Saturday, July 09, 2022

The next prime minister

RIP James, Larry, and Tony

RIP to these three great actors that we lost this week. First time I remember crying at a movie. The great James Caan... The immortal Agarn from F-Troop, Larry Storch... And my favorite character in the Sopranos, Paulie Walnuts, Tony Sirico...

Friday, July 08, 2022

Media Notebook--7/8/22



A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…




*Daily Herald media critic/writer Robert Feder stepped down last week after more than 40 years on the media beat. That’s a big loss for the local media community. Everyone, and I mean everyone, read him. I’ve always wanted to interview him, but he always politely declined over the years. Now that he’s stepping away from the beat, however, he did do this interview with his old friend and rival Eric Zorn (Read the whole interviewhere). I thought this was the most interesting quote, about what a successor (if any) should write about…

“I can't imagine they would focus on radio as much as I did. Radio has a declining role in the market. My daughter doesn’t even listen to radio. I’m sure your kids don’t, either. You could probably say the same about TV news and print newspapers. I would think the coverage in the future would be more about digital, about nonprofit newsrooms, about streaming, about new financial models, about all these new platforms that matter now.”

*Local Chicago radio and television showed their worth this past week with their coverage of the shooting in Highland Park. Despite the small weekend staffs, radio stations like WBBM-AM and WGN-AM did a fantastic job of covering the story. The national trade publication Radio Ink spoke with WGN Radio’s Sean Compton about their coverage. Here is what they wrote:

Like many other businesses WGN had a skeleton crew in place due to the long 4th of July holiday weekend. Once in place Compton says the radio team went live to cover the local press conferences, interview people at the scene and take calls from listeners and Chicago officials. Compton said, “it’s what we do. It’s the business we’re in.” The station had been playing a best-of talk show at the time of the shooting. Host Jon Hansen took over live after the 90 minutes of coverage from WGN-TV.

The Daily Herald’s Jim O’Donnell also talked to long-time Chicago television producer and host Mike Leiderman about his hometown of Highland Park. Jim’s piece is here


*Julian “Jumpin” Perez steps away from radio. From Friday’s RAMP newsletter: Longtime Chicago mix-master extraordinaire, Julian "Jumpin" Perez, whose four-decade Windy City radio career has taken him to WGCIWVAZ (V103)B96 (twice), WKSC (103.5 Kiss FM), and WBMX (104.3 Jams), to name just a few, announced his departure from radio and his intention to "start his next chapter."


*Media Monitor released their list of the top radio advertisers in the country. #1 right now is Indeed. I haven’t seen the list for top podcast advertisers, but if Athletic Greens is not on the list, I’d be shocked. I hear their ads on virtually all the podcasts I listen to (and I listen to a lot of them).

*Lewis Black is suing Pandora. The music streaming giant also has spoken word content, and if this lawsuit is to be believed, they haven’t been ponying up the royalties. From Billboard:
Pandora is facing yet another lawsuit claiming it has failed to pay legally-required royalties for comedy, this time by from comedian Lewis Black. In a complaint filed Thursday (July 7) in California federal court, attorneys for Black said Pandora “took and exploited his works solely to make themselves money while knowing it had no license and had not paid, and would not be paying, royalties to Lewis Black.” The case is the latest in a string of lawsuits filed by comics, including the estates of George Carlin and Robin Williams, who say Pandora is violating copyright law by refusing to pay the equivalent of publishing royalties for spoken-word content.

*In my opinion, the best podcast in the world the past few years has been Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast. I never missed it. The network has continued re-posting old episodes since Gilbert passed away a few months ago, but they have never had an episode with his co-host Frank looking back on his time doing the show with Gilbert. I wish they would. In the meantime, if you are a Sirius/XM subscriber, you can hear the last long form interview Gilbert gave. The RAMP Newsletter reports:

SiriusXM announced the release of a special installment of its audio documentary series, which will fondly remember comic legend Gilbert Gottfried, who passed away on April 12 at 67. Obsessive Comedy Disorder: Boomers - The Gilbert Gottfried Is Dead Special debuted yesterday on Comedy Greats Channel 94. In what is believed to be the last long-form interview done with the voice that became comedy gold, this 90-minute conversation is an expansive and hilarious deep dive into the mind and memories of one of comedy's most brilliant and unique talents. It was February 13, 2020, when Obsessive Comedy Disorder producer and host Dan Pasternack got together with Paul Provenza, director of the hilariously profane cult comedy The Aristocrats, to interview Gottfried about his experiences leading up to and during the comedy boom of the '80s.


*The Joe Rogan podcast was in the news again this week. And it wasn’t even for something that happened on his podcast. It’s for what has not happened on his podcast. Despite having the reputation of being pro-Trump (probably because of his anti-vax and/or mask views), Media-Ite reported that Rogan said the following on a podcast hosted by Lex Friedman:

“I’m not a Trump supporter in any way, shape or form. I’ve had the opportunity to have him on my show more than once — I’ve said no, every time. I don’t want to help him,” Rogan revealed. “I’m not interested in helping him.”


 *A few local Chicago radio folks are celebrating birthdays this week. (The year I interviewed them in parenthesis, interview at the link.)

July 6—Nick Digilio (2022)

July 6—Steve Touhy (2008)

July 7—John Gehron (2009)

July 9—(the late) Dick Orkin (2012) 


*For my old Loop pals…

=Former WLUP program director Jack Silver was in the news this week. He was one of the victims of the Cumulus/Westwood One “reorganization”. The RAMP Newsletter had the news:

Jack Silver joined the company in July 2012, after programming Cumulus News-Talk KABC-AM and Classic Rock KLOS/Los Angeles. Silver previously served as a programming and air talent consultant, but is probably best known for his 11 years with CBS Radio Los Angeles, where he was VP of FM Talk Programming and PD of KLSX until it flipped to Top 40 as KAMP (97.1 AMP) in Feb. 2009. He can be reached at

=15 years ago…July 8, 2007—my Dave Benson interview 

=3 years ago…our memorial for Chet Coppock in Arlington Heights 




*I don’t quite understand this move, but TV Newser reported it this week:  ABC News correspondent Kaylee Hartung is reportedly leaving the news outlet to join Amazon as the streamer’s first-ever Thursday Night Football sideline reporter.

*Attention soccer fans. The Associated Press reported this news for those of us who can’t get enough soccer on television/streaming: Streaming service Amazon will broadcast some live Champions League games in Britain for the first time when the competition expands in 2024. Amazon said Friday it secured rights to the top pick of the Tuesday games each week from the new expanded league stage through to the semifinals — a total of 16 each season — for the three years from 2024-27.


*The billion dollar lawsuit against Fox News for its reporting during the election aftermath now has a local Chicago angle. The LA Times reports: Fox News has hired veteran trial attorney Dan Webb to lead its defense against a defamation suit by Dominion Voting Systems over false claims made during the channel’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election…Webb, co-chairman of the Chicago-based firm Winston & Strawn, replaces Chip Babcock, a Houston-based litigator who specializes in First Amendment cases. Webb‘s appointment is an indication that Fox News expects to go to trial in the Dominion case, in which the voting systems company is seeking $1.6 billion in damages.


*If you have any media news to share, e-mail Rick Kaempfer is the media critic/writer for Illinois Entertainer and has written three books about the media, The Radio Producer’s Handbook (co-written with John Swanson), $everance (a satirical novel about broadcasting), and Records Truly Is My Middle Name (co-written with John Records Landecker). Rick also worked in radio for 20+ years at the Loop (WLUP AM/FM) and WJMK (Oldies 104.3)

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2017, Eckhartz Press author Bill Paige appeared on WGN radio with Bill & Wendy to discuss his book Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars.

Thursday, July 07, 2022


I lived in Germany in 1977 and we came home to Chicago for Christmas. That's the first time I heard of Styx. I bought this album, and brought it back to Germany to play for my friends there. We all became huge fans. To me, this song is the masterpiece on the album. At least it spoke to me in 1977...

Happy Birthday Ringo!

 I was asked to write about some of my favorite Steve & Garry memories a few years ago, and I listed my top 5 experiences. (You can read all five of them here). This one came in at #2. The day I talked to an actual Beatle...birthday boy Ringo Starr....

#2 The Ringo Starr Interview
Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh was in the studio promoting his appearance with Ringo's All-Star Band. Steve asked Joe if he could get Ringo on the air, and Joe handed me the number to Ringo's hotel room. As a fanatic Beatle-maniac, I was stricken with fear. After a mild panic attack in the producer's room, I made the call. He was actually very nice to me on the phone, and agreed to come on the show. My conversation couldn't have lasted more than thirty seconds, but I remember every word of it. When he finally got on the air, he noticed he was on delay. He told Steve & Garry that it hurt him that they didn't trust him and demanded that they take the delay off before he continued the interview. When they followed his orders dutifully, he made sure he was on the air live, before blurting out: "SHIT!" Today that would have cost the station $325,000. In 1989, it was hilarious.

Ringo later showed up at the station for a nationwide interview (for a show called "Rockline"), and I got his autograph. It's something I will treasure forever.

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Famous Chicago mobster Jackie Cerone was born on this day. He is featured prominently in the Eckhartz Press book Mob Adjacent by the Gentile Brothers.

*White Sox great Bill Melton is also celebrating a birthday today. The second most prominent member of the 1972 White Sox is a big part of the book Chili Dog MVP.

*Radio executive John Gehron's birthday is today too. He is a contributor to Records Truly is My Middle Name, providing some great stories about Landecker from his WLS days.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

A Momentous Day

From the Writing Archives--George W. Bush

 Today is former president George W. Bush's birthday. Way back in 2006, I wrote this piece for Father Knows Nothing about the then-current president of the United States. It was a simpler time, before the onset of 24-hour FU politics...

When you’re a little kid, there’s really nobody in the world more impressive than the President of the United States. It doesn’t matter what your parent’s political affiliations are, the President is in charge of this whole country. If you aren’t impressed by that, you aren’t easily impressed. I guess my oldest son Tommy isn’t easily impressed.

I’ll let you judge for yourself if he is a fan of the current President. When I took him into the voting booth with me (as part of his Cub Scout requirement) in November of 2004, he was aghast when he thought I had voted for him. He screamed it—“Dad, I think you accidentally voted for George Bush!”

I smiled weakly at the old people voting alongside me in my staunchly Republican district. Tommy wouldn’t let it go. “Dad, you better ask for another ballot.”

I said “Don’t worry, Tommy.”

I’m not going to tell you if Tommy saw it correctly or not, because that’s why we have secret ballots. My Dad hammered that into my head every election day. I would ask him who he voted for, and he would say; “None of your business.” (All part of the touchy-feely German love we shared at my house). In this case, though, I think he was right. Don’t insist on your son believing in certain politics, let him find his own way in the world. If your party of choice can’t convince him, they don’t deserve his vote.

I’ve tried to follow the same model with my kids. As a humor writer, I’m admittedly always going to be poking more fun at people in power than those not in power, but other than the occasional joke—I try very hard not to get into “I’m right, you’re wrong” politics with my kids. There is no reason to make this into one of those “if you don’t believe what I believe, you can’t live under my roof” kind of homes. I learned my lesson about the effectiveness of that strategy when my rabid-Cubs love inadvertently turned my baby brother into a White Sox fan.

Which brings me to my middle son, Johnny. Johnny is a traditional kid. He respects authority. He loves the President. In fact, he thinks the President is just about the most impressive person in the world. I’ve actually seen him clap when Bush appeared on television. It’s kind of cute.

The morning after the presidential election, the first thing Johnny asked me was: “Who won, Dad?”

I said; “George Bush”

He clapped, then raised his hands in the air triumphantly, screaming “Yeah!”

Tommy hung his head. He asked: “Was it legitimate this time?”

I said: “Looks like it.”

Johnny clapped again and said; “I can’t wait until I’m an eagle scout.”

Tommy and I looked at each with confused expressions. “Why is that Johnny?” I asked.

“Because then I can write a letter to the President!”

Someone along the way had obviously told Johnny that writing a letter to the President was among the perks of being an Eagle. When I mentioned to him that he didn’t have to wait until becoming an Eagle, he was so excited he went downstairs and wrote it immediately. Keep in mind that he was in 1st grade at the time, and was just beginning to learn how to write. This is what he wrote:

“Dear Mr. President: My name is Johnny. I’m 6 ½ years old. I have 2 brothers. Their names are Tommy and Sean. I like your job a lot. I’m only a Tiger Cub Scout. Well, that’s not all, Mr. President. I hope you have a nice day today. You’re my fav! From Johnny Kaempfer”

I love that letter.

I got the address to the White House and made him address the letter himself, figuring there was a better chance of getting a response if the envelope was clearly addressed by a little kid. For the next few weeks, every day after school Johnny would ask me if the President had written him back yet. I could see the disappointment in his eyes when I told him he hadn’t. I told him that the President receives millions of letters, and he can’t possibly answer all of them.

A few months later a big manila envelope arrived with the return address: THE WHITE HOUSE. I must admit, I was shocked. Johnny set his own personal vertical jump record (about three inches—Kaempfers can’t jump) when I showed it to him.

“Oh boy!”

I helped him open it. It was picture of George and Laura Bush, and a letter addressed to Johnny. Here is what the letter says:

“Dear Johnny,

Thank you for writing. I always enjoy hearing from young Americans. During this important time in our history, you can help America by setting high goals, working hard in school, and helping others in your community. Our country needs your idealism, hope, and energy.

I also encourage you to strive to learn something new every day. You can read more about issues that interest you, current events, and the history of our country by visiting your library or by logging onto the White House websites, and By understanding the events of today and learning more about our past, you can become a responsible citizen and help make the world a better place.

Mrs. Bush and I send our best wishes for your future success.


George W. Bush”

So, while most kids happily just took the day off for President's Day, I had one in this house who actually celebrated the holiday. His older brother didn’t. I agree with one of them more than the other, but is there a reason to pick sides? It’s not like it’s important. This isn’t like the Cubs-White Sox issue. One side isn’t always right, and the other side isn’t always wrong.

The only certainty is that both of them are wrong sometimes. To think otherwise kills your sense of humor. Look at what it’s done to Dennis Miller and Al Franken. Those guys used to be funny.

Raising a Democrat (Tommy), a Republican (Johnny), and an Independent (Sean) is just fine with me, because they'll realize there is more than one perspective in the world.

Raising a humorless kid?

I don't think I could ever forgive myself.

Editor's Note: Two of the boys (Johnny & Sean) became Eagle Scouts, and neither received a letter from the president. Johnny did receive one from Joe Biden, who was the Vice President at the time.

Eckhartz Everyday

*July 6 is Sylvester Stallone's birthday. There's a great story about Sly in John Landecker's book Records Truly Is My Middle Name.

*On this day in 2017, Eckhartz Press author Bill Paige (Everything I Know I Learned from Rock Stars)  returned a record to a library in Arlington Heights...30 years late. The Daily Herald took notice.

*On this day in 1932, Chicago Cubs shortstop Billy Jurges was shot by a crazed fan. That story, naturally, is covered in some detail in the book EveryCubEver.

*Today is also Paige Wiser's birthday. Paige, a gifted writer in her own right (formerly with the Chicago Sun Times and Windy City Live), has blurbed two books for us. This is what she said about Kim Strickland's Down at the Golden Coin...“Down at the Golden Coin” couldn’t be more timely or original, with the most eccentric spiritual guide since Clarence the Angel. Prepare to set your set your brain to spin-cycle.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Illinois Entertainer--Rich King

The July issue of @ie_entertainer is out and features my interview with sportscaster/author Rich King

What He Said

Eckhartz Everyday

*July 5 is baseball Hall of Famer Goose Gossage's birthday. Goose wrote the Foreword to the Eckhartz Press book Chili Dog MVP, and rates a chapter in Randy Merkin's book Behind the Glass, but he is also featured in EveryCubEver.

*July 5th is Robby Robertson's birthday. Robertson is featured in Bobby Skafish's book We Have Company.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Minutia Men--Live from the COVID ward

 Our latest podcast is out now. Listen to it here.

Dave has COVID, but the trooper still manages to perform for this episode. Rick and Dave discuss sexy garbage cans, nude pickleball, Todd Rundgren, the Pope's views on ironing, Alexa using dead relatives' voices, plus a brush with greatness story about Arno Stefffenhagen.

Think Fast