A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…
*Chicago Radio Ratings
=Inside Radio posted the numbers for November. Here are the top fifteen stations, 12+…
=The biggest jump from last month goes to WLIT (Christmas music). The biggest drop goes to WBBM-AM (dropped .5). But for the most part, these numbers are remarkably stable.
*Kathy Hart’s New Venture
=The former co-star of the Eric and Kathy show announced this week what she has been working on these past few years. She unveiled her website, gritology.com. This is how she describes the site: I’m calling my website, Gritology. Because healing requires GRIT, and ‘ology’ is the science/knowledge of something. What will you find on my website? I’ve included LOTS of tips for healing — from getting a diagnosis to detoxing your body and environment to treating mold and Lyme disease and much more!
*Ali Mattacola Leaves Q-101 Morning Show
=The station is on the lookout for a new co-host after Ali Mattacola opted not to renew her contract at Q-101 after four years on the morning show. Radio Insight has more details about the move.
*Steve Seaver Leaves the Drive
=Seaver has been with the Drive since 2008, afternoon drive since 2015, and has been in the market since the early 90s. According to the RAMP newsletter, Seaver’s exit is amicable. I interviewed Steve for Illinois Entertainer back in 2018.
*iHeart and Google Sued by FTC
=This involves deceptive advertising practices from a few years ago when iHeart media personalities (including some in Chicago) were hired by Google to do personal endorsements for phones they had never used. Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine put it this way: "Google and iHeartMedia paid influencers to promote products they never used, showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules. The FTC will not stop working with our partners in the states to crack down on deceptive ads and ensure firms that break the rules pay a price."
*Lin Brehmer’s Return to the WXRT Airwaves
=It sure was great to hear Lin Brehmer on the air again this week after a lengthy medical sabbatical. He returned in a way that only Brehmer could, with a wonderful Lin’s Bin audio essay. The title of the essay says it all: How are you doing?
*Mitch Rosen Promoted
=He will remain the Brand Manager for the Score (WSCR), but Mitch Rosen has also been promoted to VP/BetQL Network. That’s the sports betting wing of Audacy. Rosen will work with the current VP/BetQL team and Audacy President of Sports Mike Dee to increase the visibility and distribution of the network.
*Sean Hannity adds 700th affiliate
=Who is America listening to? Well, if the number of radio stations is any indication, it’s Sean Hannity. This week he added his 700th affiliate. In Chicago, Hannity airs on WIND-AM from 10-Midnight.
=Combined, the participating stations (WLIT, Kiss-FM, V-103, WGCI, and Inspiration 1390) will give away more than $95,000 through various contests, charity events, and grants this holiday season.
=I’ve previously highlighted some of my favorite comedy podcasts (see previous columns), and there are lots of them, but the field is about to get even more crowded. iHeart announced this week that they will be rolling out five new comedy podcasts in the coming months, and they all sound worthy of checking out. The History of Curb Your Enthusiasm (with Susie Essman and Jeff Garlin), Onward with Rosie O’Donnell, Really? No Really? (with Jason Alexander), The Amber & Lacey Show (with a Seth Meyers writer and her sister), and Bombing (with Eric Andre). There’s more information here.
=Guesting on a podcast can have a huge ROI, says Forbes Magazine. Of course, I say the same thing every time I try to book a guest on mine.
*Chuck Swirsky Making the Rounds
=The December issue of Illinois Entertainer is out, and features my interview with Bulls Play-by-Play announcer Chuck Swirsky. Here’s a small excerpt….
“During Covid we were doing road games live from the United Center. One night the Bulls won a game, and I did a little dance, and our engineer Rich Wyatt was taping it. He asked if he could put it up on the internet, and I said sure. Next thing we knew, we got 25,000 hits. So, we thought, why not? Let’s keep doing it. And it really caught on. I saw (Golden State Warriors player) Stephen Curry, who I have known since he was a kid, in the hallway before a game last year, and we chatted, and at the end of the chat I said, ‘have a good game.’ I took about ten or fifteen steps, and he called out to me, “Oh Chuck, Chuck. You’re not dancing tonight.”
=Andy Masur also has a great piece out about Chuck’s book in Barrett Sports Media. It’s called “Chuck Swirsky Embodies Always a Pleasure.”
=If you're coming to the Bulls game on December 7, come a little early and meet Chuck Swirsky. He's selling and signing his Eckhartz Press book Always a Pleasure at the team store in the United Center before the game.
I didn’t post any last week, so there are a few extras this week.
*November 20 was Radio Hall of Famer Steve Dahl’s birthday. Yes, I worked with Steve back in the Steve & Garry days, but I also interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer in 2019 for the 40th anniversary of Disco Demolition.
*WVON’s Todd Ronczkowski also celebrated a birthday on November 20. I interviewed Todd for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2010.
*NewsNation’s Mike Greaney shares a birthday with Dahl and Ronczkowski.
*November 21 was WCIU’s Bill Leff’s birthday. I’ve interviewed Leff a few times, including this one going all the way back to 2008.
*David W. Berner is not only an author and a former professor at Columbia College, he’s a newsman at WBBM NewsRadio. His birthday was November 21.
*November 21, 1985, the feud between Steve & Garry and Larry Lujack blew up on the air. Catherine Johns was part of Larry’s show and tells the tale of what that time was like in this podcast interview.
*November 22 was former Channel 2 sportscaster Howard Sudberry’s birthday. For a while, Howard also hosted a podcast with Steve Baskerville. I interviewed both of them for my podcast.
*November 22 was the birthday of WTMX morning co-host Chris Petlak. He has settled into the role after replacing Eric Ferguson.
*Former Chicago radio executive Jeff Schwartz (WCKG, The Score, WLUP) had a birthday on November 23. Schwartz is a memorable character. I enjoyed chatting with him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2008.
*One year ago on November 24, 2021, Harry Teinowitz’s play When Harry Met Rehab opened in Chicago. The Jeff-nominated play was discussed at length in my podcast interview with Harry just before the opening curtain.
* Tony Fitzpatrick (WLUP, WCPT) celebrated his birthday on November 24. The highly acclaimed artist got his media start co-hosting Drive-In Reviews with Buzz Kilman in the 1980s, and makes frequent appearances now on Joan Esposito’s WCPT radio show.
* Pete Crozier’s birthday was November 25. Pete still contributes to Lin Brehmer’s feature Lin’s Bin on WXRT.
*November 26 was the birthday of Roman Sawczak. Roman was the leader of the band The Dancing Noodles and Teenage Radiation. He also served as Steve & Garry’s producer in the mid-to-late 80s. I interviewed Roman for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2007.
*The late news reporter (ABC-Channel 7) Bob Petty, one of the first Black reporters on local Chicago TV, was born on November 26. Petty passed away in February of 2020 after a long battle with lung cancer.
*Former Chicago traffic reporter Christina Filiaggi White’s birthday was November 27th. Christina is best remembered for her time on WLS with Roe Conn.
*Podcaster James Van Osdol (Car Con Carne) was a birthday boy on November 28. James got his start in Chicago at Q-101, and later wrote a book about the history of the station.
*November 28 was also former Loop newsman Bill Holub’s birthday. Every year as spring training begins, I post a feature Holub wrote about the most glorious words in the English Language: “Pitchers and Catchers Report.”
*November 29, 1923, Frank Reynolds was born. Reynolds was a native Chicagoan but is best remembered for his years at ABC-TV as a Washington-based correspondent. He passed away in 1983.
*Gary Spears (B-96, K-Hits) celebrated his birthday on November 30. I interviewed Gary shortly after he returned to Chicago in 2011.
*December 1st was Linda Yu’s birthday. The long-time Channel 7 anchor retired from the station in 2016 after 34 years in Chicago television.
*December 2nd is Garry Meier’s birthday. Meier is a Radio Hall of Famer for his time as the co-host of Steve & Garry’s show, but also had long stints with Roe Conn (WLS) and a solo show (on WCKG & WGN). He currently hosts a podcast. The first time I interviewed Garry was in the early 90s. He was in character at the time, as Cliff Mansavage.
*Frank Whitaker Retiring from Channel 5
=Guess who broke the news?
Best wishes to Frank Whittaker, station manager and VP of news at @NBCChicago, who's retiring Dec. 30 after 46 years in Chicago TV news. Seems like only yesterday we were @MedillSchool undergrads dreaming of journalism careers in our hometown. Congrats on a great run, @chinews. pic.twitter.com/sr0ZuEyKGK— Robert Feder (@RobertFeder) November 29, 2022
*Rob Stafford Also Retiring from Channel 5
=There seems to be a trend going on at WMAQ-TV. Anchor Rob Stafford also announced his retirement this week. From his Facebook page…Good morning friends. Some personal news to share. This was my last holiday promo with my dear friend Allison Rosati. After 40 years in television news, I’m retiring December 23rd. I end my broadcasting career with a great sense of satisfaction and gratitude. I appreciate your support over the years and your prayers after my Amyloidosis diagnosis. I’m happy to report I’ve been in remission four years and feel great. I turn 65 next year and my wife Lisa and I look forward to making our own schedule.
*Alan Krashesky Signs Off
=You may have missed this over the Thanksgiving break, but Alan Krashesky’s last newscast at ABC-7 Chicago was November 22nd.
*Morning TV Ratings in Chicago
=Jeff Hoover likes shouting these numbers from the rooftops, and it’s certainly understandable why. The WGN-TV Morning News is a ratings juggernaut.
.@WGNMorningNews finished #1 with Adults 25-54 from 6-10am, beating its nearest competitor at 6am by 56%, 7-9am by 105%, and 9am by 158%. No matter your age or the percentages, thank you all for your loyal viewership. We greatly appreciate it.— Groovyhoovy (@Groovyhoovy) November 30, 2022
*Rolling Stone Ranks the Best TV Theme Songs
=These articles are created to start arguments, so they will probably be pleased that I’m upset neither Mission Impossible nor Peter Gunn are in the top ten.
*The Highest Ranked NBC Show of the Year
=Would you believe it was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? I’m guessing that’s not a good sign.
*Disney Swaps Bobs at CEO
=Bob Iger is back at Disney as the CEO, after the backlash against former Disney CEO Bob Chapek. The Hollywood Reporter has a good piece explaining the decision-making process behind that move.
=The show Wednesday set the Netflix record for most-viewed English-language series in a single week, beating the record once held by “Stranger Things.” 341.2 million hours were viewed.
*Cable News Corner
=CNN reshuffled the deck of reporters covering the White House. The Hill has the details.
=The long-awaited layoffs at CNN also began this week. Among those let go; Robin Meade and Chris Cillizza.
=Don Lemon appeared on Stephen Colbert this week and was asked about the changes at the network.
=A court ruled that former Congressman Devin Nunes may sue Rachel Maddow and MSNBC for defamation. Details on the comments in question are here via Reuters.
=Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch is going to be questioned in the Dominion Voting Machines lawsuit.
*RIP Mike Nolan
=Mike Nolan passed away this week at the age of 85. The sportscaster worked in Chicago briefly (weekend anchor at WLS-TV from 1975-1978), but became well known in Denver, where he spent nearly 30 years. His younger brother Peter Nolan also worked here in Chicago for decades as a writer, reporter, and commentator. This past February Peter released a book about the Harold Washington race for mayor (Campaign) for Amika Press in Chicago.
*A webinar with Washington Post columnist Dan Balz
=The University of Illinois alum will do a Q&A special webinar on December 5th (Monday). It’s being put on by his alma mater’s Media College. (Yes, I’m also an alum). You can register for the event here.
=That translates to hundreds of people laid off. Poynter has the details.
*Twitter Drops Moderation of COVID Misinformation
=This news was very quietly announced on the social media giant, but eagle eyes at the Associate Press noticed it. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene immediately posted something about masks being as effective as underwear at stopping farts. That’s the country we live in now.
*Bob Dylan Autographing Controversy
=Turns out that Bob Dylan didn’t technically autograph all of those autographed editions of his latest book. The Washington Post reports.
*Back in the D.D.R.
=My latest novel Back in the D.D.R. came out over Thanksgiving break, I’ll be signing and selling copies of it at my book launch party on December 11th. All the details are below.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com