Friday, January 12, 2024

Media Notebook--1-12-24


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



*Audacy files for Bankrupty

=It’s a Chapter 11 restructuring, although it’s not exactly how they worded it in the company release.  I don’t speak fluent corporate, so I thought I’d just quote them here and maybe you can translate for me…

Audacy Reaches Agreement with a Supermajority of its Debtholders on Balance Sheet Deleveraging Transaction that Will Equitize Over 80% of the Company’s Debt and Establish a Robust Capital Structure to Drive Long-Term Growth

=Audacy’s stock dropped 47% in the first day after the announcement. 

=What’s next for Audacy? That’s the question everyone is asking. This piece provides some insight by looking at what happened to Cumulus during their similar bankruptcy in 2017. 

=In Chicago, Audacy owns WXRT, WSCR, WBBM AM & FM, WUSN, and WBMX.


*Chicago Radio Ratings

=The December radio ratings are out. No huge surprises here. The top ten stations (6+, M-Sunday, 6am-Midnight) are.. 

WLIT-FM (12.3)

WDRV (5.8)

WVAZ (5.5)

WBBM-AM (5.2)

WOJO (4.5)

WXRT (4.4)

WTMX (4.0)

WUSN (3.6)

WLS-FM (3.5)

WBMX (2.8)

WGN (2.8)

=The biggest jump went to the annual holiday season winner, WLIT (+5.0), but WVAZ also jumped (0.5) and so did WXRT (0.4).

=The biggest declines were felt by WDRV (0.8) and WTMX (0.7). I suspect both will climb back now that the holiday music season is over.


*ESPN Chicago Reacts to Ratings

=Jeff Agrest of the Sun-Times talked to the folks at ESPN Radio. Despite adding the Bears, the ratings were down a bit. He wanted to know how they reacted to that news.

*Illinois Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

=The list of names was released this week. You can see the full list here. Last year The Loop was the radio station inducted, and Bob Sirott was the DJ. This year’s DJ nominees are Bob Stroud, Mitch Michaels, Steve Dahl, Jonathon Brandmeier, Terri Hemmert, and Herb Kent. This year’s radio station nominees are WCFL, WVON, WDCB, and WWCT (Peoria).


*NPR’s News Content Found Highly Trustworthy

=In this study, NPR was found safest for brand sponsorship opportunities because it handles sensitive topics more carefully than others. 


*Super Bowl Ad

=I thought this was an interesting piece…

*Rest in Peace

=Cindy Morgan

She worked as a DJ in Chicago at WSDM before making her way out to Hollywood. Cindy is best remembered for her portrayal of Lacey Underall in the film Caddyshack. She was only 69. 


*What’s Ailing the Industry?

=Barrett Media posted this story over the weekend: Radio’s Future Lies in its Past 

=Tom Langmyer was the GM at WGN Radio for a number of years. I think this analysis he posted on Facebook of what ails the industry is dead on…

Was interviewed in this story.

It mentions that local radio stations are usually run by sales executives, but that has been the case for some time.

However, sales leadership should not be blamed for the woes of the parent companies. The REASON for the issues at the station level lies not at the station level.

Stations are victims of the decisions made well above them.

When a station turns OCF for the parent company, but the parent company overpaid for media assets and is also way over-leveraged, there’s the real culprit.

So where does the company get the money to pay for THEIR malfeasance?

They gut the stations that were providing the OCF!

Visionary product-rooted and market leadership is less important, when you’ve decided your unique and popular local restaurant is now a McDonalds.

The problem further increases when the image of the industry is blamed on the radio stations themselves.

It’s a bad image for a good industry.

It’s about poorly run companies, whose leaders only know how to manage decline.

But they get paid millions of dollars to run companies into the ground.

A job for the greedy….

Who wants to give up a job like that?

And these aren’t sales managers nor programmers.



=Matt DuBiel is purchasing another radio station. He has put in a bid to buy WBIG (AM 1280) from Pollack Broadcasting


*Ex-Chicago Radio Update

=Abe Kanan, heard most recently on WCHI in Chicago (but also previously with WKQX and WLUP) has landed as afternoon host in Sacramento

=Bill Gamble, long-time Chicago program director, is now running a group of radio stations in South Bend. He was interviewed about his thoughts on radio this week. 


*Podcast Corner

=Did you know there is a Podcasting Hall of Fame? Me neither. They announced the eight 2024 inductees this week. I’ve only heard of one of them. 

=Chicago radio/podcast producer Keith Conrad has a new project. It’s called Dimension of the Lost. Listen to it here. 

=Lara Trump joins Salem Media Group. Her podcast is called The Right View. It will be audio and video and will feature the whole spectrum of political guests…who agree with Trump. 


*Sucherman Brothers Reunion

=Joel is a top executive at NPR. Todd is the drummer of Styx. Paul is a lecturer at University of Wisconsin. 

=Check out this classic clip of the same brothers back in 1977. I love this…

*The Loop Files

=I’ve been blown away by the great reviews of my latest book The Loop Files. This may be my favorite one. Thanks so much, Christopher Sutter.

=Found this little item in my archives. It’s from this week in 1988. The Steve & Garry newsletter...

=The Loop Files publicity tour continued last week with an appearance on The Average Joe podcast

=I'll be out and about for another book signing on January 21st. Really looking forward to this one. I'll be at the Chicagoland Record show from 10am--2pm. 



*January 7, 1944/Jim Bohannan’s birthday

=He passed away in November of 2022, but not before leaving behind a National Radio Hall of Fame career.

*January 8—Jim Turano birthday

=He was known as Elton Jim when he was a part of the Garry Meier show on WGN Radio (because of the hundreds of times he has seen Elton John in concert). 


*January 8—Jacky Runice birthday

=She’s currently a columnist for USA Today, but Jacky was once a radio personality in Chicago at WLS, WLUP, and WGN.


*January 9--Mark Grote birthday

=A veteran of both the Cubs and Bears broadcast teams. When I interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer in 2015, he was part of the Chicago Cubs broadcast booth.


*January 9—Brendan Greeley birthday

=Brendan is part of Steve Dahl’s crew on the Dahlcast. He was also part of Dahl’s show on WCKG and WLS-AM. Brendan published a novel on Amazon called The Genius of 1990s Girls


*January 9--Megan Reed birthday

=Megan had a great run in Chicago radio (WLIT, Rewind 100) before passing away at the way too young age of 52 in 2016. I interviewed her in 2011 when she was working at Rewind


*January 9, 2007

=The iPhone makes its debut.


January 10—Kristyn Hartman birthday

=Kristyn had a long stint at Channel 2 as a reporter, before moving on to a similar role in Cincinnati. In May of 2022, she left the station in Cincy, to return to her hometown of Chicago to pursue options outside of television news.

=I first met Kristyn in 2008 when she came to my house during the 2008 baseball playoffs. In this clip, I’m the idiotic Cubs fanatic. 


January 11—Bill Wyman birthday

=The former NPR mainstay and Chicago Reader staff writer is now living in Phoenix.


January 11—Bill Kissinger birthday

=Bill is a WGN-TV news writer and a podcast host (Best Song I Ever Wrote).  Kissinger is married to Channel 2’s Dana Kozlov, and his sister Meg is the author of the highly acclaimed book "While You Are Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence."  I interviewed her on my podcast late last year


*January 12—Rabbi Doug birthday

= His real name is Doug Zelden, but you may remember him as Rabbi Doug, a regular contributor to the Steve & Garry show back in the day. (He also contributed to Brandmeier’s show and John Landecker’s show on WJMK). Doug has been doing a cable access interview show Taped with Rabbi Doug for many years now. Tons of Chicago media figures have appeared on the show. 


*January 13—Derrick Brown birthday

=Derrick is the VP/Programming at IHeartMedia Chicago, and the PD of WVAZ, WGCI, and BIN 640


*January 13—Diana Steele birthday

= Diana was a jock on WBMX for a few years, and I featured her in Illinois Entertainer in 2018.


*January 14—Jenny Milkowski birthday

=Jenny worked at CBS-2 and WGN-TV as a producer, and Fox-32 as a traffic reporter for a few years before moving on to greener pastures and better weather in San Diego. 


*January 14—Joe McArdle birthday

=Joe has been a radio production guru (ESPN, Tribune, WXRT) in Chicago for more than 30 years.


*January 14—Mike Krauser birthday

=Mike has been an anchor, reporter, producer, writer, managing editor and a news director in Chicago since 1988.




*Andy Shaw on Chicago’s Dangerous Neighborhoods

=As someone who worked as a Chicago reporter for 40 years, Shaw has some creditability on the subject. 


*A BFD from the BFA for Norville

=Deborah Norville may have gotten her start here in Chicago at Channel 5, but she has obviously gone on to greater heights since. This week the Broadcasters Foundation of America announced that Norville will be receiving their Lifetime Achievement Award. Details are here. 


*CNN anchor’s Cancer Announcement

=This moving announcement has garnered her support across the media landscape...


*The Creative Arts Emmys

=This one focused on unscripted and documentary programs. Welcome to Wrexham was the big winner. 


*Golden Globe highlights

Missed the show?

=Recap and highlights are here. 

=Full list of winners here.


*Other Nominations Also Came Out This Week

=The SAG Award Nominations for 2024

=The Director’s Guild Award Nominations for 2024

 *And the Fake Emmy Goes To...

=ESPN. Incredible story about ESPN submitting fake names over the past 13 years. 

*Purple Rain Heading to Broadway

=The film came out 40 years ago. (I know) The Broadway adaptation is in the works. Entertainment Weekly has the details. 


*The End of the Aaron Rogers-Jimmy Kimmel dispute

=It ended exactly as it should have ended…

 *A Tour Through The Sopranos New Jersey

=The New York Times revisited the locations used in The Sopranos on the 25th anniversary of the show’s debut.

*Rest in Peace

=Adan Canto

The Designated Survivor star was only 42. 


*Hasan Leaves MSMBC

=He announced the news on the air at MSNBC… 




*Rest in Peace

=Mike Perricone

Perricone covered the Blackhawks for the Sun Times for a dozen years, before giving it all up to be a stay-at-home dad. He was only 72.

*Plagiarism Scandal at Business Insider

=Max Tani has the latest details about the internal drama. It involves Harvard, a major hedge fund figure, his wife, Israel, advertisers, and more. 




*Don Lemon Moves to X (Twitter)

=And he announced the news himself…

*TikTok Quietly Curtails Data-Tool

=According to this piece in the New York Times, they did it because the tool was being used by investigators monitoring controversial topics like the Israel-Hamas war. 

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.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

20 Years: Andy Frain



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...

In 2008, I founded a website called Just One Bad Century. The idea of the website was to look into Cubs history to find out how in the world they had gone an entire century without winning a World Series. I discovered some memorable stories and characters along the way, which eventually led to the book EveryCubEver. One of the people featured first on the website, and then in the book, was Andy Frain. His entry into Cubs lore happened this month in 1928.

Andy Frain~In January of 1928, Andy Frain pitched William Wrigley on providing security for the ballpark. At the time, Wrigley Field was known as a place that ushers would take bribes to allow people into the good seats. Frain offered to give back Mr. Wrigley’s money if he wasn’t completely satisfied with his performance . Wrigley was so impressed he hired Frain to run the entire show, and gave him $5000 for uniforms. Those uniforms became his company’s trademark. In the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, the Notre Dame blue and gold Andy Frain uniforms were on hand at every major sporting event in Chicago, including football, baseball, and hockey games. They also kept the peace at political conventions, the Kentucky Derby, and more.

Here are a few tips for keeping the peace, directly from the mouth of Andy Frain…

*”Never trust a man with a mustache or a man who carries an umbrella”

*”No muscle is gonna clip me. I never had a nickel. Finally after a lot of hard work I made something of myself. They’re gonna take that away from me?”

*”Ninety percent of the public wants somethin’ for nothin’. When you run a big sports event, every one of those seats is there to be cracked. They throw every gimmick in the book at you.”

*”The only color I’m interested in is the color of the customer’s ticket.”

*”There’s nothing like a six-footer in uniform to control a panicky crowd. Besides that, a tough guy isn’t so likely to give you an argument if you’re lookin’ down on him. That’s psychology.”

*”Never let a standee sit down. Once they sit down, you can’t get ’em up.”

Andy died in 1964. His sons carried on the company until 1982 when they sold it to a group of investors from Cleveland. The people that bought it went belly up a few years later and the Frain brothers repurchased the company once again. They finally sold it off for good in 1991.

A few other stories from the archives this week...

A Bonus Father Knows Nothing column, Emergency Rooms.

My review of Eric Klinenberg's great book "Fighting For Air" (for the Beachwood Reporter)

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Studio Walls--January 10, 2024


A weekly update/preview of my latest podcasts, and a look back at some of my previous audio work from this week in history over the past 40+ years.

Coming this week: Adam and I will discuss the array of Premier league games over the holidays, the Festive Fixtures in a new episode of Free Kicks. Dave and I will be back in the Minutia Men saddle with stories about 9-1-1 calls, bad parenting, and more.

From the archives...

*January 7—National Bobblehead day. We were lucky enough to interview the creator of the Bobblehead Hall of Fame in Milwaukee.  

*January 7—is also National Pass Gas Day. I wrote this ultimate tribute to the phenomenon in 1996. Recorded by Landecker & the Legends. We only played it on the air once before the management of WJMK banned it. 

*January 8—Elvis birthday. We never talked to Elvis, but we did get some Elvis stories from an actor who appeared in a movie with him; Danny Bonaduce. 

*January 8--Soupy Sales shared a birthday with Elvis. I told the story about my brush with Soupy in this early episode of Minutia Men. 

*January 8—Finally, a birthday boy who is alive. Loverboy's lead singer Mike Reno. We talked to him about four years ago. 

*January 9—Debut of show “Pivoting” starring Fizaa Dosani. I remember our interview as being generationally awkward. You can listen to it here. 

*January 9, 2011—Shameless debuts on Showtime. One of the actresses who appeared on the show, Maria Breese, also appeared on our show. You might be able to hear us struggle with talking to someone we had just seen naked.  

January 10, 1863--London Underground opened. We interviewed Emma Clarke (the Mind the Gap voice). I loved that interview because I could also use her passionate defense of Manchester United in an episode of Free Kicks.

January 10—Birthday of Donald Fagen. Record engineer Bill Schnee worked on the Steely Dan records and told us what that experience was like. 

January 10, 2016—David Bowie died. Mick Rock was a good friend of Bowie's, and the legendary rock photographer told us a few great Bowie stories.  

January 10, 1999—The Sopranos debuted. We've only had one actor from that show on the podcast, but it sure was memorable talking to Vito/Joseph Gannascoli 

January 11, 1895—Laurens Hammond born. The creator of the Hammond Organ. Ides of March keyboardist Scott May was on our show, and told us all about the great man's legacy. 

January 11, 1980--The only hit by The Kings--The Beat Goes On/Switchin to Glide peaked in Chicago on the WLS charts at #9. We still love that song so much, we talked to Mr. Zero from The Kings. If memory serves we learned that nothing matters but the weekend from a Tuesday point of view.  

January 12, 1928: Andy Frain pitches Wrigley for the job of providing security at the ballpark. His company did that for over 50 years. When we interviewed author Don Evans he told us a story about the Andy Frains using kids like him as child labor after the games.

January 12, 1969—Led Zeppelin’s first album was released. We haven't interviewed any of those guys, but we did interview Jim Peterik who toured with them. He told us a Led Zeppelin debauchery tale for the ages. 

January 12--Maharishi's birthday. We interviewed someone who studied with him in India...while the Beatles were there too. Paul Saltzman.