Saturday, March 02, 2024

Friday, March 01, 2024

Media Notebook--3-1-24


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




*Moug & Karla in the Morning

=There’s a new morning show at B-96, WBBM-FM. John Moug arrives from Seattle, and is being paired with former Morning Mess co-host Karla Hernandez. Jeana Shepard moves to middays 9am-2pm. Dash remains in the afternoon slot (2-7pm), and Bru will handle 7-11pm.



*Eric Ferguson Update

=He posted this on LinkedIn this week...

=Horowitz left WTMX before the lawsuits against Eric (about two years), but it's still a little surprising to see him go all in like this.

*WBEZ Cuts Locally Produced Programming to 1-Hour a Day

=Reset with Sasha Simmons will now only be an hour long show and will air from Noon-1pm weekdays. Axios broke the story this week. It’s hard to believe the NPR affiliate in the third biggest market is down to one hour of daily local programming, but here we are.

=The spin by management in this piece reminds me of one of the characters from my satirical novel $everance, essentially "we're doing less so we can do more." 


*Cumulus Enlists F.C.C’s Help in Avoiding Hostile Takeover

=Inside Radio has the financial details.


*Irish Radio

=Is the whole town really talking about the Webb boys? What about the Hagerty siblings? They are keeping Dad’s Irish radio show alive. 



*Hannah Brummer Adds New Role

=Hannah B is the afternoon co-host with Eddie Volkman at the three-station suburban cluster owned by Alpha Media. This week she added another title. She is now also handling affiliate relations for the jingle company TM Studios.


*Rest in Peace

=Charles Ferris

Former Chairman of the F.C.C. He was 90.


*The Loop Files

=A week from tomorrow is the next signing. Details below. Also have two more coming in May. Ela Library in Lake Zurich (May 1) and Pollyanna Brewing in Roselle on May 11. More details to come.






*February 27—Mister Rogers Dies (2003)

=Hard to believe it was 20 years ago already. He was such a good, honest, decent man. My generation and our kids owe him a debt of gratitude forever. What a great role model.

=On the other hand, if you haven’t heard it, this National Lampoon Radio Hour sendup of him from the early 70s is still hilarious. Featuring Christopher Guest as Mr. Rogers.



*February 28—Ben Finfer birthday

=Finfer worked at all three all-talk sports stations in Chicago, the Score, ESPN, and the Game. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2010. Fellow Ilini.



*February 28—Leslie Keiling birthday

=Leslie may be one of the most famous traffic reporters in Chicago radio history. She was able to deliver more than just the traffic; she always had a sharp wit and contributed effortlessly to a variety of different shows. I interviewed her about her Chicago radio experiences in 2007, and when she joined Garry Meier’s podcast (where she still works) in 2016, I interviewed her again for Illinois Entertainer.



*February 28—Birthday of Bob Collins.

=The late WGN morning man would have been 81 years old this week.


*February 28, 1983—The final episode of M*A*S*H airs

=How big was this final episode of M*A*S*HJoel Daly was on Channel 7 News, and the final episode of M*A*S*H was on Channel 2, yet he still filed this report on the competitor’s big night. 


*February 28—KC White birthday

=KC was part of the WGCI morning show about twenty years ago. When he returned to town as an actor in 2008, I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight. His real name, by the way, is KC Lupp.



*February 29--Chuck Buell

=Chuck  was born on Leap Day. I spoke to the former Big 89 jock back in 2010 for Chicago Radio Spotlight. (I finally met him in person last year when he came to town for the Rock Radio event the Museum of Broadcasting put on at the Des Plaines Theater.)



*March 1—Don Lemon birthday

=Yes, he’s best known for his time on CNN, but who could forget his time here in Chicago at NBC-5 (2003-2006)?


*March 1—Harry Caray birthday

=Good old Harry would have been 110 years old today.






*Tom Skilling Interview

=My interview with the retiring WGN-TV meteorologist is out today in the new issue of Illinois Entertainer.

=On his way out, he still did a promo for his station.

=Skilling’s Last Day.

=I also found this photo of him after his going away party. You didn’t think they were just going to let him leave, did you?



*High School Basketball on TV

=The IHSA Girls Finals are this weekend. The U will air all the finals beginning with 1A at 11:00am. 2A will air at 1pm. 3A follows at 5:30pm, and the 4A Finals will air at 7:30pm.



*Medhi Hasan Starts Own Media Company

=The former MSNBC star is trying to follow in the entrepreneurial footsteps of right-wing media stars like Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly. 



*Did CBS Retain Fired Reporters Files?

=If true, this is troubling. 

=The same reporter, Catherine Herridge, was held in contempt of court yesterday for refusing to reveal her sources in an unrelated story. 


*Mary Poppins now a PG Movie in UK

=For what reason? Because the word “Hottentot” is apparently a derogatory term for the indigenous people of South Africa. If you missed it, the crazy Admiral says it when he sees the soot-faced chimneysweeps dancing. Okey doke. 



*The Face of Me-Too in France? Gerard Depardieu

=Another charge from another woman this week. His total is in the double digits. 



*Cable News Corner

=Steve Bannon Threatens Fox News.


*A Moment of Zen

=I must have been chopping onions during this segment…


*Rest in Peace

=Richard Lewis

I knew Richard. This is the piece I wrote about him a few years ago.

=Dan Wilcox

Emmy-award winning writer for M*A*S*H and Sesame Street

=Roni Stoneman

Cast member on Hee-Haw

=McCanna Sinese

Sad story. Gary’s son McCanna was only 33 years old.




*Florida to Ban Social Media for Kids

=Certainly a case can be made for the damage done to young people by social media, but…

=After hearing the Supreme Court Justices questioning other social media laws the other day, I’m not sure they will let this fly.

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 29, 2024

20 Years: The Hidden Meaning Behind Flowers


 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 a piece I wrote for Shore Magazine in 2007.


Over the years, flowers have been my friend. Whenever I wanted to cheer up my wife, or apologize to my wife, or get brownie points from my wife, I simply stopped at the florist on my way home from work and got one peach rose. That’s her flower.


It worked every time. Total cost: $3.


However, when I tried to buy flowers to congratulate a female co-worker a few years ago, I ran into the down-side of flowers: Hidden meanings.


I asked for red roses. The florist said: “Oh your wife will love these.”


“It’s not for my wife,” I explained.


“Your girlfriend?” she asked.


“No, just a co-worker.”


“Do you want her to be your girlfriend?”




What’s the deal here? I get less personal questions from my mother.

“Red roses mean love,” she explained.

“What color says ‘Hey congratulations, way to go!’”


“You might want to get a mixture of red and white,” she said. “That says ‘unity’, but it can also mean professional unity.”


“What about the other colors?”


“White means ‘You’re heavenly,’ yellow means ‘joy,’ burgundy means ‘beauty,’ pink whispers a message of…”


“I’ll take a plant, please,” I said. “Plain. Green.”

Here's another piece from Shore Magazine that same year. It's called "Premature Jubilation"

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

RIP Richard Lewis


Here's the piece I wrote about Richard 15 years ago...

I’ve always considered Richard Lewis one of the funniest humans on the planet. I became a fan in the 80s when he started making appearances on David Letterman’s show. His angst-y neurotic humor always made me laugh.

I finally got a chance to meet him in the late 80s when I was the producer of Steve & Garry’s show on the Loop, and I wasn’t disappointed. He was as funny in person as he was on television or on stage.

I also discovered, however, that his comedic persona is not an act. He really is that angst-y neurotic guy. I could tell by the way he sought approval after each interview (“How did it go? Was it funny?”), but I really found out for sure the day he came in to guest-host the show for Steve and Garry.

Hosting a 4 ½ hour comedy talk show isn’t easy for anyone. Without a partner to help out, it’s even more difficult. That’s the dilemma Richard faced that day. The only person he had to help him was me. My job was to run the controls, and keep the show moving.

This was pretty early in my career, and to be honest, I wasn’t yet that confident in this role. Steve normally ran the controls for the show. The only time he allowed me to do it was the first fifteen minutes of the show every day, when he was inevitably late. I had never run an entire show before Richard walked in that day.

I only mention this to point out that I was probably as nervous as Richard was. I always had one eye on the clock, and one eye on the controls. I was responsible for getting the guests on the phone during the commercial breaks, and for running the commercial breaks. I was responsible for getting the traffic, news, and sports reports on the air too, which required calling each of the people involved and making sure they were ready to go before we went to them. And I was responsible for screening the listener phone calls, which I had to do in the studio.

If this had occurred just a few months later, all of it would have been second nature to me. Unfortunately for Richard, that wasn’t the case during his guest-hosting gig. That’s not to say that I messed up any of those duties during the show—I didn’t. The technical part of the show went off flawlessly.

The problem was that while I was so worried about performing my duties, I had forgotten who was on the other side of the console…a very angst-y neurotic comedian. It started to unravel almost immediately. He told a joke and I didn’t laugh. The next twenty minutes of the show were about the fact that he had to do a show in front of a stone-faced man.

“Are you alive?” he said. “Can we get somebody in here to check this man’s pulse?”

After he exhausted that line of material, he began to doubt himself.

“It’s because I’m bombing, isn’t it?” he asked. “I’m not funny. I can’t believe it. I’ve got four more hours to go, and I’ve got nothing here.”

I tried to concentrate on laughing, and I tried to tell him how funny he was during the commercial breaks, but I had so many other things going on, he wasn’t buying it. In fact, during the commercials I realized that he wasn’t doing a bit at all—he really was depressed because he really thought he was bombing.

And even though I’m one of his biggest fans, it was my fault.


It was a long 4 ½ hours.

I will say this, however. After getting to know him a little better, and after booking him dozens of times over the next twenty years, I came to admire his comedic ability even more.

Especially now that I know it’s not an act.

Studio Walls--February 28, 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.

This week's Minutia Men is called Jenkins in the newsroom, and features a story about a truly massive whoopsie on a TV newscast in Oregon.

This week's Minutia Men Celebrity Interview is with retiring Channel 9 meteorologist Tom Skilling.

February 25--George Harrison's birthday. 

=We had record producer Bill Schnee on the show and he told us a few incredible George stories, including one about the maze beneath George's castle.

February 25--Sean Astin's birthday. 

=DB Sweeney wrote and produced a comedy show with Sean, and told us all about it. 

February 26--The late Sun Times columnist Robert Novak's birthday. 

=I met him once and it was a truly memorable encounter. You can hear that story in this episode.

February 27--The late actor Howard Hesseman's birthday. 

=Would you believe we've had two different celebrities on our show with great Howard Hesseman (Johnny Fever) stories? Tommy Chong has a hilarious tale about their comedy feud. Howard's Head of the Class co-star Dan Frischman has a similar tale.

March 1-- Harry Caray's birthday

=I told the stories about my multiple brushes with Harry in this episode of Minutia Men. Rich King has even better Harry Caray stories. He tells a few of them to us in this interview

March 1, 1996—Carl Giammarese appears at live Landecker broadcast 

=I handed him new lyrics to one of his songs, and he performed it live at Union Station in Chicago at 8:00 in the morning. You can hear it in this episode of Minutia Men

March 1—Roger Daltrey's birthday

=The Who's keyboardist Loren Gold told us several funny stories about what it is like working with Roger.  

March 2--Lou Reed's birthday

=Famed rock photographer Mick Rock hung out extensively with Lou, and told us about a four day binge they went on together.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Publishing Portal--February 27, 2024

The latest news from Eckhartz Press, and a chance to peek into some of the great previous offerings from our humble little publishing company.

*Happy Birthday Lee Kingsmill!

=The author of Safe Inside is celebrating a birthday this week (March 2). Lee grew up on the south side of Chicago. A stint in the army took him to pre-statehood Alaska where he served in the military police. After graduating from the University of Chicago, he taught high school English and humanities for thirty-four years. A highlight was accompanying student groups on Spring break trips to Italy. Since retirement, he continues to travel abroad, and much of Safe Inside was written in Mexico.

*National Woman's Month

=March is National Woman's month, and we wouldn't be where we are today without the contributions of our female authors. We've published more than 20 books written by talented women like...Vicki Atkinson, Jeanne Bellezzo, Book of the year winners Pat Colander & M.L Collins, Jessica Hagy, Beth Jacobellis, Judy Ann Jamerson, Margaret Larkin, Lauren LoGiudice, Deena Mendes, Kristin Oakley, Lori Oster, Vicki Quade, Becky Sarwate, Maggie Smith, Kim Strickland, Felitzitas Sudendorf, Janet Sutherland, Deb Tokarz, and Ann R. Wilson. We can't thank them enough.

*Happy Anniversary Cameo!

=Beth Jacobellis launched her debut novel this week in 2018, Cameo. Here she is getting her very first copy of the book.


*Talking Bout My Generation

=An incredible example of life imitating art. Last year Will Wagner released his novel Talking 'Bout My Generation, which was about what happened to Pete Townshend's guitar after he tossed it into the crowd at Woodstock. This week in the news, Paul McCartney's bass was returned to him after being lost in 1961.

*Leslie Keiling

 =The long-time Chicago radio star contributed to two Eckhartz Press books. She has some great stories in Records Truly is My Middle Name, particularly the story of being live on the air with John Landecker when the planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. She also contributed stories (and the picture below) to The Loop Files. Leslie was known as Lane Closure on the Steve & Garry show on the Loop. Her birthday is this week (Feb 28).

*Hugh Hefner's First Funeral

=This week in 2019, just a few weeks after Pat Colander's death, Lit Pop published a wonderful tribute to the author of Hugh Hefner's First Funeral.

*Your Dime My Dance Floor

=How interesting was Eckhartz Press author Chet Coppock's life? He once wrestled a bear. He also knew how to promote. I'm sure Tony Randall and Jack Klugman were happy to have his help.

Oscars Biggest Mistakes

=This time of year is the busy season for movie expert/Eckhartz Press author Eric Litt. This week in 2022 Eric appeared on the Nick DiGilio podcast to talk about some examples from the past when the Oscars got it wrong.

Mob Adjacent

=One of the most compelling parts of the family memoir written by the Gentile brothers is the intersection of the mob and Hollywood. For instance, stories about two people who would have been celebrating birthdays this week, Jackie Gleason (Feb 26) and Elizabeth Taylor (Feb 27) appear in the pages of Mob Adjacent. 

The Daly News

=This week in 2014, Joel Daly was making the publicity rounds promoting his Eckhartz Press memoir about his legendary television career. This is the audio of his interview with WGN radio, along with a photo below.

=Here's an example of Joel in action from 1983, reporting on the biggest television event from the 1980s, the final episode of M*A*S*H. 

 The Unplanned Life

=Roger Badesch was like the Zelig of Chicago history. How many people do you know who actually worked at the original Playboy Club, for instance? He has some great stories from that time in The Unplanned Life. The Playboy Club opened on Leap Day in 1960.

=Roger also had a memorable day this week...

Always a Pleasure

=This week (Feb 28) is the anniversary of late WGN radio morning man Bob Collins' birth. Chuck Swirsky worked with Collins for many years and writes about him in the pages of his Eckhartz Press book Always a Pleasure. He also tells that story in this podcast. Another one of Swirsky's favorites is also celebrating a birthday this week, former Bull Joakim Noah.

Jerry Reinsdorf

=Would you believe that White Sox & Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf appears in three different Eckhartz Press books? It's true. You'll find stories and photos of him in Rich King's book Ike & Me, Chet Coppock's book Your Dime My Dance Floor and Chuck Swirky's book Always a Pleasure.

Chili Dog MVP

=Speaking of the White Sox, this week in 2022, Eckhartz Press authors John Owens and Dr. David Fletcher appeared on Rick Kogan's radio show to talk about their book Chili Dog MVP. Kogan is a big White Sox fan and loved the tale about Dick Allen and the 1972 White Sox.

Life Behind The Camera

=This week in 2014, Eckhartz Press author Chuck Quinzio was getting some love from the NABAT Union.

Behind the Glass

=CBS broadcaster James Brown is celebrating a birthday this week (February 25). James was kind enough to provide this endorsement for Randy Merkin's Eckhartz Press book...

  • “While we cherish champions in the world of sports, we cheer louder for champions in the game of life. Character, integrity and honesty matter. That sums up Randy Merkin.”

    James "JB" Brown, Host of NFL Today on CBS and Inside the NFL on Showtime

An Off-White Christmas

=This week in 2017, New City debuted in Chicago. The Chicago publication loves Randy Richardson, and they gave this wonderful testimonial to Donald G. Evan's collection of short stories An Off-White Christmas

  • With offhand grace and humor, Evans captures the characters’ burning desires to escape from in-between stages of their lives and their disappointment at the outcome. Illustrations by Hannah Jennings throughout the book resemble ornaments that could hang on a Christmas tree.
    Katie Burns, Newcity Lit

*The Loop Files
=Don't forget...