Friday, December 22, 2023

Media Notebook--12-22-23


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



*A John Williams Christmas

=Imagine coming to work and encountering this…

 *Dick Clark/Ryan Seacrest New Years Eve Radio Simulcast

=Kiss-FM (103.5FM) in Chicago will be simulcasting the annual Dick Clark’s Rockin New Years Eve With Ryan Seacrest special this year beginning at 7pm.  More details are here.

*Barry Butler's New Gig

=Chicago's most popular photographer Barry Butler is leaving his day job at Hubbard Chicago for a new gig. He posted the news on his Facebook page this week: New Year, New Beginnings! Excited to share I am joining Clear Channel Outdoor Chicago as Vice President of Sales. Looking forward to starting this new chapter in early January.

*Chuck Swirsky’s Loss

=Sad news behind the missing voice of Chuck in the Bulls game this week. Deepest condolences to the Swirsky family. He tweeted: Many thanks to @ZachZaidman for filling in tonight . My sister passed away Saturday and family is always first. I'll return Wednesday night. Thank you to the @chicagobulls organization and @MitchRosen670 for their support. I loved my sister very much and we were extremely close

 *Audio Collages

=This is an interesting idea by Lumpen Radio. They are collecting audio collages from the Bronzeville, Little Village and New City neighborhoods. Blockclubchicago has the details. 


*New York Sues Sirius/XM

=If you’ve ever tried to cancel your Sirius/XM, you won’t be surprised by this lawsuit filed by the state of New York. The state alleges “repeated and persistent fraud and illegality” when it comes to tricking people into keeping subscriptions. More info here. 


*The Whamageddon Game

=Can’t say I’ve heard of this game before, but I approve. NPR has the story. 


*Rest in Peace

=Jim Ladd

Legendary LA jock. One of the all-time great rock and roll disc jockeys. The inspiration for the Tom Petty song “The Last DJ”. John Fogerty wrote: "Jim Ladd you were one of a kind. You knew the importance of a well written song and made us all listen. The last DJ and the best one. RIP my friend."

=Robert Feder also posted his year end In Memoriam tweet…

=In case you missed my year end Illinois Entertainer piece, its here. 


*Podcast Corner

=Wondery Green-lights another season of Grinch podcast 

=George Ofman’s last podcast

 *The Loop Files

=Another nice review of the book. 

=Another podcast interview. This one is called Rock Conversations. Thanks to Rob Hahn for asking such good questions. 

=Rabbi Doug interviews me for his television show. 

=A few shots from my event in Blue Island. My last one of the year.

=This is the podcast we recorded in Blue Island.

=One last interview this year. I’ll be in the studio at WLS Radio with Pete McMurray on Wednesday, Dec 27, from 8-8:30AM.



(For the rest of the year)


*December 16, 2013

=The legendary talent at WLS-FM ten years ago this week…


*December 17, 1989--The Simpsons makes its television debut.

=Happy 34th birthday to the longest running scripted television show in history.


*December 18—Susan Wiencek birthday

=Former newscaster and public affairs broadcaster for the likes of WXRT, WTMX, WLIV, WDRV.


*December 18—Phil Inzinga 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 ten years. He was truly one of the all-time greats.


*December 19--Jilly O’Silly birthday

=The former Kiss-FM jock is now in Nashville doing middays at the Rock.


*December 19—Paul Goldsmith 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 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 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 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 birthday.

=Sawyer did it all in her stellar TV news career. World News TonightGood Morning America60 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 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. 

*December 23, 1924—Floyd Kalber 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 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 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 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.


*December 27—Dana Kozlov birthday

=The Channel 2 anchor/reporter was featured last year in my Illinois Entertainer column


*December 28—George Ofman birthday

=George has worked at the Score and WBBM News Radio, but he now hosts a podcast about sports broadcasting (see story above) and has written a book. 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 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 birthday

=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. 


*December 31—Paul Natkin birthday

=The great rock and roll photographer was also Chicago radio and TV’s go-to photographer for decades.




*Channel 7’s New Years Eve

=It’s not easy to top their former NYE team of Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies, but Channel 7 is giving it a shot. According to Axios: Cheryl Scott and Terrell Brown forgo the goofy hats and balloons and instead perform an elaborate dance routine for Countdown Chicago 2024…The anchors will be playing "secret agents on a mission to thwart an impending A.I. robot takeover of Chicago with some celebrity help."


*Channel 2 Reunion

=Two former colleagues


*The End of Curb Your Enthusiasm

=This week Larry David announced that the 12th season will be its last.

*The End of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

=Last episode aired this weekend.


*Mayim Bialik Dropped as Jeopardy host

=Ken Jennings will remain, but he has the job to himself now.

*The Daytime Emmy Awards

=Among the winners this year: Susan Lucci. They gave her their lifetime achievement award.



*The New York Times Embraces Gaming

=I love this line in the Vanity Fair piece about The New York Times’ embrace ofgames like Wordle: “The New York Times is a gaming company that happens to also offer news.” 


*AI sparking Fake News Explosion

=Totally disconcerting piece in the Washington Post



*John Oliver Takes On Elon Musk

=Needless to say, NSFW.


Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Media Notebook returns on 1/5/24.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

A few more Loop Files segments

Friday, December 15, 2023

Media Notebook--12-15-23


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



*iHeart Raises Big Bucks for Charity

=The Radiothon for Lurie’s Children’s Hospital was hosted on December 7th on iHeart Chicago stations WLIT, WVAZ, WGCI, WCHI, Kiss-FM and WGRB. This photo represents the dollars they raised. Very impressive.


*Priscilla's in the House

=Look who stopped by to visit WXRT's morning man Marty Lennartz.

*Danny Bonaduce Retires from Radio

=Danny Bonaduce, former child star who became a successful radio personality including a memorable run at the Loop (WLUP), announced his impending radio retirement effective today, Dec. 15. For the past twelve years he has co-hosted a morning show in Seattle. Danny said he is retiring to Palm Springs. 


*Terri Hemmert Steps Down at Columbia College

=She posted the following message on her facebook page on Tuesday…

     Today was my last day at Columbia College. After 48 years of teaching I gave the final final exam. And of course I took them out later for a Thai feast. I told them that when I got in the car to drive to dinner, the song on the radio was Lulu's To Sir With Love. Al Parker hired me 48 years ago to teach. Bless his heart for that. Plus I later worked with his son, Neil Parker. A lovely man like his father. Al taught me that the only reason we are there was for the students. Our kids. Years ago, when my students knew the movie To Sir With Love, I told them if they wanted to really know me, they'd watch the movie. The teacher faces a group of kids. A challenge. He soon learns that he's not there just to teach the syllabus. He goes deeper. The teacher learns a lot as well. The teacher falls in love with everyone of them, then sends them off to live their lives. Then a whole new group of juvenile delinquents comes in and the teacher has to start all over again. But it's always different. Every student is different. If you were one of my "kids" I want to thank you for the privilege of spending that time with you. Of sharing our passion for music. We had some really great times, didn't we.




*Two More Top Execs at Chicago Public Media Step Down

=Crain’s Chicago has the news about the departures of Chicago Public Media’s Head of Communications and the Chief Audience Officer. Both stepped down this week, following last week’s announcement of the CEO’s departure. This all comes on the heels of the board being asked to investigate a hostile work environment.


*Nick DiGilio Seeks Help for his Parents

=Nick Digilio has started a GoFundMe page for his parents who are struggling financially because of medical issues. Anyone who has listened to Nick over the years knows how close he is with parents. If you’d like to contribute (and learn more), his GoFundMe page is here. 

*Barrett News Media’s Top News/Talk Shows of 2023

=Barrett News Media ranked the top 20 morning news/talk shows in America. Steve Cochran of WLS was the top one from Chicago (#14). Bob Sirott of WGN was close behind (#16).

=Among the top 20 midday news/talk shows, John Williams of WGN was the only one from Chicago (#12), although the WBBM Midday show also finished in the top 25.

=Lisa Fielding & Keith Johnson of WBBM-AM host the top Chicago afternoon News/Talk show (#11), and WGN's Lisa Dent was also recognized (#17).



*Barry Winograd Featured by Evanston Roundtable

=This is a great piece about the jazz radio legend. 



*Podcast Corner

=There are a lot of great Cubs podcasts out there these days, and the current top-rated one is the Locked On Cubs show hosted by Matt Cozzi and Sam Olbur. They announced this week they are teaming up with Ron Onesti to do two live podcasts (Cubs and Grub) at Ron's theaters in St. Charles and Des Plaines. They'll be at the Arcada Theater on January 10th, and the Des Plaines Theater on February 7. Tickets are only $10. 

*Chris Base Interviews Margaret Larkin

=Under the name Radio Girl, Margaret Larkin has interviewed dozens of radio pros. This week Chris Base turned the tables and interviewed her.

*WGN Radio to air Dusty Rhodes Christmas Specials

=WGN Radio announced that the traditional Dusty Rhodes Christmas Specials will be heard on the station on December 23 at 11 pm through December 25 at 10 pm. “The presentation is based on the traditional Christmas celebration to accompany families as they travel to visit relatives, go to church services, open presents and enjoy holiday parties,” said Rhodes. 

*Kevin Most Retires

=The long-time medical contributor to WGN radio and Steve Cochran’s show on WLS made the announcement this week


*Harper Radio Honored

=The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) announced their 2023 award finalists. Once again this year, Harper College was well represented with seven finalists…

·Student Matt Byrne, Harper Radio’s General Manager, under the Most Creative/Innovative Show for his audio entry “The B-Side with Matt Byrne”

·Student Ricardo “Richy” Garcia, Harper Radio Host, under the Best Logo for his entry “The Groove Machine”

·Student Erica Berger for her video entry “Pinksqueeze Promo for Harper College Radio”

·Student Yari Lopez along with Byrne and Garcia for their written submission “Chicago Reader poll press release”

·Harper College Associate Professor Brian Shelton under the “Best Faculty Advisor, Radio” category.

·Harper College alum Carsen Star under the “Best Community Volunteer Program/Personality”


*Rest in Peace

=John Wetherbee was an evening jock at WFYR, who went on to become a weatherman/meteorologist down in Georgia. He is in the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.

*Block Inc. Lays Off 10% of staff

=The music streaming service Tidal, started by Jay-Z and now owned by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, announced mass layoffs this week. 


*The Loop Files

=Rick Kogan reviewed the book for The Chicago Tribune. 

=My appearance on the Creativity Talkin podcast

=My appearance on WCLO Radio. 

=My appearance on Playtime with WC Turck. Bill did a great job on this interview. Lots of classic Loop clips.

=My Tuesday night appearance at Uncork, Unwind in Des Plaines was a huge hit. We sold out of books. Ran into a few fellow former Loopers too. (L-R: Bridget Kaempfer, John Swany Swanson, me, Carol Harmon, Matt Bisbee, Jim Wiser)

=Here’s the final book signing before Christmas





*December 10—Michael Damsky birthday.

=The former Chicago radio executive (WXRT, WLS) was a fun interview for me back in 2011.


*December 11, 1964

=Musician Sam Cooke dies. What really happened the night he was shot by a motel manager? Here’s an account. 


*December 11, 1941—Elizabeth Brackett birthday

=Elizabeth was an award-winning journalist at WTTW. She passed away in 2018.


*December 12—Bart Shore birthday

=Bart is retired and lives in North Carolina with his wife, but he still dabbles in the audio world occasionally. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2008.


*December 12—Marcus Leshock birthday (WGN-TV)

=Marcus does some of the more entertaining stories on WGN, including this piece about my co-publisher David Stern, and his wacky Pothole Store website.


*December 12—Teddy Greenstein birthday

 =The former Chicago Tribune writer is now the senior editor @pointsbetusa


*December 13—Dick Van Dyke birthday

=The legendary actor is 98 years old.


December 14—Antonio Mora birthday

=The former Good Morning America and World News Tonight anchor worked in Chicago television for a few years (2004-2008) at CBS-2. He is currently the editor-in-chief at


*December 14—John Iltis birthday

=While I was working on my book The Loop Files, I discovered something about Iltis (the PR King of Chicago) that I didn’t know before. He was at Disco Demolition. That's him in the front on the right. (PHOTO by Paul Natkin)

*December 15—Rob Stafford birthday
=Rob stepped down as anchorman at WMAQ-TV (Channel 5) last year on December 23.


*December 16—Jim Murphy birthday

=The former radio man is on the board at the Illinois Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


*December 16—Mike Houlihan birthday

=Mike is a classic Chicago Irishman. His podcast is called Hibernian radio.


*December 16—Greg Brown birthday

=Greg retired not too long ago after a 40+ year run in Chicago radio (Q-101, WJMK, WLS-FM). I interviewed him in 2014 for Illinois Entertainer.


*December 16—Mai Martinez birthday

=Mai is now the morning co-anchor at WBBM-AM with Cisco Cotto. Before taking that gig she worked for years in Chicago television at Channel 2. Robert Feder wrote about her when she made the switch to radio in 2020.





*Tony Granato’s Leave of Absence

=After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Tony Granato announced he will be taking a leave of absence from Blackhawks broadcasts on NBC Sports Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has more on the story. 


*Al Roker’s 45th Anniversary on Today Show

=It was this past Monday…


*Al Michaels Deserved Better

=Andy Masur explains why Al Michaels won't be doing an NFL playoff game this year. I totally agree with his thesis in Barrett's Sports Media.

*Golden Globe Nominees Announced

=The New York Times goes over the list to talk about surprises and snubs. One non-surprise: The Barbie movie led the list with 9 nominations.


*Sumner Redstone’s Heir (Shari Redstone) May Sell

=According to this piece, the buyer may be the heir to Larry Ellison’s tech fortune. It’s Nepo-Palooza. 


*Rest in Peace

=Andre Braugher

A great actor (Homicide) and Chicagoan. He was only 61. 

=Ryan O’Neal

At one time he was among the biggest movie stars on the planet. He was 82 years old. 


*Please Tell Me This Isn’t the Future of Entertainment

=Have you heard about the viral Youtube sensation called Skibidi Toilets? If you’re curious, the Washington Post has the story. 

*NBC News Demands Trump Campaign Take Down Ad Using Deceptively Edited Reporter

=I believe this would be the actual definition of FakeNews. 





*The Top Chicago Sports Media Stories of 2023

=Sun Times sports media critic Jeff Agrest ticks off his choices for the top media stories of the year. Definitely worth a read. 

*Sports Illustrated Fires CEO after AI Debacle

=The least surprising news of the week.


*Project Veritas CEO Steps Down, Alleges Illegality

=Pretty strong statement from outgoing CEO Hannah Giles: “I am stepping down from all roles with Project Veritas and Project Veritas Action – effective immediately. Though I had high hopes when I joined the organizations, I stepped into an unsalvageable mess – one wrought with strong evidence of past illegality and past financial improprieties. Once such evidence was discovered, I brought the information to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. Thank you.”


*Trust in Press May Not Be As Low As We Thought

=At the research firm NORC at the University of Chicago, a slightly different methodology with more choices for the interviewee was used to test people’s trust in the media. According to their results, 55% trust the press. The Pew Research Center asked the question too, and they came up with a percentage of 61%.





*Musk Allows Alex Jones Back on Twitter (X)

=Musk says it is part of his free speech absolutism, but it has to be noted that absolutism does not extend to some of Musk’s critics.

*Former Facebook Diversity Leader Pleads Guilty to Stealing $4 million

=NBC News has the details.

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 or If you're in Chicago media and wondering why I didn't mention your birthday, it's probably because I don't know it. Drop me a line and let me know and I'll put you on my calendar.


If you're interested in some of my other projects...


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The Fifth Edition (2023) of EveryCubEver is out now!  Buy your copy today

The Fifth Edition (2023) of EveryCubEver is also on amazon. Buy your copy today.

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