A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…
*Robert Feder’s Chicago Media In Memoriam—2022
=He’s still keeping his eye on his old beat. Feder covered many of the people on this list for decades.
=My “In Memoriam” column for Illinois Entertainer will be coming out in a few weeks. I have a few stories about some of the people mentioned by Feder.
*Pat Foley Returning to the Radio Booth
=At least for one game in 2023. Foley has agreed to do the national radio play-by-play for the 2023 Winter Classic between the Bruins and the Penguins at Fenway Park in Boston on Monday, January 2.
=As Chicago recovers from what was supposed to be the worst storm since 2011, it seems like a good time to revisit the dramatic reporting of WGN’s Roger Badesch during that 2011 storm. It’s in his book The Unplanned Life. I posted a free excerpt from that book this week. It’s a hell of a story.
*John Gallagher returns to Chicago
=Gallagher has been a radio executive in Chicago for many different radio stations and station groups over the years (Nextstar, Hubbard, Cumulus), but most recently he had been helming the Little Rock cluster for Salem Broadcasting. This week they promoted him. He’s back in Chicago to take over the reins of Salem stations here (WIND/WYLL) as of January 1st.
*Bob Sirott’s Musicpeople Memories
=On New Year’s Eve, Bob Sirott revisits morning show interviews with musicians and singer-songwriters from 2022 featuring Graham Nash, Tommy James, Mike Love, Smokey Robinson, Peter Asher, Dion DiMucci, Gene Chandler, Lee Loughnane of Chicago, Paul Muldoon (who edited the Paul McCartney book “The Lyrics”) and more. “Bob Sirott’s Musicpeople Memories” airs Saturday, December 31 from 9pm to midnight.
*Rob Hart and Matt Spiegel
=If you don’t know the original Simon & Garfunkel song, it features a newsman reading headlines over the music. Inspired casting by (WSCR’s) Matt Spiegel, the front man of Tributosaurus, asking his Audacy colleague (WBBM-AM) Rob Hart to fill that role on stage.
*Dan Bongino Quitting Radio When Contract Runs Out
=His show runs on WLS Radio in Chicago. According to this article, he’s going to leave radio altogether when his contract runs out. Fans of Dan…don’t worry. Non fans…don’t get excited. His contract doesn’t run out for another 18 months.
=After the pandemic, there are fewer casual podcast listeners, but substantially more regulars.
=Part of President Obama’s burgeoning media empire is the podcasting department. The company has announced it is investing more in this area, bulking up on podcasting staff.
*Former Chicago Radio update
=Wayne Randazzo is a former Chicago sportscaster (the Score) who has gone on to pursue his play-by-play dreams. For the past few years he has been doing Mets games on the radio. That era is now over. According to the Athletic, he is moving west, and into the television booth, to do play-by-play for the Los Angeles Angels.
There won’t be a column next week, so I’m also mentioning people who would have been mentioned next week.
*December 17, 1989--The Simpsons makes its television debut.
=Happy 33rd birthday to the longest running scripted television show in history.
*December 18—Susan Wiencek’s birthday
=Former newscaster and public affairs broadcaster for the likes of WXRT, WTMX, WLIV, WDRV.
*December 18—Phil Inzinga’s birthday
=Phil worked at WABT and the Loop before going to Kenosha, Charleston, and Miami. He is now entrenched as morning man in Oklahoma City.
*December 18, 2013--Death of Larry Lujack
= During the last few years of his life Larry and I spoke multiple times, swapped books, and developed a friendship. At one point I told him that he actually was charming and delightful. He swore me to secrecy. He told me some great stories about his radio days, but there was one thing he didn’t tell me. I interviewed Larry for Illinois Entertainer just a few months before he passed away and he didn’t even mention he was sick.
=In early 2013, Lujack asked me to send him a copy of John Landecker’s book Records Truly Is My Middle Name in which Larry is mentioned prominently. (You can read those Larry stories here). He sent a note back saying “Tell Decker I loved his book, but I didn’t need to read about his dick!” (John describes a funny emergency room encounter in the book). When Landecker appeared on Windy City Live promoting the book, I convinced Larry to come on the show as a mystery guest to surprise John. Landecker was visibly moved by Lujack’s gesture. Hard to believe he’s already been gone nearly ten years. He was truly one of the all-time greats.
*December 19--Jilly O’Silly’s birthday
=The former Kiss-FM jock is now in Nashville doing middays at the Rock.
*December 19—Paul Goldsmith’s birthday
=Goldsmith was formerly marketing director for Salem broadcasting in Chicago, and is currently based in Nashville and running his own media company.
*December 20—Steve Ennen’s birthday
=Ennen was a long-time Chicago radio executive, formerly VP/GM of WUSN/US-99. I first got to know him when he was staff director of WPGU in Champaign-Urbana in the early 80s.
*December 21—Tom Serritella’s birthday
=Tom began his radio career at the Loop as part of Chet Coppock’s boyquarium (the nickname Steve & Garry gave to the studio Coppock’s producers worked prepping for his show). Serritella later worked at Sporting News Radio and ESPN.
*December 22—Greg Jarrett’s birthday
=The former WGN morning man was an interview subject of mine back in 2009 (for Chicago Radio Spotlight). I also ran into him once on an airplane. We were both coming back from South Africa after the 2010 World Cup, and we both got stranded in Amsterdam on the way home when our flights got canceled. Let’s just say that the buttoned-up newsman has another side to his personality. We had a great time in Amsterdam.
*December 22—Diane Sawyer’s birthday.
=Sawyer did it all in her stellar TV news career. World News Tonight, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes. She also co-hosted CBS Mornings. I spoke with her co-host Bill Kurtis for my podcast once, and he told me what it was like working with her.
*December 22—Neil Sant’s birthday
=Neil is a former WLUP producer on the Danny Bonaduce show. In the politically incorrect 90s, Danny referred to him on the air as Haji. Sant has gone on to great success in the business world.
*December 23, 1924—Floyd Kalber’s birthday
=Floyd would have been 99 years old today. He wasn’t just a famous anchorman in Chicago (at WMAQ-Channel 5, and later at WLS-TV Channel 7), he also anchored network newscasts for NBC, and mentored a young Tom Brokaw. Floyd passed away in 2004.
*December 24—Dave McBride’s birthday
=McBride was a huge part of the Murphy in the Morning crew at Q-101 during Murphy’s straight jacket days. The veteran newsman later had another good run as part of Steve Dahl’s show on WCKG. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2010.
*December 24—Rana Tufail’s birthday
=You may not recognize his name, but you probably remember his many radio contributions as Piranha Man from Jonathon Brandmeier’s show.
*December 24, 2017—Death of Dick Orkin
=The legendary voice-over artist (Chickenman on WCFL, the First American Bank commercials, and so much more) was kind enough to chat with me for Chicago Radio Spotlight back in 2012.
*December 25—Cheryl Burton’s birthday
=Channel 7’s news anchor has been the subject of controversy over the past few years (especially around the firing of Mark Giangreco), but she is still going strong at WLS-TV. 2022 marks her 30th year on the air there.
December 27—Dana Kozlov’s birthday
=The Channel 2 anchor/reporter was featured this year in my Illinois Entertainer column.
December 28—George Ofman’s birthday
=George has worked at the Score and WBBM News Radio, but he now hosts a podcast about sports broadcasting. I featured him in the Illinois Entertainer in 2021.
December 28, 2021—Death of Jeff Dickerson
=ESPN’s Dickerson was beloved by his co-workers. Rarely has there been an outpouring of affection for someone like there was last year after Dickerson’s death. The fact that his wife had recently passed, and they left behind a young son, just made the story even more tragic. I spoke with his colleague and friend Randy Merkin about him for my podcast.
December 30—Kris Erik Stevens
=Stevens is a major voiceover star based in Hollywood now, but in the early 70s he helmed the night shift at the Big 89, WLS. I interviewed him for the Illinois Entertainer in 2021.
*RIP Drew Griffin
=Sad news. Drew was a native Chicagoan, a University of Illinois alum (my classmate and co-worker at WPGU), and an award-winning investigative reporter at CNN. He was only 60. He leaves behind his wife Margot (another U of I & former WPGU alum), three children, and two grandchildren. This obit does a good job of highlighting Drew’s career. If you saw Don Lemon's reaction when he tried to report the news of Griffin's death, you know how beloved he was amongst his colleagues.
*Steve Baskerville on HBO Max
=Baskerville, like his buddy and former Channel 2 colleague (and podcast co-host) Howard Sudberry, has become an actor. Check it out…
*World Cup Ratings in Chicago
=I still say it was the best World Cup final in history, and I’ve seen all of them since 1974. It was also the highest rated in American history (25.78 million viewers). On the other hand, it wasn’t quite as big here. Chicago, the third biggest market in the country, only had the 22nd highest ratings. Top 5 were Washington DC, New York, Richmond (?), Boston, San Francisco.
=My soccer podcast Free Kicks has a full recap of the World Cup in this week’s episode, if you’re interested.
*NFL Season-Ticket Package Heads to YouTube
=Since 1994, DirecTV has had this package. Now, for the next seven years (at a cost of $2 billion a season), it will be on YouTube. It will be available as an add-on for YouTube TV, or as an ala carte item.
*TV Newser Interviews Famous Anchors/Reporters about Overcoming Current Media Challenges
=Some good stuff here. Among the people interviewed; Dana Bash, Christiane Amanpour, Judy Woodruff, and Nora O’Donnell
*Serenading Al Roker
=Roker has been sick, so the Today Show went to his house to serenade him with Christmas Carols. Actually quite touching.
*Cable News Corner
=The Education of CNN’s Chris Licht
=Meanwhile, over at Fox News. Sean Hannity’s testimony
in the Dominion Lawsuit, regarding Trump’s claims of voter/election fraud: “I
did not believe it for one second.” Full story here.
*Elon Musk To Step Down as Twitter CEO When (if) He Can Find a Replacement
=He did a poll asking Twitter users if they wanted him to stay or go. He said he would abide by the results. Twitter users told him to go. I suspect that Tesla stockholders (the stock has been tanking since Musk bought Twitter) were among the happiest to see those results. Let’s see if he really lives up to his promise. It might not be so easy to find a replacement. It should also be noted that Musk will remain the owner of Twitter no matter what happens.
*Can Bari Weiss Bite the Hand That Feeds Her?
=The former New York Times writer has a new media
company, The Free Press, and recently posted a story about alleged bias at
Twitter.. Semafor founder (and media writer) Ben Smith wrote a lengthy piece
about Weiss. A small taste: Last Monday, Bari Weiss asked me what my angle was in writing
about her. I told her I wondered whether, showered with adulation, investment and
information from Elon Musk and his allies, her new media company The Free Press
could be truly independent. You can read the whole piece here.
*New Omnibus Spending Bill Includes Ban on TikTok on Government Phones
=Seems like a reasonable approach considering Chinese ownership of TikTok, but the more performative-minded members of Congress are sure to object. Nevertheless, TikTok has already been caught improperly using data of users, including journalists.
*Jay Mariotti, Sports Media Critic
=If you haven’t been following his career since he left town, former Chicago Sun Times sportswriter Jay Mariotti is now a sports media critic. This piece defending Jerry Sullivan is a good indicator of his approach on substack. Slightly gratuitous shot at Rick Telander included.
*Mick Dumke moves from Propublica to Block Club Chicago
=On the local news front…
It's also a good time to share the news that as of the start of 2023 I'll be helping launch a new investigative unit @BlockClubCHI as an editor and reporter. I'm really honored and excited to join the talented Block Club team as it tells the story of Chicago & its neighborhoods.— Mick Dumke (@mickeyd1971) December 21, 2022
No Media Notebook column next week. It will return on January 6th. As always, if you have any media story you’d like to share or think that I might be interested in sharing, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com