Friday, February 09, 2024

Media Notebook--2-9-22


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




*100 Years of WBBM-AM

=The Atlas family started the radio station this week in 1924 and were given the call letters WBBM. It’s a really interesting story, which you can read here. My late father-in-law grew up in Wheaton near the Atlas family, became friends with the kids, and told me some incredible stories from those early days, going all the way back to the ‘40s. His description of Mr. Atlas’ office in downtown Chicago was like something out of Citizen Kane.


*100 Years of WLS-AM

=They have been posting interviews with some of their all-time greats. This week, they added an interview with WLS legend Catherine Johns. 



*60 Years/The British Invasion

=February 9, 1964, The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and launched The British Invasion. Dave Plier recently interviewed the owner of the Ed Sullivan library about that momentous day.

=Bob Sirott has been doing Beatles-related material all week. Enjoyed this segment about how they created their sound at Abbey Road studios.

=We have two Eckhartz Press books that have humorous stories about the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I’ve posted free excerpts from John Landecker’s book Records Truly is My Middle Name and Chuck Quinzio’s Life Behind the Camera. Click on the book titles to read them.

=This interview is about Chicago’s connection to the Beatles. It involves the great Dick Biondi.


 *Q-101 Launches Podcast Network

=Among the offerings: The Brian & Kenzie Podcast (audio offerings from the morning show), Car Con Carne with former Q-101 stalwart James VanOsdol (the already popular “interview in a car” show), The ROMANce podcast (with morning co-host Kenzie and her husband Justin Roman, discussing their homelife), and  A Case For (with morning show producer Case making a Case for musical artists).



*Top Sports-talk Shows in the Country

=Barrett Sports Media ranked them and named Bernstein & Holmes the #4 midday show in the country. Carmen & Jurko came in at #6.

=In the afternoon slot, they ranked Parkins & Spiegel #2 and Waddle & Silvy #7. 

=They also ranked the program directors. Mitch Rosen (The Score) is #2 in the country. Danny Zederman at ESPN is #12. Zederman recently got promoted to Director of Content.



*Radio Producer’s Throat Grabbed by Actor

=This one hit close to home for me, as a former radio producer who was asked to do things like this. Joshua Fox (from radio station KIIS) tried to play a joke on Saltburn star Jacob Elordi in Australia, and the star didn’t play along and asked him to delete the tape. When Fox wouldn’t do it, Elordi allegedly went for his throat. The BBC has more on this story. 


*AI generated voices in robocalls are now illegal

=The FCC made the announcement this week.


*NPR’s Linda Wertheimer Retires

=The  former co-host of All Things Considered is an NPR legend (“Founding Mother”). Her farewell note to the staff is here.


*Podcast Corner

=Joe Rogan Wins the Lottery. He just re-signed with Spotify for (gulp) $250 million. 

=BIN jumps into the podcast world. Black Land will be hosted by Emmy-Award winning journalist Vanessa Tyler

*Rest in Peace

=Buddy Scott

Eddie Volkman alerted me to the sad news earlier this week: “Buddy Scott, the B96 program director who “created” Eddie and Jobo passed away this morning from heart trouble and multiple other health problems. Breaks my heart.”

=Toby Keith

The outspoken country music star was 62.

=Wayne Kramer

He was a guitarist for the groundbreaking group MC5. Kramer was 75.

=Mojo Nixon

The man who wrote “Elvis is Everywhere” was 66.

=Aston Barrett

Bassist and music director of Bob Marley & the Wailers. He was 77.


*The Loop Files

=Mark the date. I’m bringing the all-star team with me this time, John Record Landecker and Mitch Michaels.




*February 4, 2009—Eddie Schwartz died

=Eddie was the overnight voice of Chicago for decades, first at WIND, then at WGN, and finally at WLUP. When I interviewed Eddie in 2007, he was already in declining health and was difficult to understand. Still, I’m glad I got the chance to get him on the record while I could.



*February 4—Jim Williams birthday

=The Channel 2 news anchor recently celebrated his 20th anniversary at the station.



*February 5—Elizabeth Grattan birthday

=Elizabeth worked in Chicago at WZZN and WGN.



*February 5, 1971—Grease premieres in Chicago

=It opened at Kingston Mines, before going to Broadway.



*February 6, 1924

=WBBM-AM signs on the air (more about that in this week’s top story)



*February 6, 1964

=WCIU-TV signed on the air. It was Chicago’s first UHF station at the time.

*February 6--Paul Brian birthday

=I interviewed the WGN and WLS veteran in 2008.


*February 6—Ed Tyll birthday

=You might not like what he says, but he’ll say it anyway, Ed Tyll. The nighttime talker worked at AM 1000 for a few years in the early 90s. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2010.



*February 8, 2000—Bob Collins passed away.

=The legendary WGN morning man’s death was dramatic and shocking. He died in a plane crash. Chicago Radio Archives and Memories posted the audio of WMAQ’s coverage of that day. Photo of Bob Collins courtesy of Spike O’Dell.

 *February 8—Bob Shomper birthday

=The former program director of WGN (2006-2009) is now retired.



*February 10—Alex Burkholder birthday

=Alex was an investigative reporter/producer for WGN-TV (21 years) and WLS-TV (24 years) working alongside the great John Drury. Burkholder is the author Death of the Angels, about the fire that claimed so many lives at Our Lady of the Angels school in 1958.






*The History of The NFL Today

=Jeff Agrest has a piece in the Chicago Sun-Times about this weekend's upcoming special about The NFL Today. It has many deep ties to Chicago. The show airs Sunday at Noon.

*Cheryl Scott’s Fertility Journey

=Last year she decided to have her eggs frozen, and she has chronicled that journey for the ABC-7 audience. You can read more about it and watch it here. 



*The Super Bowl

=How much does a 30 second ad go for in this weekend’s Super Bowl? $7 million.


*ESPN, Fox & Warner Brothers to Team Up for Sports Streaming Service

=It won’t launch until later this year, but the idea is to get as much sports as possible into one streaming platform. You’re not going to like the price. Read more about that here. 



*Joe Girardi Goes Back to New York

=The last few seasons Joe has turned up semi-regularly on the Marquis Network. That won’t happen this year. He has signed with the YES network to be part of Yankees broadcasts this year.


*CNN Cancels Morning Show

=I guess it wasn’t Don Lemon’s fault after all. Variety has the details. 

=The new strategy is less banter, more news. 



*The Grammys

=The show was a big ratings winner (16.9 million viewers). The Full list of winners is here.

=The biggest winner was probably Tracy Chapman. Her song “Fast Car” shot up to #1 on the iTunes chart.

=Didn’t see this coming…

*The Renewed Popularity of Gilmore Girls

=The best thing about streaming services is rediscovering series from the past you may have missed the first time around. I’m currently on a Perry Mason kick on Paramount+. The rest of you are apparently watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.


*Rest in Peace

=Carl Weathers

He left behind a great legacy on film, particularly as Apollo Creed.






*Tucker Carlson’s Putin Interview

=Just what we needed. Russian propaganda straight from the horse’s mouth. You know who is most offended by this interview? Russian journalists…

 =The interview turned out to be a dud, but at least Carlson did bring up the Wall Street Journal reporter being held by Putin.


*X (Twitter) to Invest in Original Video Content

=They are going to pay celebrities and influencers to try to regain audience. 

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, February 08, 2024

20 Years: Father Knows Nothing--Don't Eat The Snow


 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 is one of my favorite conversations from the pages of my book Father Knows Nothing.

It features an 8-year-old Johnny discussing the subject of eating snow with an even younger Sean (4 years old). As they got their boots and snowsuits on, I was listening in around the corner and recorded it for posterity. So happy I did!

 Why did Dad say we shouldn’t eat snow?

Johnny: He just means the yucky snow.

Sean: What’s the yucky snow?

Johnny: Anything that isn’t white.

Sean: All snow is white.

Johnny: Nuh uh. Sometimes it’s gray or black. That means it’s dirty. If you eat it, it’s like you’re eating mud.

Sean: What if it’s blue?

Johnny: It’s never blue.

Sean: What if it is?

Johnny: It won’t be. It could be yellow, though. Don’t eat that. It’s animal pee. And brown is animal—

Sean: What if it’s green?

Johnny: That’s just the grass underneath it.

Sean: What if it’s orange?

Johnny: It won’t be orange.

Sean: But if it’s a snowman’s nose, it could be orange. Snowmans have orange noses.

Johnny: They do not.

Sean: (forcefully) YES THEY DO. They have carrots.

Johnny: Fine.

Sean: What if it’s red?

Johnny: That’s blood.

Sean: No, it’s not. It’s diarrhea.

Johnny: (forcefully) NO, it’s NOT. Diarrhea is brown.

Sean: I had red diarrhea one time.

Johnny: No you didn’t.

Sean: (forcefully) YES I DID.

Johnny: Not outside in the snow.


Sean: Maybe an animal has red diarrhea.

Johnny: What kind of animal?

Sean: A red fire Pokemon.

Johnny: Those aren’t real.

Sean: What about a cardinal?

Johnny: All birds have white poop.


Sean: But I thought you said that white snow…

Johnny: Uh oh.

Here's one more. It didn't quite make the final book, but it was featured in a Father Knows Nothing column. In honor of Alice Cooper's birthday this week, This was written in 2013, the day the boys had to go back to school. To the tune of “School’s Out”. 

Well we’ll have no noise,

No screaming girls or boys,

No toys left to destroy,

No siblings to annoy,

Well, we can’t help smiling,

Watching you pout,

Don’t let the door hit ya,

On the way out.

School’s Back in Session

School’s Back For Autumn

School, They’re All Yours Now

No more “I’m bored”,

No “When’s Lunches?”

No more Wii games leading to punches,

While they’re sitting in class,

And hoping that they pass,

Our stereo’s at full blast,

Where’s my cocktail glass?

School’s Back in Session

School’s Back Completely,

School, They’re All Yours Now

*A few more tidbits...

Bonus Father Knows Nothing from 2011: Snowstorm.

Ronald Reagan's Entry in EveryCubEver