Friday, June 21, 2024

Media Notebook--6-21-24


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



*Chicago Public Media Unions Call for Immediate Ouster of CEO

=Journalists for WBEZ and the Sun Times are united in this effort after a no-confidence vote. They say CEO Matt Moog must go. You may remember Moog. He’s the one who said he was leaving last year but stayed longer to enact a series of layoffs. According to this article, his own salary has increased 19% since doing so.

*Hubbard Honors Matt Bisbee for 50 Years

=I thought this was a nice gesture by the folks at Hubbard Broadcasting, honoring production genius Matt Bisbee for 50 years in radio. They named the studio after him…

*Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2024

=Once again our Chicago-based nominees were shut out (although Lee Harris did briefly work in Chicago). This is the list of the eight members of the Radio Hall of Fame class of 2024…

·         The Crook & Chase Countdown‘s Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase

·         Lee Harris

·         Phil Hendrie

·         Jaime Jarrin

·         Kraig Kitchin

·         Barry Mayo

·         Mary McCoy

·         Matt Siegel

=The announcement was made earlier this week. 

  =UPDATE: Readers have pointed out Barry Mayo's important role in the creation of WVAZ. Great point. So, we have two with Chicago ties in this current class.

*Willie Mays and Jack Brickhouse

=Sad news this week about the passing of all-time baseball great Willie Mays. This is his obit via the AP. When you read the article, you’ll be reminded of Chicago broadcasting legend Jack Brickhouse’s role in Willie’s career. Jack was at the microphone during Willie’s most famous MLB moment, the over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series. As it turns out, it was also the most famous moment in Brickhouse’s career too. Two Hall of Famers linked together in history forever--the Say Hey Kid and the Hey Hey kid. Jack said: “Willie Mays just brought this crowd to its feet with a catch which must have been an optical illusion to a lot of people.”

*Top Share/Top Cume

=Radio Insight published a list of the top 50 rated stations in the country (by share) and not a single Chicago station cracked the list.

=However, they also posted the top 50 stations in the country by cume, and there Chicago still showed up. Cume just means the total number of people who listen to a station, so obviously the third biggest market should rate a few stations, right? In our case... WLIT (#17), WDRV (#22), WLS-FM (#23), WXRT (#36), WTMX (#37), WBMX (#40), Kiss-FM (#43), and B-96 (#47).

=Still, it’s disappointing. Chicago was once the radio capital of the world. It obviously no longer is.

*Lock it and Store it

=Chicago-based BIN (Black Information Network) has started a new initiative called “Lock it and Store It”. It’s a gun-safety campaign. More information is here.

*Ex-Chicago Radio

=KC Lupp, who was known on the air in Chicago at WGCI as KC White, was laid off from his morning gig in Tulsa this week. (I interviewed him in 2008 for Chicago Radio Spotlight)

*Podcast Corner

=I like this idea. A fake baseball game podcast designed to help you sleep. You know what would be even better? A fake golf tournament.

*Paul Brian Obit

=In case you missed it, here is the obituary in the Sun-Times on Father’s Day for Paul Brian.



(I won’t be posting the next two weeks, so there are a few more than usual)


*June 17—Tom Weinberg birthday

=Tom started out as a print journalist and went on to become a pioneering television documentary and non-fiction producer for PBS and WTTW. He also established the incredibly valuable video archive MediaBurn. In 2017 he wrote a stunning book about one of his memorable television adventures, Chasing the Lost City: Chronicles of Discovery in Honduras. 

*June 17—Eric Zapchenk birthday

=Eric works at Huntley Community Radio and Salem Media Group. He got his start in radio at WJMK.


*June 17—Kristin Tews birthday

=Kristin is the co-founder of Noteworthy Media Network. For 14 years before that she ran Personal Best Media and Networking.


*June 17—Bridget Kaempfer birthday

=Bridget worked in radio at the Loop AM & FM and later at Sporting News Radio before moving into the private equity world. She is currently married to (and has been for 33 years) the editor-in-chief of this column. Of all the birthday celebrants on this week’s list, she is the only one getting a present from me.


*June 18—Roger Ebert birthday

=They say that no-one is irreplaceable, but it turns out that Roger was. He was a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, but he was also a force of nature. I met Roger many times during my radio days (I ran the board for Siskel & Ebert when they filled in for Steve & Garry), but my favorite Roger story is in John Landecker’s book Records Truly Is My Middle Name.  I added my two cents as well…

Landecker: I invited Roger and his wife over to my house for a party (along with a bunch of other friends). I had just gotten this new plasma television, and asked Roger if he wanted to come in and see it. I put on the film “Wyatt Earp” which had just come out on DVD, because I love that opening scene—the way they use sound is unbelievable. While we were watching that opening scene, with the sound cranked to ear splitting levels, Roger was doing a dissertation on why Val Kilmer should have been nominated for an Academy Award for that role, and Roger’s wife Chaz walked into the room. She looked at what we were doing, sighed, and said. “Oh great. Just like home.”

        Rick:  My three kids, who were all little at the time, were also there. They sat quietly and listened to Roger pontificating about the genre of Westerns, and the acting in some of those old Westerns, and before he was through, a small crowd had formed. All of us were spellbound. When we got in our car to leave later that day, my oldest son Tommy, who was about eight or nine, said to me: “Who was that friend of John’s? Boy, he sure does love movies.

=Channel 32 reporter Dane Placko also told me a great story about Roger on my podcast a few years ago. It’s a great story about the time Dane and Roger got into a car accident on their way home from the Illini Rose Bowl loss. Dane tells it well. 


*June 18—Bruce Dumont birthday

=Bruce was the founder/CEO/President of the Museum of Broadcasting. He also had a long career as a broadcaster, hosting the show Beyond the Beltway. I got a chance to interview him back in 2009.


*June 18—Andy Shaw birthday

=I interviewed Andy for Illinois Entertainer back in 2013 when he was with the BGA. Andy is also a proud papa…

 *June 19—Kate Sullivan birthday

=The former Channel 2 anchor is now the host of the show To Dine For TV, a show for foodies. 


*June 19—Brian Peck birthday

=Brian has worked as a disc jockey for both Hubbard broadcasting and Cumulus but is now a reporter for WBBM-NewsRadio. He also hosts The Catholic Word podcast.


*June 20, 1989

=The Chicago Tribune published an article about a new-fangled machine that was transforming radio shows. It was called the fax machine. I was quoted in the piece. So was Q-101’s Doug Blair and WLS’ Brian Kelly. It was written by Katherine Seigenthaler. 


*June 20—Drew Horowitz birthday

=Drew was an executive with Bonneville during the heyday of the Eric and Kathy years.


*June 21—Erich “Mancow” Muller birthday

=Mancow has had nine lives in Chicago radio, beginning with his first stop at 103.5 FM. He later had a long run at Q-101, but also worked at WLS-AM, and the Loop. He had a television show for a while as well. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2008. 


*June 21—Lou Visconti birthday

=Lou is one of the administrators of the great Facebook page: FM Rock Stations of the 1970s. If you like this column, I’ll bet you’ll like that Facebook page.


*June 23—Alan Cox birthday

=Alan got his start on Brandmeier’s show on the Loop. He went on to host the morning show at Q-101 and is now on the air every afternoon in Cleveland. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2008.


*June 23—Scott Miller birthday

=There were two Scott Millers in Chicago radio. This one hosted the afternoon show on Oldies 104.3 for nearly a decade. Scott is still in radio, working for Townsquare Media in Greenwich, Connecticut.


*June 23—Bob Vorwald birthday

=The legendary sports TV producer worked with Mark Giangreco at Channel 5, before moving over to WGN to produce their live sports broadcasts.


*June 24—Roger Badesch birthday

=Roger was a longtime Chicago radio newsman (most prominently for WGN), but he also worked in the press office for Mayor Byrne and Mayor Washington. In 2020 he published his memoir, The Unplanned Life, via Eckhartz Press.  I interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer in 2016. 

*June 24—Midge “Cheese” Ripoli birthday

=Midge was a long-time producer for Mancow, but currently produces the Sherman and Tingle show at the Drive.

*June 25, 2017

=John Records Landecker was named to the National Radio Hall of Fame. He was inducted by his longtime friend and colleague Bob Sirott.

*June 25—Mark Suppelsa birthday

=I got a chance to interview the Channel 9 anchor a few times before his retirement, including this one from 2009.


*June 25—John Kass birthday

=The former Chicago Tribune columnist and WLS Radio host suffered a heart attack and stroke last year, but he is back to writing a blog. 


*June 27—Jim Wiser birthday

=He is probably most famous for his time as Jonathon Brandmeier’s producer (Jimmy “Bud” Wiser), but Wiser went on to produce Fox Thing in the Morning at WFLD-TV and Spike O’Dell and Greg Jarrett’s morning shows at WGN Radio. I interviewed him in 2013 during his time at the Tribune.


*June 27—Adam Howarth birthday

=Adam is the Director of Coaching for the Illinois Youth Soccer Association, but he’s also the co-host of the Free Kicks podcast about the English Premier League. It’s currently on summer hiatus but will return in August on the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.


*June 27—Doug Buffone birthday

=The Chicago Bears legend was just as beloved in Chicago during his post-playing days, particularly during his days at the Score. He passed away in 2015

 *June 28—Steve Downes birthday

=The former morning man at both the Loop and the Drive is probably better known for his voice over work, especially in the world of video games. I interviewed him about that in 2008.


*June 28—Elon Musk birthday

=The owner of Twitter/X was born in 1971.


*June 29—Chuck Schaden birthday

=Chuck has been keeping old-time radio alive for decades. His show “Those Were the Days” still airs every weekend on WDCB 90.9, although now it is hosted by Steve Darnall. Schaden was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.


 *June 29—Craig Sager birthday

=A fixture on NBA basketball television coverage for decades. Sager passed away in 2016. (Photo with Chicago Bulls Radio PBP man Chuck Swirsky).

*June 30—Cristina Ohr birthday

=Cristina was the GM of the Loop during the Bonneville days, and before that was the sales manager at WVAZ. She is now a professional/executive coach.


 *July 1—Shemp DeYoung birthday

=His real first name is Mark, and for many years he was well known to Chicago radio listeners as the producer for Kevin Matthews, Danny Bonaduce, and Steve Dahl. His nickname Shemp was given to him by Kevin. DeYoung currently resides in Texas. (PHOTO: The Loop producers in the late 80s…Wiser, Shemp and me)

*July 1—Karen Hand birthday

=Karen was a newscaster at WLS AM before her star turn as the newsperson on Eddie & Jobo’s show on B-96. I got a chance to interview her for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2008.


*July 3—Connie Szerszen birthday

=Connie was known as the Top Rock Girly Jock back in her days at WIND Radio. I interviewed her for Chicago Radio Spotlight in2009 when her memoir came out.

*July 5--Jim Rose birthday

=The long-time Channel 7 sports anchor retired earlier this year.




*Brad Edwards

=I’ve heard from a few inside sources that Brad Edwards and CBS-2 have parted ways. He is no longer listed on their website. I tried to reach both Edwards and the news director at Channel 2, and nobody has responded to my inquiries.

*The Tony Awards

=I watched it once…the year The Producers was up for every award. But I know many of you are interested. Here’s the recap from Sunday night’s broadcast.

=Here’s the moment that brought me back again…

*Charles Barkley Announces Retirement from Television

=It won’t happen until 2025 (after the TNT rights to the NBA run out), but he made the announcement last Friday.

=Andy Masur writes: Barkley is Simply Irreplaceable


=The new film debuting this week at the Music Box Theater before going nationwide next week is a Chicago-project through and through. Chicago directors. Chicago actors. Chicago setting. And it’s about Chicago theater. WBEZ has more.

*Rodent Men

=It used to be that looking a little like a rat or a mouse wasn’t considered desirable. Not anymore. Now, according to this NY Times article, it’s hot!

*Cable News Corner

=Newsmax lost $42 million last year. And that was before the lawsuits…

=Chicago journalist Jennifer Schulze: “Fox, Sinclair and the RNC are working together to meddle in the election”

*Rest in Peace

=Donald Sutherland

One of the all-time greats. Gone at 88.

 =Anouk Aimee

The "thinking man's sex symbol". She was 92.



*The Summer of Royko

=Chicago Magazine has a piece about the one-man show about Royko, and the tribute to him at the Newberry library.


*John Schulian Remembers Mike Downey

=The sportswriter’s sportswriter remembers another all-time great.



*Surgeon General Asks for Warning Labels on Social Media

=He’s looking for a similar label that tobacco products have had for decades. The AP has the story.

This is the last Media Notebook column until July 12. I'll be covering another big story in Berlin for the next two weeks. Have a great Independence Day!