Saturday, August 20, 2022

Minutia Men--Springer on Springs

 The latest episode of Minutia Men dropped today. It's a good one. Listen to it here.

Japanese drinking, Embarrassing injuries, a celebrity story about Woodstock, Dive bar ice cream, long hair, and a story about Jerry Springer in a bed store. [Ep281]

More Barry Butler Magic

Free Kicks--The Fighting Managers

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

Chelsea & Tottenham managers fight on the sidelines, Manchester United sinks to the bottom of the table, and another Uruguayan Liverpool striker gets red-carded. Just another great weekend in the Premier League. Adam and Rick discuss. [Ep158]

Talkin 'Bout My Generation Launch Party

 A few photos from Thursday night's successful launch party of Talking Bout My Generation in Mt. Prospect. Congrats to author Will Wagner on such a fun night.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Media Notebook--8-19-22


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


*Audacy “Cost” Savings

=The writing has been on the wall for some time that Audacy is going to be making some cuts. Just to be very clear, that means firing people. Their stock price is below a dollar, and they are projecting a downturn in profits that will make the situation even worse. The promised 5% cut in work force has begun. In Milwaukee and Las Vegas, they eliminated all of the airstaff on the sports-talk stations. All of them. Going fully syndicated now. In Seattle, they eliminated former Chicago jock John Fisher (WMET, WLUP, WCKG) from the morning show. Cuts have been announced in several other markets as well, including Austin, Denver, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, St. Louis, and Washington DC. (Details here).

=In Chicago, Audacy owns WBBM-AM, WBBM-FM, WUSN-FM, WXRT-FM, WSCR-AM, and WBMX-FM. Obviously tensions are running high at all of those stations. No announcements yet.

=Here’s what John Fisher wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday…

Today was my last day on the air at 94.1 The Sound. When they asked me at the beginning of 2018 to help launch their new station and play Lionel Richie and Celine Dion songs, I thought they were kidding. But I learned so much, I worked with so many bright, committed people who put The Sound on the map, and I met a ton of fantastic listeners. It was a thrill and a pleasure. On to the next thing!

=John was the first interviewee for my site Chicago Radio Spotlight 15 years ago. That mini-interview is here if you’re interested. 

*Pat Foley to do Cubs Play-by-Play

=It’s only for one day (this coming Tuesday/6 innings on the radio/3 on TV), but it helps fulfill a lifelong dream for Pat. Jeff Agrest has the details in the Chicago Sun Times. 

=To get a better idea of how deep Pat Foley’s Cub Roots run, listen to this great interview of Pat done by George Ofman on a recent Tell Me A Story I Don’t Know podcast. He talks about his dad, and former Cubs announcer Jack Quinlan, and how that Cubs connection propelled his entire career. 


*Joe Girardi to join Cubs booth

=Former Cub catcher (and Yankees/Marlins/Phillies manager) Joe Girardi has signed with the Marquee Network to join Boog & Jim in the booth for some upcoming games this season. ESPN has the story this morning.

*Congratulations to WBEZ

=The 2022 Edward R. Murrow awards were announced this week and WBEZ (NPR in Chicago) took home two of them. One for Hard News and one for Investigative Reporting, both of them for their coverage of the Chicago lifeguard sexual abuse story.


*Rock Radio Revisited

=A who’s who of Chicago Rock Radio from the 60s and 70s turned out this past weekend at the Des Plaines Theater. In case you missed it, here’s my review. Includes lots of photos.


*Top 50 Nationally in Cume

=For the uninitiated, Cume refers to the total number of different persons who tune in to a radio station during the course of a daypart for at least five minutes. Radio Insight published the top 50 in the country (for July) and not surprisingly, several Chicago stations are on that list.

=All of these stations have a cume over a million, and are ranked among the top 50 nationwide: WLIT-FM, WDRV-FM, WLS-FM, WTMX-FM, WKSC-FM, WBBM-FM, WSHE-FM

=Just behind them, still in the top 50, but not quite at the million mark…WUSN-FM, WKQX-FM


*A Podcast About the Podcasting Industry

=Talk about Meta. A new podcast about the podcasting industry debuted this week. It’s called Podcasting By the Numbers, and it’s hosted by Gary Spurgeon. Radio Ink has the details. 


*Podcast Ratings

=Podcast Business Journal has the listings of the top 20 podcasts in America. Joe Rogan is in first place and is joined on the list by NPR staples like This American Life, NPR News Now, Money First, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Up First and Fresh Air, along with the political podcasts Ben Shapiro, Pod Save America, and Dan Bogino. One of my personal faves, Smartless, is also on the list.


*Garry Meier tease/bonus

=My next Illinois Entertainer column will be an interview with Garry Meier. The September issue comes out on September 1st, but here’s a bonus portion of the interview that didn’t make the final cut of the article. Garry told me the story about how a monarch butterfly indirectly led him to pursue the radio business…

“In 1969 Larry Lujack was on WLS and I found his style to be akin to what my style would be if I ever did radio. He often talked about reincarnation and that he wanted to come back as a butterfly. One day, there was a dead monarch butterfly on the ground, and I immediately thought about sending it to Larry along with a note that said, ‘I think I killed your uncle.’ He had this feature called Clunk Letter of the Day, and three days after I sent the letter, a friend rushed into the pharmacy where I was working and said, ‘I think Lujack is going to read your letter. He just teased that he got a butterfly from an idiot in Oak Forest.’ I immediately knew that I was that idiot. I asked the pharmacist to turn off the beautiful music station and turn on WLS. Sure enough, I was waiting on customers and I heard Larry’s voice say, ‘This idiot in Oak Forest sent me a dead butterfly’ and then he read my letter on the air. I got a chubby. Oh man, my material was on the air, and it was being done by a guy I really admired. That was an important moment for me. I always kept it in the back of my head. After American Graffiti, Wolfman Jack became another idol. I went to broadcasting school after that. Just to bookend the story, at the end of my time at the Loop, on my last day there, you know what I saw on the ground outside the Hancock? A dead butterfly. And I also worked at the same station as Lujack in the 80s, and he hated me. He threatened to punch me in the face live on the air. So it really does come full circle, doesn’t it?”


*RIP Chuck Benson

=Sorry I missed this news a few weeks ago. Legendary Chicago broadcaster Chuck Benson passed away on July 26th. Chuck was a pioneer in Top 40 radio in Chicago, working at WIND, WMAQ, and WFYR. His obituary tells the whole story of this impressive man’s career. 


*Barry Butler and Tony Fitzpatrick

=Barry Butler has been a broadcasting executive in Chicago for years (currently with Hubbard in Chicago), but he has another side to him that is becoming quite famous. Barry’s photographs of Chicago are simply the best I’ve ever seen. Block Club Chicago has the details about Barry’s exhibit, currently on display at Navy Pier. 

=Tony Fitzpatrick has been a well-known voice on Chicago radio for decades and is a frequent contributor to Joan Esposito’s show on WCPT, but his day job has always been artist. Here’s the poster for his upcoming showing…

*Ken Levine proclaims terrestrial radio dead

=Ken is no ordinary media pundit. He’s one of the all-time greatest television writers, a baseball announcer, and a self-described radio geek. To find out what led him to this rather drastic opinion, click on his blog.


*Former Chicago Radio alert

=Bart Shore, the former Chicago radio traffic reporter, has retired to North Carolina. If you thought that also meant the end of his radio career, you are wrong.


The following Chicago media pros are celebrating birthdays this week. If you’d like to read my interviews with them, click on their names. The year I interviewed each of them is listed in parenthesis.


*August 15, Axios Chicago’s Justin Kaufmann (2012) 

*August 18, ESPN Radio’s John Jurkovic (2008) 

*August 19, WXRT’s Lin Brehmer (2018) 

=Here's the latest on Lin's health. From his Facebook page...

 Quick update: 2 rounds of chemotherapy under my belt. The first coincided with a nasty lung infection that put me in the hospital for 5 days. Followed closely by a fracture of my femur and surgery to put a rod in my leg to stabilize my leg. Been at home last couple weeks dealing with post op pain in my leg. But overall I am maintaining. I should add the nurses at Northwestern are a rare breed of sensitivity, good humor, and professionalism. I will never forget how well I was treated during all this drama. I have a long way to go and I have been overwhelmed, truly, by your love and support. So thank you. GTBA-Lin

*August 19 Newsman/Blueman Buzz Kilman (2009) 

*August 19, former WLUP/WCKG producer/writer BrendanSullivan (2012) 




*Edward R. Murrow Award

=The investigative reporting team at WBBM-TV (Channel 2) brought home an Edward Murrow award this week. Dave Savini announced the news on his LinkedIn page…

            My team just won the National Edward R Murrow award for our investigative series on a ten-year-old girl raped and trafficked out of a hotel in Chicago while DCFS and CPD looked the other way. One rape kit had a match on a registered child predator who was free but CPD sat on the results for five months until we exposed it all!


*Hollywood Critics Association Awards for Television and Streaming

=Award season is beginning in Hollywood, and the HCA announced their winners this week. See the full list of winners here. Among them, Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, Bob Odenkirk, Norm MacDonald, and of course, The Beatles.


*Streaming now beating cable TV

=I’m not surprised by this news at all. Variety has the details. And these numbers don't even include people who stream on tablets or computers. The numbers are likely even higher.


*Big Ten’s New TV Deal

=The Big Ten has already cashed in after adding USC and UCLA. This week they signed the richest TV deal in College Sports. It’s a multi-billion-dollar mega-deal. The Washington Post has the full story. 


*John Owens moves to Channel 7

=John is the president for the Midwest/Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and an acclaimed published author (Chili Dog MVP). He had also been working for Weigel broadcasting. As of this week he is now a multi-platform program producer for ABC-7 in Chicago.


*Mark Knutsen moves to Channel 5

=Knutsen has moved across town from Channel 7 to Channel 5 (WMAQ-TV) to become the VP of Multi-Platform Content. Adweek has the details about his new position. 

*Weigel Signs New Multi-Year Agreement with IHSA

=The announcement came this week that the two entities would continue their association.

            “We are beyond excited to partner with Weigel Broadcasting to continue the tradition of televising the IHSA Football, Girls Basketball, and Boys Basketball State Finals,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Weigel has deep roots in covering IHSA sports and clearly values the community aspects surrounding high school sports that make them so special. I am confident that Weigel’s vision will serve our viewers well and we are eager to kick off the partnership with the IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show in October.”


*Nexstar Buys the CW

=On Monday, Nexstar (which owns WGN radio and television locally) agreed to purchase 75% of the CW. Adweek has the details here. 


*When Politics/Comedy/Television collide

=It’s not often that a politician hosts a late-night talk show. Of course, Al Franken isn’t an ordinary politician. This is a pretty good effort filling in for Jimmy Kimmel this week…


*Alex Wagner’s show debuts on MSNBC

=Rachel Maddow has officially stepped down from hosting her nightly show on MSNBC. Ever since this past Tuesday, Alex Wagner fills that role every Tues-Friday (Maddow remains on Monday nights). The Washington Post has more on this new show. 


*Brian Stelter’s Show Reliable Sources canceled

=I’m really starting to see why nobody else appears to be jumping into this media-beat frying pan. The only show on cable television that was about the media, Reliable Sources, has been canceled. Host Brian Stelter is leaving CNN. has the story. 




*Comic Book Awards

=I’m not into the comic book world, but I’m told that winning a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award is a big deal. It turns out that we have such a winner living right here in our city. Block Club Chicago has the story about Chicago’s very own Iron Circus.


*ChicagoNow's demise

=Jimmy Greenfield was the man behind ChicagoNow, a blog run by the Chicago Tribune. This past week it met it's permanent demise. Jimmy had some thoughts on the matter, via his Facebook page...

    There were signs that ChicagoNow was ending. The guy who had been overseeing it since I left in 2017 announced one day in late June that he was leaving the company and somebody from the Tribune would get in touch. Nobody ever did.
The bloggers who had stuck together all these years -- some for over a decade -- weren't dumb. They had organized to get the word out amongst themselves that if you wanted to keep your content then you better move it because it could all disappear at any moment.
Still, I don't think anybody really expected the Tribune to first begin to unpublish posts critical of the Tribune, and then just kill the whole site. The Tribune never reached out, never responded and never gave anybody an opportunity to take their content with them before taking it offline. Nobody can access the back end of the WordPress-hosted platform. It's all gone.
What an awful thing to do.

RIP ChicagoNow, and F Alden Global Capital.

*Media Job Board

=Just in case you didn’t know this was out there, your future media employer might be looking for you here. It’s being run by Poynter, Editor & Publisher, and America’s Newspapers.

If you have any media stories (Chicago or national) that you think I might like to share in future columns, feel free to drop me a line at or

Minutia Men Celebrity Interview--Chicago Tour Guide Mike McMains

 Our latest interview episode has dropped. You can listen to it here.

Mike McMains does a few truly memorable walking tours of Chicago including an Ugly Buildings tour, and an Underground Chicago tour (with rats!). Rick and Dave chat about those tours and their hometown of Chicago.  [Ep101]

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Happy birthday to Eckhartz Press author Brendan Sullivan. Brendan is the co-author (with me) of the first ever book released by Eckhartz Press, The Living Wills.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Meanest Review Ever

 The New York Times review of Jared Kushner's book is about as brutal as any review I've ever seen. Read the whole thing here. Here's a little clip of it...

“This book is like a tour of a once majestic 18th-century wooden house, now burned to its foundations, that focuses solely on, and rejoices in, what’s left amid the ashes: the two singed bathtubs, the gravel driveway and the mailbox. Kushner’s fealty to Trump remains absolute. Reading this book reminded me of watching a cat lick a dog’s eye goo.”

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2018, Bill Paige had a book signing for Everything I Know I Learned from Rock Stars in Austin, Texas. Here are a few photos from that event...

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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?

*August 14 is David Crosby's birthday. We had comedian Mike Toomey on the show and he told us what it was like opening for Crosby, Stills & Nash. (Listen to the interview here)

*August 15, 1969 was the first day of the famous Woodstock Festival. Essra Mohawk was there and explained to us what it was like. (Full interview here)

*August 15 is playwright (and author) Vicki Quade's birthday. The woman is famous for nun-comedy, and we had her on the show to talk about it. (Listen to the interview here)

*August 16 is Elvis' death day. One of our former guests, Danny Bonaduce, starred in a movie with Elvis and told us that story. (Listen to the interview here)

*August 16, 1996, Brookfield Zoo gorilla Binti Jua saved a little boy who fell in her cage. I wrote a song about that (Binti You Are a Hero), and it was performed by Landecker & The Legends (AUDIO)

*August 16, 1999, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire debuted. Little Tommy Kaempfer (age 4) played a version of the game with his dad. (AUDIO)

*August 17, 1991, Ebony & Ivory debuted on the Loop. My co-host Stan Lawrence was on Minutia Men to discuss. (Listen to that interview here)

*August 17, 1999, Bill Clinton apologized to the nation for his affair. I wrote a song about it (He's the President) for Landecker & the Legends (AUDIO)

*August 18 is Breaking Bad actor Carmen Serano's birthday. We interviewed her about the experience of being on one of TV's most critically acclaimed shows. (Listen to that here)

*August 18 is Elayne Boosler's birthday. Poor Elayne has the misfortune of following the band Ed Zeppelin once at a Kevin Matthews Comedy Jam. Kevin was on our podcast and told that story. (Listen to full interview here)

*August 18 would have been Patrick Swayze's birthday. His good friend and co-writer Stacy Widelitz was on the show talking about the making of Dirty Dancing. (Listen to that here)

*August 19, 1969, Ken Holtzman tossed a no-hitter. In our EveryCubEver files we have the audio of his last out. (AUDIO)

*August 19 is Brendan Sullivan's birthday. We had him on the podcast and he told a great story about being sent out by radio management to potray a Nazi. (Full interview here)

*August 19 would have been Ginger Baker's birthday. We had fellow drummer Alan White (Yes) on the show, and he discussed his relationship with Ginger. (Full interview here)

*August 19 is National Photographers Day. We had a few great ones on the show over the years, including Mick Rock, John Filo, Antony Penrose, Barry Butler, and Fred Winston.

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2017, Eckhartz Press announced the upcoming release of "Safe Inside" by Lee Kingsmill. It would go on to be named a finalist for Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year.

Here's a sampling of the critical acclaim...

“The best books expand our humanity by the vicarious experiences and opportunities for compassion they provide. Lee Kingsmill’s Safe Inside is just such a book. It’s rich and textured, filled with family dynamics, religion, sexuality, the refuge of the imagination, the sanctuary of movies, and most of all, the depth, truthfulness, and complexity of humanity.”
Michael Lister, New York Times Bestselling author of "Blood Work"

“This beautifully written and sensitive novel about growing up in Chicago in the 1940s and ’50s and falling in love with the movies is that rare thing, a story that totally recreates a vanished world. Every detail of both place and character is so closely observed and evocative that you feel like you are there. ”
Dan Callahan, associate editor of Simon Media Works and author of "Barbara Stanwyck: the Miracle Woman," and "Vanessa"

“The meticulous detail of Safe Inside leads us through the memories and emotions that take hold early and never let go.”
Walter J. Podrazik, Media historian and author

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Cubs Tweet of the Week

From the Writing Archives--Elvis and Snow Domes


Today is the 45th anniversary of Elvis' death. That means it's the 35th anniversary of my snow dome collection. My last article for Lake Magazine (in 2004, before I switched over to Shore Magazine) was about that colleciton. I'm reposting that piece here today...

It started out as a joke. My buddies and I went to Graceland in 1987 for the tenth anniversary of Elvis’ death just because we wanted to witness the spectacle. Let me tell you; it was memorable. We felt like we had inadvertently wandered into the capital city of Tackyland for the coronation of the King. As we passed black velvet Elvis portrait after black velvet Elvis portrait, a thought occurred to me. I wanted to bring home the tackiest memento I could find as a tribute to this amazing weekend.

                When I saw a shelf full of $3 Elvis snow domes at the gift shop across the street from Graceland, I knew I had a winner. First of all, let’s face it, it was only three dollars. Secondly, the whole idea of honoring Elvis with a plastic water-and-fake-snow-filled dome seemed so profound. I had my own intellectual interpretation; the snow falling on his former home represents the chill the city of Memphis feels since he left us, and the snow falling on the Lisa Marie airplane represents the white light that awaited him as he “flew” up to his final destination.

That was the interpretation I planned on using when people asked me why I proudly displayed a Graceland snow dome in my home. I saw this plastic thing as nothing more than a conversation piece. How was I to know that it would become so much more than that? It was the beginning of a real problem; a sickness. From that moment on, whenever I traveled anywhere, I instinctively looked for a snow dome to commemorate my visit. I now own over a hundred snow domes from locations all over the world, and while I still mock them and come up with ridiculous kitschy reasons why a plastic water-and-fake-snow-filled dome is a perfect memento of a visit, I have to admit that I’ve grown to love these things.

In fact, I now effortlessly tick off my list of reasons to collect them.

ü  Affordability: The price is right. At most, a tourist snow dome will cost you five bucks. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better value for your collecting dollar.

ü  Convenience: There isn’t an airport in the world that doesn’t sell them. Your friends won’t even mind picking one up for you.

ü  Fun: Shake one and tell me it doesn’t bring a smile to your face. It’s fun for “kids” of all ages.

ü  Conversation: Since 1987 there hasn’t been a single visitor to my home that hasn’t asked me at least one question about my collection.

Frequently Asked Questions

  What if you travel somewhere it never snows?

This was the first dilemma I faced when I began to expand my collection. I like to travel to warm destinations. Luckily, this is shockingly not a problem. Among the snow domes in my collection: Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Hawaii, Arizona, Acapulco, Cancun, Barbados, St. Kitts, Bermuda, and the Dominican Republic. To me, these are the crown jewels of my collection because the entire concept is so ridiculous.

What is your most prized snow dome?

My favorite has to be the Pope John Paul II snow dome. My brother picked it up for me when he visited the Vatican. Shake it and watch a submerged Pope get covered with snow inside a cheap plastic dome. It’s an obvious keepsake for Catholics.

Is this really a worldwide phenomenon?

 I have snow domes from every continent on earth except Antarctica, the snowiest of the continents. In another ironic twist, the only location I have been completely unsuccessful finding one is China—where virtually all snow domes are made. Although I should note that I wasn’t the one who traveled to China; it was my sister-in-law. She might have just been too humiliated to purchase one. That happens occasionally.

Which one comes from the furthest location?

 I would have to get out my atlas to check the actual mileage, but I have snow domes from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

  What are your favorites from this country?

 I personally cherish the snow domes from places that have no business producing snow domes. I have one from Iowa. It features cows. I have one from Harvard University. That just seems like an odd choice for Harvard, doesn’t it? I also like the snow domes that commemorate events. The one I bought in Richmond, Virginia commemorates the Civil War. The one I bought in Atlanta commemorates the 1996 Summer Olympics. Last but not least, I have a Las Vegas snow dome that doesn’t have any pizzazz at all. I just thought that was funny.

Do you have any local snow domes?

 I have one from Chicago, one from Wrigley Field, one from Springfield, Illinois, one from Indiana, one from Detroit, two from Lake Geneva, and one from Wisconsin that is exactly the same as my Iowa snow dome. Apparently, they got a deal on the cow picture. Minnesota and Ohio, by the way, both feature the exact same duck.

Why don’t you have any fancy snow domes?

I know there are beautiful glass snow domes on the market, but those don’t really fit into my personal collection. I pride myself in the cheapness factor.

Do you have any cautionary tales?

 Take it from a father of three boys; a child as young as two years of age can throw a snow dome up to fifteen feet. While a snow dome may cost only $5, it may cost a little more to go to Australia to buy it. And if you’re like me, and you have a three year old little darling who likes to watch a recently deceased Pope fly through the air, you may have to take drastic measures. My entire collection is currently in a box in the basement until the kids move out of the house.

That has a tendency to take the fun out of any collection.

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Bob Shannon's Eckhartz Press book Turn it Up was released on this day in 2017, the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Turn it Up is still available at amazon.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Woodstock, baby

Rock Radio Revisited

 Yesterday afternoon I attended the Rock Radio Revisited fundraiser for the Museum of Broadcast Communications at the Des Plaines Theater. The panelists were John Records Landecker, Tommy Edwards, Bob Stroud, and Dyana Williams. Videotaped contributions from Kris Erik Stevens, Cousin Brucie, and Connie Szerszen were also part of the show. Dave Plier and the gang at the Museum did a very nice job putting this all together.

I thought moderator Wendy Snyder was very adept at keeping the discussion going, and the panelists each provided great stories about the good old days of radio. Landecker wowed the crowd with his tale about John Travolta at Woodfield Mall (and the Emmy Awards). Tommy Edwards did the same with his story about Bill Kurtis from his Topeka, Kansas days, and Bob Stroud shared a great memory about the radio wars between WMET and the Loop in the early 1980s. (And thanks Bob, for mentioning my Illinois Entertainer piece about you on the stage)

I must admit, this event drew a much bigger crowd than I anticipated. Radio geeks one and all. My kind of people.  Radio's Best Friend Art Vuolo was there, so I suspect the video will soon be available.

Here are a few photos from the event. (Photos by me, Kevin Wooldrige/who drove all the way in from Ohio, and Scott Childers/who is the premier chronicler of WLS history).