Friday, June 09, 2023

Media Notebook--6-9-23


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

(By Rick Kaempfer)




*House Committee Holds Hearing on AM Radio Future

=On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing called: “Listen Here: Why Americans Value AM Radio.” The automakers received an earful from both parties. It remains to be seen if this brings out the desired effect. The Sun Times has a full report. 

*AM listening habits in Chicago

=It turns out that Chicago is one of the most AM-Radio friendly markets in the country. Last week Nielsen came out with a study of the top 141 markets, and Chicago ranked second in AM Radio listening – 48% of listeners tune to AM radio. We have five major AM-only stations, WGN (720), WSCR (670), WLS-AM (890), WIND-AM (560), and WMVP (1000). WBBM (780) has an FM simulcast (105.9), but it also has a huge AM radio audience. Then there’s also WCPT (820), WMBI (1100), WGRB (1390), WCKG (1530), and WVON (1690).

*2023 Radio Mercury Awards

=The awards for radio commercials were given out last night in New York, and the folks at FCB-Chicago were the big winners. WDRV The Drive also won in the Broadcast Radio Promotional Spot category. You can listen to the winners here.

*What happened to JP at WIIL Rock?

=John Perry was the PD and a jock at WIIL Rock. He went by JP on the air, and had been there for 30 years. This week I got a few tips that he was no longer at the station. I checked the website. Sure enough, his name is gone. I sought a statement to find out what happened, and still haven't gotten a response.


*Podcast Corner

=The Score’s Matt Spiegel is the host of a new Audacy podcast called The PBP. Each week Spiegel will talk to great baseball play-by-play announcers. The first episode features Joe Buck. The second episode is with Jason Benetti

=The Bob & Tom Show once aired here in Chicago on 103.5 FM. The show is still on the air in many markets, but since 2015, Bob hasn’t been a part of it. He retired from radio. Well, he recently was diagnosed with gastric cancer, and now he’s back doing a podcast to share his journey. It’s called The Bob & Cancer Show, and you can find it wherever you get your podcasts.

=Kevin Pollak is hosting a new podcast that goes over the episodes of the recently completed Amazon show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Pollak was one of the stars of the show (as Moishe Maisel), and he’s also a gifted comedian. Should be a good one.

=This one debuting on June 12 sounds interesting too. It’s called Diss and Tell and it’s about celebrity feuds.

=Did you know you can reach 35% of all weekly podcast listeners (13+) by advertising on the top ten rated podcasts. 45% on the top 25 rated podcasts. Edison Research has the details.

=For May, the top five rated podcasts were…

1.   The Daily – The New York Times

2.   Dateline NBC – NBC News

3.   Morbid – Wondery

4.   Up First – NPR

5.   NPR News Now – NPR



*Memory Lane

=Former WLS-AM 890 great Dex Card passed away four years ago this week. This piece in the Journal Times is a nice remembrance of the man


*The Loop Files

=This week I featured my interview with Jeff Hoover. New Loop interviews post every Tuesday morning.





*June 6, 2016—Dan Sorkin death

=He isn’t remembered by too many people these days, but Dan Sorkin was a superstar of Chicago radio in the late 50s/early 60s. He’s the man responsible for discovering Bob Newhart. I interviewed him back in 2010 and found him to be a delight.


*June 6—Larry Lujack birthday

=There’s an argument to be made that Larry is one of the top five greatest radio performers in Chicago history. He certainly was one of my heroes. I was thrilled to interview him just a few months before he died (in 2013) for Illinois Entertainer.


*June 6—Roe Conn birthday

=Roe made his mark at WLS Radio, co-hosting the popular Roe & Garry show (with Garry Meier). He later co-hosted the show with Bill Leff, and then Richard Roeper, before moving to WGN Radio. He’s out of radio now, working as the director of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. I’ve interviewed Roe a number of times over the years, including this one from 2007.

*June 6—Scott Bertram birthday

=Scott was a former Chicago radio reporter, who is now the GM of the radio station at Hillside College, as well as being a journalism professor at the school.


*June 6, 1944—D-Day

=This is the message Dwight D. Eisenhower sent to his troops…


June 7—Alan Rosen birthday

=Al was a production engineer with WLS radio, and then WBBM radio for several decades. One of his gigs at WLS was running the controls for John Records Landecker. He contributed this to John’s book Records Truly Is My Middle Name about the first time he encountered the future Hall of Famer…

“I started working with John his first night in his regular shift, and I discovered right away that there was something very different about him. As he was speaking on the air he looked at me and pointed to his headphones, indicating that something wasn’t right.  So, I tried to increase the level in John's headphones, and brought the music level down a little so he could hear himself better. After the first break he told me it still wasn't right, so I tried again, lowering the music level even more. I had John's mic going way into the red on the meter and the music level down around 40 percent so I didn't see how I could make him any louder. 

I will never forget what John told me next.  He said, ‘No no, I want the MUSIC louder and my mic brought down!  I want to be INSIDE the record!!’

My mind started reeling.  For one thing, No DJ had ever told me to bring his voice down before, and second, it DID sound amazing.   When John did an introduction over the intro of a Chicago record, his voice was actually just a little lower than Peter Cetera's!  It did put him inside the music and I think was a subliminal part of the Landecker show sound.”


*June 7—John Fisher birthday

=The former WMET/WCKG/WLUP jock is now hosting mornings in Seattle. I got a chance to interview him in 2007.

*June 8, 1966—Bill Kurtis Breaks Out

=On this day in 1966, a twister hit Topeka, Kansas. A young college student named Bill Kurtis was on television that night filling in at the news desk and broke in to alert the viewers of Lost in Space that it was coming. He came on the air and said “For God’s Sake Take Cover.” That was the beginning of a legendary TV-news career. Bill told that story on my podcast a few years ago. You can hear the entire interview here.

*June 8—Byrd birthday

=Byrd is the afternoon drive voice at the Drive these days. I interviewed him in 2018 for Illinois Entertainer, shortly after he joined the Drive airstaff.

*June 8, 1973--Bob Sirott signs with WLS Radio

=50 years ago this week...

*June 9—Mel Tovar birthday

=Mel was the sidekick to DreX on the Kiss-FM morning show. I interviewed her in the midst of that run, in 2010, for ChicagoRadio Spotlight


*June 9—Rob Hart birthday

=Rob is the midday anchor at WBBM-NewsRadio these days, but has previously worked in Chicago at WGN, Q-101, and the Loop. I interviewed him a number of times over the years, including this one from 2009.

*June 9—JayBeau Jones birthday

=Jones was the PD of the Jammin’ Oldies station in Chicago (103.5) in the early 00s.

*June 9, 1934--Donald Duck makes his debut

=His first film appearance and he wasn't wearing any pants.


*June 10—Neil Steinberg birthday

=The Sun-Times columnist is one of the best writers in Chicago. I’m a big fan of his writing, although when I interviewed him for mypodcast a few years ago, I discovered he’s not a big fan of mine…at least not of my book covers.

*June 10—Kevin Robinson birthday

=Kevin was the program director of WJMK in the 1990s, guiding the ship with passengers like Dick Biondi, John Landecker, Fred Winston, and more. I interviewed him in 2008 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.


*June 10, 1928—Lee Phillip Bell birthday

=At one time she was one of the best-known television hosts in Chicago. The Lee Phillip Show ran from 1952-1986. Lee was also the creator of the soap operas The Young & the Restless and The Bold & the Beautiful.






*Directors Reach Agreement with Hollywood Producers

=The Directors Guild has come to a 3-year agreement with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers. 

=The Writer’s Guild on the other hand…

=And now SAG/AFTRA has also authorized a strike. During negotiations with the studios they are invoking a media blackout.


*Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Take WTTW on Ride

=If you’d like to watch and listen to two NASCAR legends take WTTW on the Chicago Street Race Course, click here. I’m still having a hard time believing this is really going to happen.

*Axios Chicago Profiles Steve Wilkos

=The former Jerry Springer bodyguard has his own show now. You can read his Axios profile here.


*Blackhawks Reportedly Signing Darren Pang for TV Booth

=What this means for Patrick Sharp, I’m not sure. Bleacher Nation has the story. 

=Speaking of the Hockey TV booth, reporter Samantha Rivera is a Chicago native and DePaul alum. Her Miami-TV report during the Stanley Cup finals has gone viral because she stiff-armed a rowdy fan trying to get in her TV shot. You can watch it here.


*Robin Baumgarten Gets Married

=She announced the news on the WGN Morning Show this week and says she will continue to refer to him on the air as “Mr. X” because he is enjoying his anonymity.

*Max Armstrong and the Telly Awards

=Former WGN radio reporter Max Armstrong shared this news on his Facebook page this week: The word came from RFD-TV this week that among the 11 Telly Awards for which they received richly deserved, wonderful honors were two that involved me. I’m still smiling about it, because I did virtually nothing. I was simply the host on-camera for one production and the subject of another.  “Rural America Live: Ukraine Special with Howard Buffett” won a Silver Telly Award. I hosted the one-hour special from the farm of businessman, farmer and philanthropist Howard Buffett. A 2-man crew from Oklahoma shot it on Howard’s farm in Nebraska and the real magic came from the production and editing at RFD in Nashville. Katie Avant led the project that truly brought to life the horrors of Ukraine’s battle and Howard’s efforts to spotlight the human condition there. And RFD’s Christina Loren shared the news that she had received a Telly Award for her superb work on “The Rural Americans: Max Armstrong.” Again, all of the work was done by others. In the days before the tv crew came to our little place, Linda worked so hard to fix and shine things around home here that were long neglected before our arrival. And then Christina, her two camera operators and the editing crew in Nashville performed their wizardry. I remember watching the results and thinking: “Now that’s an amazing effort to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”



*Seeing Stories of Kindness May Counteract Negative Effects of Consuming Bad News

=This study is food for thought for the “if it bleeds, it leads” news directors in TV newsrooms around the country. 



*Fewer than 1/3 Voters Believe Local News Holds Officials Accountable

=Mark Caro wrote this piece for Medill Local News Initiative originally. Poynter reprinted it this week.

*Every Major TV news Organization is now run by Women

=Two of three people overseeing CNN (until they name a full-time replacement) are women. They join Kimberly Godwin at ABC News, Rashida Jones at MSNBC, Rebecca Blumenstein at NBC News, Wendy McMahon at CBS News and Suzanne Scott at Fox News. 


*Succession Lexicon

=Here’s a fun lexicon guide for viewers of Succession. The most used words in the series. (h/t to Eric Zorn’s Picayune Sentinel for pointing this out)

 *Chuck Todd is leaving Meet the Press

=The Washington Post has the video of his explanation and his introduction of Kristen Welker. His last show will be in September. Todd will remain with NBC News. 


*Padma is leaving Top Chef

=One of only two shows my whole family still watches together (the other is John Oliver’s show). I’ll miss Padma.


*An excerpt from Maureen Ryan’s book

=Maureen is the former TV Critic for the Chicago Tribune. Her new book is called “Burn it Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood”. The Hollywood Reporter printed an excerpt this week (about SNL’s culture). 



*Cable News Corner

=Chris Licht is a goner. The New York Times has the story.

=This is the article that put the final nail in Chris Licht’s CNN coffin. It was written by Tim Alberta in the Atlantic, and it’s called “Inside the Meltdown at CNN” 

=Licht’s handpicked staff was also given the boot. 

=Former CNN media critic Brian Stelter offered this advice to whoever is hired to replace Licht. 

=John Roberts apologized to Chris Christie






*LA Times Cuts 13% of Newsroom Jobs

=That’s over 70 jobs, and the LA Times Guild is not happy about it. Variety has the details. 



*New Prison Policy Prevents Journalists from Publishing While Incarcerated

=New York Focus has the story. I guess that’s another reason not to go to prison.






*Twitter Ad Sales are Down 59%

=It’s been a financial debacle since Elon Musk took over. The New York Times has the gruesome details.


*Tucker’s New Show on Twitter

=It debuted this week. This Reuters story will fill you in. Sounds like it’s more of the same conspiracy nonsense, although now it looks like he’s doing the show from a garden shed.

=Fox News says this is a breach of contract. 

*Chinese Communist Party Used TikTok to Find Protestors in Hong Kong

=This admission came from a former executive at ByteDance (owners of TikTok). The AP reported the news on Wednesday. 



*Viral TikToker Apologizes to Chicago after Trying Deep-Dish Pizza

=He was pretty bold about his New York Pizza love. Turns out he had never tried Chicago deep dish. When he did, he immediately recanted.

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 from this week...

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.

EveryCubEver interview with Garry Meier

EveryCubEver interview with Andrea Darlas

Minutia Men: Stunt Restaurants

Minutia Men Celebrity Interview: Shatner's Hairpiece

Minutia Men Celebrity Interview Classic: Loverboy's Doug Johnson

Free Kicks with Adam & Rick: Season Finale

Meet the Eckhartz Press Author: Margaret Larkin

From the Eckhartz Book Shelf: Grace's Rockin Roll Adventure

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.RMilitary Family Museum Podcast

Back in the DDR, the bookclub

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Rick on Andrea Darlas podcast

From the Eckhartz Bookshelf: Grace's Rockin Roll Adventure

  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 Grace's Rockin Roll Adventure. The children's book is written by Ken Korber, but it features Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Little Steven Van Zandt. Little Steven supported the book, and we are forever grateful.


This latest Musical Adventures of Grace(tm) story has Grace & her friends going on a school field trip to a rock & roll concert — after she and her classmates won a ‘Best Rock & Roll Instrument’ contest. What Grace did not know was that she was going to meet somebody special and receive a big rock & roll surprise along the way…

Read the press release announcing our partnership with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Little Steven Van Zandt

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Rick with Garry Meier