Friday, April 12, 2024

Media Notebook--4-12-24


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




*WLS 100

=This weekend you'll want to tune in to this...

=One of the many interviews of former WLS personalities featured recently. Steve Cochran interviews Bill Leff

=Since today is the actual 100th anniversary, here's some light reading for you. My interviews with some of the all-time WLS greats (in alphabetical order). Click on their names to read the interviews.

Chuck Buell

Roe Conn

Jeff Davis

John Dempsey

Tommy Edwards

John Gehron

Les Grobstein

Bob Hale

Catherine Johns

John Records Landecker

Larry Lujack

Garry Meier

Ron Riley

Bob Sirott

Jim Smith

Kris Erik Stevens

Clark Weber

Fred Winston

*Blackhawks Re-Sign with WGN Radio

=The Blackhawks and WGN made the announcement this week. 3 more years. Troy Murray and John Wiedeman will remain on the broadcasts, and Joe Brand will remain on the pre- and post-game shows.


*What is George Soros Planning to Do in the Audio World?

=George Soros is a famous liberal financier. He is now the majority owner of Audacy, and recently invested in Crooked Media (the company created by former Obama aides, the hosts of the popular Pod Save America). Why is he putting his money here? Max Tani, the media writer for Semafor, speculates and analyzes.

=According to this piece in Radio Insight, Soros is also in talks to acquire Cumulus broadcasting. In Chicago, Cumulus owns WLS-AM, WLS-FM, and WKQX-FM. Since one company can only own 8 stations in a market (5 FMs, 3 AMs), and Audacy already owns WXRT-FM, WBBM-FM, WBBM-AM, WSCR-AM, WBMX-FM, WUSN-FM, and WCFS-FM, they would be forced to sell at least 2 FM stations if that sale really occurs. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what Soros would do with conservative talk WLS-AM?

*Dave Benson

=When I heard that former WLUP, WXRT, and WMET jock/music director Dave Benson was programming some internet stations from his home, I had to check them out. I’ve always admired his impeccable taste in music. So, I listened to it this week. Incredible. You can check it out here. He has a jazz station (Thejazzstation365), a mix of rock, blues, indie, folk and more (Bensonic) and one that combines all genres (The Odd Sunday). 



*Has NPR Lost America’s Trust?

=That’s what current NPR business editor Uri Berliner claims in this essay. I’m guessing he wasn’t welcomed in the NPR hallways with big hugs after this came out.

=Case in point.



*Podcast Corner

=WGN’s Karen Conti (now also an author) appeared on the True Murder podcast to talk about her book Killing Time with John Wayne Gacy

=Coming soon to your podcast machine: Dora the Explorer.


*The Loop Files

=I had a great time on this podcast. Thanks to Vicki & Wynne for having me on...

=Vicki also wrote a wonderful blog about what that station meant to her.

=I’ll be back on the road promoting the book in a few weeks. Next stop is Lake Zurich at the ELA Public Library, May 1st from 7-8pm. More info is here. I’ll be doing a whole presentation. Register at the link. Seating is limited. I believe they have only 60 seats left. 


*Rest in Peace

=Randi Landes

Randy worked at WJMK and ESPN in the traffic department and was a wonderful colleague and friend to those who knew her (including me). She was a huge Cubs fan too. This is Randi with her hero Billy Williams.





*April 7, 1984

=Steve King marries Johnnie Putman. Congrats on 40 years of marriage.


April 7—Melissa Forman birthday

=She’s the morning host on the top-rated radio station in Chicago, WLIT. Melissa has now been in Chicago radio for nearly 30 years. I’ve interviewed her several times, including this 2021 feature in Illinois Entertainer.



*April 7—Dorothy Humphrey birthday

=Dorothy’s unique voice was one of the highlights of the Kevin Matthews show on AM 1000 back in the day. Dorothy was a traffic reporter in Chicago for many years. In the book The Loop Files she tells an incredible story about jumping out of an airplane on Kevin’s show.

*April 7—Bebe North birthday

=Chicago sportscaster Mike North talked about his wife Bebe so often she became a Chicago radio celebrity in her own right.



*April 7—John Dacosse birthday


*April 8—Esmerelda Leon birthday

=Esmerelda is currently co-hosting the Nick D podcast (with Nick Digilio) on the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.



*April 8—Doug Dahlgren birthday

=Doug had a good run in Chicago in the 1970s, most prominently at WCFL. I got a chance to interview him for Chicago Radio Spotlight back in 2012.



*April 8—Tom O’Toole birthday

=Tom was a long-time market veteran. One of his claims to fame: playing the first ever song on the Loop back in 1977.



*April 8, 1974—Henry Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s record

= I was watching and I’ll never forget it. Vin Scully on the play-by-play…



*April 9—Dan Levy birthday

=Levy is a prominent voice-over man in Chicago.



*April 9, 1982—Harry Caray’s first home game as Cubs announcer.

=Fergie Jenkins got the win. Lee Smith got the save. Bill Buckner hit a homer to win it.

*April 10—Robert Murphy birthday

=The great Murphy in the Morning had an incredible run as morning man at Q-101 in the 1980s, and more recently worked at WLS-FM. I had a chance to interview him a few times over the years, most recently in 2014 for Illinois Entertainer.



*April 11—Ryan Manno birthday

=I interviewed the former Q-101 jock along with his brother back in 2008 for Shore Magazine.



*April 11—Gil Gross birthday

=Gil was a newsman at WLS-AM back in the 1970s, before taking his skills out to the West Coast and having a very long and successful radio career in San Francisco.


*April 12, 1924—WLS Radio is born

=That’s right, WLS is 100 years old. I’ll be at their celebration banquet tonight.


*April 12—Larry Schreiner birthday

=Radio’s all-time “street reporter” at WGN, Schreiner passed away in 2014. The WGN radio website did a nice tribute to him at the time. 


*April 12—David Letterman birthday

=He looks a little bit like Santa Claus today with that big beard of his, but Letterman will always be remembered as one of the kings of late night television. I interviewed his good pal Tom Dreesen a few years ago on my podcast, and he told some great stories about Letterman. 


*April 13—Bob Stroud birthday

=I’ve interviewed Bob many times over the years, including in 2022 for Illinois Entertainer.


*April 13—Ken Nordine birthday

=The word-jazz master died in 2019 at the age of 98. The New York Times did a great tribute to him at the time. 


*April 13--Amy Guth birthday

=Amy is currently with Crain’s Chicago, but she was with the Tribune and WGN Radio before that.


*April 13--Shawn Burke birthday

=Burke was the morning man at Oldies 104.3 WJMK in the early 90s. He currently resides in Florida.






*Gene Honda

=Gene has been a PA announcer in Chicago for decades (Blackhawks, White Sox, Depaul, University of Illinois, Big Ten Tournament, and NCAA Final Four since 2010), and before that he was a radio guy at WLAK (now known as WLIT), and a TV guy at WTTW.  Fellow Illini.


*Sports Emmy Award Nominees Announced

=The full list is here. The NFL Network snagged 11 nominations to lead the sports television pack.


*Pat Sajak’s Final “Wheel of Fortune” Episode Date Set

=It was announced this week. Mark your calendars. Sajak’s final “Wheel of Fortune” will air on June 7. It was taped on Friday, the final episode of the 41st season.

=Ryan Seacrest will be taking over for him. He says he’s feeling the pressure.


*Roz Varon farewell

=It happened last Friday. Her good friend Bart Shore was there taking pictures...



*Women’s NCAA Final Sets Ratings Record

=Huge numbers. 18.7 million. Up 89% from last year. And 4 million more than the Men’s Final. Pretty incredible.


*Ozempic Jingle

=You've obviously seen and heard that “oh, oh, Ozempic” jingle that is on every television show these days. You may even remember the 1975 song by Pilot it is based on (“Magic”). But did you know it’s the same singer? The New York Times has the story.

=I was only 12 at the time, but when “Magic” came out, it was one of my least favorite songs ever. It’s right up there with “We Built This City” (the still undisputed heavyweight champ of hated songs).

=The Ozempic jingle has rapidly moved up my most hated jingles chart, but still sits in second place behind the Kars-4-Kids jingle.


*Conan Returns to the Tonight Show

=It was his first time back in 14 years.



*Jon Stewart Visits Duke

=And talks to the journalism students there. Hilarity ensues.


*ESPN signs 9-year deal with the Mannings

=Technically, it’s a 9-year deal with their production company Omaha Productions, but it includes a deal with Peyton & Eli Manning to continue on their Monday Night Football broadcast.


*Hot Mic on the Golf Course

=Remember, Tyrell Hatton is a Brit. If you are sensitive to bad language, don’t click on the video.




=This month the rights to my first novel $everance reverted to me, and I'm now allowed to sell it at Eckhartz Press. I'm still very proud of that book. It predicted many of the changes that have occurred in the media over the past 15 years. Unfortunately, it was a satire, so those predictions were supposed to be ridiculous.

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.