The latest issue of Illinois Entertainer is out and includes my interview with the boss-man of the Score, Mitch Rosen. You can read that here.
Saturday, April 01, 2023
Friday, March 31, 2023
A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago
(By Rick Kaempfer)
*Mitch Rosen Interview
=Over the weekend my interview with the Score’s Brand Manager, Mitch Rosen, will be posted at Illinois Entertainer. It’s another good one. Mitch has seen and done it all in his 30-year radio career. I’ll post a link to it here next week but keep a look out for it in the meantime.
*Johnnie D Leaves WGCI
=The program director position at WGCI has been eliminated, which means that Johnnie D is out. All Access caught up with him and discussed the news.
*RIP Bill Zehme
=Zehme was an acclaimed author, famous for his books about Frank Sinatra (The Way You Wear Your Hat), Andy Kaufman (Lost in the Funhouse) and more, but he always remained a Chicago guy. He passed away this week at the age of 64. Big loss for the entire Chicago media community.
=Zehme fans will want to tune in tonight (Friday) to Dave Plier's show on WGN. Garry Meier will join him live at 7pm to talk about Zehme. Garry & Zehme were close. So close, Garry asked Bill to be his daughter's godfather. Also, Plier is planning on replaying his own interview with Zehme.
=Zehme was a big fan of Chicago radio. When he was a kid, he was smitten with the jocks on the Big 89, Music Radio WLS. That’s why when John Landecker was writing his memoir Records Truly Is My Middle Name in 2013, I asked Zehme if he would be willing to contribute to it. This is what he sent me, and it made it into the final version of the book…
“I think of my time spent staring at Landecker doing his job (Can you imagine? Staring at a man doing his job?) from the glassed-off safety of that little WLS viewing room, wherein all DJs resembled captive zoo creatures with the most powerful microphones controlling the lives of us 70s chilluns; the ones who ran to Sears to get the Big '89 Surveys each week to see where the hits were charting as though life depended on it.
Landecker (and to lesser degrees Sirott and J.J. Jeffrey) -- these voices became actual men (with the Best Jobs Ever!). True, they were also guys clearly uncomfortable being stared at by punks like me, but here is why Landecker was my favorite. Like Johnny Carson later at night (who always patiently waited a half hour for Landecker's 6-10pm shift to end), I learned the seductive if inscrutable power of the vaguely naughty double entendre. But moreover, whenever I came downtown to stare at him-- he always, always, always stepped out to say hello, like he knew what his voice meant to us and, humble though he was, he did not want to disappoint.
I ended up in media, you know. Became a writer guy who's done a lot of books and magazine work and TV and radio (thrillingly even a few guest turns with the Great Landecker himself!). But I tell only truth when I say that he was the first media hero who presented himself to me as a fine and funny and decent fellow with at least two dimensions, if not the full three.
All I've ever done is remember that, and try to emulate it, even though I personally would never stand for being caged in a viewing room. Plus, who could look cooler than John anyway?”
*Dave Fogel Health Update
=WLS-FM morning man Dave Fogel shared some good news this week…
*Big Draw at this year’s NAB conference
=They scored Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein. He's really living up to that "He's here, he's there, he's every f***inwhere" Roy Kent cheer, isn't he?
*Our first home opener without him
=Thanks to the Cubs for this moment at Wrigley Field yesterday...
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) March 30, 2023
*Audacy’s Reverse Stock Split Gambit
=Audacy hasn’t been NYSE compliant for a while now (meaning their stock is below $1 a share), so this week they announced they would be doing a reverse stock split. I can’t say I totally understand what this means, even after reading this article, but I’m assuming you are smarter than I am.
=I hope this works out better than their attempted sale of radio.com, which got zero bids.
=Salem Media announced they are laying off 3% of their workstaff. In Chicago one of those layoffs was production director Brian Rhodes.
*Baseball on the Radio
=Next time you think of calling the Cubs or White Sox cheap, thank your lucky stars you aren’t fans of the Angels. This is really hard to believe in this day and age…
Angels radio broadcasts will once again call games remotely this season.— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) March 29, 2023
Arte Moreno said airing in-person doesn't justify the cost.
But other broadcasters & other experts disagree. As do 28 MLB teams.
A story on this decision & what it means.
Link: https://t.co/wjUcuQgfWU pic.twitter.com/5BeqVOzb6n
*The Loop Files
=My Tuesday dip into the Loop Files. This week I feature my interview with the beloved Cindy Gatziolis.
=Add Amy Poehler to the everybody-has-a-podcast-now department.
=Oh, and don’t forget Julia Louis Dreyfus
=In a twist that fans of the podcast Serial probably didn’t see coming, Adnan Syed’s murder charge was reinstated on Tuesday. More details are here, via the AP.
=Here's a recommendation for rock fans. Mark Caro's latest Caropop podcast guest is the great Marshall Crenshaw.
=Saw lots of photos from the WMVP 25th reunion. I wanted to stop by, but was attending a writers conference a few blocks away. These are from Dave Juday’s Facebook page…
=Marc Silverman also posted some great ones. Go to his Facebook page for more. Looks like it was a home run event, despite occasional technical difficulties. Congrats to the WMVP crowd.
=As I mentioned, I was speaking at a writers conference this weekend. One of the delights of being there was hearing the presentation by Catherine Johns. The former WLS talk show host and newscaster is a force of nature when she gets in front of a crowd. In this case, she was doing a non-fiction panel and talking about her book, Show up and Shine. That’s her in the photo below along with New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Eig.
*March 26—Ken Cocker birthday
=Ken was a fixture on the Chicago radio dial for years at stations like WMET, WJMK, and K-Hits. He was also once a minor league baseball player. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2012.
*March 26—Shane Riordan birthday
=Shane is executive producer, and content and operations manager for the Score. He also sports a mighty impressive beard.
*March 28—John Records Landecker birthday
=Why did John Landecker call his memoir Records Truly Is My Middle Name? Because it truly is. Nobody believes this when he tells them, but it’s true. His mother’s maiden name was Records, and she gave it to him as a middle name. His Radio Hall of Fame career was destiny. (He’s also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and the Illinois Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). I was honored to speak at his ceremony in Indiana a few years ago when the Governor awarded him with the state’s highest honor. Of course, John is still on the air most weeknights on WGN-Radio.
*March 28—Jimmy “Mac” McInerny birthday
=Jimmy was one of the producers for Jonathon Brandmeier’s show for many years, and also worked as a producer and production guru for Kevin Matthews back in the day. His podcast Rebel Force Radio is a huge hit and a must listen for Star Wars fans. Jimmy Mac is married to Wendy Snyder.
*March 28, 1971—Final Ed Sullivan Show
=Ed Sullivan took the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater for the very last time this week in 1971. The rerun of the show aired in June. The last musical guests to appear were Gladys Knight and the Pips.
*March 30—Fred Winston birthday
=Fred is one of the all-time great DJs in Chicago radio history. He worked at WLS, WCFL, WFYR, WJMK, and more. I interviewed Fred several times over the years, most recently in 2018 for Illinois Entertainer.
*March 31—Dean Richards birthday
=Dean has been a key part of the WGN-TV morning show for decades now. He’s also a major contributor to WGN Radio. I interviewed Dean back in 2008 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.
*March 31—Orion Samuelson birthday
=The man who taught Chicago radio listeners about pork bellies worked at WGN radio for five decades. I had the honor of interviewing him on the eve of that anniversary back in 2010.
March 31—Jock Hedblade birthday
=Jock was a producer at WGN (Bob Sirott) and WLS (Roe Conn), and later produced for the Rosie Show at Harpo and the Steve Harvey Show during his time in Chicago. He is now the executive director of the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
*March 31, 2008—CBS 2 Announces 17 Departures
=It was a bloodbath in the CBS 2 newsroom this week in 2008. Mary Ann Childers, Diann Burns, Mark Malone and 15 others were let go on the same day.
*April 1—Rob Johnson birthday
=Rob is also a former Channel 2 veteran. He was an anchor at WBBM-TV for 13 years, ending in 2019. Rob is active in many charities including the Special Olympics, and currently runs his own media consulting firm.
*April 1—Norm Van Lier birthday
=Norm was one of a kind and is still missed by those who knew him, including me. His former producer Tom Serritella wrote this tribute to Norm when he passed away in 2009. (Photo with Chet Coppock from Chet’s book Your Dime My Dance Floor)
*April 1—Bernie Tafoya birthday
=One of the top radio reporters in Chicago, Bernie has been doing it for decades at NewsRadio WBBM-AM. I interviewed him about his career back in 2009 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.
*April 1—Jim Shorts birthday
=This is the listed birthday of the Kevin Matthews show sportscaster. How many of you have interviewed an imaginary character in a foreign language? One of the oddest moments of my career. The English translation of that interview is here.
*April 1—Penny Lane birthday
=Penny Lane was in your ears and in your eyes in the 1970s as one of the gals on WSDM (a station with all female jocks), which later became the Loop. She was also a very prominent commercial voice-over artist for many years, and was married to the great Wayne Juhlin (WFYR). I interviewed her in 2011 about her memorable career
*April 1—Eddie Volkman birthday.
=Eddie is best remembered for his days with Jobo on B-96, but he currently holds down the fort afternoons on the Star network in Chicago’s suburbs. (Photo of Eddie & me taken back in his podcasting days)
*The Home Stretch for Chicago Mayoral Election
=It can go either way still, but I agree with Brandon Pope about the work of the moderators for this last debate.
— Brandon Pope TV (@BpopeTV) March 28, 2023
*Hawk Harrelson “Got Retired”
=With the new baseball season upon us, this news got some attention this week. Former White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson is now saying that he didn’t retire, he “got retired”. Awful Announcing has more on thesubject.
*Opening Day and EveryCubEver
=I made the media rounds yesterday too. It was Opening Day for the Cubs, and the 5th Edition of my book EveryCubEver came out yesterday...
Opening day and EveryCubEver. Thanks to Brad Edwards for having me on. https://t.co/zH0SJrJJ5z— Rick Kaempfer (@RickKaempfer) March 30, 2023
=Remember that Fox News producer who sued her bosses for turning her into a patsy in the Dominion Lawsuit scandal? She was fired by Fox News this week. Fox News apparently enjoys being in court.
=Oh, and the list of Fox News people that may have to testify in the trial has to be causing agita in the Fox News hallways: Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott; Fox News President Jay Wallace; hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Laura Ingraham, and Bret Baier; and former executive Bill Sammon, politics editor Chris Stirewalt, and the Fox News producer who filed lawsuits against the network last week that alleged network lawyers coerced her into providing misleading testimony.
=And finally, the Society of Professional Journalists released a statement about this Fox News scandal. It was pretty harsh. “No responsible journalist can accept or excuse this behavior.” And just for the record, they are talking about Fox News, not Dominion.
*Death of Woodstock Cover Girl
=Her name was Bobbi Ercoline, but she is best known as the girl on the front cover of the Woodstock album, covered in a blanket, and hugging her boyfriend. She passed away this week at the age of 73.
*Ireland Pays Their Artists
=This is an interesting experiment being conducted by the Republic of Ireland. They honor their artists so much, that they are paying them a weekly fee to stay with it. The New York Times has the details.
*Twitter says part of their source code was leaked
=They are blaming a disgruntled ex-employee, although they don’t know which one. They have more than 10,000 of them.
*Twitter’s “For You” feed only for verified accounts
=In other words, you don’t pay, you don’t get on that feed.
*What will journalists do if Tik Tok is banned?
=Tom Jones at The Poynter Institute asked that excellent question in his column this week. As of yesterday, 168 American news outlets have TikTok presences.
*Russia Detains American Reporter
=This has the potential of being a major international incident. The reporter works for the Wall Street Journal, and his publication vehemently denies the Russian claim that he is a spy.
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.
If you're interested in some of my other projects from this week...
The Fifth Edition (2023) of EveryCubEver is out now! Buy your copy today
Minutia Men: Rick and Dave Confess
Minutia Men Celebrity Interview: Keytarist Jeff Abbott
Minutia Men Celebrity Interview Classic: Grand Funk Railroad's Mark Farner
Free Kicks with Adam & Rick: Free Kicks Goes To England
Meet the Eckhartz Press Author: Jeff Gentile
From the Eckhartz Book Shelf: Close Encounters of a Chicago Kind
My latest novel: Back in the D.D.R
Windy City Reviews Back in the D.D.R.
Podcast Interview about Back in the D.D.R: Military Family Museum Podcast
Thursday, March 30, 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 Close Encounters of a Chicago Kind by Vicki Quade.