Free Kicks – Closing the Transfer Window
Saturday, February 04, 2023
Friday, February 03, 2023
A curation of news items
about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…
*Waking up with Brian & Justin
=The latest issue of Illinois Entertainer came out this week and features my interview with Q-101’s morning team. A fun interview with a twist at the end. You can read it here.
*The Last Great Chicago DJ?
=This was a front page story in the Chicago Tribune this week (January 27). The full title of the piece is The Last Great Chicago DJ? With Lin Brehmer’s Death and Rise of AI, are Radio’s Glory Days Over? Read it and see if you if you agree. It was written by William Lee.
*RIP Jay Marvin
=The former WLS talk show host had been in declining health for many years. His wife Mary announced that he passed away on Tuesday. Marvin was a country music DJ, who later became a lefty talker on a predominantly right-wing station here in Chicago. The published author spent his final years in Colorado.
=I never got a chance to meet him in person, but I did interview him on the phone in 2007 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.
For me, this piece by Eric Zorn is the best and most comprehensive account of Jay that you’ll find on-line. Zorn went back into his archives and reposted three columns he had written about Marvin over the years. Well worth the read.
*Larry Kudlow Show on WLS
=Larry Kudlow, former Trump advisor and current on-air host at the Fox Business Network, will debut a new weekend show this Sunday on WLS. The Larry Kudlow show will air from 5-8pm.
*The Loop Files
=My weekly mining of my interviews with former Loopers continued on Tuesday, in case you missed it. This week’s feature is Bruce Wolf.
*Harper College Radio a Chicago Reader Finalist
=Tis the time of year the Chicago Reader asks people to vote for their Best of Chicago favorites in a long list of categories. One of those is best radio station. Not surprised to see perennial favorites WXRT or WBEZ in the list of five finalists, but how about 100-watt 88.3FM Harper Radio? Congrats to the local music aficionados at WHCM. The other two finalists, by the way, are Vocalo Radio and Chirpradio (107.1 FM). The poll is open through February 15th, if you want to vote. Winners are announced in their April 6 edition.
*Folk DJ Hall of Fame
=John Platt, one of the people who launched WXRT in Chicago, is the latest member of the Folk DJ Hall of Fame. Platt was in Chicago for about ten years but has also made his mark in New York and Philadelphia radio. You can read more about him here.
*The Day the Music died
=Today is the anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper in 1959. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to meet and talk to people who had a deep knowledge of the subject matter. The man who introduced them on stage at their last performance in Iowa was future WLS Big 89 jock Bob Hale. I worked down the hall from Bob when I was at WJMK and he was at WJJD. He told me the whole “The Day the Music Died” story for Chicago Radio Spotlight.
=Bob Dearborn became famous during his days at WCFL when he analyzed the mysterious lyrics of the song “American Pie” by Don McLean. Bob also was kind enough to write this piece for my blog explaining why Buddy Holly was so important to him.
*The Mix and Fitz
=Last October the Mix morning show auctioned off a private perfomance by Fitz and the Tantrums, and this week the band came into town and delivered the promised accoustic set to a select group of listeners at 167 Green Street. The money raised went to the American Cancer Society. The band played at the Vic last night.
*50 Years of Bill & Walter
=Dave Plier always seems to get the biggest guests on his WGN radio show. This past week he managed to reunite Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson for the 50th anniversary of their pairing. A fun listen.
*Jen Weigel to interview Kathy Hart
=February 19 at Madame Zuzu’s in Highland Park. A spiritual discussion is sure to ensue.
=WGN Radio’s Lisa Dent was interviewed by Brandwidth on Demand podcast hosts Kipper McGee and Dave Martin this week. I love these radio-on-radio conversations.
=Acclaimed novelist Adam Langer (a former WXRT intern) has a new podcast that examines the history and back-story of the Pulitzer Prize winning play The Diary of Anne Frank.
=Nick DiGilio is doing another live podcast (The Nick D Show) at Zanies in Rosemont on February 21st. Amy Guth will be there with him, filling in for co-host Esmeralda Leon.
=My podcast, Minutia Men, posted our 300th episode this week. I’m still having a ball doing the show with my Eckhartz Press co-publisher David Stern. The 300th episode is titled “Shopping with your German mother”. It’s very high-brow.
*January 30—Chuck Swirsky birthday.
=Chuck is not only the play-by-play man of the Chicago Bulls. He’s also an author. His book Always a Pleasure came out during the holiday season.
*January 30, 1935—Warner Saunders birthday
=Warner Saunders had a long and distinguished television career in Chicago at NBC-5. He retired in 2009 and passed away in 2018.
*January 30--Lisa Dent birthday
=Lisa hosts afternoons on WGN Radio. I was lucky enough to interview her for Illinois Entertainer in 2016, shortly after she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (during her days at US-99).
*January 31—Josh Liss birthday
=The morning sports anchor for WBBM News Radio was featured in the December 2016 edition of Illinois Entertainer.
*January 31—Nick Shepkowski birthday
*February 1—Lisa Miller birthday
=Lisa has been one of the most powerful media agents in Chicago for the past four decades. She is married to Channel 5 meteorologist Brant Miller.
*February 3—Karen Conti birthday
*February 3—Dan Roan birthday
=Dan retired as the sports director of WGN-TV last year. I snapped this photo of Dan and his fellow WGN-TV colleagues at Rich King’s book launch party last May, just a week or so before Dan retired.*February 3—Steve Sanders birthday
*February 3—Lisa Greene birthday
=Lisa did stints at several radio stations in Chicago, including WJMK. I interviewed her for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2008. She currently lives in California.
*February 3—Steve Bertrand birthday
=Steve has been a news mainstay at WGN radio since the mid-80s. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2012.
*February 4, 2009—Eddie Schwartz died
=Eddie was the overnight voice of Chicago for decades, first at WIND, then at WGN, and finally at WLUP. He had such an unusual sounding voice that he sparked impersonations from the likes of Steve Dahl and Kevin Matthews. Kevin even created a band to impersonate Eddie. He called it Ed Zeppelin. When I interviewed Eddie in 2007, he was already in declining health and was difficult to understand. Still, I’m glad I got the chance to get him on the record while I could.
*February 4—Jim Williams birthday
The Channel 2 news anchor recently celebrated his 20th anniversary at the station.
*Lisa Parker leaves NBC5
=If you feel like they are dropping like flies at NBC5, you aren’t alone. Here’s another one…
*Marcus Stroman appears on CBS News
=Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman appeared on the national CBS News morning show to talk about his new children’s book, and his baseball career. Not an everyday event for a Chicago athlete.
*DECADES remembers actresses Cindy Williams and Lisa Loring
=We lost two beloved sitcom stars this week, Cindy Williams and Lisa Loring.
=This weekend, Weigel Broadcasting honors Cindy Williams with tributes on MeTV and DECADES. MeTV will present four selected episodes of Laverne & Shirley that Williams said were her favorites, airing on Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm. DECADES will pay tribute with a Weekend Binge of 36 back-to-back Laverne & Shirley episodes beginning Saturday, February 4 at 11am.
=DECADES will pay tribute to Lisa Loring beginning at 5am on Sunday, February 5 with a special binge of 48 back-to-back episodes of The Addams Family celebrating her character, Wednesday Addams.
*Cheryl Scott Welcomes a New Colleague
=The Channel 7 weather department grew by one this week. Cheryl Scott welcomed her newest colleague Jaisol Martinez. Jaisol is a native Texan. Hopefully the Chicago weather doesn’t scare her off.
*Cable News Corner
=In a move that was teased a few weeks ago, CNN signed comedian Bill Maher for Friday nights. It should be interesting to see how he adjusts after having complete freedom at HBO for many years now. Maher is known to be a bit prickly.
*The mystery of ABC journalist answered
=James Gordon Meek was a top producer at ABC News. It made news last year when he abruptly resigned his position after the FBI raided his apartment. He basically disappeared after that, cutting off all contact with his former colleagues. This week’s unsealed court filing probably answers the reason why. Meek was charged in a child pornography case.
*The End of the GM3 Drama
=The titillating scandal involving the extra-marital affair of GM3 hosts Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes appears to have been resolved with the hosts leaving the network after a settlement was reached. Semafor reports that ABC Talent VP Galen Gordon is also on thin ice because he knew about the affair and didn’t alert his bosses.
*Giving back to their alma mater
=Alex Maragos and Mike Lowe may be on different channels in Chicago (NBC5 and WGN), but they are from the same alma mater (Loyola Academy) and spoke to students at the school last Friday.
*Newsworthy week in Chicago print media history.
Three big changes were announced…
*Trump Sues Bob Woodward
=Yet another (probably) frivolous lawsuit was filed by the former president this week. This time he’s suing Bob Woodward for releasing the audio tapes of the on-the-record interviews he conducted with Trump. Presumably, the tapes include Trump agreeing to be taped. That’s something I always get on tape, and I’m sure Bob Woodward did the same.
*TikTok CEO to testify before Congress
=If you haven’t noticed, the new Congress is going hard after TikTok. They have called TikTok’s CEO to testify and justify TikTok’s modus operandi.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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...
(Cubs 1902-1913, Cubs manager 1913)
Johnny Evers was the starting second baseman for the greatest Cubs team of all-time, the 1906-1910 dynasty. He got his nickname, the Crab, for the way he sidled up to grounders, but he lived up to his nickname in another way. Evers was only 120 pounds, but he was known as tough and humorless. For instance, he didn’t talk to the other half of his double play combination, shortstop Joe Tinker, for many years. According to Evers, Tinker started the fight in 1907 by throwing a ball too hard at Evers, breaking his finger. Then he laughed…which is, of course, unforgivable. The two didn’t talk, other than what they needed to say on the field, for over thirty years. First baseman/manager Frank Chance also didn’t like to listen to Evers’ constant bitching. He once considered moving him to the outfield just so he didn’t have to hear him in his one good ear. The umpires didn’t like him either. He must have set the record for ejections after arguments with umpires. But Johnny Evers was a great fielder, a sparkplug on the offense, and despite his grumpy disposition, deserves his status as a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Thursday, February 02, 2023
With over 80 books in our library, this year we're taking some time every week to highlight one of the books on the Eckhartz bookshelf. This week's book is "Belle" by Judy Ann Jamerson. Judy is the mother of former Chicago Bears wide receiver Rashied Davis...
Belle is the heartbreaking story of a mother struggling with the reality of the unimaginable death of her daughter. While her two living daughters desperately try holding on to what is left of their strong-willed, beautiful, vibrant mother. Belle takes us on this family’s journey of gathering, grief, and get-back! Through tears and laughter, the story of Belle unravels how some atrocities can unrecognizably alter the shape of an individual’s life.
Wednesday, February 01, 2023
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. This past year we got a chance to talk to the man who founded the Rascals, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Felix Cavaliere. We talked about his hit songs like "It's a Beautiful Morning", "Groovin" and "People Got To Be Free" and the role he inadvertently played in getting Little Stevie Van Zandt the role of a lifetime in the hit series The Sopranos.
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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 Bruce Wolf. Bruce worked at the Loop through several different regimes, including the final Loop chapter of Johnny B's show. I interviewed Bruce in 2007 for Chicago Radio Spotlight...
Bruce: Danny Lee, who owned WXRT, was in my father's hardware store on Fullerton and Clark and heard me on the radio announcing a Highland Park or Deerfield high school football game on WVVX, a north suburban station. Danny said WXRT was starting a sports feature for a non-sports oriented audience. I auditioned for it, and got it. That was "athletes' feats." I neglected to ask for stock in the company. I could have cashed out for about $25 million several years ago.
Rick: In the 80s it seemed like were on the radio in Chicago every minute of every day. In the mornings you were part of the Johnny B. Showgram, and in the afternoon you were on the Steve & Garry show. How were those two experiences the same and/or different?
Bruce: Johnny was mostly me doing a scripted sportscast...although we had many moments, like when I got Howard Cosell to hang up on us. Steve and Garry were basically me fending off their inquisitions and then laughing my head off when they broke up. I loved it all.
Rick: After Steve & Garry split up, you essentially replaced Garry on Steve's show. You even released a CD of your material if I recall correctly. How do you feel about that stint looking back on it now?
Bruce: It was the second best thing I've ever done in broadcasting. I think I was the only real partner Steve (photo) ever had. Granted, I got to be his partner because Garry sacrificed his career and I came in through that little window when Steve was receptive to having someone argue with him on the air. (I mean someone other than Janet.) It was an amazing time. We would sit there for four hours, often with no calls, no guests and, well, nothing to talk about. But it was great. I would throw out all kinds of topics, suggestions, comments. I always felt like we were in Wrigley Field, and I was hitting fungoes out to Steve, who would try to field everything, including foul balls into the grandstand. He'd try to have a comeback for everything and most of the time did. Steve is brilliant. Howard Stern wishes he had Steve's imagination. I think the show was actually better than Steve and Garry...technically, that is. But listening to Steve and Garry was like being around for the invention of the wheel. Nothing will ever compare with that.
Rick: I've always called you the Dennis Miller of Chicago Radio because some of your references seem to go over the head of the audience. Have program directors over the years tried to reign you in, or get you to dumb down your act?
Bruce: I've listened to Dennis Miller on the radio, and he's very good. I didn't like his recent television show that much. So go figure about the difference between radio and television. Hey, what's wrong with a reference to Pelops, the son of Tantalus, anyway? Everyone knows Greek mythology nowadays. Didn't you see "Troy" with Brad Pitt? I have had management tell me from time to time that I'm speaking over the audience's head. I actually speak over my own head when I quote Anselm's ontological proof for the existence of God (that which nothing greater in the mind can be conceived of, I think), I have no idea what I'm talking about.
Rick: You were also an important part of the ill-fated Morning Loop Guys show, featuring Spike, Dobie and Max. You actually did a newscast as well as a sportscast on that show. What was that experience like?
Bruce: The great thing about getting older is that each succeeding experience in life has very little impact on you. There's just too much history in your life for anything new to matter that much. In other words, I have no recollection of Spike or Dobie, but I do remember Max. He was the guy who appeared on "Oprah" with his wife and talked about his anger management problem, and I was the only one on the radio the next day who tried to make light of it. I knew we were cooked then.
Rick: After that show was blown up, you were the lone survivor on the Loop, and you were back with Brandmeier's show one last time. How was it different working with Johnny B the second time around?
Bruce: I just tried to shut up and do everything he said. Actually, it's a lot of fun. We did a show at the House of Blues, and I sang a medley from "Jesus Christ Superstar." Johnny and I sang "I don't know how to love him" to each other and meant it. Dennis Deyoung played Pilate, and had me (as Jesus) get down on my knees. He went through this tirade for about a minute until I finally sighed "Jesus Christ, Dennis!" You don't get to do stuff like that on Spike O'Dell's show, I don't think.