Friday, January 26, 2024

Media Notebook--1-26-24


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



*Q-101 Lawsuit

=When Justin Nettlebeck left Q-101 last year, I heard rumblings about some pretty shocking behavior by former program director Troy Hanson. Hanson left the station a week later. At the time, I tried to get answers to my questions on the record, but nobody was willing. Well, if this lawsuit filed this week by Nettlebeck is true, those questions have been answered.  Nettlebeck claims Hanson “engaged in abusive and discriminatory behavior including graphic sexual remarks about female employees, showing him explicit images in places he couldn’t avoid them and made sexually-oriented insults toward him.”  When he reported this behavior, Nettlebeck says he was threatened, harassed, and punished. More info here. It’s not a pretty story.


*Chicago Radio Ratings

=These are the full 6+, M-Sun, 6A-Mid numbers for the holiday season. Record setting numbers for WLIT.


*Podcast Corner

=Current Blackhawks studio analyst, former player John Scott, also hosts a podcast called “Dropping the Gloves.” This week he implied that the controversial firing of Blackhawks player Corey Perry had something to do with a pass Perry made at an NBC colleague. That apparently is NOT true, and Scott was forced to apologize publicly.

*Lineup Changes at ESPN Radio Chicago

=Beginning on Monday, the ESPN radio lineup will be slightly different. Carmen & Jurko add an hour, and will now air from Noon-3pm. Waddle & Silvy will come in at 2:30 to do 30 minutes of crosstalk, and then will go until 6:30pm.

*Remembering Lin

=Cathleen Falsani wrote this piece on the one-year anniversary of Lin Brehmer’s death. 


*NPR Names New CEO

=Katherine Maher was formerly the head of Wikimedia. Read more about her here.

*WLS 100

=Another great interview for the 100th anniversary of WLS: Fred Winston. 


*Ex-Chicago Radio

=Former WLS-AM morning man Bruce St. James has a new gig. He will be co-hosting the afternoon show on KTAR in Arizona. Details here. 


*Rest in Peace

=Charles Osgood

For years the veteran CBS newsman’s radio feature The Osgood Files aired on WBBM News Radio. He was 91. 

=Mary Weiss

The lead singer of the Shangri-Las (“My Boyfriend’s Back”). She was 75. Tracy Landecker, oldest daughter of John, wrote a great tribute to Mary and her famous song. 


Best Known for her song "Brand New Key" and performing at the original Woodstock. She was 76.

=David Roe

He was an anchor/reporter at NewsRadio 780 for 35 years before retiring a few years ago. Roe was only 71 years old. 

*The Loop Files…

=Thanks to everyone who came out to the book signing. Saw some media pals like Mike Murphy, Fred Huebner, Lou Visconti, and Alison Moran, plus some fellow ex-Loopers like these knuckleheads Neil Sant, Artie Kennedy, and Bill Holub. Also, former Loop engineer Patrick Berger.  Next up is a visit to NW Indiana (details coming soon). 



*January 21—Andrew Dahn birthday

=Andrew currently works at WBBM NewsRadio 780 as a reporter/anchor.


*January 21—Mike Nowak birthday

=Nowak’s Let’s Talk Gardening show was a staple at WGN Radio. He also had a long stint at WCPT 820am, and WCGO.


*January 21—Mike Leiderman birthday

=Leiderman had a long and distinguished television career as a reporter/anchor/producer/host. He was a sports reporter for Channel 5, the host of PM Chicago at WFLD-TV, the executive producer of Chicago Tonight at WTTW, and more.


*January 21—Jason Thomas birthday

=The former WXRT evening jock now lives in Colorado.


*January 21--Len Kasper birthday

=I interviewed Len a few times when he was the Cubs announcer including this piece from Illinois Entertainer/2017 and this podcast interview just before his final season with the Cubs. He is now the radio voice of the Chicago White Sox.


 *January 21—Wolfman Jack birthday

=One of the most famous rock and roll disc jockeys of all time. Fellow Hall of Famer John Records Landecker wrote about his brush with the late American Graffiti star in his book Records Truly Is My Middle NameYou can read that excerpt for free here.


*January 22--Charlie Meyerson birthday

=I interviewed the editor-in-chief of Chicago Public Square (and former radio guy at places like WXRT, WNUA, WGN) for Illinois Entertainer shortly after he began his excellent newsletter.



*January 23—Jack Quinlan birthday

=Jack was the radio play-by-play man for the Cubs for several years. His life was tragically cut short in a car accident in 1965. Cub geeks like me still look for audio of his work. Here is something from 1962.



*January 23—Dan Walker birthday

=Danger Dan, as he was known on Murphy in the Morning (Q-101), had a long and distinguished career in Chicago radio. I worked with him at WJMK in the 1990s.



*January 24—Jack Brickhouse birthday

=Jack has been gone now for more than 20 years, but the Hall of Famer was the soundtrack to our youth (for the 55+ crowd). Luckily there are still lots of samples of Jack’s work out there for us to enjoy. Here’s one.



*January 24—Greg Solk birthday

=Greg has been a Chicago radio executive since he was a very young man. He was the program director of the Loop for many years and has served in the executive suite for companies like Bonneville, Hubbard, and Audacy. I interviewed Greg for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2010.



*January 24, 2009

=Fifteen years ago this week, I interviewed Jonathon Brandmeier's newsman at the time, Kent Voss

*January 25—Cindy Gatziolis birthday

=The former Promotion Director for the Loop went on to work for the Mayor’s Office of Special Events. Gatziolis sadly passed away in 2014 at the way too young age of 56. I interviewed Cindy for Chicago Radio Spotlight shortly after her beloved White Sox won the World Series. She was responsible for putting that victory parade together. (I also wrote this tribute to her after she passed)



*January 25—Joan Esposito birthday

=The WCPT talk-show host is still probably better known in Chicago for her many years as a reporter/anchor on television. I was lucky enough to interview her for Illinois Entertainer in 2021.



* January 25—Suzanne Le Mignot birthday

=Suzanne is the weekend morning news anchor for CBS-2 Chicago and works as a reporter during the week.



*January 25—Brian Haddad birthday

=The current morning man at Q-101. I interviewed him last year for Illinois Entertainer. Obviously it was before the unpleasantness of today’s top story. Former co-host Justin Nettlebeck is part of the interview too.

*January 26—Tom Barnas birthday

=Tom now works as a producer at Channel 2 and hosts a podcast called Stories from the 78.

*January 27--Eric Ferguson birthday

=For 20 years Eric ruled the ratings roost at WTMX. He has been in exile since accusations of inappropriate behavior with female colleagues emerged a few years ago.


*January 27—Pat Tomasulo birthday

=Sportscaster and comedian, one of the stars of WGN-TV’s morning news. This photo of Pat in action (interviewing Chuck Swirsky about his book Always a Pleasure) is from last year.





*Meet the New Voice of the White Sox

=His name is John Schriffin and he signed a multi-year deal. Shiffrin previously worked for ESPN. He'll be teamed up with Steve Stone on White Sox TV broadcasts. The Sun-Times has more info.

*Jon Stewart Returning to The Daily Show

=Best. News. Ever. It’s only through the election, and it’s only Monday nights, but we’ll take what we can get. 

*The Oscar Nominations

=These are the best picture nominees

=The biggest snubs.

=The complete list.

=The documentary category has a surprising nominee: The Associated Press. It’s the first ever Oscar nomination for the AP.


*NFL Ratings Record

=If it feels like everyone you know was watching the NFL playoffs last weekend, you aren’t wrong. That Bills-Chiefs game is now officially the highest rated divisional playoff game in history.


*Me-TV "Love ME" Marathon

=Over the Valentine's weekend (Sunday February 11 from 11am--5:30pm), Me-TV is doing a marathon of love-related episodes of classic sitcoms. Included in the marathon: episodes of The Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver, the Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan's Island, Mama's Family, The Love Boat, and The Andy Griffith Show.

*Does the F.C.C. Have the Right to Revoke Licenses for Election Lies?

=Obviously the FCC only regulates traditional over-the-public-airwaves outlets. Is there recourse that can be taken against television stations that knowingly aired election lies? According to this piece, the answer is yes, the FCC does have that right.


*Cable News Corner

=An interview with Chis Cuomo

=Old People Still Love Cable News and They Vote

=No Actual Questions please

 *Rest in Peace

=Norman Jewison

The three-time Oscar winner directed “Fiddler on the Roof” “In the Heat of the Night” “Moonstruck” and many others. He was 97. 

=David Gail

The 90210 star was only 58. 

=Herbert Coward

He starred in Deliverance. "Cowboy" was 85.



*A Reminder

=From the Wall Street Journal


*Neil Steinberg

=Neil’s poignant take on the demise of Sports Illustrated.


*Tuesday was a Bleak Day for Print Media

=The LA Times, Time Magazine, and National Geographic all announced layoffs.

*Actually, the Last Few Weeks Have Been Grim for Journalism

=The New York Times took the news story above and went even further. 


*All-female front row in White House press room.

=I wonder what Helen Thomas, long the only female in the front row, would think…

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 25, 2024

20 Years: Middle Aged Road Trip



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...

This piece began as a regular blog post, but Shore Magazine later bought it and featured it. The events of this story take place this week in 2007...

Let us set the stage.

Rick had to go to Memphis for a media conference. He knew that Dave badly needed to get out of town (he has three little girls including twin one-year-olds), and they both knew that fellow college buddy Dane would be game for coming along. So…after getting approval from mildly disapproving spouses…the plans were made for a boy’s road trip.

Of course, it wasn’t technically a road trip in the old-fashioned sense of the word. The idea of driving, for instance, was abandoned pretty quickly when Dave and Dane pointed out to the clueless Rick that Memphis was not “about four hours” away from Chicago.

Other than that, it was exactly like a traditional hard-core partying road trip…

*In the airport, Dane had all of his hair products confiscated by security. Dane, a news reporter, had no idea that these were no longer allowed in carry-on bags. The airport security man was kind enough to pose for this picture with Dane’s confiscated items.

*In the airport, Dave bought three bagels. When the total came to $8.10, Dave asked if they offered a financing plan.

*Our first meal in Memphis (lunch) was memorable. When the waitress brought Dave’s lunch, she slammed it on the table and snapped—“YOUR PLATE BURNED MY HAND!”

*Dane and Dave were eager to go to Mississippi, just a few minutes away from Memphis, although they had very different reasons.
=Dane wanted to cross Mississippi off his state list. He now has been to every state but Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, Texas, New Mexico and Oregon. Rick and Dave were just as impressed as you are.
=Dave, the same man that calls his mother every day and uses the parking brakes every single time he parks the car just like they taught him in Driver’s Ed, is actually a maniacal gambler, and knew that Mississippi has casinos.

*Rick and Dane walked around the casino looking at gamblers. Not one smile in the entire casino. Dave was one of the “happy” gamblers, sitting at the $5 blackjack table. Only the smallest bladder on the planet (or possibly an enlarged prostate) prevented him from remaining there to this day.

*While Rick attended his conference the following day, Dane & Dave went to Sun Studios and took the very cool tour there. That's Dane on the left standing in the exact spot Elvis recorded “That’s Alright Mama.” That's Dave on the right, proudly singing about getting the AAA discount even though his card had expired.

*At the media conference, Rick grabbed some lunch at Quiznos. To give you an idea what kind of a crowd attended this conference, the three people in front of Rick…
=complained about the absence of romaine lettuce on the sandwiches.
=lectured the teenager behind the counter that the “roast chicken” sandwich should be called the “tortured chicken sandwich”
AND last but not least…
=demanded to know why “vitamin water” was not available as a fountain drink.
Rick ordered the Italian with everything. The teenager behind the counter smiled.

*Rick got home from the conference just in time to break up the fight between Dane and Dave. Dane wanted to go to the Cotton Museum. Dave said he would rather be poked in the eyes by Liza Minnelli.

*That night we explored Beale Street, the party center of Memphis. After an incredible BBQ dinner, we settled in at a blues bar. After one of Dave’s three trips to the bathroom, he claimed to have spotted Dennis Quaid. Rick and Dane would have been much more impressed by Randy Quaid.

*Next stop: Pat O’Briens. The Memphis version of the famous New Orleans nightspot is almost an exact duplicate of the original. A rock and roll cover band was playing Van Halen in the courtyard. Rick and Dave wandered out to listen. Dane yelled “This is too loud!” and went to the dueling piano bar to listen to the Billy Joel medley instead.

*After a night of drinking, we stopped in for a late night burger. After we ordered the burgers, Dane noticed they weren’t being made on a grill. They were being boiled in a vat of animal fat. Mmmm.

*The night came to end when Dave’s “throbbing headache” had to be relieved with a medication cocktail that included Tylenol and Ambien.

*The following morning, the three middle aged travelers went to Graceland, where we suddenly didn’t feel so old.

*Dave got a little cocky at Graceland. He tried to get the student discount with his University of Illinois student ID card from 1985. “1985 Dave” had a full head of hair. “2007 Dave” has a gray goatee, and a shiny polished dome. The cashier didn’t go for it. This is her reaction when we tried to take her picture.

*Rick was grumbling that there weren’t any new Graceland snow domes since his last visit, so he bought an Elvis/Nixon magnet instead. This is the geek by Elvis’ grave.

*Lunch at Corky’s was the best meal of the trip…an unbelievable BBQ pork meal. Dave went to the bathroom there twice. Dane told Dave that he would make a provision in his will donating his bladder to Dave.

*After lunch, Rick and Dave took a nap. Dane went to the Cotton Museum by himself. If you ever meet him, ask to see the video. He videotaped the experience on his cell-phone, but we couldn't figure out how to upload it here.

*Not wanting to go out drinking again, the boys settled on an excursion to Arkansas for their last night. It wasn’t until they arrived at the dog track that Dane & Rick realized why Dave was so excited about this…it was attached to a casino.

*If you ever feel like you are at the lowest point in your life, remember this: You haven’t hit rock bottom until you spend a Saturday night at a dog track in Arkansas.

*Although...the bar was serving 20 ounce Michelob beers for 50 cents a piece. Rick had three dollars in his pocket and a song in his heart.

*Dane picked the winners of the first two dog races. After that, not so much. This is Dane tearing up his betting slips.

*Dave got in a poker game, and was one $250 pot away from losing everything. When he didn’t lose the hand, he got out, and didn’t return. Although, he did stop at the video poker machines on his way back from his second bathroom trip.

*The night ended when Rick got heartburn. He bought Pepto Bismol in the hotel gift shop…at the nicer hotel next door.

*The next morning when we checked out of the hotel, Dave asked the clerk to name the most famous person who ever stayed at their hotel. She said: “The tall guy from the TV show ‘Martin’ had his family reunion here.” Top that.

*The next day the middle aged travelers arrived at the airport two and a half hours before their flight so they could watch the Bears-Seahawks playoff game.

*With fifty seconds left in the tied game, the airline announced… “Chicago fans, this is your last call for boarding. We’re going to give away your tickets if you don’t board right now.” An audible groan went up in the airport bar. We walked down the tunnel toward the airplane not knowing if the game went to overtime or not. Dave, Dane and Rick tried to convince everyone to draw straws to see who would fake a heart attack in the tunnel to delay the flight.

*The flight attendant was British. She announced the football game result this way: “I’m not sure what this means, but the team from Chicago…I’m told they are known as the Bears…scored… is it called a field goal? Yes. In any case, they won the American football contest.” We cheered, but we suddenly all felt stupid for caring.

So, was our middle aged road trip fun? I know it might not sound like it, but we had a great time. Will we do it again? Probably.

Next time, though, Dave is getting a catheter.

Other pieces you may have missed...

*This week in 2010 the movie Tooth Fairy was released. This bonus Father Knows Nothing column about the Tooth Fairy didn't quite make it into the book, but it's a good one.

*This week in 1932, William Wrigley died. Cub fans had no idea that moment would usher in a 45-year period of darkness. I wrote about it in EveryCubEver, but also for

*Ellen Degeneres is celebrating a birthday this week. My memorable brush with her during my Loop years didn't make the final version of The Loop Files, but I did write about it here.