwaukee native and longtime Chicago comic. He's one of the first professional comedians I ever met - he hosted my first audition showcase at Zanies in September 2009 - and was definitely the first to ever compliment me on my act and encourage me to keep at it. I've always respected him as a comic and as a mentor, so I just thought it would be fun to read his story, and find out just where Mr. Lucky got his roots.

I got about 70 pages in before life became life and I ran out of free time. I picked it back up two days ago and burned through the last 300 pages about as fast as I've ever read anything.

This book is phenomenal!

It is an incredible, almost unbelievable (unless you know Dobie), story told by a master storyteller: it's compelling, it's unpredictable, and it's laugh out loud funny and emotionally devastating simultaneously. It is straight-shooting honesty and unapologetically flawed. It's Dobie in paperback.

It's the most I've enjoyed reading a book in a very long time (and again, English teacher, I read an awful lot of books).

Go get this book. Do it. Do it now. (Click here)

I have one recommendation before reading it, however - go see his show first. And I say that for three reasons:
1) after seeing the show you'll say "ah, that makes sense," about every three pages.
2) reading the book with Dobie's distinct, Wisconsin, doesn't-give-a-rats-ass voice in your head just makes it that much more enjoyable.
3) it's just a damn good show.

Thanks, Dobie, for the years of kind words and advice, and for one hell of and amazing read.

*Ten years ago today, WGN-TV Morning show producer Jeff Hoover reviewed my book "The Living Wills" (written with Brendan Sullivan). This is what he wrote about it...

I just finished reading "The Living Wills". It is a wonderful book. Truth be told, I am not a big reader. Well, I weigh 175 pounds so maybe that makes me about average. Seriously, I really was surprised at how magical the characters came together as the story unfolded. There were some very touching moments, too. And, a good laugh sprinkled in, of course. Don't take this the wrong way, but reading your book reminded me of one of my favorite movies "Love Actually." Multiple characters and plot lines come together and entertained me from start to finish. Thanks and congratulations! I hope you will continue to explore this unique and rewarding collaboration for all of your new and old fans. Cheers!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2013, Dave Stern appeared on Mancow's television show in Chicago to promote his Eckhartz Press book The Balding Handbook: The Five Stages of Grieving for your Hair Loss. Among the other guests on the show that day, sportscaster Mike North. Relive more of the photo memories here.

*Today is Rod Stewart's birthday. Two Eckhartz Press books have great stories about the rocker. In Mitch Michael's Doin the Cruise, you can read about the inadvertant way Mitch helped propel the song "Maggie Mae" to the top of the charts. In Bobby Skafish's book We Have Company, Bobby spends an entire chapter writing about his encounter with the gravely-voice singer. Both of these great books are still available at Eckhartz Press.

Chicago Radio Ratings

 Thanks to Robert Feder for posting these numbers today. He breaks it down by daypart here, if you are interested.

1. WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 11.8 (5.7)
2. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM all news, 5.7 (5.7)
3. (tie) WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 5.1 (4.7); WVAZ 102.7-FM R&B, 5.1 (5.0)
5. WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 4.4 (4.4)
6. WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 4.0 (4.8)
7. WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 3.8 (4.1)
8. WGN 720-AM news talk, 3.7 (3.7)
9. WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 3.6 (4.3)
10. WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 3.5 (3.7)
11. WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 2.9 (2.7)
12. WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 2.8 (2.8)
13. (tie) WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip-hop, 2.7 (2.6); WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 2.7 (2.9)
15. WUSN 99.5-FM country, 2.5 (2.4)
16. WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 2.4 (2.4)
17. WCHI 95.5-FM rock, 2.1 (1.8)
18. (tie) WGCI 107.5-FM hip-hop, 2.0 (2.6); WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 2.0 (2.4)
20. WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 1.7 (2.0)
21. (tie) WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 1.6 (2.1); WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 1.6 (1.8)
23. WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 1.2 (1.6)
24. (tie) WFMT 98.7-FM classical, 1.1 (1.9); WPWX 92.3-FM hip-hop, 1.1 (1.2)
26. WVIV 93.5-FM Spanish contemporary, 1.0 (0.9)
27. WLS 890-AM news talk, 0.8 (0.8)
28. (tie) WCKL 97.9-FM contemporary Christian music, 0.7 (0.7); WSRB 106.3-FM R&B, 0.7 (0.8)
30. (tie) WXLC 102.3-FM hot adult contemporary, 0.6 (0.7); WZSR 105.5-FM hot adult contemporary, 0.6 (1.2)

RIP Bob Saget

This one was a shocker. Sad to hear about his death. Saget was only 65. This is the way I choose to remember him (from 2006)...

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Minutia Men--Q-Harmony

 We're back for another year of Minutia Men. Listen to it here, and you will hear...

The Mooch, a new Q-anon dating site, the gaseous girl update, holiday party stories, and a Cubs poem are all discussed by Rick and Dave. [Ep254]