A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…
*Well -wishes for Lin Brehmer
The WXRT midday man surprised his legion of fans with his announcement this week that he is taking a leave of absence to undergo chemotherapy for his prostate cancer, which has unfortunately spread. Here’s a little bit of his written announcement…
What can you do? Only this. Afford me the kindness you have always shown me. I will miss spending time with you every day, but hopefully, this too will pass and one day down the road, I will announce brightly on the airwaves of 93XRT, “It’s Friday. It’s Great to be Alive.”
You’d be hard pressed to find someone in Chicago media who is more respected than Brehmer. Many of Lin’s fellow broadcasters and friends responded with words of encouragement and affection. Add my name to the list.
Lin did me the honor of sitting down for an interview a few years ago (2018) for Illinois Entertainer. You can read that interview here.
*Robert Feder Exit Interview, Part 2 & 3
Last week I posted a link to Eric Zorn’s exit interview with former Daily Herald media critic/writer Robert Feder. (Neil Steinberg also posted an article about it.). Well, the article has apparently sparked controversy because Eric Zorn allowed Feder the right to look it over before he posted it. Eric defends himself here.
Axios Chicago’s Justin Kaufman and Monica Eng also posted a piece about why Feder’s absence leaves such a big hole in our town’s coverage.
*Bob Stroud Exit Interview
I had the good fortune to speak with Bob Stroud this week about his great career. Bob stepped away from daily radio WDRV duties at the end of June. He will be featured in my next Illinois Entertainer media column on August 1st. I’ve also posted the interview as a podcast, my 100th episode of Minutia Men Celebrity Interview. Listeners of the podcast will hear the bonus (embarrassing) story of the day I accidentally got trapped in Bob’s bathroom
*Disco Demolition Anniversary
July 12th marked the 43rd anniversary of Disco Demolition. As a former Steve & Garry producer (late 80s/early 90s), I’ve heard virtually everything there is to hear about this momentous radio promotion. I even interviewed Steve Dahl about it on the 40th anniversary. You can read that piece here. (Photo courtesy of Joe Callahan Jr.)
*Satellite Radio/Terrestrial Radio feud
It appears that the radio advertising board got a little ticked off when they saw this ad from XM/Sirius.
According to Radio Ink, the RAB responded with this angry e-mail:
“Negative advertising, selling products or services by putting the competition down, is a marketing strategy that demonstrates a lack of strength in the product or service as a standalone. In the case of SiriusXM, when taking a look at their most recent earnings report, it’s no wonder their strategy was to go after the undisputed leader in the audio space, AM/FM broadcast radio.”
Then NAB CEO Curtis Leyget also chimed in…
“As the most-listened-to audio platform, broadcast radio is no stranger to our competitors’ envy of the popularity and connection we enjoy with Americans. That’s why SiriusXM’s new marketing campaign taking direct aim at local radio should come as no surprise.”
These two related industries have always had a strange relationship. I was working in radio when the main satellite radio stations debuted and was absolutely shocked that terrestrial radio allowed satellite radio to advertise. At that time, terrestrial radio wasn’t worried, and didn’t consider it competition. I argued then, and argue now, that they should have known better.
*Tackling Mis-information Just Got a Little Harder
Inside Radio reports an appellate court in DC has struck down the bipartisan FCC attempt to stop propaganda from Russia or China from appearing on our airwaves. Broadcasters had fought back that it required too much investigation on their part (even though a database of registered foreign agents was provided to cross-check any outside source of material). The judge agreed with the broadcasters.
“Because the FCC has no authority to impose that verification requirement, we vacate that facet of its order,” wrote D.C. Circuit Judge Justin Walker. “We hold that the FCC cannot require radio broadcasters to check federal sources to verify sponsors’ identities.”
*Julian Tries Out Politics
From the RAMP newsletter…
Last week legendary longtime Chicago DJ/businessman Julian "Jumpin" Perez announced his departure from radio and promised to keep us posted on what he described as his "next chapter" -- yesterday, Perez made good on that promise and announced his entrance into the exciting world of Chicago politics and his candidacy for Alderman of Chicago's 26th ward.
Several of the media figures I’ve interviewed over the years are celebrating birthdays this week. Click on their names to read the original interviews. The year I interviewed them is in parenthesis.
My two favorite shows, Ted Lasso & Succession, lead the pack with 20 and 25 nominations respectively. The full list of Emmy nominees can be found here.
*Elon Musk Backs Out Of Twitter Purchase
And is immediately sued by Twitter. There are some stories that make you say, ‘I never saw that coming’, and then there are stories like this one. Everyone saw it coming. Musk was apparently so unconcerned he posted a series of mocking memes on Twitter. More details about the lawsuit are here via the Washington Post:
*Media Trust Reaches No Low
Publishers Daily has this rather unwelcome news for people working in the media:
Trust in media is lower in the United States than any other place in the world, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2022, a global study released in June. Finland has the highest level of trust at 69%, while the U.S. has fallen three percentage points to 26%, the study notes. In addition, people are less interested in news in general. In the U.S., 47% say they are interested, which is down from 67% in 2015. Of a selected group of countries, only the UK fares worse, with interest dropping from 70% in 2015 to 43%.
*New Documentary About the Song American Pie
The RAMP Newsletter reports…
The Day The Music Died: The Story Of Don McLean's American Pie will have a special Academy-qualifying run in New York City and Los Angeles and will screen in Showcase Cinemas and associated theaters globally on July 17 before it premieres on Paramount+ on July 19.
Of course, any Chicago radio fan who was around in 1972 already knows the story told in the song American Pie. Former WCFL disc jockey Bob Dearborn became famous for his analysis, which can now be found online here. Impress your friends and relatives.
The January 6th hearings are having an impact on the lawsuit Dominion Voting Systems filed against Fox News. Former Attorney General William Barr testified to J-6 committee that he believed that there was no basis for believing the voting machines had been tampered with. Obviously, that’s been Dominion’s point all along. Having a former AG testify could bolster an already strong case.
*YouTube-TV Now Has 5 Million Subscribers
The chord-cutting continues. According to the Hollywood Reporter, it took YouTube only five years to reach that mark and puts them ahead of Hulu (4.1 million) and Sling (2.25 million).
*If you have any media news to share, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 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)