Saturday, September 03, 2022

Free Kicks--Is Arsenal for Real?

 Our latest episode has dropped. Click here to listen.

After 4 matches Arsenal sits atop the Premier League table. Adam and Rick discuss whether or not they think Arsenal is a real contender for the league title. [Ep160]

Friday, September 02, 2022

Media Notebook--9-2-22


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



*Garry Meier Interview

=This month’s issue of Illinois Entertainer is out and features my interview with National Radio Hall of Famer Garry Meier.  We talk about his current podcast, and after years of resisting talking about his radio past, Garry looks back at his legendary Chicago radio career at the Loop, WLS, WCKG, and WGN. He also gives his opinion about the current state of radio today…

“It seems to have lost all its direction. Don’t take my word for it. Listen today, and then listen to what it was like 20 years ago and tell me there’s a remote similarity there. I don’t want to wake up and listen to what the CDC is saying about COVID or monkeypox, or what’s happening in the war in Ukraine at six in the morning! Not that those aren’t relative topics, but fuck, every day, all the time? Those are just show topics, not entertainment.”


*John Gehron Honored by the Illinois Broadcasters Association

=One of the most respected radio programmers in the country has been recognized by the Illinois Broadcasters Association. John Gehron was named as this year’s W. Russell Withers Chicago Broadcast Pioneer. He will accept his award in October. (Radio Ink has the details.) 

=Dennis Lyle, CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association, explained why Gehron was chosen for the award…

            “John is a legend to anyone and everyone who appreciates the medium of radio. His understanding of radio, and perhaps more importantly, radio’s audiences, allowed him to master the art of programming and provide a roadmap for generations of future programmers. A true ‘Broadcast Pioneer’ indeed!”

=I’ve previously interviewed Gehron about his truly memorable years at WLS. You can read that here. 



*Meanwhile, downstate…



*Radio Girl Interviews Rob Hart & Charlie Meyerson

=Rob Hart can be heard daily on WBBM News Radio, and he’s also a great follow on Twitter. Rob’s a pop cultural savant. Radio Girl (Margaret Larkin) tapped into that reservoir of knowledge in this interview. 

=That’s not the only recent interview from Margaret. Charlie Meyerson is the editor-in-chief of Chicago Public Square. (If you haven’t subscribed to his newsletter yet, you can do so here). Long-time Chicago radio fans remember Charlie from his time at WXRT, WNUA and WGN. He still has those radio chops in this interview

=I’ve previously interviewed both Hart & Meyerson for Illinois Entertainer. If you’d like to dip into the Illinois Entertainer archives to read those interviews, click on their names. Rob Hart 2019. Charlie Meyerson 2017. 



*Radio’s Best Friend Honored by University of Michigan

=Anyone who has worked in a radio station has run into Art Vuolo at one time or another. He is known as Radio’s Best Friend because he travels around the country videotaping radio shows in progress. Turns out, radio isn’t Art’s only passion. Art grew up in Ann Arbor and is a University of Michigan fanatic. He must have been thrilled to be featured in Michigan Today, talking about his devotion to the Maize and Blue. 



*Podcasting Roundup

=WGN & Chris Cuomo

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Cuomo has joined News Nation. He also has a weekly podcast which drops Tuesdays, and that podcast is posted on the WGN radio website. The most recent episode features former Ambassador Bill Richardson. 

=Billy Corgan on Wrestling

The Smashing Pumpkins front man is obviously a rock star, and one of Chicagoland’s most prominent celebs, but did you know that he was also a wrestling nut and owns a pro wrestling company? It’s all covered in this podcast. 

=Podcasting Facts & Figures

I thought this piece in Inside Radio  had some great insights into podcast listener habits. As the host of three podcasts, I read it with great interest. The #1 thing listeners dislike in a podcast? When it’s too long.



*Fred Jacobs Goes Old School

=Jacobs is a radio consultant who writes an influential industry newsletter. In his most recent piece he talked about the general trend in America of quiet quitting. I must admit, I got a kick out of Jacobs' take on this trend when it comes to radio. Here’s a small taste of it…

I seriously empathize with anyone in the business who no longer has the stomach for it, or who feels like they signed up for a different radio industry. But I would also hope that if that describes you, and you're “quiet quitting” while you plot out your next move, you speed it up.  At this key moment for the radio broadcasting industry we need everyone to be “all in” for radio – whether you're on the air, selling ads, or in the corporate suite. If you're playing a game of “rope-a-dope” with your station while you wait out the rest of the year, maybe it's time to move over, Rover, and let someone new who's motivated and amped up take over.


*Joel Sebastian Interview

=Joel is a little bit before my time, but he was a huge radio star in Chicago at stations like WCFL, WIND, WMAQ, WLS, and WJMK. He passed away before the internet age (in 1986), so there aren’t many old interviews of him available. Thanks so much to the guys at the Facebook group Chicago Radio Archives and Memories for posting this 1985 Joel Sebastian interview conducted by WilliamShenold. What a great listen. 

=WGN Radio’s John Records Landecker grew up listening to Joel in Detroit when he was a kid. There are several great stories about Sebastian in Landecker’s book Records Truly Is My Middle Name. This is just one of those stories…

One day between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I was working as a stock boy at Ulrich’s Bookstore on the Michigan campus to make a little extra money, when I had a brush with radio greatness. I’ll never forget it. I was wearing an apron, and sweeping the floor, when I looked up to see who was coming in the door.  It was Joel Sebastian! Though Joel was a rock jock, he also had a number of other intellectual interests. He had a degree in psychology. He was interested in architecture. And on that particular day, he was trying to buy a protractor, of all things.



*Rewound Radio Reminder

=Joel Sebastian is just one of the jocks that will be featured this weekend on Rewound Radio. I mentioned last week that they would be playing entire shows from classic Top 40 jocks from the 60s and 70s all Labor Day weekend. Well, former Big-89 jock Chuck Buell (one of the jocks being featured) sent me the list of names you’ll hear and now I’m even more excited. In addition to Joel and Chuck, you’ll hear…Dick Biondi, Barney Pip, Larry Lujack, Tommy Edwards, Art Roberts, Ron Riley, Clark Weber, Dex Card, Gary Gears, Fred Winston, Kris Erik Stevens, John Records Landecker, Paul Christy, Chuck Knapp, Yvonne Daniels, Bob Dearborn, Scotty Brink, Jerry Kaye, Bill Bailey, Bob Sirott, Larry O’Brien, Big Ron O’Brien, Jim Stagg, Dick Saint, Jeff Davis, Ron Britain, Tom Kent, Johnny Driscoll, Steve King, Dick Shannon, Bob Hale, Bill Taylor and more. Just go

=I’ve previously interviewed 12 of those guys listed above. If you want to find out more about Lujack, Edwards, Riley, Weber, Winston, Stevens, Landecker, Sirott, Davis, Britain, King or Hale, check out the media page at Illinois Entertainer, or go to the alphabetical list on my blog Chicago Radio Spotlight 



*RIP Bradley Norling

=Sad news to report about the son of former Chicago jock Stu Collins, Bradley Norling. He passed away last week at the age of only 53. Bradley followed in his father’s footsteps and worked in radio for many years. His obituary is here. Deepest condolences to the family.






*August 30, ESPN Radio’s Mark Zander birthday

=I haven’t interviewed Zander since he started doing sports talk, but we chatted in his rock days back in 2007


*August 30, 1993

=Big day for David Letterman...


*August 31, 2017, Mitch Michaels Book Launch Anniversary

=Mitch threw a heck of a party on the day his book Doin the Cruise  was released back in 2017. The star-studded event drew a who’s who of Chicago radio. If you’d like to peruse some pictures from that day, click here.  See how many luminaries you can identify.


*September 2, Bill Cochran’s birthday

=Cochran isn’t just one of the great voice-over guys in radio (WXRT, WNUA, ME-TV), he has a band that recreates classic albums on stage. I got a chance to talk to him about that back in 2017







*Sharing Svengoolie with the World

=In Chicago, we tend to think of Svengoolie as our guy. After all, he’s from here, he broadcasts from here, and he has been a constant on our television screens here for decades. But Me-TV took Svengoolie national a few years ago, and he has really been catching on across the country. How popular is he now? The Wall Street Journal just interviewed him this week. (You can see the interview page, article title and giant picture at the link. The full article is behind a pay-wall.)



*Tumult at NBC

=Giving up on the 9pm Central Hour?

The popularity of streaming, and the declining popularity of network television, is making the networks rethink their approaches in some rather dramatic ways. NBC is seriously considering giving the 10pm Eastern/9pm Central hour back to the affiliates for local programming. Fox has obviously been doing that for years, but NBC has shows like “Quantum Leap,” “New Amsterdam,” “Chicago P.D,” “Law and Order: Organized Crime,” and “Dateline” on the schedule in the fall. This article says they are considering dropping or moving those shows to accommodate the move.

=According to Bloomberg, the corporate daddies are asking them to cut $1 billion from the budget. That's billion with a B.

=Is Chuck Todd in Trouble?

The host of “Meet the Press” has been a lightning rod for criticism over the past few years, but it wasn’t until recently, when his ratings really started dropping (down 21% from last year), that his bosses started considering whether or not he is still the right man for the job. They brought in CNN’s David P. Gellis to address the situation. The Daily Beast speculates about Todd’s future under the new regime. 

=The SNL exodus continues. In addition to Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, and Kyle Mooney leaving the show, Alex Moffat, Melissa Villasenor, and Aristotle Athari announced yesterday that they are gone too. AV Club has the details.



*Fox News Hosts in Court

=This was not a good week for the talent at Fox News. The Dominion Voting Systems billion dollar lawsuit has ensnared many of the biggest names on the network, and this week the likes of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Steve Doocy, and Jeanine Pirro were deposed by Dominion’s attorneys. The New York Times and Washington Post both covered this story pretty well this week. 


*Further Exploring John Malone’s Role at CNN

=Last week I shared my theory about the role Liberty Media CEO and WB board member John Malone was having on the changes in tone and reporting at CNN. This week, Vox analyzed the same thing. 






*Filling the Gap in Local News Coverage

=The number of information deserts, places where local news just doesn’t exist anymore, has been increasing across the country. We’re lucky we still have local television news and newspapers here in Chicago, but other towns are not as lucky. The Medill School at Northwestern University did a study about this phenomenon and shared the data this week.  They also tried to tackle the solution to the problem. This is what they wrote…

There is no single solution. Reversing the loss of local news requires developing different journalistic and business strategies to address the disparities between the resources available in rural and urban areas, as well as in longstanding news deserts.  Solving the problem requires a coordinated, multi-pronged approach that includes:

·         Identifying areas within each state that are without local news, or in danger of losing it.

·         Designing policies and incentives at the state and national levels to address the disparity and availability of news in these communities.

·         Increasing – as well as redirecting – venture and philanthropic funding toward news organizations that seek to deliver reliable and comprehensive local news and information to residents in news deserts.

·         Rethinking journalistic practices to compensate for the dramatic loss of almost 60 percent of newspaper journalists in recent years.



*Woodward & Bernstein Receive Poynter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism

=To be honest, I’m surprised it took this long for them to receive the award. Previous winners include Tom Brokaw, Judy Woodruff, Lester Holt and Katie Couric. The journalists who broke the Watergate story will be presented with their awards at Poynter Institute’s annual bow-tie gala in Tampa in November.



*Twitter is Finally Testing an Edit Button

=This has to be the most irritating thing about Twitter. You cannot edit your tweets. Well, according to the Verge, that may change soon. Although, it appears it will not be free.



*Truth Social Banned by Google Play

=It’s becoming clear that former President Trump’s favorite social network, Truth Social, is in some serious financial trouble. Now comes word that the content on the site has become so violent, and the content moderation is so lax, that Google Play has banned it. CNBC has the story. 


*Gannett Announces Layoffs

=The publishers of USA Today announced this week that they laid off 400 employees and eliminated another 400 positions during the month of August. Details on the newspaper bloodbath were reported by Poynter. 

*Mickey Dolenz FOIA’s Monkees FBI Files

=This story just cracks me up for some reason…

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

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2018, Richard Reeder was on Rick Kogan's show on WGN Radio to discuss his book 1001 Train Rides in Chicago.

*On this day in 2021, I was on John Landecker's show on WGN Radio discussing my book EveryCubEver.

*Today is Terry Bradshaw's birthday. Terry gets his own chapter in the Eckhartz Press book Behind the Glass by Randy Merkin.

*On this day in 2016, Eckhartz Press released Out the Door by ML Collins. It was named Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Garry Meier

The latest issue of Illinois Entertainer is out and includes my interview with Garry Meier.

You can read it here.

Warren G. Harding Meets the Cubs

*On this day in 1920, Candidate for President Warren G. Harding meets the Cubs at an exhibition game in Ohio. Cubs minority owners (Lasker & Sinclair) were instrumental in getting Harding nominated in a smoky Blackstone Hotel room earlier in the summer.

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2016, Eckhartz Press author Jeanne Bellezzo was in town to promote the release of her book Rantings of a Bitter Childless Woman

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Minutia Men Celebrity Interview--Scott Turow

Our latest Minutia Men Celebrity Interview has been posted. Listen to it here.

The author of legal thrillers like “Presumed Innocent” and “Burden of Proof”, Scott Turow joins Rick and Dave to discuss his new book “Suspect” plus the joys/pitfalls of dealing with Hollywood, his rock band, the Cubs, and the current state of the rule of Law.  [Ep103]

Cubs Tweet of the Week

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 29 would have been Michael Jackson's birthday. We had record producer Bill Schnee on the show, and he told us his story about dealing with Michael when Jackson was only 10 years old. (Listen to entire interview here)

*August 29 is best selling author James Finn Garner's birthday. He was kind enough to appear as a guest on our show several years ago. (Listen to that here)

*August 29 is also Jerry Seinfeld's birthday. Jerry came to Chicago to star in a Kevin Matthews Comedy Jam once, and Kevin told us all about that memorable night. (Full interview here)

*August 30 is Carmen Fanzone's birthday. We talked to the ex-Cub a few years ago and he had some great stories about his playing days. (Listen to that here)

*August 31 is Zach Ward's birthday. He played the bully Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story. We talked to him about his bully tendencies, and he bullied us. (Full interview here)

*September 2, 2021. I appeared on WGN radio with John Landecker to discuss the worst Cubs teams of all-time. (Full interview here)

*September 3, 1980. The Pekin Chinks officially drop their team mascot and nickname. Howard Sudberry was a Pekin High grad, and talked about that. (Listen to that here)

Eckhartz Everyday

*On this day in 2017, we had a blast at Mitch Michaels book release party at Lloyds Chicago. A who's who of Chicago media was there including John Landecker, Catherine Johns, Pat Cassidy, Bart Shore, Jimmy Mac McInerny, Leslie Harris, Joe Cicero, Bob Malkowski, David Berner, Barry Butler, Bernie Tafoya, Bob Stern, Lisa Greene, John Calhoun, Ray Stevens, Matt Bisbee, and more. To see the photos, click here.

*Earlier that day, Mitch and co-author Ken Churilla appeared on WGN-Television's midday show and were interviewed by Steve Sanders.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Chicago Flag Explained

In case you haven't listened to it yet...

From the Writing Archives--What Your Car Says About You

 This little piece was written this week in 2007 as a "Half Empty" column, which is a humor column that Dave Stern and I wrote together on a weekly basis for about two years. I got a kick out of re-reading this piece because some of these cars don't even exist anymore.

It's big news in Chicago that Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs smashed up his $350,000 Lamborghini, and fled the scene of the accident. News reports have been speculating why he left the car there, but we have a deeper question. What kind of a man spends $350,000 on a car? Let's just say that without even meeting him in the locker room after a shower, we can tell you a "little" bit about him, and why he feels he needs to overcompensate. 

But then again, we're gifted "car personality-ologists." 

Of course, anybody can identify the personality of a Lamborghini driver. We can do so much more. Take a look at the different types of cars below and find the kind of car you drive. We’ve tried to isolate one or two things we already know about you when we see you stepping out of that car. We make no judgment on whether any of these things are good or bad. 

ACURA—You have at least two words in your vocabulary that most typical American citizens no longer use in everyday conversation: “sharp” and “sporty.” I hope you don’t think I’m being “fresh.”

BMW—“Hey Charles, how did the Dow Jones do today?” 

BUICK—You are sick and tired of people saying you’re not happy at mealtime unless you have meat and potatoes. You ate a Tuna Melt at Denny’s last month and nobody even noticed. 

CADILLAC—It depends on the model and the neighborhood. Let’s say it’s a classic Cadillac Eldorado and you’re in the suburbs. Are you picking Myrtle up for Bingo this week or is she taking the bus? 

CHEVROLET—The Chevy driver runs the gamut, from Camaro (“That pack of smokes in your t-shirt sleeve is covering your tattoo”) to Corvette (“Divorced? You’re kidding!”) to El Camino (“Out of my cold, dead hands”) to Cavalier (“Did someone here order the pepperoni and mushroom?”). 

CHRYSLER—A PT Cruiser owner can complete this rhyme: “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the _________.” 

DODGE—The Neon owner is the only person you know that still makes Yugo jokes. The Intrepid driver always pays the extra buck or two for the hot wax at the gas station car wash. The Viper owner can easily tick off the names of the planets because the entire solar system revolves around him. 

FORD—Is that a fedora we see peeking over the steering wheel of the Crown Victoria or is it somehow driving itself? As for the Mustang owner, we know he is really into cars because he’s on a first-name basis with every mechanic in the area. The Taurus driver is definitely qualified to do our taxes. 

HONDA—When I see a Civic driver, we hope we don’t know her because we didn’t get her a graduation gift. The Accord driver has 2.2 children, 3 bedrooms, and 2.5 baths, and if we had to guess at a name we would say “Bob.” 

KIA—We couldn’t help admiring your faux Coach purse while we were watching Steel Magnolias. Did you get that at Marshall’s? 

MAZDA—The same as the Honda driver, but slightly less interesting. The Miata driver, however, is named Stephanie or Kimberly. That’s just a fact. 

MERCEDES—“Hi Hans, vant to vatch ze soccer game mit me? Oh sorry, you’re an American. Listen, I could use someone to represent me—I’m pretty sure this carpal tunnel syndrome is a workplace injury.” 

MERCURY—The Grand Marquis driver is a person we can count on for the casserole at the next church potluck dinner, and the Sable driver is definitely not able to help us reset the blinking time on our VCR. 

MITSUBISHI—If the Lancer, Gallant, Eclipse and Diamante drivers were movie actors, they would be listed as “Man #1,” “Woman #2,” “Man with Hot Dog,” and “Woman with Child” in the credits.

 NISSAN—It’s called a Pathfinder, you paid the extra money for the GPS, and you still got lost. How did that happen exactly? 

OLDSMOBILE—What happens when this one breaks down? You’ve gone from Cutlass to Delta 88 and back to Cutlass every four years since 1963, and now they pull the rug out from under you while you’re still only in your 70s. Don’t you hate progress? 

PONTIAC—What’s the difference between a Chevy Camaro owner and a Pontiac Firebird owner? The Firebird owner keeps her smokes in her purse. 

SATURN—You’re the kind of person who gladly eats a cold steak because it would be rude to send it back to the kitchen. And please. . .don’t tell us you got the manual transmission because you love driving. 

TOYOTA—Let me guess what color your Camry is. Is it blue? I’m also guessing that if I ever invite you to a party, you’ll be the first one there. I admire your punctuality. 

VOLVO—We understand. We're afraid of our wives, too. 

We know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: What do Mr. Smarty Pants Car Personality-ologists drive? You’ve probably seen people like us on the road. The telltale signs are obvious: the dead look behind the eyes, the sourpuss face that naturally forms when the temples throb for hours a day, the unmistakable look of defeat. 

That’s right. We both drive minivans. Does it really matter which kind?

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2019, Great profiles of Cubsessions authors Randy Richardson and Becky Sarwate Maxwell were featured on the Chicago Writers Association website.

Here's Becky.

Here's Randy.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Kaempfer's Woodpecker

 On this day in 2003, this bird was officially named Kaempfer's Woodpecker. I kid you not. Doesn't look a thing like me.

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2021, Eckhartz Press author Paul M. Banks appeared at Fado's to promote his book Transatlantic Passage. (Photo above)

*On this day in 2017, Robert Feder reviewed the Eckhartz Press book Doin the Cruise. Here's what he said about it...Mitch Michaels will be toasted Thursday at a gathering to honor the release of his new memoir, Doin’ the Cruise: Memories From A Lifetime in Radio and Rock & Roll. Written with Ken Churilla and published by Eckhartz Press, it’s a straightforward account of the ups and downs of a Chicago radio career spanning nearly five decades and encompassing such iconic call letters as WXRT, WDAI, WKQX, WLUP and WCKG. Most interesting are insights Michaels shares about his personal life, including growing up as an only child of adoptive parents in a Cleveland suburb, and coping with the death of a 21-year-old son, who fell victim to drug addiction.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Minutia Men--Bobbitt Revisited

 Our latest episode has dropped. Listen to it here.

A 2022 version of the Bobbitt story (in Ghana), real audio from a black hole in space, Tommy Chong discussing That 70s Show, Jenkins flying an airplane, a Finnish President that likes to party, and an e-mail from a Catholic priest. [Ep282]