Our latest episode dropped on Friday. You can listen to it here.
The top 4 teams in the Premier League at the 1/3 mark of the season are not what anyone expected them to be. Rick and Adam discuss. [Ep167]
I'll be on WGN Radio tonight between 8:30-9pm with John Landecker discussing my new novel "Back in the D.D.R." John was kind enough to blurb the book for me, so he's one of only a half dozen people who have actually read it. Looking forward to the chat.
Here's what he said about the book:
A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…
*Radio Hall of Fame Inductions
=This week (November 1) the latest Hall of Fame class was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago. As usual it was a star-studded event. Ryan Seacrest flew in for the ceremony to induct his pal Ellen K from KOST in Los Angeles. But for Chicago radio fans, there were a few highlights as well. Congratulations to Lon Helton. The former WMAQ man will forever have a plaque on the wall in the Radio Hall of Fame. Former Chicago radio executive Marv Dyson (WGCI) was also recognized. His son Victor and former colleague Elroy Smith accepted the award on his behalf.
The Bears Will Have a New Radio Home
=This week the Bears announced they are ending their stay at NewsRadio WBBM and moving their games down the dial to ESPN 1000 for 2023 season. After 22 years it’s a bit of a shock, but it isn’t the first time the Bears have changed radio homes. Their games have previously aired on WGN, WMAQ, WIND, and WJJD.
=ESPN 1000’s Director of Content Danny Zederman said: “ESPN Chicago is thrilled to be adding the Chicago Bears to our play-by-play roster alongside the Chicago White Sox. Our on-air talent is incredibly passionate about our hometown team, and that passion will show within and beyond the in-game broadcasts, integrated throughout our programming year-round.”
=Chicago Sun-Times sports media columnist Jeff Agrest reports that the local Bears TV deal may also be moving to a new station, and he speculates that WGN-TV and the Marquee Network are two possible landing spots.
*Ron Gleason Retiring from NewsRadio WBBM
=The brand manager and news director announced it to his staff this week. He had been doing that job for 17 years. In the staff memo, he wrote: “I’ll be retiring from full-time management at the end of January, stepping down as WBBM’s Brand Manager/News Director. People have told me there’s something called free time out there, and I’d like to learn more about it….Frankly, I’m a workaholic, which is a great attribute when you’re on call 24 hours a day. But I’m older now, my kids are grown, and Linda and I are looking forward to spending more than just a few days a year at a home in the desert that’s been sorely neglected. This decision comes after months of planning, with much-appreciated support and understanding from [VP/Programming] Greg [Solk], [SVP/Market Manager] Rachel [Williamson], and all levels of the company.”
= Ron Gleason can be heard every weekend hosting the Bears pre- and post-game broadcasts. The timing (the end of the Bears contract and the Bears season and Gleason’s departure) is probably not entirely coincidental.
=Gleason retires after a stellar career that includes helping to launch The Score in 1991 and working as the play-by-play man for DePaul University basketball.
=By the way, Audacy is actively looking for his replacement. If you go to the Audacy career portal, here’s what it says about this position: “We are looking for an innovative strategic thinker with a passion for news and a multi-platform orientation to reimagine how we connect with and engage audiences for even greater success. The Brand Manager oversees editorial strategy and the WBBM newsroom, including broadcast and digital operations, with an eye towards audience and revenue growth and engagement on all platforms.”
*Chicago Radio Ratings
=The October PPM numbers came out this week, and the top five stations in Chicago are as follows…WDRV (The Drive), WLIT (Lite FM), WVAZ, WBBM (NewsRadio) and WOJO.
=Rounding out the top ten…WXRT, WBEZ (NPR), WLS-FM, WTMX (The Mix) and WGN.
=This is the last month of PPMs before the Lite goes all-Christmas music, which skews the ratings in their favor every year.
*Lite-FM Goes All-Christmas
=It began on Tuesday November 1st, the earliest they’ve ever done it. They do it for a very good reason, by the way. The numbers are huge and people love it.
=If you’re wondering what the research says about the most popular Christmas songs to play on the radio, you might be surprised by the results. According to P1 Media Group, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee is #1, slightly ahead of “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms.
*Chicago Radio Archives and Memories
=The November issue of Illinois Entertainer is out and includes my interview with radio archivist Don Beno from the Facebook page Chicago Radio Archives and Memories. If you’re a Chicago radio fan, you really owe it to yourself to check out his page. Here’s a small excerpt from my interview: His page posts great old airchecks (on-air DJ tapes), photos, music surveys, and more from radio’s golden era of the 60s/70s/80s/90s. Anyone who has spent time on that page immediately recognizes the size and scope of Don’s collection. It’s way beyond anything you can imagine. “I have two thousand airchecks on tape,” he admits, “another 500 on CD, hours and hours of videotape, and four zip drives of old interviews.”
=Next month’s interview subject for Illinois Entertainer: Bulls radio play-by-play man Chuck Swirsky.
*Troy Hanson re-signs with Cumulus
=The program director of Q-101 is also the VP for programming rock formats and the VP of operations for Cumulus Chicago. Troy Hanson has signed a new three-year deal to stay with Cumulus in all three roles. RAMP247 has more information.
*RadioGirl Interviews John Drummond
=Bulldog Drummond was one of the all-time great local TV reporters in Chicago. Margaret Larkin (aka RadioGirl) interviewed him last week. He has some great stories.
*Len O’Kelly’s Tour of Haunted Radio Stations and Creature Features
=If you don’t read former Chicago radio programmer/personality Len O’Kelly’s blog, you’re missing out. I particularly enjoyed this piece, particularly the memories of WGN-TV’s Creature Features. Len is currently a professor at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids. I previously interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer a few years ago.
*British Radio Host Dies on the Air
=I don’t mean that metaphorically. How many people have you met in the radio business who said they want to do the job as long as they live? Well, this guy literally did that.
=I’m reminded of the death of the great comedian Dick Shawn (LSD in “The Producers”). He literally died on stage doing his comedy act. People thought it was a joke.
*RIP Laurie Kahn
=She was the founder of the Media Staffing Network, which helped media people find new jobs. Last Friday she passed away after a long bout with cancer. She wrote a blog about her struggle with the disease, which inspired many people.
*RIP Ken Alexander
=The long-time Chicago radio veteran passed away this week at the age of 93. Alexander worked in radio for more than 60 years. He is probably most remembered for his time at WAIT (over twenty years), and WNIB (for 16 years). He could most recently be heard on WDCB. Chuck Shayden and Steve Darnall are doing a 4-hour tribute to Ken on Saturday November 5, beginning at 1pm.
MEDIA MILESTONES & BIRTHDAYS
*The great sportscaster Jim Shorts celebrated his birthday on Halloween. (I've interviewed both Kevin--in English, and Jim in German, if you'd like to hear it.) Here’s a photo of Kevin Matthews with his star sportscaster, back in the old Loop days.
*Former Chicago television anchor Jane Pauley was also born on Halloween. She obviously went on to bigger and better things, but she did a stint here locally at WMAQ-TV, Channel 5.
*One last Halloween birthday. Program director Bill Gamble (Q-101, CD-94.7, et al) was also born on October 31. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight back in 2009. He currently works for Midwest Family of Companies in South Bend, Indiana.
*Former radio producer/host Tom Sochowski (WJMK, WCKG, ESPN, The Fish) celebrated his birthday on November 1st. That’s Tom on the left with John Landecker and me.
*Former WGN & WLS newscaster Judy Pielach also has a November 1st birthday.
*Alex Quigley, who worked at several radio stations in Chicago including Q-101, WGN, and The Game, was born on November 3rd. I interviewed Alex back in his WGN days (2010) for Chicago Radio Spotlight.
*The great Catherine Johns (WLS, WJMK) turned 70 yesterday. I only mention the age because she mentioned it in her great newsletter. I’ve interviewed Catherine several times over the years. The first time was 15 years ago.
*Another November 3rd birthday is former ESPN producer J.R. Straus. He and his brother were featured together for a piece I wrote in 2008.
*Producer Tom Hush (the Steve Cochran show/WLS Radio) celebrates a birthday today (November 4th).
*MeTV’s Holiday Plans
=Coming off a very successful Halloween month of October, MeTV announced this week some of their plans for the upcoming holiday season. Here’s a notable portion of the announcement: On Sunday, November 20, enjoy a heaping helping of back-to-back Thanksgiving-themed episodes of classic TV favorites, including what is widely considered one of the best Thanksgiving TV episodes ever, WKRP in Cincinnati’s “Turkey’s Away.”
=Their Christmas plans include a celebration of Charles Schultz’s 100th birthday (November 26), and a classic holiday marathon of sitcoms on November 27th including The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, Green Acres, Mama’s Family, The Andy Griffith Show, Full House and M*A*S*H.
*Marquee Network Ratings Are a Concern
=The Tribune did a long piece about the Marquee Network at the end of last week. Worth a read if you missed it.
*Les Moonves settlement
=Lots of unsettling details in this story about the former CEO of CBS Les Moonves. He and CBS agreed to pay millions ($9.75 million settlement, another $14.5 million to shareholders) in the sexual misconduct case brought by the New York Attorney General. The details are disturbing. The LA Police called up Moonves to let him know a confidential complaint was filed against him, and an underling with knowledge of the situation sold millions in stock before the news came out. The article also says that Moonves only has to pay about $2.5 million of that settlement. He made $12.5 million the year he was forced out, down from his normal salary of $47 million.
*Chris Cuomo Wants a Better Timeslot
=He just recently joined NewsNation, but according to the New York Post (I know, I know), Cuomo is already not happy with his timeslot as the ratings struggle.
*Cable News Corner
=The Washington Post did a story this week about the meteoric rise of CNN morning show co-host Kaitlan Collins.
“‘The News’ set out on a bold mission of providing non-partisan, fact-based reporting on the most important stories of the day in the U.S. and around the world. The quality journalism Shep and his team delivered each weeknight was exemplary and not lost on us or our 7 p.m. audience.”
Showtime, Starz, Paramount+, AMC+ and ViX+, with NBA League Pass coming soon.
*FCC Recommends a TikTok Ban
=Shanghai-based Byte-Dance owns TikTok, and the FCC claims that the Chinese company is damaging American national security by sharing private information of Americans.
*Elon Musk’s Bumpy First Week
=First he claimed he had no idea who the new CEO was. (It was him). Then he retweeted a bogus conspiracy theory about the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, which he later had to delete when he found out that same outlet he retweeted had once reported Hillary Clinton was dead and replaced by a body double and that Bill Gates was responsible for polio. Now he is faced with a mass exodus of advertisers who fear the website has become or will become the hellscape he promised it would never be. And this morning he laid off a large percentage of the staff…via e-mail. Not a great first week.
*Truth Social’s Influence Grows
=According to the New York Times the social media outlet is becoming more influential, even as it struggles mightily financially.
*The Too-Muchness of Bono
=My wife and I recently traveled to Ireland and were shocked to discover how unpopular Bono was in his home country. We heard the same joke over and over again. “What is the difference between Bono & God? God doesn’t think he’s Bono.” David Brooks tackled the “too-muchness” of Bono in this piece for the Atlantic.
=My podcast co-host (David Stern) and I interviewed Irish actress Amy Shiels (Twin Peaks) recently, and this Bono love-hate was one of the topics.
*An Open Letter to Hollywood from John Leguizamo
=The famous Latino actor has drawn a line in the sand via the Los Angeles Times. He wrote this open letter to Hollywood to point out the inequities that still exist for Latinos in the TV and movie industries.
* Judge blocks Simon & Schuster merger with Penguin/Random House
=As a Simon & Schuster author (The Radio Producer’s Handbook), I have this to say to the judge: Correct decision. Now do Amazon.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Looks like a lot of things happened on this day...
*On this day in 2002, John Landecker brought his father's ashes to work for Take Your Parents To Work Day. Comedy ensued.
*On this day in 2014, Father Knows Nothing bonus audio tracks were released. You can still listen to them here.
*On this day in 2021, Eckhartz Press author Jim Baumann appeared on Steve Cochran's podcast.
*Today would have been Art Carney's birthday. Jackie Gleason's sidekick is mentioned in the Eckhartz Press book Mob Adjacent.
*Today is also John Di Domenico's birthday. John is one of the foremost Trump impersonators, and gave this great review to our Melania book...
*On this day in 2006, future Eckhartz Press author Dobie Maxwell did this comedy set in Utah...
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?
*November 2, 2001—Monsters Inc was released. Johnny Kaempfer reviewed it for the John Landecker show (AUDIO)
*November 2, 2006—The Arab/Israeli Comedy Hour debuts. We had the show's co-creator Aaron Freeman on our show and he told us all about it.
*November 2—Jazz vocalist Kurt Elling celebrates a birthday. He had a memorable appearance on MMCI.
*November 3—Michael Dukakis birthday. The saddest man in America on the day Dukakis lost the 1988 election was Second City's Dave Sinker. We talked to him about that.
*November 3--Catherine Johns is celebrating a birthday. We had a nice chat with Catherine a few years ago.
*November 4, 2002, John Landecker brought his father's ashes to work for Take Your Parents To Work Day. Comedy ensued.
*November 4, 2014, Father Knows Nothing bonus audio tracks were released. You can still listen to them here.
*November 5, 1996—Clinton beats Dole. Landecker & The Legends had a song about that election. (Big Macarena AUDIO)
On this day in 2017, John Landecker was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Here’s my report from the event…
From the Eckhartz Press website...
It’s called Back in the D.D.R, and it’s Rick’s sixth book (and second novel) for Eckhartz Press. What’s it about? It’s a coming-of-age spy thriller set in West Germany during the Cold War. Back in the D.D.R is available for pre-order now! It ships on December 1st.
Back in the D.D.R is a double fish out of water tale. The year is 1976. 12-year-old Rudi has had a difficult time fitting in his family’s adopted home of America, but just when he feels like he is becoming Americanized, his family moves back to West Germany. Rudi tries to navigate American Army bases, German and Austrian relatives he has never met, and Cold War political tension and violence he doesn’t fully understand. His unusual journey culminates in a visit to the other side of the Iron Curtain, where Rudi is forced to confront the real reasons his family has taken him on such a bumpy ride.
*On this day in 2004, I became an author for the first time for my book The Radio Producer's Handbook (written with John Swanson). Bill Zwecker interviewed Swany & I in the Chicago Sun Times.
*On this day in 2015, Pat Colander had the release party for her book Hugh Hefner's First Funeral. Photos are here if you'd like to see them.
*Author Jason Coles released his sneaker book on this day in 2016. That inspired Eckhartz Press author Ryan Trembath to write his book Signature Shoes. Coles even provided a blurb for it...
I hadn't heard this version of the song before. It was decided not to put it on the album because it didn't sound like the rest of the songs, but whoo boy, this is pretty damn good. Cheap Trick's Rick Nielson and Bun E. Carlos, plus Tony Levin join John Lennon on "I'm Losing You" (from 1980).
This week's Minutia Men has posted. You can listen to it here.
The Pope warns priests about porn, Halloween dad jokes, Mark Cuban discusses the difficulties of money, frivolous lawsuits, mountains of leftover cheese, and a listener brush with a famous scientist are among the minutiae offered up this week by Rick and Dave. [Ep290]
Two Eckhartz Press books were released on this day.
*In 2013, Chuck Quinzio's Life Behind the Camera came out to great acclaim and interest within the Chicago media community. It's still being used to teach television at the City College of Los Angeles.
*In 2015, Pat Colander's Hugh Hefner's First Funeral and Other True Tales of Life and Death in Chicago came out. It was later named Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year