Saturday, June 18, 2022

Friday, June 17, 2022

Rock Radio

 I will definitely be there to cover this. From today's Robert Feder column...

Legendary DJs John Records Landecker and Tommy Edwards will reminisce about the golden age of rock radio when they headline a fundraiser for Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications August 14. “Rock Radio Revisited” will be hosted by Wendy Snyder at Ron Onesti’s Des Plaines Theater. (Here is the link for tickets.) Also appearing, according to the museum, will be Kris Erik Stevens, Bob Stroud, Connie Szerszen, Steve King, Gary Burbank, Cousin Brucie Morrow and Dyana Williams. “The heyday of rock radio in the ’60s and ’70s was centered around the booming personalities of DJs like Larry Lujack, John Records Landecker, Yvonne Daniels, Bob Sirott and Steve King,” David Plier, chairperson of the museum board, said in a statement. “Every city had their favorite local radio station and the voices behind them. This will be an incredible celebration of the personalities and music that made that era of rock and roll so memorable.”

Happy Birthday Eckhard Kaempfer

 Today would have been my father's 87th birthday. Unfortunately, he's not here to celebrate it with us. Dad passed away 33 years ago at the age of 54.

On the anniversary of his birth I thought it would be fun to go back to this story I wrote about his last Christmas on this earth (in 1988). It involves long-time Channel 7 anchorwoman Mary Ann Childers...

Why do I often think of a local Chicago news anchor when I think of my Dad?

It's a very odd story. I was the producer of the Steve and Garry show on WLUP, and we did a very special Christmas show one year--a full reading of the stage version of "A Christmas Carol" starring many local celebrities.

Among the celebrities present that day: Mary Ann Childers.

I don't remember what part Mary Ann played, but I remember that I cornered her backstage and asked her to do me a big favor. I told her that my father had a thing for her. He didn't say it was time to watch the news--he said it was time to watch Mary Ann. I asked if she would mind sending me an autographed picture of herself for Dad.

She seemed very flattered, but I really didn't expect her to do it. I figured she was a busy person and this was such a low priority that she probably wouldn't get around to it. That's probably why I was blown away when she sent me her promo picture with a personal note to my Dad saying... "It was a pleasure working with your son, Rick." The picture itself says "To Eckhard--Warmest Wishes for Christmas 1988. Mary Ann Childers."

I'll never forget how excited Dad was when he opened my present to him on Christmas Eve that year. I captured it on film...

Dad died six months later at the age of 54.

After he died I went to his office to clean out his things, and there she was, right in the middle of his desk: Mary Ann Childers. His co-workers told me that he joked with them about this picture all the time, saying that Mary Ann was his secret girlfriend.

Sunday is Father's Day. It's always a rough weekend for me. For the first twenty five years of my life, Father's Day weekend was a tribute to Dad. (And not just because it was Father's Day--it was his birthday too.) So, even now--thirty three years later, I struggle to enjoy Father's Day. I can't help thinking of Dad--and how much I miss him.

That's where Mary Ann Childers helps out.

When I don't want my sadness to ruin Father's Day for my kids, all I have to do is think of Mary Ann Childers. I remember how excited Dad was to get this picture from his "girlfriend," and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I've seen Mary Ann Childers a few times since Dad died--and I re-thanked her each time. Somehow I still don't think that's enough, so I'll say it again.

Thank You, Mary Ann.

One small gesture from you gave my Dad six months of enjoyment...and gave me thirty three years of comfort.

I'll never be able to repay you for that.

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Happy birthday to Chicago TV legend Tom Weinberg (WTTW). Tom wrote a fascinating book for us about his search for a lost city in Central America (Honduras to be exact). The book is called Chasing the Lost City. It includes some incredible photos like these below...

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Chili Dog Podcast

From the Writing Archives: Soweto


On this day in 1976, there was an uprising in Soweto against the Apartheid goverment of South Africa. I remember reading about it, and trying to wrap my head around the concept of a country that actually has laws in place discriminating against people strictly based on the color of their skin. 

I didn't get to visit the country until 2010, and by then the South African government was no longer run by the white minority. On the other hand, after encountering the living conditions in Soweto, the home of the uprising, I wondered how far they had actually come. My way of telling this story appeared in the pages of Shore Magazine later that year. It was my regular "A Fine Mess" column, and it was called "My Most Memorable Meal"...

I’ve always considered myself to be a food adventurer. My motto is this: I will try anything once.

Of course, that’s a much easier motto to live by when I’m in the United States. It really gets tested when I travel overseas. That’s where my palette has been challenged with a whole host of “maybe I better not ask what’s in this” food adventures.

In the process I’ve discovered some incredible dishes, and I’ve identified a few that will forever go on my “Do not order” list, but there was one meal that affected me more than any other. It was a meal I ate in June of 2010 when I was in South Africa for the World Cup.

My siblings and I went there together, and though we went primarily to see soccer games, we had our day-time hours free to explore. One day we decided to check out Soweto, the heartbreakingly poor neighborhood in Johannesburg. We drove by an endless array of five foot huts crammed side by side (each of which housed entire families). We walked through the square where the anti-Apartheid demonstrations took place a generation ago. And then, when we told him we were hungry, our guide took us to a local one-room dining establishment.

The “restaurant” was serving lunch buffet style. None of the food was labeled, and most of it was unidentifiable. There was one dish that came in a shade of yellowish-green that I hadn’t really seen in food before. My brother and I exchanged perplexed expressions, but we were careful not to offend our hosts.

As I always do, I tried a little bit of everything. The yellowish-green dish taste

d a bit strong (lots of spices masking whatever the main ingredient was), but I choked it down. I figured the beef dish would help me get the taste out of my mouth, so I saved that for last. When I started chewing it, I realized it wasn’t like any beef dish I had eaten before. The texture was almost indescribable.  It was a bit rubbery, but that’s not quite it. It was softer than that. It was more like a soggy brown chunk of un-chewable matter.

After one bite I knew I was in trouble. It was all I could do to hold it down, but I forced a smile on my face after I swallowed it, because our hosts were proudly watching us.

“Mmm, beef?” I asked.

The woman nodded.

“I wish I could eat more, but I’m absolutely stuffed.”

We effusively praised our hosts as we left the restaurant, got back into our van, and headed back toward the hotel.  As we were rumbling out of the neighborhood, I saw a sight that will never leave my mind.  A man was standing under a tent. He was holding a gigantic butcher knife in one hand, and swatting away flies with his other hand.  On the table in front of him was a cow’s head.

Just the head.

“What’s he doing?” my sister asked.

“He’s butchering the meat,” our guide told us. “This is the only kind of meat we can afford here, and we are so lucky when we get it. The local butchers don’t think it’s edible so they sell it to us for almost nothing, but as you know, it is quite delicious if it’s prepared correctly.”

None of us said a word.

 We knew we had just eaten cow’s brain, or eyes, or snout, but that wasn’t at all what we were thinking about. Until that moment, we hadn’t really grasped the reality of daily life in a place like this. We had heard about extreme poverty, and we had seen it, but until our lunch in Soweto, we had never tasted it.

 That’s a meal you can’t possibly forget.

Eckhartz Everyday


*On this day in 2021, Eckhartz Press author Margaret Larkin appeared on the John Landecker show on WGN Radio to promote her book Wicker Park Wishes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

On the Sox broadcast

 Chili Dog MVP was mentioned in the White Sox studio show (Ozzie Guillen & Chuck Garfien), and then also during the game (Steve Stone & Jason Benetti). Big thrill for us...

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?

*June 13 is Pigeon Appreciation Day. We once interviewed a Chicago alderman who didn't share that love of pigeons. He was more focused on the gigantic amount of poop they left behind. You can listen to that interview here.

*June 14 would have been Yes drummer Alan White's birthday. Alan passed away just a few weeks ago. We were lucky to interview him for our celebrity interview a few years ago. That interview is here.

*June 15, 1988, the movie Bull Durham opened nationally. We have the audio from one of that film's most iconic scenes. (AUDIO)

*June 18 would have been Roger Ebert's birthday. Our good friend Dane Placko has one of the most amusing Roger Ebert stories of all-time. He told it to us on our podcast a few years ago. Listen to that here.

Eckhartz Everyday


*On this day in 2020, Eckhartz Press author Janet Sutherland-Madden was featured in the Daily Herald about her book Nose Over Toes.

*Today would have been Chicago gangster Sam Giancano's birthday. Sam was featured in the Eckhartz Press book Mob Adjacent, written by the Gentile brothers.

*One of the all-time greatest Cubs, Billy Williams, is celebrating a birthday today. Of course, he's featured in the book EveryCubEver.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Kevin & Bob

When I worked at the Loop in the late 80s/early 90s on the Steve and Garry show, I got to work with radio legends. Not only the Hall of Famers I was producing. I was priviledged to be able to witness two additional legends in action every day as I prepared for our show. Bob Stroud was on the Loop FM spinning records with incredible style, and Kevin Matthews was down the hall creating unforgettable lunacy on the Loop AM. Super excited and proud that both of my friends are on the Radio Hall of Fame ballot this year. Both are deserving of the honor, for sure.
to Kevin and Bob!

Chicago Radio Ratings

 Thanks again to Robert Feder for posting these. For full daypart breakdown, click here.

1. WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 6.0 (5.7)
2. WVAZ 102.7-FM R&B, 5.4 (6.0)
3. WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 5.3 (5.1)
4. WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 4.8 (4.8)
5. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM all news, 4.7 (4.6)
6. WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 4.5 (3.6)
7. WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 3.9 (3.2)
8. WUSN 99.5-FM country, 3.7 (3.1)
9. (tie) WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 3.2 (3.7); WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 3.2 (3.8)
11. (tie) WGN 720-AM news talk, 3.0 (3.1); WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 3.0 (2.7)
13. WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 2.9 (3.3)
14. WCHI 95.5-FM rock, 2.8 (2.7)
15. (tie) WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 2.5 (2.9); WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 2.5 (2.4)
17. WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 2.4 (2.1)
18. WFMT 98.7-FM classical, 2.3 (2.6)
19. (tie) WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip-hop, 2.2 (2.3); WGCI 107.5-FM hip-hop, 2.2 (2.3); WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 2.2 (2.3)
22. WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 2.1 (2.0)
23. (tie) WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 1.9 (2.0); WPWX 92.3-FM hip-hop, 1.9 (1.3)
25. WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 1.5 (1.5)
26. WCKL 97.9-FM contemporary Christian music, 1.2 (1.2)
27. (tie) WLS 890-AM news talk, 1.0 (1.1); WSRB 106.3-FM R&B, 0.9 (0.8)
29. WXLC 102.3-FM hot adult contemporary, 0.9 (0.8)
30. WDCB 90.9-FM public radio jazz, 0.8 (0.8)

Eckhartz Everyday

*Today is Eckhartz Press author Lauren LoDiguice's birthday. Lauren is the world's best Melania Trump impersonator, and she wrote a book for us about her experience doing that impersonation. It's called Inside Melania.

*Today is also Boy George's birthday. He's featured in Bobby Skafish's Eckhartz Press book We Have Company

*On this day in 1949, former Cubs first baseman Eddie Waitkus was shot in Chicago by a deranged fan. That shooting would later inspire the book and movie The Natural. Naturally, it's also featured in the book EveryCubEver.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Media Interviews from the archives

 One of my regular jobs is writing about the media. I've been doing that now for over 30 years. Every now and I then I like to dip into the archives and feature a few of them.

*Today is Bill Turck's birthday. Bill is the current host of Chicago Writes: A Podcast by the Chicago Writer's Association. A few years ago I got a chance to interview Bill for Illinois Entertainer about his radio show and his very unique and interesting past. You can read that here.  Bill recently suffered a stroke and is going through a difficult period of rehab, so we send out our birthday and get well wishes to him.

*Former WGN agricultural reporter Max Armstrong is also celebrating a birthday today. I got a chance to interview Max in 2010 for Chicago Radio Spotlight. He has some great stories, which you can read here.

Eckhartz Everyday


*On this day in 2017, Eckhartz Press signed Mitch Michaels to write his memoir for us. "Doin the Cruise" came out later in the year. 

We signed the contract on the rooftop terrace of The London House. (Photo includes co-author Ken Churilla, Mitch, Dave and me)