Friday, March 08, 2024

Media Notebook--3-8-24


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



*Podcast Ratings

=The numbers for February just came out, and the top 10 rated podcasts were…

The Daily

NPR News Now

Up First (NPR)

Dateline NBC



The Ben Shapiro Show

This Past Weekend with Theo Von

Stuff You Should Know

Pardon My Take

=The top 20 are listed here.



*F-Bomb dropped on ESPN Radio

=Bears reporter Courtney Cronin was having technical problems when she let it fly. Jeff Agrest has more on the story.



*Scott Childers Exits

=In addition to the career detailed below, Scott is also the author of the great book about WLS history…



*The AM for Every Vehicle Act Gets 218th Co-Sponsor

=I must admit I’m surprised by this development. Could it really pass? Radio Ink analyzes thesituation.


*Uncle Lar Flashback

=Love this picture of Larry Lujack from the 60s. Posted as part of the 100th anniversary celebration at WLS.



*Give a Vet a Pet

=Sherman & Tingle capped off their seventh annual “Give a Vet a Pet” campaign to raise funds for the American Veterans Service Dog Academy (AVSDA) to help provide service dogs to local veterans who are suffering from PTSD. Listeners of the show helped raise $107,272.



*The Women Who Make Q-101

=Every weekday at noon during Women’s History Month, Q101’s Lauren O’Neil is showcasing the most influential female artists in Alternative Rock by playing several songs from each featured artist, exclusive interviews, and stories about the artists.



*Broadcasting Can Be Cold Business for Legendary Voices

=Andy Masur’s latest piecein Barrett Sports Media is about the treatment given to long-time sports announcers. Among the examples he discusses is Hawk Harrelson’s departure from the Sox. 



*Norm Winer Update

=Norm left WXRT eight years ago. What is he up to now?



*The Loop Files

=Thanks to Tom Lounges from the NWI Times and Lakeshore Public Media for having me on the show this week to promote my upcoming podcast/book signing Saturday at Bridge's Scoreboard Restaurant in Griffith Indiana at 3pm with fellow radio-guy authors John Records Landecker and Mitch Michaels. Dan McNeil will also be on hand, helping with the podcast. Looking forward to seeing everyone.






*March 3—Ian Punnett birthday

=Ian Punnett grew up in Chicagoland and had a long and prosperous radio career. Only a brief portion of that was here in Chicago, in the early 90s when WGN decided it needed to go younger. It didn’t work out for Ian in his hometown (although he later appeared on WLS as well), but he had lots of success in Minneapolis. I got a chance to interview him in 2007 for Chicago Radio Spotlight. Punnett passed away in 2023.



*March 4—Jesse Rogers birthday

=Rogers was part of that original crew at the Score as a producer and has gone on to become a respected reporter for ESPN.


*March 4—Laura Witek birthday

=Laura was a radio news anchor in Chicago, first at WMAQ, and later at AM 1000 and WCKG. Not an easy task, by the way, retaining news credibility while also trying to navigate the crazy worlds of Kevin Matthews and Steve and Garry. She’s living out west these days, but fondly remembers her time here in this Chicago Radio Spotlight interview from 2007.



*March 4—Tim Weigel birthday

=Weigel would have been 79 years old this week. I was lucky enough to work with Tim in his Channel 2 days, providing him clips for his Weigel Wieners segment. 


*March 5—Ken Sumka birthday

=Ken worked at WXRT for years and also spent time as a traffic reporter on WBBM-News radio. He moved to Wisconsin a few years ago. I interviewed Ken for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2008.



*March 5—Scott Dirks birthday

=Scott was a mainstay at the Loop during both of the radio station’s hey-days (late 70s/late 80s), and later worked at WLS-FM, among others. One of my favorite old Chicago Radio Spotlight interviews. This one was in 2007.



*March 5—Phil Duncan birthday

=Phil Duncan was the morning man at WCLR back in the day and a long-time production director at US-99. He also worked at WLS-AM. Phil now lives in Madison, Wisconsin.



*March 5, 1982—John Belushi death anniversary

=This was a sad day in Chicago history, when we lost one of our own, John Belushi. Not only was he a native of the area (Wheaton) and a Second City star before his famous days at SNL, he also spent a lot of time in Chicago during the filming of the classic film The Blues Brothers. This is a photo from that time of John and Dan Aykroyd with John Records Landecker (Photo: John Gehron) in the WLS Big 89 studios, and another with Steve Dahl (Photo: Paul Natkin)

*March 6—Sean Compton birthday

=Sean is the president of Nexstar Networks, which includes the CW Network, NewsNation, Antenna-TV, Rewind-TV, and of course WGN Radio (among others).



*March 7, 2011—Harry Teinowitz arrested for DUI

=While this moment essentially ended Harry’s radio career in Chicago, it’s also the moment that saved his life. That’s what he told me when I interviewed him for my podcast last year. It also inspired a play that he co-wrote with his long-time friend and on-air partner Spike Manton. The play When Harry Met Rehab was nominated for a Jeff award.



*March 8—Lester Holt birthday.

=Lester is the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, but we’ll always remember him in Chicago for his time at Channel 2, and more importantly, his starring role in the video we all had to watch during jury duty. This photo with his former colleague Rich King appears in Rich’s latest book Ike and Me



 *March 8, 2020—Clark Weber death anniversary

=Weber was the biggest star in Chicago during his days at WLS Radio, when the rock format was first adopted at the station in the early 60s. He remained the air in Chicago for the next 50 years. I got a chance to interview Clark a few times, but this one from 2007 was my favorite. Some incredible stories, including a great one about the Beatles.



*March 8—Drew Walker birthday

=Drew has done virtually every shift on the air at US-99, recently celebrating his 20th year at the station. At one point I think he was on for seven hours a day. He’s now the 9-Noon jock there. I interviewed him in 2007 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.



March 8—Franklyn MacCormack birthday.

=MacCormack passed more than 50 years ago (1971), but was a legendary personality on WGN in the 60s.

*March 9—Ed Silha birthday

=Known as “Computer Ed” on the Steve Dahl show for years, Silha is currently a podcasting mogul, the owner of the Radio Misfits Podcast Network. (Full disclosure—that network airs all three of my podcasts)



*March 9—Bob Ferguson birthday

=Bob is a 30+ year veteran of the Chicago radio world. Most of that time has been served in the engineering department at WGN Radio.





*Larry Snyder

=40 years!

*Flyover Chicago

=Ana Belaval and Marcus Leshock take you on the new ride/experience at Navy Pier. A simulated flight over Chicago.


*Chicago Petcare Company Gets Funding from Shark Tank

=Mark Cuban is the one who took a chance. 



*Rust Armorer Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter

=Hannah Gutierez-Reed was only 24-years old when she was on set. A New Mexico jury found her guilty.


*TV Ghosts

=The networks that have lost over half of their audience over the last decade. Some big names like MTV and Disney.


*Rest in Peace

=Chris Mortenson

Long-time ESPN reporter was 72.





*What Happened When the Chicago Sun Times Freed the News

=The Nieman Lab takes a look at the Sun-Times decision to drop their paywall, and the impact it has had.


*Four Illinois Counties Have No Local Newspaper at All

=That’s the finding of The State of Local News Project at Northwestern University. The four counties are Alexander, Edwards, Hamilton and Pulaski. 


*Why the Leak Investigation Inside the New York Times Newsroom is so Disturbing

=Former New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan opines.


*A Q&A with Media Writer Max Tani

=Tani writes for Semafor. This piece was published by Slate.






*Former Google AI Engineer Charged with Stealing Trade Secrets for China Firm

=The Washington Post has more on this story.



*European Union Fines Apple $2 billion

=This is all about Apple using the App store to keep out/push out/box out rivals. 


*Elon Musk Sued $128 Million

=This lawsuit was brought by former Twitter employees who were fired without cause.

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, March 07, 2024

20 Years: This week in1908


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.

When I first started my website Just One Bad Century in 2008, one of my goals was to point out to complacent Cub fans just how long ago 1908 was. The way I chose to do that was by creating a feature called "This Week in 1908". I appeared on the radio with John Landecker (WLS) every weekend, doing this bit on the air with him.

Here's an example from this week...

How long ago was 1908?

*Alexander Graham Bell turns 61 (March 3), and is one of the most famous men in America–known as the inventor of the telephone. Now he is experimenting with aviation. He and his aviation team are working very hard on preparing his aeroplane “Red Wing”. It will make the first American public flight next week (March 12) in Hammondsport, New York. The photo is a postcard of that historic flight. (Postcards are a particularly popular way of publicizing events in 1908)

In Chicago

It is a very tense time in Chicago. The anarchist movement is strong and organized. The police are attempting to protect the God-fearing Chicagoans by staking out churches every Sunday. They spend the rest of the week breaking up worker rallies where the anarchists are most likely to appear. In the midst of this turmoil, a high profile murder shakes the city: a dead body is found in the home of the Superintendent of Police, George Shippy. Lazarus Averbuch, an alleged anarchist, was supposedly attempting to assassinate the Police Superintendent. Shippy’s son Harry was wounded in the attack, and Supt. Shippy claims to have shot the man in self defense. There are a lot of problems with his story, and the forensic evidence doesn’t seem to match up, but Shippy is portrayed as a hero in the Chicago papers. They splash this photo of Averbuch’s dead body, propped up in a chair by Police Captain Evans, all over the front pages. Police Superintendent Shippy died only three years later…of syphilis. (Photo is from the Daily News collection at the Chicago Historical Society.)

Baseball News

~ A crazed fan throws a brick through a train carrying the Cleveland Naps to training camp, injuring several players (March 3)

~The Cubs have a mishap on the way to spring training too. Frank Chance is late arriving at the train depot, and has to hop on the train while it’s moving. He leaves his suitcases behind, including the one with the team uniforms.


~Knute Rockne turns 20 (March 4). He is working as a laboratory assistant to noted polymer chemist Julius Arthur Nieuwland and won’t become the head football coach of Notre Dame for another ten years.

~A baby boy is born in a suburb of Liverpool, England (March 5). The young lad, Reginald Carey Harrison, will later go by the first name of Rex and become an Academy Award winning actor.

~Louis Francis Cristillo turns 2 in Patterson, New Jersey (March 6). He would become a stunt man in silent movies before turning his attention to comedy. In the early 30s he changes his name to Lou Costello, and teams up with a straight man named Bud Abbott.

Price Check: A 50 gallon drum of Seroco ready-mixed house paint can be yours for only 85 cents a gallon. The paint comes in fashionable colors including French Gray, Pea Green, Beaver, Milwaukee Brick, Fawn, Drab, Light Drab, Buff, Yellow Stone, and Nile Green.

If you travel back in time, don’t ask someone to sing the National Anthem. It won’t be called that until 1931. From 1931-1942 it will only be played at baseball games on special occasions. Not until after the United States becomes involved in World War II, will it become a regular part of the ballpark routine.