Thursday, March 28, 2024

20 Years: Free excerpt from "Records Truly is My Middle Name"


This year marks my 20th year as a professional writer. Over the course of 2024, I'll be sharing a few of those offerings you may have missed along the way.

One of the most memorable guests we ever had on the John Landecker show in the years I produced it was Martin Short. Although, it's not for the reasons you may think.

Since both Martin (March 26) and John (March 28) are celebrating birthdays this week, I thought I'd share that story from the book I co-wrote with John, Records Truly Is My Middle Name...


Rick was such a worry wart, and one day all of his worries came true…”One of the problems we encountered at WJMK was of a technical nature. There were months at a time when we couldn’t do the show we wanted to do because of technical limitations. They had to build a new studio for us twice, once at our original location, and once when the entire station moved to a new location.

The second time it took several months to build the new studios, and while they did so, they took bits and pieces out of the old studio until we were working with just enough equipment to keep us on the air. Needless to say, this limited what we could do on the show.

So, with great fanfare, we finally moved into our new studios in 2003, and we wanted to celebrate our first day in the studio by having celebrity guests to help us christen it. After months of doing a bare-bones show, we were excited to be doing a full-fledged morning show again. I booked comic actor Martin Short to appear on that first show.

But the first thing we discovered when we showed up that first morning was that the production studio was not done. Therefore we couldn’t do any produced bits, or play any new audio, including the audio we had for the Martin Short interview. Secondly we discovered that they had forgotten to set up the choke lines for listener calls…so that wasn’t going to be ready either (listener phone calls were a crucial ingredient of the show). After seeing that everything else wasn’t working right, I decided to double check the hotline. When I called the hotline from my cell phone, it lit up. Good first step. Next, I asked our technical producer Vince to see if it would come up through console.


We had no way of broadcasting anything through the phone lines, and Martin Short—who we had been promoting all morning—was about to call.

And call he did—right on time. I asked Martin if he would mind calling twenty minutes later, hoping we could resolve our issues in that time, but he told me he had another interview scheduled—if we wanted to talk to him, it was now or never.

“Give him my cell number,” John said.

When the commercial ended, John conducted the entire interview on his cell-phone. He asked the questions into a combination of the microphone and the cellular phone, so Short and the listeners could hear, then he held the cellular phone up to the microphone for Short’s answers.

I don’t remember what they talked about in the interview except for the first few seconds, when John explained the situation to him. Short thought it was a bit because the concept of a major radio station in Chicago holding a cell-phone to the microphone was so ridiculous.

“Are you serious?” Martin finally asked.

“Totally serious.”

“Who owns you guys?” Martin asked.

“CBS, the second biggest radio company in America.”

“And you guys are in Chicago?” he asked.

“Yup. Third biggest media market in America.”

“And I thought I had seen it all,” he replied.

It was actually a pretty funny interview, considering. I gained even more respect for John Landecker that day. He took a potential disaster and turned into a memorable radio moment. I bet Martin Short remembers that very bizarre interview to this day.