Saturday, January 22, 2022

Minutia Men

 The latest episode is out now! Listen to it here.

Steven Seagal’s creepy tendencies, a brush with Bill Maher, a tribute to Les Grobstein, Goose-stepping, Pot-eating grannies, faking a kidnapping, and a four-foot-tall stone phallus are discussed by Rick and Dave. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Free Kicks

The latest episode is out. Listen to it here.

Which players are moving from team to team? Adam and Rick discuss this year’s Premier League January transfer window. 

RIP Louie

Yet another one...

Cubs Birthday Tweet of the Week

RIP Meatloaf

 Another one has passed away. He was 74 years old.

This is the one I always remember from him...

Pat Colander

 *On this day in 2019, we got the shocking news that award-winning Eckhartz Press author Pat Colander passed away. Pat was more than just one of our authors to me. She was my writing mentor, and someone I treasured dearly. This is what I wrote about her the day I got the news...

Just got some very shocking news–my good friend Pat Colander passed away.

I knew she had cancer, and I knew she had been undergoing treatment for a while, but I had no idea this day was near. I’m in shock.

I met Pat almost twenty years ago when I was working with John Landecker. She was the editor of Lake Magazine at the time, and they were doing a story about John. In our first conversation I mentioned that I was a writer too, and she asked me to write an article for her magazine on the spot. I did. She liked it, and I wrote many more.

When Landecker’s show ended, she encouraged me to write full-time. And I did.

My first two books “The Radio Producer’s Handbook” and “$everance” were both championed by Pat in the pages of her magazine. She sent her friend Andy Shaw to write about the first one. Our mutual friend John Landecker to write about the second.

When she moved over to Shore Magazine to be the editor there, I moved with her. I wrote even more for her there, including the column that came to be my pride and joy–Father Knows Nothing.

When it came out in book form, Pat gave me an enthusiastic endorsement on the back cover.

Pat was always encouraging, always supportive. She was a great cheerleader for me and all the writers she employed. It was thanks to Pat that I was nominated several times for Lisagor Awards. I had no idea what that even was until I was nominated for Father Knows Nothing.

When Dave & I started up Eckhartz Press, Pat came to us with a book idea. She wanted to print some of the great articles from her writing days (from The Reader, The Tribune, etc). She was an absolutely gifted writer, and those articles make Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and Other Tales of Love & Death in Chicago a must read. We weren’t surprised at all when it won the Book of the Year award in 2016. It’s that good.

As long as we are in business at Eckhartz Press, it will remain in print. It deserves to be.

I’m a little taken aback by this news. You only encounter so many truly special people in your life, and when one of them is suddenly gone, it’s a bit overwhelming.

I’m happy I got to know her. I’m happy to have seen the tremendous example she set for how to treat people, how to be generous in spirit, and how to be giving to others.

Rest in peace, Pat. We miss you already.

–Rick Kaempfer

Eckhartz Everyday


*Today would have been Wolfman Jack's birthday. The Wolfman has the distinction of being featured in two different Eckhartz Press books. John Landecker told the story of the day he met Wolfman Jack in his book Records Truly Is My Middle Name. If you'd like to read that particular excerpt, you can read it here.

Wolfman Jack is also featured in Bob Shannon's book Turn It Up. Both books are still available at Eckhartz Press.

*Today is Len Kasper's birthday as well. Len is also featured in two Eckhartz Press books. He gets his own entry in EveryCubEver for his many years in the Cubs broadcast booth, but he gets his own chapter in the book Cubsessions, written by Randy Richardson and Becky Sarwate Maxwell. In that book, Len tells the story of the Cubs 2016 World Series Championship and what it means to him. Get your copy of Cubsessions today.

*On this day in 2018, Eckhartz Press author Tom Weinberg had a book signing at the Book Stall in Winnetka. 

 A good time was had by one and all as Tom talked about his Eckhartz Press book "Chasing the Lost City"

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Picture of the Week

Today is National DJ day. This photo is from the day I brought middle son Johnny to the studios in 2001. He was 3. He did a movie review for us that day, if I recall correctly, for Monsters, Inc. In his first year of college, Johnny worked as an itern at WGN Radio (for John Williams and Bill & Wendy).

Laughing Babies

I am a sucker for a laughing baby video. Impossible not to be cheered up by this.


I no longer need to interview Padma. My questions have been answered.

Eckhartz Everyday

*On this day in 2017, Dave and I signed author Lee Kingsmill to an Eckhartz Press contract. His incredible novel Safe Inside was a finalist for Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year. It's still available at Eckhartz Press.

*On this day in 1965, legendary radio disc jockey Alan Freed died. Bob Shannon wrote a book about the early rock and roll radio greats for Eckhartz Press (Turn it Up), and Freed's son provided a blurb for it...

Factual, warm, affectionate, and respectful are a few words that come to mind. I know he would have been pleased by what you wrote. Bravo to you, Bob, and kudos from his son.

Lance Freed

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Signature Shoes

Another Eckhartz Press book making its mark...

Randy Merkin on TV

Eckhartz Press author Randy Merkin (Behind the Glass) was on Channel 7 this morning.

RIP Pat Brickhouse

I spent quite a bit of time with Pat during the first few years of Just One Bad Century. She taped a bunch of videos for me, including this one below. I also wrote about her for Shore Magazine, and she gets a whole chapter in the Eckhartz Press book Cubsessions. Sad to hear about her passing. She was a firecracker. RIP, Pat.

RIP Bill Jackson

The sad news keeps on coming. This is my childhood right here. Saw him at the Gateway Theater in Chicago in the early 70s. He got on stage and drew pictures for us out of our initials. Thought it was about the coolest thing I ever saw (as a ten-year-old).

Deleted JoJo Rabbit Scenes

This is my favorite movie of the last decade, so imagine my surprise and delight when I found a bunch of deleted scenes. If you go on Youtube you can go down the same wormhole I'm just now emerging from. Here's one of my favorites...

New Morning Host at the Mix

 His name is Chris Petlak, and Robert Feder has all the details about the man who is replacing Eric Ferguson. This paragraph kind of jumped out at me...

Petlak, who grew up in Mount Prospect and graduated from Prospect High School, began his career as a promotion assistant and social media manager at Hubbard Radio Chicago in 2008. He later moved to Los Angeles to pursue standup comedy. He also created, wrote, produced and starred in “The Jamz,” a Netflix sitcom about a fictional Chicago radio station.

 Same high school as me (at least for my senior year). Also, someone with a writing background. I'll most likely be in touch with him soon to interview him.

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?

*January 17, 1905, the first chainsaw was invented. Two former MMCI guests have told us great stories about using chainsaws on stage, Tubes lead singer Fee Waybill (Listen to entire interview here), and radio legend Kevin Matthews (Listen to entire interview here)

*January 18, 2008, I appeared on Steve Cochran's show on WGN Radio to unveil my brand new venture, Just One Bad Century. (The website still exists)

*January 20, 1996, Chicago added several new area codes. I wrote a song for John Landecker and the Legends about this called "Land of 1000 Area Codes" (Which can still be found on the Landecker & the Legends CD, Baby Boomers)

*January 20, 2008, the show Breaking Bad debuted. We interviewed the woman who played the principal of the high school in the show, Carmen Serano. (Listen to the entire interview here)

*January 21, 2014, Dave appeared on the Pete McMurray show to promote his side-hustle, the Pothole Store. (That interview is still available here)

*January 21 is baseball announcer Len Kasper's birthday. We interviewed him in his last season with the Cubs. (Listen to the entire interview here)

*January 21, 2020, the CDC announced the first COVID case in America. We interviewed patient zero Gregg Garfield. (Listen to entire interview here)

Eckhartz Everyday

*On this day in 2015, Brent Petersen's Eckhartz Press novel Truffle Hunt (still available here), became available (pre-sale) for the first time. What is it about?

“Truffle Hunt” serves up a five-star gourmet feast of murder, hidden historical gems, deep family pride, a dash of humor and romance, topped with delicate slices of heavenly, golden truffles and a glass of nectar from the deepest Eastern European wine cellars. As a gourmand, mushroom hunter, animal lover and world traveler, I ate the delicious book up in just a couple of sittings. Now, all I need is a truffle hunting dog, a simian bartender, and I can I can bring the pages of this book to life in my kitchen!

Vesna Plakanis, Owner, A Walk in the Woods, Nature Guide Service

*Ken Frailing is celebrating a birthday today. Frailing has the distinction of being part of two Eckhartz Press books. He pitched for the Cubs, so naturally, he is in the book EveryCubEver. He was also a member of the 1972 White Sox, so he is also a part of our new Dick Allen book Chili Dog MVP. Both books are still available at Eckhartz Press.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Happy birthday to Eckhartz Press author Bob Boone. Bob's collection of short stories, City U, came out last year during the pandemic, and has gotten great reviews. 

  • “Bob Boone has the unique knack of finding the uncommon in so-called common people. The dialogue of his characters always rings true, never mincing words. Boone is a master of twists and turns in his stories, always keeping his readers thoroughly engaged.”

    --Richard Reeder, author of Chicago Sketches and 1001 Train Rides in Chicago

Here he is at Printer's Row Litfest last September.

From the Writing Archives

In 2014, Eckhartz Press published my 
fifth book Father Knows Nothing. The book features about a hundred of the four hundred plus columns I wrote during the nine years it ran (in various publications owned by the Northwest Indiana Times). That means a lot of the columns did not make the final book, including this one I'm featureing today. I teased it yesterday in a post. This one goes back to 2011, right after my novel The Living Wills came out.

My kids never tire of hearing stories about my childhood, but there is one thing they will never ask me about under any circumstances.

My career.

They just don't care. I can understand that on a certain level. My own father was an engineer, and I remember that after I discovered he wasn't a train engineer...he was just a civil engineer...his job didn't interest me in the slightest. Even when I attended a school he had personally designed (Heidelberg American Middle School), I wasn't impressed. I remember telling him: "The hallways are a little confusing."

So, I suppose it's only fair that my own kids are similarly unimpressed with my career. When they were little, I worked in radio. My two oldest sons Tommy and Johnny were even featured on the show quite a bit. But I remember their reaction one time when a stranger was impressed by meeting them because he had heard them talking on the radio.

They thought the guy was nuts.

When this fan asked Tommy what it was like hanging out with a famous disc jockey like John Records Landecker, he just shrugged his shoulders. So did Johnny. To them, John was just one of Dad's friends. No big deal. And being on the radio was also no big deal. It's just a bunch of people sitting in a room with microphones.

When my first book came out, I gave an autographed copy to my oldest son. He put it in the closet. When my first novel came out two years later, I gave copies to all three boys. Two of them have no idea where their copies are now. When my most recent novel came out, none of the boys wanted a copy. None of them even asked me what it's about.

But when that book came out, I did something I thought might actually interest them: I was interviewed by WGN Television.

I mentioned it to the boys at breakfast that morning as I put on my suit.

"Is it going to be on the Internet?" Sean asked.

"I'm not sure," I said. "I hope so. If not, I can probably post it on YouTube."

"Do you know how to do that?" Tommy asked.

"No. Do you?"

He just shook his head and continued eating his waffles. No follow up questions. Not the slightest bit of interest. After they came home from school I asked them if they wanted to watch the interview. All three of them said no. Bridget, to her credit, actually did want to see it when she came home from work. I even heard her guilting the boys into watching it too. Only two of them were moved by her techniques; Tommy and Sean. Johnny still didn't care. He stayed in his room reading Captain Underpants.

The rest of us watched the segment together. After it was over, Tommy said: "That's it?"

"Yup," I replied.

Sean didn't say a word, he just walked away. Bridget said: "That was pretty good, but..."


"You were a little slouchy."


I must say, there's very little chance of getting a big head in this household. I suppose that's probably for the best. But I also have a pretty good idea now how my Dad felt when I told him the hallways in his school were a little confusing.

Father Knows Nothing is here at Eckhartz Press for only $10, and the e-book here at

Monday, January 17, 2022

What the World Needs Now

I post this every year on MLK day. It's a great song from 1971, produced and written by Tom Clay.

RIP Les Grobstein

 So sad to hear this news. Chicago sportscaster Les Grobstein has passed away at the age of 69. Robert Feder has the details.

I worked with Les at the Loop, and always liked him. He was the sports guy on Steve and Garry's show for a while. They were brutal to him, but Les always took it with a grain of salt. I was working on getting him to agree to another interview just a month or two ago, and our schedules (he worked overnights) didn't line up to make it possible. 

I did interview Les for Chicago Radio Spotlight back in 2009. You can read the entire interview here.

Here is my favorite story from that interview...

Rick:  You were also one of the select few live witnesses to one of the most compelling moments in Chicago radio history. Tell me about the day that Larry Lujack burst into the Steve & Garry studio and challenged him to a fight. You were right there in the studio when it happened.

Les: I thought I was going to have to break up a fist fight. It was Thanksgiving eve, the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, and the office was almost totally empty. Steve was ripping Larry on the air, which he did nearly every day. Garry had a broken foot. Larry (photo) was hanging out at the station, which is something he did on occasion, long after his show was over.

Well, Larry walked into the studio and wished Steve & Garry a happy Thanksgiving. It was very tense. They went back and forth, and back and forth, and one of Steve’s kids was there, and he started crying. After that, Larry left. After Larry was gone, Steve said "If he ever comes back in here, I’ll break both of his legs."

Well, things continued in the days to come. I flew to Miami for the Dolphins-Bears game (1985), because Steve & Garry were doing the show from Miami Beach. I got a lot of Bears players live on the air with Steve and Garry. We had Fridge, Fencik, etc. So anyway, I'm doing a sportscast from there, and at the end of the sportscast, Larry came on from Chicago to say “Hey Les, did you hear about my new feature? It's called 'Whose afraid of the big fat pig? The truth about to Steve Dahl.' Needless to say, this got back to Steve.

So, we're back in the studio in Chicago, and I'm doing my sportscast, talking about the Bears, when all of a sudden the door opens and Larry comes in and my mic is still open and I say “Lar, why couldn't you do this when Jim Johnson was in here?” Of course, he came in while I was there on purpose because I was on both of their shows. Jim was a Steve & Garry partisan, but I wasn't allowed to choose sides.

Steve says “Larry get out.” But Larry says, "I heard what you said the other day, so I just wanted to see if you’re going to break both my legs before I throw your head through the wall." It wasn’t a bit. It wasn’t fake. Then Larry says he is going to promote his new feature, so Steve and Garry leave the studio, and Steve says "Let’s leave Mr. Insane alone in his insane world." Garry, who has a broken leg remember, hobbles out of the studio. Lujack sits down at the console and says "So, I guess I’m finishing the show. He said 'Les, we were talking about football, right?' I did the sign off and got the f*** out of there.

About ten minutes later three Chicago coppers got off the elevators and most of the employees were gone. I greeted the cops and they said they got a report that a riot had broken out at WLS, and I told them there was nothing to worry about.

The next morning I was in studio with Larry for what was supposed to be the "Whose afraid of the big fat pig" thing, but he didn't do it. He said that he and Steve had a nice chat and had resolved their differences. Of course, within two days Steve was ripping him again and the war stayed on for the rest of their time there.

Eckhartz Everyday


*On this day in 2012, Brendan Sullivan and I appeared on WGN-TV to promote our book The Living Wills (Still available here at Eckhartz Press). I wish I still had the video of that appearance, but I don't. I do, however, have a review from my wife who watched us being interviewed by Dina Bair. Despite our witty repartee and Dina's overt endorsement of the book, Bridget's review was this: "You looked a little slouchy."

*On this day in 2019, Eckhartz Press author Richard Reeder appeared on Rabbi Doug's television show in Chicago to promote his book 1001 Train Rides in Chicago. (Still available here at Eckhartz Press) It was like the meeting of two kindred spirits. That video does still exist, and you can watch it below. 

*Today is the birthday of America's first-ever Post Master General, Benjamin Franklin. Vicki Quade's Eckhartz Press Book Close Encounters of a Chicago Kind has an entire chapter about her entertaining encounters at a local Chicago post office. Hilarious, and highly recommended. Her book is still available here.

*Former Chicago Bull Dwayne Wade is celebrating a birthday today. D-Wade gets his own chapter in Randy Merkin's great Eckhartz Press book, Behind the Glass. That book was our top selling book this Christmas season and is still available here.