Friday, January 13, 2023

EveryCubEver--Sweetbread Bailey

I've been working on revising the book for the upcoming 5th edition (which will be out on Opening Day). Thought I'd share a few of these EveryCubEver entries with you while I worked...

Sweetbread Bailey 1895--1939 (Cubs 1919-1921)
His real name is Abraham Lincoln Bailey because he shares a birthday with the famous president. What is the origin of his nickname? Well, sweetbread is defined as “the thymus or, sometimes, the pancreas of a young animal (usually a calf or lamb) used for food,” and though the origins of Bailey’s nickname have been lost to time, historians think it may have come from Bailey’s tendency to swerve his pitches right into the batter’s sweetbread. He hit seven batters there. The Cubs signed him in 1917, but before he joined the team he served in the military with the 72nd field artillery. He was a reliever for the Cubs, winning four games and saving none. That was the extent of his big league career. After a few more seasons in the minors, he returned to his hometown of Joliet, and that’s where he died of pituitary cancer in 1939 at the way-too-young age of 44.

                Historical note: On the day the Treaty of Versailles was signed (1919), officially ending World War I, Bailey was on the mound for the Cubs (in relief of Lefty Tyler). He beat the Cardinals 6-5 despite giving up a homer to Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby.

Media Notebook--1-13-23


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



*New boss at WBBM

=Auducy calls them “Brand Managers” and that’s what Craig Schwalb will become (along with the extra title of News Director) for WBBM NewsRadio. He replaces Ron Gleason, who recently retired. Schwalb certainly has the pedigree, having worked at WABC in New York, and most recently WTOP in Washington, the highest grossing radio station in the country. At WTOP he was the content and operations manager. In the release announcing his hiring, Schwalb said: “The chance to lead WBBM is an incredible opportunity that doesn’t come around often. It brings me back to my home state and to a city that I adore, while working with the team behind one of the nation's elite news radio brands. Thank you to Jeff Sottolano, Rachel Williamson, Greg Solk and Bill Smee for their support in allowing me the honor of leading this great station.”

*WBBM says goodbye to the Bears after 22 years

=It was the end of an era on Sunday when WBBM radio broadcast their final Bears game. Next fall the games will be airing on ESPN, AM 1000.  It’s obviously not the first time the Bears have changed radio stations. They came to WBBM from WMAQ back in 2000. Remember Gary Bender? He was the play-by-play man before Jeff Joniak. (Hub Arkush and Tom Thayer worked at WMAQ before Bears came to WBBM).

=Joniak, by the way, was named the co-winner of Illinois Sportscaster of the Year award. Details further down in this column.

=It was also the end of the line for the Bears pre- and post-game crew at WBBM. Former Bears center Jay Hilgenberg and former Bears linebacker Jim Schwantz and Ron Gleason said their goodbyes on Sunday. Schwantz posted this before the final broadcast.

 *Bernie Kosar fired for placing bet

=The Bears weren’t the only team to change up the radio broadcast team or station. The Browns did it too, but for very different reasons. Bernie Kosar was fired from his pre-game radio job because he bet on the NFL. It’s a bit of a murky case, if you ask me. Sports betting has just become legal in Ohio, and Kosar had pledged publicly to donate any winnings to charity, but this bet was against NFL rules. The Browns said: “We understand what Bernie means to this community and our history. But as team contracted personnel hired to provide content on our media platforms his bet was a violation of NFL rules and we must adhere to all NFL policy.”

*Kathy & Ray

=If you haven't heard the news, Kathy Hart (formerly of Eric & Kathy) & Ray Stevens (most famously part of the US-99 morning show for years) are doing a show together on the internet these days. Kind of fun to watch and listen to old pros back in front of the microphone. Watch/Listen here.

=Kathy also did a podcast with Radio Girl (Margaret Larkin). Listen to it here.

*Podcast Corner

=The Signal Awards, a new award celebrating the world’s best podcasts, announced their inaugural winners. Among them: Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Masters of Scale, Stacey Abrams: How To Harness Risk, Making Gay History, and The Official Hacks Podcast.

= Heather Cherone of WTTW’s Chicago Tonight is leaving the Mincing Rascals podcast. She will be a fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and will continue at Chicago Tonight, but the Mincing Rascals said farewell to her this week

*Former Chicago Radio Alert

=Jay Styles was with WSHE in Chicago for five years but left in 2021 to go to KQMV in Seattle. That stint ended for him at the end of the year. It was by his own choice, according to his LinkedIn Post: "Before the holidays I resigned from my role as APD/MD/afternoons at KQMV (MOViN 92.5)/Seattle and relocated to Sarasota, FL to be with my kids, because raising kids via FaceTime is no way to live! Radio programmers, I am available to voice track for multiple formats please think of me if you are going that path!"


*The Loop Files

=This week’s dip into the Loop Files features my interview with the legendary Bob Stroud. Check it out here if you missed it.

*Meet Chuck Swirsky

=The Bulls radio play-by-play man is making an appearance at the Windy City Bulls game tomorrow. Details below. (Full disclosure: My publishing company published Chuck's book)



*January 8—Jim Turano birthday

=He was known as Elton Jim when he was a part of the Garry Meier show on WGN Radio (because of the hundreds of times he has seen Elton John in concert). Jim now hosts the podcast Elton Jim’s Captain Podcastic on WGN Plus. 


*January 8—Jacky Runice birthday

=She’s currently a columnist for USA Today, but Jacky was once a radio personality in Chicago at WLS, WLUP, and WGN.


*January 9--Mark Grote birthday

=Mark has been the sideline reporter during Bears games for WBBM News radio the past few years. He also works as a sports-talk host at WSCR. When I interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer in 2015, he was part of the Chicago Cubs broadcast booth.

*January 9—Brendan Greeley birthday

=Brendan is part of Steve Dahl’s crew on the Dahlcast. He was also part of Dahl’s show on WCKG and WLS-AM. Brendan published a novel on Amazon last year called The Genius of 1990s Girls


*January 9--Megan Reed birthday

=Megan had a great run in Chicago radio (WLIT, Rewind 100) before passing away at the way too young age of 52 in 2016. I interviewed her in 2011 when she was working at Rewind


*January 10—Kristyn Hartman birthday

=Kristyn had a long stint at Channel 2 as a reporter, before moving on to a similar role in Cincinnati. In May, she left the station in Cincy, to return to her hometown of Chicago to pursue options outside of television news. Her current facebook page describes herself as an aspiring author. (I know a publisher, Kristyn!)

=I first met Kristyn in 2008 when she came to my house during the 2008 baseball playoffs. In this clip, I’m the idiotic Cubs fanatic. 


January 11—Bill Wyman birthday

=The former NPR mainstay and Chicago Reader staff writer is now living in Phoenix.


January 11—Bill Kissinger birthday

=Kissinger is a WGN-TV news writer. Perhaps you’ve seen his list of newswriting clichesKissinger is married to Channel 2’s Dana Kozlov.


*January 11, 2020--Ron Smith passes away

=Smith was a long-time Chicago radio programmer who wrote some great books about it. We talked about his books in this 2011 interview


*January 12—Rabbi Doug birthday

=His real name is Doug Zelden, but you may remember him as Rabbi Doug, a regular contributor to the Steve & Garry show back in the day. (He also contributed to Brandmeier’s show and John Landecker’s show on WJMK). Doug has been doing a cable access interview show Taped with Rabbi Doug for many years now. Tons of Chicago media figures have appeared on the show. Even me. Three times. Here’s the one from 2004 when The Radio Producer’s Handbook came out. 


*January 13--Diana Steele birthday

=Diana was a jock on WBMX for a few years, and I featured her in Illinois Entertainer in 2018.

*January 13, 2013--Jake Hartford passes away.

=Hard to believe he’s been gone now for ten years. I talked to the former WCPT/WLS talk show host back in 2009 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.

*January 14—Jenny Milkowski birthday

=Jenny worked at CBS-2 and WGN-TV as a producer, and Fox-32 as a traffic reporter for a few years before moving on to greener pastures and better weather in San Diego. The University of Illinois alum now runs her own media company out there.


*January 14—Joe McArdle birthday

=Joe has been a radio production guru (ESPN, Tribune, WXRT) in Chicago for more than 30 years.


*January 14—Mike Krauser birthday

=Mike has been an anchor, reporter, producer, writer, managing editor and a news director in Chicago since 1988. His reports can be heard every day on NewsRadio WBBM.




*Network TV Ratings

=Take a look at the numbers on this chart. (Click on picture below to enlarge). These are not big numbers at all. Only one network (NBC) has over a million nightly viewers in the 18-49 age bracket. Younger viewers are simply not watching television as much. If you have a younger person in your home (I have three in their 20s), this isn’t surprising news. Most younger viewers are either watching a streaming service (like Netflix) or they are watching YouTube or TikTok or some other programming on their phones or iPads. These are the kind of numbers that keep network executives up at night.



*Golden Globes

=After taking a year off, the Golden Globes returned this week and handed out a bunch of awards. Among the winners, Kevin Costner, White Lotus, Abbott Elementary, Steve Spielberg, Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Allen White from The Bear, and Austin Butler as Elvis.

=The full list is here.


*National Sports Media Hall of Fame

=ESPN College GameDay host Lee Corso, and legendary hockey announcer (the late) Dan Kelly were named to the National Sports Media Hall of Fame this week. CBS Sports announcer Ian Eagle was named 2022 National Sportscaster of the Year.

=Bill Plaschke (Los Angeles Times sports columnist) and essayist (the late) Roger Angell also were named to the Hall of Fame.

=Chicagoans honored included Jeff Joniak and Leila Rahimi (co-winners of Illinois sportscaster of the year) and Steve Greenberg (Sun Times) and Mark Lazerus (The Athletic) as co-winners of Illinois Sportswriter of the Year.


*Elizabeth Vargas Coming to NewsNation

=Before becoming a big network news star at ABC, Elizabeth worked in Chicago at WBBM-TV, Channel 2. This week it was announced she is joining NewsNation. She’ll be anchoring an hour-long news program from New York. Vargas’s show debuts April 3. 

*NY Times Editor Takes Top Job at NBC News

=Rebecca Blumenstein was the deputy managing editor of the New York Times before being named the president of editorial at NBC News this week. Blumenstein will oversee shows like Meet the Press and Dateline. This should be interesting. Rebecca doesn’t have a lot of television experience. Maybe this move portends a new approach at NBC?

*NBC Sports Chicago Layoffs

=For a few years NBC Sports Chicago was really going after the digital viewers. Unfortunately, the staff bringing that digital news just got a little smaller with the layoffs of Bulls writer Rob Schaefer and Cubs writer Tim Stebbins. The Chicago Sun Times has more info.

*Cable News Corner

=CNN has announced they are revamping their daytime lineup. Oliver Darcy spells out the particulars at

*Phil Rogers Interview

=Channel 5’s Phil Rogers retired at the end of last year. He will be a big loss to Chicago’s NBC affiliate. Margaret Larkin interviewed him for the Illinois News Broadcasters Association podcast.

*RIP Bernard Kalb

=Kalb was a legend in the business. He was an anchorman for CBS Morning News, covered the State Department beat for CBS (five secretaries of state) and was the founding host of CNN’s show about the media, Reliable Sources. May we all live the kind of life Kalb did. He was 100 years old when he passed.

*C-SPAN fights for more camera angles

=After a spellbinding job covering the cluster of the House of Representatives electing a speaker, you can see the despair between the words in this tweet.

=C-SPAN has formally asked to regain the kind of access they had during the speaker debate. At least a few politicians seem to agree, but let’s see what happens. It could be one of those “be careful what you ask for” situations, encouraging the most camera-hungry representatives to be even more outrageious.


*What really happens after Shark Tank?

=We don’t often get a follow up report about the winners and losers of investment opportunities in Shark Tank. Forbes has a great example this week why we should get them more often.




*Twitter Considering Selling User Names

=The New York Times reports that Elon Musk is considering selling user names (the words that follow the @ sign) to the highest bidder. Musk and his staff are trying to figure out ways to generate more revenue for the struggling media giant. Not a lot of details here. It sounds like this was leaked as a trial balloon to see how people react.



*Tribune Veteran Named Managing Editor of Newsday

=Pro Publica’s Tom Jones reports that Rochell Bishop Sleets is taking over the #2 job at Newsday after 16 years with the Chicago Tribune.

*NYTimes still in search of a media columnist

=And they have been for almost a full year now, ever since Ben Smith left to form Semafor. Vanity Fair looks into why they still don’t have a new one.

*Jake Sherman and Kevin McCarthy

=This is an interesting development. One digital news organization is calling out another for being a little too chummy with one of their sources. Semafor and Punchbowl are the combatants. Jake Sherman of Punchbowl is the target.

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.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Back in the DDR

Lou Macaluso

Our latest Celebrity interview has dropped. This week we spoke with author Lou Macaluso. Listen to it here.

Lou Macaluso has written a biography of LaMarr Thomas, a former football star turned activist. Celebrity appearances galore in this book. The story of a truly impressive man. 

I was just a kid

The Eckhartz Bookshelf: Always a Pleasure

Our top selling book of last year's holiday season is still going strong. Chuck will be appearing at the Windy City Bulls game this weekend. Details in the flier below...

So, when you pull Always a Pleasure off the book shelf, what will you find inside it?

Always A Pleasure is a compilation of Chuck Swirsky’s life in and out of the landscape of sports broadcasting along with stories featuring personalities and life-changing experiences that have shaped who he is. Always A Pleasure will detail a journey from Virginia to Seattle, Ohio, Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto, that has enabled Chuck to benefit from the virtues of perseverance, passion, and positivity through the leadership and mentoring of others.

Here's what other people say about it...

  • Having known Chuck since my days as a still-developing youth player in Toronto, where my dad was a member of the Raptors, I can attest to the fact that his passion for people and basketball is deep and sincere. Chuck’s unique desire to mentor young people, especially minorities and those of different cultures and backgrounds, will help inspire those who share the same dreams, dreams that enabled him to persevere to the top of his profession. I’m proud of Chuck, and excited that others can become enlightened by his exciting broadcasting journey, which includes nearly 25 years in the NBA and, of course, a trio of Curry family members shooting from the stars, just like him.

    --Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors, 2-time NBA MVP, 4-time NBA champion
  • Basketball is about more than the players on the court or the fans in the stands. It’s also about the voices who add color to the game—play-by-play, night after night. And Chuck Swirsky is one of the legends responsible for the soundtrack of basketball. With passion that is always palpable, Chuck brings excitement every time he picks up a mic. Over the years, millions of fans have hung onto his every word, but what’s even more special about him is who he is when the mic is off. In my years in Toronto with Chuck, I never received a greeting from him that didn’t include an ear-to-ear grin. I feel lucky to have seen him continue to grow as a broadcaster when he and his family moved to Chicago. Chuck showed me that a team is only as strong as the environment surrounding it — a community that extends beyond the clubhouse. So thank you, Chuck—for your enthusiasm on great days and positivity on the rough ones. You made Toronto a great place to be in a great place to play. Oh, and thanks to your kids for always keeping those cookies around. Those were no joke.

    --Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat. 2021 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 2 time NBA Champion.
  • Upbeat, energetic and optimistic, Chuck Swirsky has enjoyed a court-side seat to the NBA’s — not to mention Chicago sports’ — greatest decades. First as a sports reporter/personality and later as the well-respected play-by-play voice of the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls, Chuck entertains and informs through his deep sports knowledge and unsurpassed preparation and work ethic. His distinctive voice and passion for people and the games they love has entertained millions.

    --Jerry Reinsdorf, Chairman of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox. 6 NBA Championships. 2005 World Series Champion. 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • Night in and night out there was no one who brought more heart and passion to the game of basketball than Chuck Swirsky. For ten years Chuck was the very soul of building fans who loved his unique style and upbeat personality. Nothing tasted better than his call to “bring out the salami and cheese Mamma”.. his special winning call. Chuck will always be a hero in Toronto.

    --Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Chairman of the NBA Board of Governors
  • I have now worked with Chuck “The Swirsk” for 14 years. First and foremost, he is a good man, great partner and loyal friend. I have not met a person who is more knowledgeable of the game of basketball, past and present. His recall is nothing short of amazing! He always has an impressive fact or stat that is relevant to our broadcast. He brings his ‘A GAME’ every time.

    --Bill Wennington, Chicago Bulls : 3 time NBA Champion. Basketball analyst on Chicago Bulls Radio Network.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Back in the DDR

Minutia Men Celebrity Interview Classic: Kurt Elling


We have now done over 200 interviews on our various Minutia Men podcasts, and this year we're going to revisit some of the best. Grammy-award winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling was a great interviewee. The hep cat told us stories about meeting President Obama, what the old jazz guard taught him about everything, including the proper way to stand at the bar. He also allowed us to play some of his music. Really entertaining. 

You can listen to it here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Back in the DDR

Posted on Facebook by Tom LaTourette...

Just finished “Back in the DDR” by my good friend Rick Kaempfer.
Really good read! A fictional coming of age story with spy thriller elements. It was funny, touching and it turns out, very autobiographical. I’m going to recommend this one to my book club!
And, of course, for all you Cub fans, Rick speaks lovingly about his boys in blue! No mention at all about my White Sox but I’m sure he’s saving that for another story! Get your copy here.

Thanks Tom!

The Loop Files: Bob Stroud

 I'm working on a special project this year about a certain radio station, so I've been going back into my files and pulling out some old interviews with former Loop colleagues and pals. I'll feature one a week here on the blog. This week, it's Bob Stroud. Bob was a key member of the second Loop heyday in the 80s/early 90s as the midday host on the Loop FM, and the host of Rock & Roll Roots, which played on both the AM & FM. I've interviewed him a number of times over the years. We got into a Loop discussion one of those times for Chicago Radio Spotlight...

Rick: When people think of Bob Stroud, they think of “Rock and Roll Roots” I don’t think I’ve ever heard the story of how that show originated.

In May of 1980 I was working at WMET (95.5 FM) as the production director. MET's general manager Bruce Holberg and I used to hang out in the hallways and talk about the great old records we loved. He was from Philly and grew up listening to those big time Philly top-40 jocks and I grew up in Kalamazoo listening to those great Chicago top-40 jocks. We both had such a passion for those rock and roll songs from the 60s, but nobody played them anywhere. Bruce thought it would be a good idea to do a show of rock oldies as opposed to the Fabian, Shelly Fabres-type oldies, and we were just about to put the show on the air when the Loop announced they were hiring Dick Biondi to do the same thing on the same start date. I remember feeling totally deflated. But when we went on the air with Roots, people liked it, and I got such a kick out of doing it. I got to play whatever I wanted. It was great.

Rick: Dick Biondi was on the Loop?

Bob: Not for long. It didn’t work out for him there.

Rick: So how did you end up at the Loop?

Bob: Well, in 1983, WMET fired everybody on staff except me. They wanted me to stay on and do production, but it just didn’t feel right. I got an offer in Philly and moved there for a while.

Rick: Did you like Philly?

Bob: Hated it. They don’t even sell beer in grocery stores there. Can you believe it?

Rick: (laughs) So the Loop called you at the right time?

Bob: Yes. Greg Solk (The Loop’s PD at the time) called me and said they had done some research in the market and discovered that people missed “Rock and Roll Roots” and asked if I would consider recording it in Philly and sending it to him.

Rick: On reel to reel tape?

Bob:  Yes. So that’s what I did. After a few months, in April of 1984, they asked me to come back to Chicago full-time and replace Matt Bisbee in the production department (Bisbee had been moved to middays at the time). I jumped at the chance. Not too long after that, Biz and I switched places, and I started doing Lunchtime Roots in addition to the weekend shows. That lasted almost ten years.

Rick: And those are some pretty memorable years. How would you describe the vibe at the Loop during the 80s and early 90s?

Bob: Dangerous. At any given moment anything at all could happen. Everybody from all walks of the entertainment business came to that radio station. Milton Berle. Robert Plant. Richard Lewis. Jimmy Webb. Every rock star you can think of. TV stars. Movie stars. I was on the air down the hall at the same time as Kevin Matthews (The Loop AM-1000) every day. One day, Tom Thayer and Steve McMichael came into the studio and duct-taped Kevin Matthews to a chair. While Thayer rolled Kevin down Michigan Avenue, McMichael literally took over the show. Stuff like that happened all the time. Remember the time Wiser was sent out to be a rodeo clown by Brandmeier? I can still hear him in that barrel at the rodeo… “Johnny, I’m not kidding around here! This isn’t funny!” The stuff that you producers had to go through was unbelievable.

Rick: Would you consider that the classic Loop era?

Bob: There were two classic Loop eras. The first one was the one in the late 70s and early 80s—with Steve & Garry, Mitch Michaels, and Sky Daniels. Those guys were the kings of Chicago at the time. The second classic Loop era was the mid-80s through the early 90s, and I’m really proud to have been a part of it. Think of all the talent we had there at one time—Brandmeier, Steve & Garry, Kevin Matthews, Bobby Skafish, Patti Haze, my God, the list goes on and on.

Bob later spent even more years working at the Drive, but it was clear that his time at the Loop meant a lot to him. In fact, you can hear it in his voice on this clip. It aired on the Drive the week the Loop signed off the air for good...

When Bob retired from the Drive last year, I had him on my podcast to discuss his career. We got into more Loop stories, and I even confessed an embarrassing tale to him about getting locked in his bathroom during a party at his house. You can listen to that here.

Next week: Rock and Roll stories from Bobby Skafish.