A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…
*Rest in Peace
Lost a few broadcasting icons this week...
The all-time jazz great leaves behind a tremendous legacy. His biggest hit (The “In” Crowd), three Grammys, and 80 albums will always be remembered, but in Chicago we were also lucky enough to have him as a daily companion during his days as the morning host at WNUA. He also hosted a nationally syndicated show called “Legends of Jazz.” Jazz was obviously his life, and Chicago played an important role. This is a quote he gave to Neal Samors in an interview from many years ago…
”In Chicago, unlike New York City, a jazz musician could allow himself to be influenced by a wide variety of music and play whatever appealed to him, including gospel music, which has always been important to me. So, growing up in that atmosphere and then, coming from a family that encouraged me to be whoever I was, musically, I enjoyed that freedom as I still do. The environment in Chicago is still one of quite a bit of musical freedom.”
Russell was an NPR staple. He created the show Marketplace. Talking Biz News has more information about Russell’s impressive life.
He was definitely a broadcasting pioneer. Radio Ink has a very positive obituary about him. Inside Radio does as well. Pieces like these focus on him as a “tough competitor” or “shrewd businessman”. He was that. On the other hand, one thing they gloss over, or even put a positive spin on, is something that was definitely not a positive for the radio business. It was Mays who led the consolidation charge after the 1996 telecom deregulation as the CEO of Clear Channel. Mays was insatiable when it came to acquisitions. He bought Jacor and AMFM, both of whom were big companies who had gobbled up hundreds of radio stations themselves. At one point Clear Channel owned over 1200 radio stations. In some smaller markets, they owned every single station in town. Jobs were cut, formats were genericized, and an unprecedented number of commercials flooded the airwaves. Mays and a handful of others acquired massive personal wealth in the process, but they left wreckage in their wake. The entire industy was hollowed out and hasn't remotely recovered. It wasn't just Lowry Mays. But he was one of the main architects.
*Chicago Rock Radio Documentary
=This film is an interesting find. It’s called “Static” and it tells the tale of rock radio in Chicago, mostly focused on the hard rock world (The old Loop, WMET, Z-Rock, etc). Former Loop jock Pat Capone is one of the people interviewed on camera.
*Rush Limbaugh book
=A new book about Rush is coming out in October. It will be called Radio’s Greatest of All-Time, a title that Rush himself could have proclaimed. It’s a compilation of radio commentary by Rush. His widow and brother are involved in curating the info. .
*Smashing Pumpkins on Q-101
=If you’ve been listening to Q-101 this week you might have noticed a bit of a Smashing Pumpkins motif. The station is all in on a big promotion with Smashing Pumpkins and the Metro, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a live Pumpkins show. The brand new Smashing Pumpkins single will debut on Q-101 the same day. The station will also be selling t-shirts at the event (September 20) which will raise money for Highland Park Community Foundation’s 4th of July Highland Park Shooting Response Fund.
=Edison Research came out with the list of the top ten most listened to podcast networks this week. Not a lot of surprises here: Spotify, SXM Media, iHeartRadio, Audioboom, NPR, New York Times, Audacy, Wondery, Cumulus Podcast Network, and PRX.
=Charlie Meyerson from Chicago Public Square posted a great podcast this week, interviewing Axios Chicago’s Justin Kaufman and Monica Eng. The audio is here. The unedited YouTube video is here. There’s even a transcript. And, now Justin and Monica also host their own podcast. You can listen to the latest episode here.
=Anderson Cooper has a new podcast out, and it deals with the subject of grieving. He starts the recording while he is packing up the belongings of his late mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.
=The New York Times posted a recommendation of their Top 6 TV Recap podcasts. These are podcasts that focus on a single television series and hyper analyze the shows.
=Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman has a great podcast called Two Writers Slinging Yang. Pearlman made news this week when he disavowed his book about Bret Favre after hearing the news that Favre knowingly accepted money from a Mississippi welfare fund to help out his daughter’s college volleyball team. Pearlman’s tweet-storm is worth a read.
Lots of them this week…
*Former Chicago radio and television sportscaster Bruce Wolf’s birthday was September 11. I interviewed Bruce for Illinois Entertainerback in 2014.
*Maura Myles’ birthday was also September 11. I chatted with Maura back in 2009 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.
*September 12, 2014, Tommy Edwards announced his retirement from radio. I interviewed Tommy a few times over the years, most recently in 2011.
*The Drive’s Janda Lane celebrated a birthday on September 12. The Marconi-nominated broadcaster/podcaster was my featured interview in this summer’s June issue of Illinois Entertainer.
*The great Rick Kogan’s birthday was September 13th. It’s always a pleasure speaking to Mr. Chicago. I last interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer in 2019.
*The legendary Dick Biondi turned 90 years old September 13. I worked with Dick for ten years at WJMK and I’ve done a few radio shows and podcasts with him over the years (the photo here is from 2014—on Lossano & Friends). Nobody in the world has better stories than Dick Biondi. I have tried many times to talk Dick into writing his memoirs, but I could never convince him.
*Brian “Whip” Paruch shares a birthday with Kogan and Biondi. I interviewed the WTMX morning show team member during the pandemic in 2020. None of the news about Eric had broken yet.
*He may be officially retired these days, but former WLS Newsman John Dempsey is still beloved by his former co-workers in the business. I got a chance to speak with him for Illinois Entertainer in 2015. John’s birthday was September 14.
*September 14, 1993, Steve & Garry broke up. Nobody believed the break up would last, but it obviously did. Except for one glorious day on the beach more than a decade later when Garry showed up unannounced to a live Steve Dahl remote.
*September 17 is Bobby Skafish’s birthday. Bobby was my very first interview for Illinois Entertainer back in 2013. He later authored a book for my publishing company Eckhartz Press called We Have Company.
*September 17 is also Score co-host Matt Spiegel’s birthday. Spiegel got the Chicago Radio Spotlight treatment back in 2010.
*September 17 is Randy Merkin’s birthday as well. The ESPN producer is also an author now, having published Behind The Glass for Eckhartz Press in 2021.
*Svengoolie Interview Tease
=My next interview for Illinois Entertainer will be posted on October 1st. This month I spoke to Rich Koz, the great Svengoolie. Here’s a little bonus quote from Rich that didn’t make the final cut of the article…
I went to WCIU when Neal Sabin made Channel 26 a true independent, and then it just progressed from there. They got the national Me-TV network and decided to put me on there, and now it’s become this pretty amazing thing. We basically have our own studio. It’s a permanent set up now. We used to have to fold up the set so that other things could go in front of it, but now we have the lights set up permanently, and our set is there permanently, so every time we need to go in there, everything is ready. For a national show we do have a pretty small staff. There’s me, and I’m writing and playing Sven and helping out with various production elements, and we have Chris Faulkner who is our director and also our chief editor, and Jim Roche is the executive producer and helps out in all sorts of ways, and then there’s our audio guy Chris DeQuick, and that’s our main group. We also have a floor director and somebody to run teleprompter, but other than that, it’s just us. That’s a small number of people to be putting out a national show.
*Sean Compton interview
=The man leading NexStar (owner of WGN in Chicago, among other media outlets) sat down for an interview with Media Village. Among the many topics of conversation, NewsNation.
*Franmil & Whitney
=A fun moment from Sunday night’s Cubs telecast on ESPN-TV. Who knew that Cubs DH Franmil Reyes could sing?
*High School Football Returns to WCIU
=The High School Game of the Week, a staple over the past few years at WCIU, returns Friday September 23rd. "Once again this season, our viewers will get best of prep football, boys soccer and boys and girls basketball on The U and CW26, with the ‘Game of the Week’ and IHSA Championship broadcasts,” said Steven Farber, Weigel Broadcasting Senior Vice President of Operations.
*The Emmy Awards
There are a few stories coming out of Sunday night’s Emmy Awards broadcast.
=A bit that Jimmy Kimmel did during the broadcast caused him to apologize and invite Quinta Brunson on his show.
=Why is the NFL considered a goldmine? In an age when there is no such thing as appointment television, football is the only thing that unites us as a nation. Of the top ten shows in the ratings last week, nine of them were football related.
=CNN’s new direction continues to get attention and scrutiny. Slate.com examines “the poisonous side effects of false balance.”
=CNN is moving Don Lemon to the morning show, along with Kaitlin Collins and Poppy Harlow.
=Oprah’s best friend gets recognized for her journalism…
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) September 13, 2022
OTHER MEDIA NEWS
*Second City Names a New CEO
=And he comes from Sesame Street. Details in the Hollywood Reporter.
*Victory Gardens Theater
=The Chicago institution is no more. They announced this week they will no longer produce shows, and they dismissed their staff. The theater itself will be rented out.
*Was there a Chinese spy working at Twitter?
=That appears to be the testimony from the Twitter whistleblower to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Seems like kind of big deal to me.
*Jan Wenner profile
=This is a pretty great New York Times piece about the founder of Rolling Stone magazine.
*MEDIA NOTEBOOK site
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