Saturday, November 12, 2022

Free Kicks – Champions League Draw

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

Some very tough matchups are coming soon to the Champions League. Rick and Adam discuss. [Ep168]

Friday, November 11, 2022

Back in the D.D.R

Media Notebook--11-11-22


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



*Podcast Ratings

=Podtrac ranks the podcasts based on their popularity, and during the month of October here were the top ten rated podcasts in America…The Daily (New York Times), Dateline NBC (NBC news), Morbid (Wondery), Up First (NPR), NPR Newshour Now (NPR), The Ben Shapiro Show, Smartless with Sean Hayes, Justin Bateman and Will Arnett, Stuff You Should Know (iHeart Podcasts), Pardon My Take (Barstool Sports), The Dan Bongino Show.

*NASCAR on the radio

=WLS-AM (890) announced this week that they have signed a three-year agreement to air NASCAR races, including the first ever Chicago Street Race. The Chicago Street Race agreement between NASCAR/City of Chicago also runs three years.

*Bruce DuMont Steps Down from Beyond the Beltway

=DuMont has been hosting the show since 1980, but he told Axios-Chicago this week that a recent health scare has caused him to take an indefinite hiatus. The nationally syndicated show will now be hosted by Jeanne Ives and Eric Kohn.


*The Chuck Swirsky Media Tour

=The Bulls radio play by play man has been making the rounds promoting a book my publishing company Eckhartz Press released: Always a Pleasure. He was on WGN-TV morning news, Steve Rosenbloom’s show on WSCR (the Score), and podcasts like Minutia Men Celebrity Interview (yes, hosted by me) and EDF Sports.


*Podcast Corner

=It seems like the Saturday Night Live world has gotten the memo that podcasts are now the thing to do. Another SNL alum entered the fray this week. Chris Parnell is hosting a new show about jobs that no longer exist, called This Job Is History

=Dana Carvey and David Spade also co-host a podcast called Fly on the Wall, which is about SNL. Every week they interview former cast members, hosts, or musical guests. The stories are all pretty similar, but oddly engaging. It’s in my weekly podcast library.

=There are so many more SNL-related podcasts. Here are ten of them.

=This one isn’t SNL related, but Mark Caro’s Caropop podcast scored a great guest this week too: Stevie Van Zandt. I previously wrote about Mark’s podcast in Illinois Entertainer. 


*RIP MegaPros Joe

=He wasn’t technically a radio personality himself, but Joe Hogel, known on the air as MegaPros Joe, was a frequent on-air presence on WGN Radio. The station noted his passing on their website.




*Herb Lawrence celebrated his birthday on November 6th. You may know Herb as the host of CHGO White Sox and Locked-On White Sox podcasts, or the producer of the Joe Ostrowski show on the Score. He’s also a great follow on Twitter.


*November 7th was WGN-TV Morning News Co-Anchor Robin Baumgarten’s birthday. Robin is one of the biggest local television stars in Chicago. I’ve interviewed her a few times, including this piece going all the way back to 2009


*Louisa Chu, food critic for the Chicago Tribune, and former WLUP/WBEZ contributor celebrated her birthday on November 8th.


*On November 8, 1957, WGN Television started broadcasting select shows in color for the first time (mainly just the syndicated programs that were available in color)


*November 9, 2013, former Q-101, Loop, and Drive jock Carla Leonardo passed away. I was lucky enough to interview her the year before she passed away. 


*November 9 was the birthday of former Vince & Stony co-host (WLUP) Tony Frothingham. Tony also worked as a radio producer but has since returned to his native Massachusetts and now works in the wine business.


*WIMS/WHFB Partner/General Manager Ric Federighi’s birthday was November 10th. Ric enjoyed a long and successful career as a traffic reporter in Chicago before entering the world of radio ownership in Michigan City, Indiana. Iinterviewed Ric back in 2008 for Shore Magazine. 


*Lou Brutus, former afternoon man on Rock 103.5, and current nationally syndicated host, also celebrated a birthday on November 10th. His heyday in Chicago was the mid-90s.


*Today is Veteran’s Day, and former Chicago newscaster Dave McBride posted this to honor the day. Thanks to all the veterans out there who served our country.




*RIP Louise Monger

=Tragic news this week.Former Windy City Live contributor Louise Monger was found in her Westmont home with a gunshot wound in her chest. According to police, it appears the gunshot wound was self-inflicted. Monger was only 40 years old. 


*Howard Sudberry on Chicago Fire

=If you did a double take during this week’s episode of Chicago Fire, no, you were not seeing things. That really was former Channel 2 sportscaster Howard Sudberry portraying a truck driver who had just gotten into an accident. It was a speaking role for Howard, who is trying his hand at acting these days.


*Election Coverage

=The national television ratings are in for election night. For the all-news channels, Fox News was far and away the winner, beating both CNN and MSNBC combined. That’s nothing new. The one wrinkle this year is that MSNBC beat CNN.

=As for national network news ratings, ABC eked out a win over NBC and CBS.

*Dawn DeSart

=The former NBC-5 feature and traffic reporter was also in the local news on election night. She was the leading vote getter to DuPage County Board in the 5th district and has been re-elected.


*Behind the Scenes at Meet the Press

=Poynter’s media columnist Tom Jones was given great access and hung out at Meet the Press during a recent show. An interesting read.


*RIP Fred Hickman

=The former CNN sportscaster was a big star back in the pre-internet days, along with his colleague Nick Charles. Hickman passed away this week at the age of 66.

*Jimmy Kimmel to host the Oscars

=It’s not Jimmy’s first time hosting the show, but it is the first time he’ll be hosting since he had to go on stage and let everyone know the wrong name had been read for Best Picture. Hopefully this one goes a little smoother. (It wasn’t Jimmy’s fault)


*Cable News Corner

=MSNBC cuts ties with Tiffany Cross.

=Speaking of cutting, CNN’s new boss Chris Licht has been ordered to cut $100 million from the budget. I suspect we won’t be seeing another Stanley Tucci does Italy show.




*Elon Musk’s Troubles Not Abating.

=Read this piece in Reuters and tell me that Musk is not a man-baby. According to this article, marketers are being blocked. This piece talks about the failed rollout of his blue-checkmark plan. The mass exodus of executives has gotten the attention ofthe SEC. Musk also tweeted at the Security and Exchange Commission. That’s never good. And yesterday he told his employees that bankruptcy was possible. Remember the good old days (last year) when Time Magazine named him Man of the Year?

*Not Going Much Better at Facebook

=Mark Zuckerberg announced he is laying off over 10,000 Meta employees. He said it was all his fault, which I’m sure will make the fired employees feel much better.



*Meet the new owner of Politico

=He’s 6’7. He’s German. And he’s a combination of Rupert Murdoch and Elon Musk. This profile will give you a better picture of Mathias Doepfner.


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, the Eckhartz Press book Death of the Angels was released. The book is about the tragic 1958 fire at Our Lady of the Angels school.

*On this day in 2017, Bridget and I went down to Atlanta to march in the Purple Stride 5K for pancreatic cancer research. We were there in honor of our friend, Eckhartz Press author Mark Gelinas.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Back in the DDR

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Today would have been Greg Lake's birthday. He is featured in Bobby Skafish's book We Have Company. Lake passed away only a few months after the book came out.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Minutia Men Celebrity Interview--Chuck Swirsky

 This week's celebrity guest is Bulls Play-by-Play man Chuck Swirsky. Fun chat with a Chicago legend.

You can listen to it here.

Back in the DDR--Free Excerpt

 On this day in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down after 27 years. I was there before and after the Wall came down. Here are my personal pictures from 1976 and 1990.

Needless to say, the Berlin Wall plays a part in my new book "Back in the DDR". Here's a short excerpt from the book...


We took a taxi to our appointment. Dad asked the cab driver to drop us a few blocks away so that we could walk and see the sights. I could see Checkpoint Charlie from where we were, but Dad brought me to a platform in front of the wall, about a hundred yards away. We climbed up the stairs to the platform, and from that point we could see over the wall into East Germany. I felt a chill up my spine as Dad described what I was seeing.

                “The guards there walking back and forth are on duty. See them in front of that building over there? 24 hours a day they have guards walking back and forth, scanning the area, making sure no-one makes a run for it here. Not that anything is likely to happen right here, anyway. People who try to escape have learned not to do it at the checkpoints. Checkpoint Charlie is amongst the most heavily fortified places anywhere along the wall.”

                He pointed to the space in front of the guards.

                “The grass field there looks pretty innocuous, doesn’t it? But the hundred yards or so between the buildings in the East and the Wall is loaded with landmines. Everyone knows it, and no one dares go near it.”

It looked like a soccer field with a few giant white stone markers placed about twenty meters apart.

“But let’s say you make it magically past the guards and the landmines and get to the wall. That tower over there,” he said. “Can you see those men in there with binoculars? Those are the snipers that Major Dacey was telling us about. They have incredibly powerful searchlights that scan the Wall all night long. The tower is within rifle range of the wall. Anyone who gets to the wall can be shot down before they climb it. There are towers like this up and down the wall. Down the river a way, there are even a few stories about snipers shooting people after they get into West Berlin.”

I could see the binoculars trained on us. They were watching us.

“But let’s say by some miracle you make it all this way and they haven’t seen you and you’ve somehow gotten a ladder or some way to climb up the wall. Look at the top of the wall itself.”

We could see it perfectly from this perch. It was only a few yards away from us. The top of the wall was covered with shards of glass.

“That’s why almost no-one tries to get over the wall,” he said. “They try other things. They strap themselves to the undercarriage of cars heading back into the West. They build secret compartments into trucks or trains bringing goods back and forth from East to West. They build tunnels to get underneath the wall…”

I looked at Dad. Dad nodded. We didn’t need to rehash the obvious tunnel-blunder moment.

“But here’s the important thing to remember about all this, Rudi,” he said. “A country that needs to build a wall to keep their own people from leaving is not a country at all. It’s a prison. Keep that in mind when you hear them tell you about the utopia of their socialist state. I’ve heard it all a million times, and we’ll hear it again today. Don’t say anything to dispute them. We are under orders not to engage in anyway. We’re just going to give Onkel Otto these family pictures in my rucksack, tell him stories about his family, shake his hand and return to safety. Do you understand?”

                I nodded.

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?

November 8, 2006—First Chick Fil A opens in San Diego. The SanDiego chicken was on our show. 

November 9, 1989, The Berlin Wall fell. We interviewed author Lou Macaluso about his book that tackled that subject just a few years ago.

November 11is Jim Peterik's birthday. We've had him on the show twice. Once in studio. Once on the phone. 

November 12, 1996, Madonna stars in the film, Evita. That inspired John Landecker and I to pen the song,  Don’t Cry For Me Madonna. (audio)

November 12 is Sammy Sosa birthday. We wrote a song about Sammy the year the Cubs made the playoffs. It was called “SOSA” (Audio: L&L song)

Eckhartz Everyday

*On this day in 2018, Windy City Reviews reviewed the Eckhartz Press book Cameo. You can read that review here.

*On this day in 2021, Bob Boone held a virtual event to promote his book City U.

*On this day in 2016, Bobby Skafish had a book event for We Have Company at Red Lion Pub in Chicago. Here are a few photos from that event...

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Chuck Swirsky Making the Rounds

Back in the DDR

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Today is skateboarder Steve Caballero's birthday.  He is featured in the Eckhartz Press book Signature Shoes by Ryan Trembath.

*On this day in 2021, Robert Feder wrote the following about Randy Merkin's book...

Randy Merkin, operations manager and executive producer of Good Karma Brands ESPN sports/talk WMVP 1000-AM, has just released Behind the Glass: Stories from a Sports Radio Producer. (Here is the link.) Published by Rick Kaempfer and David Stern’s Chicago-based Eckhartz Press, the book highlights Merkin’s encounters with athletes, coaches, journalists and celebrities over his three decades in the business. It also offers an inside look at how radio shows are produced and provides expert advice on how to book big-name guests. Merkin, who got his start in radio at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, worked at One-On-One Sports (later known as Sporting News Radio) before joining ESPN 1000 as executive producer of Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman’s midday show in 2007.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Swirsky & Rosenbloom

Back in the DDR

Minutia Men--Old Guys in the Dorm

 Our latest episode dropped on Saturday. You can listen to it here.

Fake college students, dead celebrity millionaires, paying to be buried alive, Scott Turow’s Cubs memories, a 95-year-old Grammy winner, and a brush with a famous rock star are among the minutiae discussed by Rick and Dave. [Ep291]

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2016, Bobby Skafish made an appearance in Des Plaines at the Green White Soccer club. Photos from that day are here.

*Today is Grant DePorter's birthday. Grant is the owner of Harry Caray's restaurant, and provided a chapter for the Eckhartz Press book Cubsessions.

*On this day in 2016, Eckhartz Press author Mark Gelinas (GelStrong) appeared on WSB-TV in Atlanta to talk about his diagnosis...

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Back in the DDR on WGN

 Thanks again to John Landecker for having me on his show on Friday night. It was a fun conversation about my book "Back in the DDR".

You can listen to it here.