Friday, December 09, 2022

Media Notebook--12-9-22


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



*Pat Hughes, Hall of Famer

=It’s about time! The radio play-by-play man for the Chicago Cubs was named the 2023 Ford Frick Award winner this week, which means that he is going to be part of Baseball’s Hall of Fame. He has been with the Cubs since 1996. Now he will be in the same hallways as his former on-air partner Ron Santo.

=I interviewed Pat back in 2010 and we talked extensively about Ron.

*Court dismisses defamation case versus Hubbard

=It appears the legal drama at WTMX is officially over. Just a few months after Melissa McGurren’s case was dismissed, Cynthia DeNicola’s case has been dismissed as well. It was dismissed with prejudice, which means it cannot be tried again. The judge basically agreed with the previous judge, writing “The Court finds its conclusions to be supported by an opinion issued in a related case from this District and which Hubbard filed as supplemental authority.”

*Seaver Says Farewell

=Last week I reported that afternoon host Steve Seaver had left the Drive (WDRV). This week he confirmed the news on his Facebook page…“For friends who many not know; my time, after 16 years is over at the home of Chicago’s Classic Rock. I’ll miss the camaraderie of my teammates and interaction with the listeners. We weren’t able to get a new deal done and that’s ok. Home is my sanctuary for the time being. Hopefully I won’t drive The Lovely Vanessa insane. Got no plans for the rest of the year other than taking care of the fam and spending time in my home studio. All the best! Seaver”


*Sherman & Tingle Name New Executive Producer

=The morning show at the Drive has a new executive producer. Veteran producer (Mancow & WLS)  Midge “Cheez” Ripoli will take over the role beginning on January 3rd.


*WFMT Going After Younger Classical Music Fans

=Great article in the Sun Times this week about Kristina Lynn and LaRob Rafael, two new young classical music announcers at WFMT. They do a show together, which is geared more to young classical music fans. “We get along very well,” Lynn said. “We have fun talking about music. We’re laughing. He’s a singer, so he’s singing the music. We’re getting emotional, and I think that dynamic between us is really exciting. It’s different than what you normally hear on WFMT. We don’t have a lot of co-hosted things at all, so it’s really nice to hear our dynamic together.” 

*RIP Norm Pattiz

=Norm’s name is probably not known to most Chicago radio listeners, but he was the founder of Westwood One, which brought us classics like The Dr. Demento Show, and more recently, the founder of PodcastOne. Pattiz was 79 years old when he passed away this week. I never met Norm, but I wrote and produced several national specials for Westwood One back in the early 2000s, and the only proviso they gave me was that each special must end with: “Executive Producer, Norm Pattiz.”

*Zander named Classic Rock Format Captain

=Mark Zander is a long-time on-air veteran of Chicago radio (most recently working at ESPN Radio), but he has also done a fair amount of radio programming as well (most recently at the River and Me-TV FM). Last week he got a call from another former Chicago programmer, Dave Shakes (B-96), and jumped at the chance to move out west to become the classic rock format captain in Redding and Chico California for Results Radio LLC (KTHU/Chico, KHRD/Redding)

*Podcast Corner

=Stacey King's Give Me The Hot Sauce podcast moves to Audacy.  Stacey has been doing the podcast since 2020 with co-host Mark Schanowski, but will now be part of the Audacy Chicago world, including all of the local radio support that brings.  The Score (AM 670) will be a partner, and will feature King prominently. Why not? He's one of the most entertaining announcers in Chicago today.

*Jeff Smuylan Interview

=Jeff was the founder of Emmis Broadcasting (one-time owner of the Loop in Chicago) and was recently inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. He has a new book out, and Inside Radio interviewed him about it. I thought this part of the interview was interesting… Well, there's one memorable discussion where we had a meeting with Sam Zell, and Sam wanted to merge Emmis with Jacor, and we would run it. I said, ‘Sam if I want to make the most money, I would do this. But I know that in two years, you're going to look at this business and say it's peaked. And let's sell it and you would be right. And I know that, but I love what we do. And I want to keep doing it.’ And you know, now most people would look at that and say, ‘Boy, are you dumb. Because Sam did look at it and sold the business a few years later and did very well. I stayed in it and sort of watched the industry ride all the way down. But I don't have a lot of regrets. I loved it. I have no complaints about my life.

*Chuck & Mitch

=Look who showed up for Chuck Swirsky’s book signing on Wednesday night at the United Center, the Brand Manager of the Score, Mitch Rosen. Rosen has been very supportive of Chuck and his book. I asked him about it, and Mitch told me: “Chuck is family.”  Rosen and Swirsky have known each other since Mitch interned for Chuck at WGN radio in the late 80s.



December, 2007—Interview with legendary radio production man Matt Bisbee in Radio and Production Magazine. Great stuff. Thanks to Chicago Radio Archives for uncovering this interview from 15 years ago this month. 


December 7—Joe Callahan Jr.’s birthday.  Joe is formerly part of the Kevin Matthews show, and an administrator of several Facebook groups including Chicago Rocks, Steve & Garry Fan Group, and Brandmeier Nation.

December 7—Carole Simpson’s birthday. Carole got her start in Chicago radio on WCFL and WBBM. She later became an esteemed television newscaster. She was the first African American woman to anchor a major network newscast (NBC), and the first woman of color to moderate a presidential debate (1992-Bush/Clinton/Perot).  She wrote a book about her career called Newslady. 

December 8—Sam Kinison’s birthday. It’s hard to believe that Sam has been gone for 30 years now. I previously wrote about my personal brush with the legendary comedian. It was a memorable one.

December 8—Al Fleishman’s birthday. Al teams up with former radio producer Mick Kahler to do parodies that are often featured on the WGN-TV morning show


December 9—Jim Kerr’s birthday. Jim is in the National Radio Hall of Fame, mostly for his impressive career in New York, but as a young man he also worked in Chicago radio for a time at WDAI and WLS..


December 9—Harold Lee Rush’s birthday would have been today, but unfortunately Harold passed away earlier this year. He was a part of WGCI’s heyday. Robert Feder talked to him about those days back in 2020.

December 9—Scott Childers birthday. Scott has worked at virtually every station in Chicago and the suburbs in various different capacities (traffic anchor, air personality, program director and engineer.) I interviewed Scott for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2008. He’s also the keeper of the WLS History website, which is truly incredible. In that role Scott was very helpful to me while I was working with John Landecker on Landecker’s memoir RecordsTruly Is My Middle Name.

December 10—Michael Damsky’s birthday. The former Chicago radio executive (WXRT, WLS) was a fun interview for me back in 2011.



*The Chicago/Midwest Emmys

=The Chicago Midwest Emmy’s were handed out last weekend and nearly every Chicago station brought home some hardware. The full list of winners is here. WBBM led the way with 11, WGN brought home 8, WLS got 6, WMAQ won 3, WTTW also won 3, as did WSNS-TV (Telemundo). WGBO (Univision) came home with two trophies, and so did NBC Sports Chicago and the Marquee Network. WFLD won one. The ceremony was hosted by Sultan A. Salahuddin, producer, writer and star of the HBO Series South Side. 


*100 Years Replay

=In May WGN-TV aired a documentary about the 100th anniversary of WGN Radio. It only ran once.  If you missed it, or didn’t DVR it, you have another chance. They are going to re-run the show on New Years Eve at 4pm.


*Decades Network Pays Tribute to Kirstie Alley

=The former Cheers actress passed away this week at the age of 71. The Decades Network has been featuring her most famous episodes all week. That continues tonight from 10pm-11pm. The entire run of Kirstie’s years on Cheers (seasons 6-11), 84 episodes, will air from Saturday at 11am until Monday at 5am.


*A Genuine TV-Anchor Sex Scandal

=Haven’t had one of these in a while, maybe not since the Mika & Joe relationship leaked a few years ago. ABC News pulled Good Morning America 3 anchors T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach off the air for a few days after tabloids broke the story that the two are involved in a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, they are both married to someone else. Robach is married (now separated) to former Melrose Place actor Andrew Shue. It should be said that while it may be a little distasteful and titillating, Holmes and Robach didn’t appear to break any company rules. The relationship is completely consensual, and neither anchor has a position of authority over the other. The investigation is on-going.

*Trevor Signs Off

=Last night was Trevor Noah’s final Daily Show. The New York Times has the story about that final show. 

*The Best Christmas Movies/TV Shows of All-Time

=Another one of those lists, guaranteed to start arguments, this time from Esquire Magazine. At least they got number one right. (This is not open for debate).

*Cable News Corner

The last few weeks I’ve been sharing stories about the troubles at CNN. This week was a very bad week for their competitor Fox News.

=The New York Times: Defamation Suit Against Fox Grows Contentious.

=The Washington Post: Rupert Murdoch to be Deposed in Defamation Suit

=The LA Times: Fox News dumps Lara Trump

*Alex Jones Files For Bankruptcy

=This is the least surprising story of the week. After losing lawsuit after lawsuit and being ordered to pay over a billion dollars in restitution, InfoWars host Alex Jones has declared bankruptcy. He now says he can only pay 1% of what he is being ordered to pay, which of course, sounds a little hard to believe after the trial revealed his net worth was somewhere between $135 million and $270 million.



*TikTok’s Very Bad Week

=Not a good week for TikTok here in the United States. The state of Indiana sued, claiming TikTok violates child-safety consumer laws. The state of Texas banned the use of Tiktok on all state devices.




*New York Times Staffers Stage a 24-hour Walkout

=Of course this is a story that you’ll not read about in the New York Times. The Washington Post, on the other hand, was more than happy to supply the details.


*Time Magazine names Volodymyr Zelenskyy Person of the Year

=There was a time (pun intended) when Time Magazine was held in high regard in America. That’s no longer the case, except for this one time (again, pun intended) of year. The person they name as Person of the Year is still a major news story. Some years they might not get it right (last year it was Elon Musk, for instance). This year they got it right. The president of Ukraine and “the spirit of Ukraine” were awarded this special honor.


*Back in the DDR

=One last mention of the book before Christmas. I’ll be signing and selling copies of my coming-of-age Cold War spy thriller, Back in the D.D.R., on Sunday from 2-5pm in Des Plaines. Everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there.

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2013 I wrote one of my final Father Knows Nothing columns. It didn't make the final copy of the book, but I thought I'd repost it here because it put me in a good mood just reading it.

Father Knows Nothing: Sunshine on a Snowy Day

I had set aside the whole afternoon yesterday to catch up on my work (I have two upcoming deadlines for articles, and a website revamp I'm working on), but when I sat down at the computer to start writing, my oldest son Tommy tapped me on the shoulder.

"Um, Dad," he said nervously, "Are you real busy today?"

"Yes I am," I answered, not even looking back at him.

"Oh, OK," he said. He started to walk out of the room, but Tommy's defeated tone of voice set off a little alarm in my head.

"Wait a second," I said, calling him back. "What's the problem?"

"It's just that I have this assignment due tomorrow, and I'm not sure how I'm going to get it done."

"You need help?"


"How long do you think it will take?" I asked, trying to plot out my work schedule.

"That depends," he said. "How far away is Oak Park?"

I groaned. He correctly intrepreted the groan.

"Then I guess it could take a long time," he said. "Remember that field trip I forgot about the other day? They went to Oak Park to look at architecture and take pictures for a project. Because I missed the field trip, I need to have my picture taken in front of seven different styles of homes in Oak Park."

"And it's due tomorrow?" I asked.

He nodded and braced for the verbal blowback. I sighed, but I knew what I needed to do.

"OK, fine," I said. "Grab the camera. Let's go."

Oak Park isn't that close to us on a good day, but yesterday we drove there and back in the middle of a snowstorm. The entire trip, including the photo session in Oak Park, took about 3 1/2 hours.

When we got home, it was already dinner time. I figured I'd get my work done after dinner, but while we were eating, Bridget announced we would be going to 6:00 mass.

"And after mass," she added, "we're either going Christmas shopping or setting up the tree."

I could tell that she wasn't having a great day either because she had been a little short with all of us, so I knew Johnny wasn't going to make her happy when he announced his plans. "I really want to go to youth group tonight after mass," he said.

"Then I guess we're not setting up the tree," Bridget said. "We do that as a family."

I cleared my throat.

"Um," I said gingerly. "I really don't think it's a good idea to go Christmas shopping tonight either. It's too dangerous out there. Tommy and I were slipping all over the road. Let's set up the tree instead. We can let Johnny put the star on the top of the tree when he gets home. That way it's still a family project."

Bridget reluctantly agreed.

But that family project decreased by one more when Tommy announced he still needed to finish his Oak Park project. I could tell that Bridget was really getting ticked, so when we got home from mass, Sean and I set up the tree, and pulled all the ornaments out of the basement. Having two incompetents working on the project finally lured Bridget in (to save us), and soon the three of us were working on it together. Sean was so happy he was bouncing off the walls.

"What could be better than putting up a Christmas tree!" he said.

With each new ornament, he got more excited. "I love that one!" he would squeal. "No wait! That one is the best one!" Each new ornament made him happier and happier.

"I am in the GREATEST MOOD!" he announced.

His happiness was helping Bridget, but I wasn't moved. My workload hadn't budged during a day that had been set aside to make lots of progress, and there was still three or four inches of snow on the ground that needed to be shoveled.

At 10pm I was outside, bundled up in my snow-shoveling gear, muttering to myself that I had officially wasted the day.

Suddenly the back door flung open, and a snowsuit-clad 11-year-old bounded my way.

"Dad," Sean said, "I'm coming out to help you shovel."

"It's bedtime, buddy. I can do this."

"Dad," he said, getting very serious, "I'm going to help. I've been waiting all year for the snow to come again so we could shovel together. I'm NOT missing this chance."

He grabbed his shovel and got to work. He was literally whistling while he worked. "Isn't this great! Isn't shoveling fantastic!" He meant it too. For the next forty minutes or so he regaled me with tales of snow; his recess plans, his snowball making techniques, his preferred location for a snowman, his anticipation of our upcoming skiing vacation. And by the time we were done, we were both sad that there wasn't anything left to shovel.

So we shoveled the neighbor's sidewalk and walkway too.

As we walked back to our garage to put away the shovels, Sean looked up at me. "You sure had a great day, didn't you, Dad? You got to spend all afternoon with Tommy on an adventure in Oak Park, you-me-and-mom got to decorate the tree, AND we got to shovel together! What could be better than that!"

There are times when that boy's cheerfulness can be a bit much to handle.

And there are times when it's exactly what the doctor ordered.

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Back in the DDR

Chuck Swirsky Book Signing

 Thanks so much to everyone who came out to the United Center last night for Chuck Swirsky's book signing. It was great meeting all of his fans, and experiencing the excitement of the live Bulls crowd. Bill Wennington stopped by. So did Score boss Mitch Rosen. Here are a few pics from the event...

Free Kicks--The Final 8

 The latest Free Kicks is out. Another World Cup episode. Listen to it here.

The final 8 teams have qualified for the World Cup, and Rick and Adam discuss their performances and their chances. Also, a bonus World Cup fashion report from our fashion critic Todd Fritz Schneider! [Ep171]

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2014, I had the book launch party for my book Father Knows NothingMany thanks to everyone who came out to the party. It was a great time. So blessed to have so many good friends who came out to support the launch. Lots of photos have been posted at the Eckhartz Press blog.

*On this day in 2018, Chet Coppock had a book signing in Orland Park at a sports collector show. Chet was in his element that day...

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Back in the D.D.R

Eckhartz Everyday


*On this day in 2012, I was asked to participate in something called "The Next Big Thing" about my novel The Living Wills. Ten years later it's interesting to read this again...

Authors are being asked to answer ten simple questions (and no more than ten...we can get a little wordy), and then tag five other authors to do the same. I've chosen to accept this assignment to promote "The Living Wills" (co-written with Brendan Sullivan), which is still available in the Eckhartz Press storethe amazon Kindle storeBarnes & NobleApple iBookstore, and the Sony Reader store. You know what? Now that you mention it, it would make an excellent stocking stuffer for Christmas.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1. What is the (working) title of your book?

“The Living Wills”

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It was created in a very unusual way. My co-author Brendan Sullivan and I wrote individual chapters with no idea where the story would take us. After creating a few memorable characters using that technique, we met and improvised a story line featuring those characters. It was a really interesting experiment in creativity that worked out much better than we ever thought it would.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It’s not a genre book, really. More of a standard commercial novel.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

We’ve actually gotten a few nibbles from film directors and producers, but I'm guessing my dream cast for the five main characters of the book might be a bit out of any movie studio's price range...

Henry—Henry’s a bigger than life kind of figure, in his 60s. I can see Brian Dennehy playing that role very convincingly. Or CSI’s William Petersen (who actually endorsed our book on the back cover).

Reed—Reed is in his 50s, and just going through the motions in life. How about Tom Hanks? (It’s a dream cast, right?)

Gina—She has a sassy attitude, and is young and tall. I’m thinking Maggie Gyllenhaal

Delmar—Late 30s/early 40s lovable nerd. How about Jack Black?

Peter—I like Jason Segel in this role, but it may be a little too serious for him.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The Living Wills is about a split second decision made thirty years ago and the ripple effects it has caused.

6. Was (Will) your book (be) self-published or represented by an agency?

Trick question. The book was published by Eckhartz Press, but I’m one of the co-publishers of Eckhartz Press. (We’ve since published four other books by other authors). I've been previously published and represented by an agency, and to be honest, I didn't like the experience. I much prefer doing it this way.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I think it took us about a year to write the first draft. Working on that first draft was pure joy. Polishing subsequent drafts, on the other hand, was a little more challenging. It took us another two years to do that.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t really compare it to another book because it is a little unusual. I guess it's a bit similar to a movie like The Royal Tenenbaums. It has quirky intersecting story lines, and beneath the humor, the reader will unexpectedly encounter real human drama.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It's hard to explain where ideas come from when you're improvising, but I think it's safe to say that the emotional parts of the book were inspired by the deaths of our parents (Brendan’s mom, and my dad).

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Living Wills connects the worlds of baristas and Army veterans, bowling teams and exploding port-a-potties, cartoon pirates and young love. Find me another novel that does that!

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Back in the D.D.R

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?

December 3, 1987—Heavenly Bodies opens in Elk Grove (AUDIO—Amish commercial)

December 4, 1998—Debut of Blitzen the Unloved Reindeer (audio/Landecker & the Legends song)

December 5, 1999—Stuart Little released (Tommy Kaempfer review audio)

December 6--Olympic High-Jumper Dwight Stones' birthday. (Interview here

December 8—Political writer Judd Legum's birthday. (Interview here)

December 9--Humorist/author Sheila Moeschen's birthday. (Interview here

December 9--Monty Python's Neil Innis' birthday. (Interview here

December 9--Donny Osmond's birthday. Danny Bonaduce appeared on our show to talk about his fight with Donny. (Interview here)  

December 9—Redd Foxx's birthday. Nick Digilio told us a great story about Redd. (Interview here)

December 10, 1995—Baby Tommy Kaempfer pees in his own ear—Rick tells the story on Landecker show. (audio)

Eckhartz Everyday


*On this day in 2013, Eckhartz Press author Chuck Quinzio (Life Behind the Camera) appeared on the radio with the late Dick Kay (WCPT).

*On this day in 2016, Eckhartz Press author Brent Petersen (Truffle Hunt) wrote this piece about saving truffles.

*On this day in 2018, Eckhartz Press author Beth Jacobellis (Cameo) tried out for a role on WGN Radio's Christmas Carol.

*Today is also Peter Buck's birthday. The guitarist from REM is featured in the pages of Bobby Skafish's book, We Have Company. (Photo: Buck, Skafish, Mills)

Monday, December 05, 2022

Back in the D.D.R.

Holiday Gift Ideas

Chuck Swirsky

Eckhartz Everyday

 *On this day in 2019, I paid tribute in my column for Illinois Entertainer to two Eckhartz Press authors we lost . I'm reprinting it here today. Still miss both Chet & Pat very much...

In April, Chicago sportscasting legend Chet Coppock passed away after being severely injured in an automobile accident.  I worked with him for several years at the Loop (WLUP AM 1000) in the late 80s and early 90s. That was at the height of Chet’s popularity when he was hosting Coppock on Sports, which would later spawn an entire radio format (Sports Talk). At the time, I was Steve Dahl & Garry Meier’s producer, and his show was on after ours every day. We literally talked every day for four years, and I was convinced he didn’t know my name. I got a lot of “Hey Chief” or “Hey Sport” or “Hey Champ” in the Loop hallways.

But in the last few years of his life, Chet reached out to me to help him publish his books (I own a publishing company — Eckhartz Press). He wasn’t the same Chet anymore. He was introspective and vulnerable. And he was finally allowing people to know the real Chet. When we published the book Your Dime, My Dance Floor: Chet Coppock in Pursuit of Chet Coppock, I couldn’t have been prouder of him. I interviewed Chet about the book, and here’s a short excerpt I think shows the real Chet.

My relationship with my dad was very complex and sadly, never resolved. The old man was wired to numerous local and national sports figures. He gave me a big-time introduction to sports. Sadly, however, about 95 percent of our relationship was indifference. I never really felt my dad cared about me as a person. I yearned for attention and would find it defining and redefining the persona of Chet Coppock. I mean, I was lost, yet there was one move I made that smacked of common sense. I loved sipping Red Label scotch in juke joints. I was never an alcoholic, but by my early 30’s I was just slopping up the sauce far too much. So when my daughter Lyndsey arrived, I made a pledge:  I swore my children would never see me as tanked as I saw my parents virtually every night. I didn’t read any books on parenting. I just tried to be responsive and comforting. I am blessed. Lynds and my son Tyler are great kids with big hearts. Have I been a good father, a new age Ozzie Nelson? Ask the official scorer. I do know that I feel blue ribbon pride that I never got a call from a cop, a school principal, or a ticked-off parent screaming that either of my little ones was a danger to society. I can never thank Ty and Lyndsey enough. They taught me there was life beyond the red zone and the bullpen. Oh ya, I made good on my pledge, I haven’t had a drink in 34 years. No kidding.”

Chet passed away just a few weeks after his daughter Lyndsey got married. He would have been blown away by the outpouring of love Chicago gave him after his death. I just wish he could have seen it.


In January, Pat Colander passed away. Pat was a gifted journalist for The Chicago TribuneThe Chicago Reader, and other publications for many years, but she was also a mentor as an editor during her time at Lake MagazineShore Magazine, and the Northwest Indiana Times. Among the many writers that she nurtured along the way:  Your humble media writer at Illinois Entertainer.

I met Pat almost twenty years ago when I was working with John Landecker. She was the editor of Lake Magazine at the time, and they were doing a story about John. In our first conversation, I mentioned that I was a writer too, and she asked me to write an article for her magazine. She liked it, and I wrote many more.

When Landecker’s show ended, she encouraged me to write full-time. And I did. My first two books The Radio Producer’s Handbook and $everance were both championed by Pat in the pages of her magazine. When she moved over to Shore Magazine to be the editor there, I went with her. I wrote even more for her there, including the weekly column that came to be my pride and joy – “Father Knows Nothing.” When it came out in book form, Pat gave me an enthusiastic endorsement on the back cover. Pat was always encouraging, always supportive. She was a great cheerleader for me and all the writers she employed.

And she never stopped writing herself. When I started up Eckhartz Press, Pat came to us with an idea. She wanted to print some of her best work (from The ReaderThe Tribune, etc.) into book form. Those articles turned into Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and Other Tales of Love & Death in Chicago.  We weren’t surprised at all when it won the CWA Book of the Year award in 2016. It’s that good.

You only encounter so many truly exceptional people in your life, and Pat was one of them for me. I’m grateful to have seen the tremendous example she set for how to treat people, how to be generous in spirit, and how to be giving to others. Her passing was a significant loss, and I still miss her.