Friday, February 16, 2024

Media Notebook--2-16-24


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




*Audacy’s Post-Bankruptcy Moves

=When Audacy announced their bankruptcy, we all wondered about the next steps the company would take. Here are a few of them. Also, look who is gaining a majority financial stake: George Soros. Let the conspiracy theories begin. In Chicago, Audacy own WSCR, WXRT, WUSN, WBMX, and WBBM-AM & FM.


*KC Radio Host Killed in Parade Shooting

=The lone fatality in the Kansas City parade shooting was a DJ. Her name was Lisa Lopez-Galvan, and she co-hosted a show on KKFI Free Range Radio in Kansas City. Her son and two cousins were also injured. Inside Radio has more information about this tragic story. 

=This story broke this morning...

*Valentines from WSHE Listeners

=WSHE asked their listeners to create Valentine’s Cards so they could deliver them to La Rabida Children’s Hospital, and thousands of them did. It’s the eighth year the station has teamed up with the hospital for their Valentine’s Day Cards for Kids program.


*Steve & Johnnie’s Special Valentine’s Day

=On Valentine’s day in 1985, Steve King and Johnnie Putman were paired together as a team on WGN. It obviously worked out pretty well for them. They tell that story on their blog Both Sides Now. (Photo credit: Paul Natkin)

*Sports Talk Chicago Expands Regional Syndication

=Jon Zaghloul’s Sports Talk Chicago added a few more regional outlets this week. The show began on YouTube but now also airs in Kankakee (WKAN), Wilmington (WYKT), Bloomington-Normal (WRPW), Hammond IN (WJOB, and JED-TV), Aurora (ACTV), Round Lake Beach (WRLR), and Peoria (WZPN).


*Crystal Radio Award Finalists

=The NAB announced the finalists last night. There is exactly one Chicago station on the list, WTMX.

*Newsweb Sells WCPT

=The new owner of WCPT and WSBC is Heartland Signal. The price was $1. Of course, Fred Eychaner is the head of Newsweb AND the founder of Heartland Signal.


*SiriusXM Cutting 3% of Workforce

=Specific names and/or titles have not been announced yet, but 160 jobs will be eliminated.


*Rock & Roll HOF

=The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees for 2024: Mary J. BligeMariah CareyCherDave Matthews BandEric B. & RakimForeignerPeter FramptonJane's AddictionKool & the GangLenny KravitzOasisSinéad O'ConnorOzzy OsbourneSade, and A Tribe Called Quest.


*Podcast Corner

=Megan Markle gets new podcast partner after being dumped by Spotify.


*Ex-Chicago Radio

=Congrats to former WGN talker Brian Noonan. He is now entrenched as the evening host at WTMJ-Milwaukee, from 7-9pm weeknights.


*Rest in Peace

=Bob Edwards

Long-time NPR host, Morning Edition. He was 76.

*The Loop Files

=This next appearance for The Loop Files keeps getting better and better. Former Looper Dan McNeil will be there posing questions on the mic to Mitch Michaels, John Records Landecker and me. Also, my predecessor as Steve & Garry's producer (and guitarist for Steve Dahl's Teenage Radiation) Roman Sawczak will be there too.




*February 11—Jim Moran birthday

=I interviewed the former WLS man in 2011 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.


*February 11—Rob Creighton birthday

=Creighton worked at Next Media in the Chicago suburbs as a programmer and air talent.


*February 12—Wendy Snyder birthday

=Wendy has seen it all in Chicago broadcasting at radio stations like the Loop, Q-101, WCKG, WGN, and WLS. I’ve interviewed her many times over the years, including this one in Illinois Entertainer from 2013 when she and Bill Leff first re-started their show together on WGN.


*February 12—Allison Rosati birthday

=Allison has been with Channel 5 for more than 30 years now. She initially garnered attention doing First Thing in the Morning with Bob Sirott. Of course, she’s been the main anchor for the 5, 6, and 10 O’Clock news for many years now.


 *February 12—Alison Payne birthday

=The popular WGN-TV news anchor was only 57 years old when she passed away in 2021.


 *February 12, 1953—Channel 2 Changes Call Letters to WBBM-TV

=The TV station call letters were changed after CBS acquired it. They already owned AM 780 and FM 96.3 (since 1929!), and both of those stations went by the call letters WBBM (and still do).


*February 13—Jim Foster birthday

=Foster has been a jack-of-all-trades for WDRV for the past two decades, including morning traffic reporter. He also has worked for Steve Dahl, produced a morning show at the Loop, and more.


*February 13—Jerry Springer birthday

=Jerry passed away last year. He will always be remembered for his time in Chicago when his Jerry Springer Show became a national sensation. On the other hand, his stint as a commentator on the Channel 5 News eventually led to the departure of both Carol Marin and Ron Magers, the star anchors at the time.


*February 14—Pat O’Brien birthday

=Not many people remember that the former CBS Sports and Access Hollywood host got his big television break here in Chicago at Channel 5. He has since covered six Olympic Games, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and the Final Four. Unfortunately for Pat, he will probably always be remembered for a series of embarrassing voicemails that became public in 2005. His career has never really recovered.


 *February 14—Rick O’Dell birthday

=For years he was the pre-eminent host on WNUA Radio, during their jazz days. He retired last year as the programmer for Me-TV FM. I interviewed him about that in 2021 for Illinois Entertainer.


*February 14—Janet Sutherland birthday

=Sutherland is a former Chicago radio reporter where she was heard covering Supreme Court cases, Illinois legislation, health news and prison stories on WMAQ, WLS, WGN, KMOX, UPI Radio and 75-plus radio stations on the Illinois and Wisconsin Radio Network. In 2004, she suffered a brain aneurysm. Her long and painful recovery is chronicled in the book Nose Over Toes.


 *February 16—Joy Masada birthday

=Joy is probably best remembered for her days as part of the Danny Bonaduce show (on the Loop) and her stint as the producer of the Murphy in the Morning show on Q-101. She also had a five-year run at WCKG.


*February 17—Cheryl Raye Stout birthday

=Cheryl has been a sports reporter at WBEZ for more than 25 years now. She previously worked for WMAQ (producer of Chet Coppock’s original sports talk show) and WMVP. I interviewed Cheryl for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2012.



*February 17—John Roach birthday

=John Roach was the genius creator of The Sportswriters on TV (with Rick Telander, Bill Jauss, Bill Gleason, and Ben Bentley), which ran in Chicago from 1985-2000. He also wrote a film called The Straight Story which was nominated for an Academy Award. He lives in Madison Wisconsin these days.





*I Can't Imagine Life Without Tom Skilling

=WGN colleagues (Bob Jordan, Dan Roan, Mark Suppelsa, Steve Sanders, Jackie Bange, Muriel Claire, Bill Snyder, Dina Bair, Pat Grimes) pay tribute.

=I interviewed Tom too, and he will be featured in my next IE column, and also an upcoming podcast.

*Most Watched Television Show Ever

=The numbers for Super Bowl 58 are mind-boggling. 200 million watched part of it. 120+ million watched on CBS. 

=So naturally, this was announced two days later…

=Have you seen the full version of the Affleck Dunkin commercial?


*ESPN Segment on McMichael Makes Studio Hosts Emotional

=I think I had something in my eye, as well. 


*Jon Stewart’s Return to Daily Show

=I thought he did a great job in his first show back, Energetic and cutting. The New York Times agrees. 


*Colin Jost to host White House Correspondent’s Dinner

=One of the toughest rooms a comedian can play. 

*Fred Weintraub Honored

=Fred is the producer of WCIU-TV's high school sports coverage...

*ABC Announces Renewals

=List is heavy on game shows. 


*Vern’s Last Masters

=He’s done 40 of them.


*The DGA Awards

=Usually an influential award to Academy Award voters. 


*Cable News Corner

=Buckle Up, CNN.

=Look who is back!




*Rest in Peace

=Jack Higgins

The Pulitzer Prize winning Sun-Times cartoonist was 69.

=Jon Margolis

Former Chicago Tribune political columnist. He was 83.

=Jack Houston

28-year Chicago Tribune editor and writer. Covered the Pope’s visit to Chicago as religion writer.




*How Do You Know Your Interview Was a Failure?

=Moscow movie theaters will be showing Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin.

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 15, 2024

20 Years: Back in the DDR (Free excerpt)


 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 week in 1976, the ski-jumping events at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck were held. The main character of my novel "Back in the DDR" (Rudi) was there. 

This free excerpt from the book will give you an insight into what this book is all about...

The Bergiselschanze was the site of the ski-jumping event, and I wasn’t prepared for how incredible it was. We had seats near the bottom of the jump, but there were also 20,000 seats all the way up and down the jump.

                I was transfixed by the courage of these crazy people who voluntarily put on skis, and skied down this jump, hoping to fly through the air. Each time a skier started down the hill; I was picturing the Wide World of Sports “Agony of Defeat” opening sequence. It looked scary on television. In real life, it was a million times worse. It’s straight downhill at the steepest angle imaginable. Take the worst roller coaster drop you’ve ever seen, make it twice as steep, double and triple the length, then put on skis and ski down it. And then, even if you manage to land safely on your skis (onto the icy snow), you only have about thirty yards to stop before you plow into the spectator section.

These ski jumpers are insane.

                Mom and Dad were both distracted, which was fine by me, because I was able to soak in the atmosphere without having to answer more questions about my stay in Mondsee. I had said all I wanted to say about that matter. If they wanted to push it, they were going to push it into tantrum land. That’s probably why they stopped asking questions.

                The Austrians around us were giddy because their ski-jumpers were among the favorites. A few of them were holding signs for Karl Schnabel. Schnabel had won the bronze in the small hill event a few days ago, behind a couple of East Germans. That was troubling to me. Based on my reading of the maps of East and West Germany, the biggest mountains were in the West. How did the East Germans do so well in this event, while the West Germans were nowhere to be seen? I thought this must have been troubling Dad too, because every time they said an East German ski jumper’s name, Dad’s ears perked up, and he paid very close attention.

                “Where are the mountains in East Germany?” I asked.

                “I don’t know,” he said.

                “Fichtelberg is a pretty tall mountain along the Czechoslovakia border,” my mother answered for him. “It’s in Saxony. One of my Onkels lives near there.”

                “Is that a pretty obscure mountain?” I asked.

                “Not really.”

                “What’s wrong with Dad?” I whispered. “I thought he was the expert on everything West and East German.”

                She didn’t respond. I was getting used to that. For some reason, people just don’t bother answering my questions. I’m invisible. Maybe I should rob a bank. Nobody would notice.

I looked up at the leader board and saw that the Americans were not very good at this event. With ten jumpers still to go, the top American wasn’t in the Top Ten. There weren’t going to be any medals for our guys. I wondered if this event was even being televised in America. I’m sure they covered Dorothy Hamill the other night. Judging by how much people were talking about her around here, I could only imagine what it’s like in America. We Americans love our figure skaters. The same can’t be said of our ski jumpers. I don’t even know the “Agony of Defeat” guy’s name or country. I chuckled as I thought of a joke. If he’s American, he's probably known as Captain Crunched.

I wish I had my anthropology notebook with me. I already had a section of jokes about the Wide World of Sports in there. I thought they should use the song “Wipeout” by the Surfaris instead of that dramatic classical music during the ski jumping scene. I chuckled to myself again when I thought of another joke. I’m on a roll now. How about this one? The American “Agony of Defeat” ski-jumper’s name is Niagara.

Niagara Falls. Get it?

That’s too good not to write down.

                “Mom, do you have a pen I can borrow?” I asked.

                She rifled through her purse and pulled out a Bic.

                “Piece of paper?” I asked.

                “Sorry, no,” she said.

                I looked through my pockets for something to write on. I couldn’t find anything. Dad was standing next to me, straining to see the leader board. He had taken off his rucksack and put it between his feet. I noticed a little white tag on the side of his rucksack, near the zipper. That could work. If I didn’t write this joke down right now, I knew I was going to forget it forever. So, I got down on one knee, and wrote “Niagara” on the tag. I figured I could transfer it to the notebook when we got back to the hotel.

                Turns out it was just in the nick of time. When the next East German jumper was called out, Hans-Georg-Dieter-Joachim something or other, Dad grabbed his rucksack and left us there in the row.

                “I’ll be right back,” he said.

The crowd noise let me know that the next jumper was on his way down the ramp. I turned back toward the ski jump and saw the East German with four first names flying through the air. His body was leaning forward, almost parallel to the ground. His skis were pointing up slightly. As he came closer to the earth, he leaned back, put his hands out to his side to keep his balance, and landed softly on the ground. It was so graceful. I was expecting the crowd to erupt with applause, but it was a pretty calm reaction. When they posted his distance, I understood why.

He was now in first place.

Two Austrians were still to come; the very famous (according to the signs around me) Karl Schnabl, and another one named Toni Innauer.

Somebody tapped my shoulder. I turned around to see another boy about my age. His face was painted like the Austrian flag.

“Do you think Schnabl can do it?” he asked.

“Schnabl is the best!” I answered, almost too enthusiastically.

“We saw him at Seefeld,” my new friend replied, shaking his head. “I don’t know. Aschenbach beat him by ten.”

I pretended to bite my fingernails.

“Best of luck!” my new friend said. He patted me on my back. “I’m pressing my thumbs.”

“Me too.”

I turned back toward the ski-jump. Out of the corner of my eye I could see my mom snickering.


“Daumen Drücken,” she said, repeating my new friend’s words.

“Press your thumbs?” I translated again.

“Do you know what that means?”

“No,” I admitted.

“That’s the Austrian version of cross your fingers.”


I guess that makes about as much sense as crossing your fingers does.

“From Austria,” the PA announcer said, “Karl Schnabl.”

“Schnabl! Schnabl! Schnabl!” the crowd began chanting.

I looked to the top of the hill and saw a little speck in the darkness near the top. The top of that ski jump was higher than any point in the entire state of Illinois. Soon that little speck started moving down the jump. Straight down. He hit the edge of the jump, and whoosh, he was up in the air. The crowd held their collective breaths. It seemed like he was never going to land. Finally, his arms went to his sides, the skis landed softly in the snow, and Schnabel threw his fist in the air. The crowd erupted before his distance was even posted. When Schnabl came to a stop, he was instantly surrounded by his ski-jumping teammates and coaches.

“Did you see that?” my dad asked. I hadn’t seen him return to his seat.


Everyone kept their eyes on the board. It usually took a few seconds to post it. The number to beat the East German was 221.7.

The number posted: 234.8.

I cheered as loudly as everyone else in the place. One hour ago I had never heard of Karl Schnabl, but now I was chanting his name and thought he was just about the most impressive man in the world. Mom and Dad were cheering too.

“Give me five, Dad,” I said, holding out my palm.

He shook it.

Close enough.

Schnabl won the Gold Medal, Innauer won the silver, and the East German won the bronze.

A few others from the archives...

*Bonus Father Knows Nothing column about Valentine's Day

*Bonus Father Know Nothing column: Middle Aged Road Trip to Arizona

*Chicago Cubs--Spring training 1939

*My brush with Michael Jordan

And a free entry from EveryCubEver, birthday boy Bill Bradley...

~Bill Bradley 1878–1954 (Orphans 1899-1900)
Chicago signed him as a shortstop, but he made eight errors in his first five games, so they moved him over to 3B. When his career ended 14 years later, he was considered one of the top third basemen in baseball history. He jumped to the American League in a contract dispute in 1901 (urged to do so by another ex-Chicago star Clark Griffith), and over the next three seasons he was in the top ten in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, triples, homers and slugging percentage. He was also the best fielding third baseman in the league. How much was the difference between the Cubs offer in 1901 and the offer from Cleveland? $3100. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was 3/4 of his yearly salary.