Friday, March 22, 2024

Media Notebook--3-22-24


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



*Chicago Radio Ratings

=The February ratings are out, and here are the top ten stations in Chicago (M-Sun, 6A-Midnight, 6+)  

WLIT (6.7)

WDRV (6.6)

WBBM-AM (5.4)

WVAZ (5.1)

WXRT (5.0)

WOJO (4.6)

WUSN (3.8)

WGN (3.5)

WLS-FM (3.5)

WSCR (3.1)

=Huge numbers for The Drive. They had the biggest leap of the month (+0.8). Ironically, those numbers are pre-changes. Should be interesting to see if the changes they made to the airstaff impact their numbers next month. Also, a great month for WGN (+0.4) and US-99 (+0.3).

=Me-TV FM also had their best month in a while. The new Me-TV FM program director Phil Manicki will be my next feature in Illinois Entertainer (the upcoming April issue).

=The biggest drop was at WBBM-AM (-0.8).



*Lolla Lineup

=Pretty strong this year. The Killers, SZA, Tyler, The Creator, and Blink 182 are among the headliners. Full list is here, courtesy of Billboard.

*John Landecker Tribute on Rewound Radio

=Rewound Radio is featuring John Records Landecker this weekend and next to pay tribute to the National Radio Hall of Famer for his birthday (March 28). Details are here.


*Audacy bankruptcy

=Audacy has filed their bankruptcy and divestiture plan withthe FCC.


*Howard Stern Returns to Terrestrial Radio

=For one day, anyway. First time since 2014. He appeared on Jim Kerr’s 50th anniversary show in New York.


 *Orion Approaching 90

=He’ll hit the big 9-0 on Easter Sunday.



*Podcast Corner

=From the “Everybody has a podcast” department, add the names LeBron James and JJ Reddick. I hope they don’t go by Ebony & Ivory.

=A Russian spy tells how she plied her trade in this new podcast. 



*Ex-Chicago Radio

=Former WLUPer Vinny Marino lands a new gig. He is Operations Manager and PD in Rutland, VT.

=Former US99 night jock Kimmie Caruba has lost her morning show gig at WUBL in Atlanta.

=Former WXLC/Waukegan morning co-host Wes McCane has been added to the morning show at KSTP in Minneapolis. The show is now called The Crisco, Dez, and Wes Morning Show.


*Music News

=I’m giving the credit to the 2005 White Sox…

=Eric Clapton’s Love Letters to Pattie Boyd (while she was married to George Harrison) are up for auction.






*March 18—Rich King birthday

=Rich King had a nearly 50-year career in Chicago media, including stints at WGN Radio, WBBM Radio, WBBM-TV and WGN-TV. He wrote a best-selling book about his wife called My Maggie, and in 2022 wrote a memoir about his time working with WGN photographer Richard “Ike” Isaac (photo below) called Ike and Mewhich was nominated for Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association.


*March 18—Len O’Kelly birthday

=Len worked on the air and off at several radio stations in Chicago, including WJMK-FM. He is now a professor at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, training the next generation of broadcasters. I interviewed him about that for Illinois Entertainer in 2017.


*March 19, 1928—Amos & Andy debuts on network radio (NBC Blue Network/WMAQ Chicago)

=When you hear it now, it’s shockingly racist. But when it debuted on NBC this week in 1928 (live from Chicago), it was one of the most popular shows in the country. The show began in 1926 as “Sam and Henry” on WGN radio, which described it as a “colored comedy serial.” Blackface Minstrel shows were the biggest Vaudeville draws, and this was the radio version of that. When NBC wanted to air it nationwide, WGN refused to let them take the name Sam & Henry along with them. The show was renamed Amos & Andy, and within a year it was a nationwide six-night a week hit, airing at 7PM Eastern time. It was rebroadcast on the West Coast in the same time slot; the first show to ever rate that kind of importance. Chicago was suddenly the center of the American media universe–and became home to dozens of national hit radio shows. None of them, however, were as popular as the number one show in the country, Amos & Andy.


*March 19, 1965—Jack Quinlan dies in car crash.

=Quinlan was the radio play-by-play man for the Cubs from 1955-1964, the first announcer to say the names Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Lou Brock and more. (He shared the booth with Lou Boudreau and Charlie Grimm). The car accident happened during spring training in 1965. Quinlan was only 38 years old.


*March 19, 1977—Final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show

=It was the end of an era. Who could ever forget that last hug? 


*March 19, 1989—Steve Dahl’s on-air vasectomy

=The first-ever live on-air vasectomy aired on this day in 1989 on AM 1000. Dahl was put under local anesthesia, and Garry Meier described the procedure on the radio along with Steve’s doctor, while Steve begged everyone to stop laughing while performing such a delicate task. Hard to describe how hilarious it was. It appears on Steve & Garry’s Decade of Service.


*March 20--Mitch Michaels birthday

=Mitch is a legendary rock jock in Chicago, with stints at virtually every rock station including WXRT, Q-101, the Loop, WCKG, and the River. In 2017, he wrote a memoir (with Ken Churilla) about his career called Doin the CruiseI interviewed Mitch in 2009 for Chicago Radio Spotlight, and then interviewed him again in 2015 for Illinois Entertainer.


*March 21—Randy Dry birthday

=Randy worked briefly in Chicago radio as a producer for the Steve & Garry show before going on to become a record company executive. He contributed to the book The Loop Files.


*March 21, 1970—The Agony of Defeat

=The man who crashed on the ski jump was named Vinko Bogataj. For the rest of the 70s, we would call him the “Agony of Defeat” because of his starring role in the opening sequence of Wild World of Sports.



*March 21, 1980—Who Shot J.R?

=On the season finale of Dallas, this week in 1980, a mystery character shot J.R. Ewing. For the entire summer America speculated who it was. It wasn’t revealed until November. Hard to imagine a show capturing the attention of the entire nation like that these days. 


*March 21, 2006—Twitter is founded

=Twitter is such a big part of our world it’s hard to remember that it hasn’t been around that long. As of this week, it’s only 18 years.


*March 22—Bob Costas birthday

=Costas is one of the most respected names in sports broadcasting, host of 12 Olympics Games and winner of 28 Emmy Awards. He’s also in the Baseball Hall of Fame (as a Ford Frick Award winner) and was at the microphone for NBC calling Ryne Sandberg’s greatest game in 1984. But before all of that great glory, Costas worked in Chicago as the play-by-play man for the Chicago Bulls on WGN-TV during the 1979-1980 season. (Photo: WGN-TV)





*Stacey King Duped by Fake Twitter Announcement

=It happened on a recent Bulls broadcast. Turns out Derrick Rose didn’t retire, despite the post on X (Twitter) claiming he did. 



*Ian Eagle Takes Over for Jim Nantz

=The new primary announcer for the NCAA tournament is being paired with Bill Rafferty.


*SNL 1975

=Coming soon, a dramatized version of the beginning of SNL, leading up to the first episode in 1975. Esquire has some preview info and pics. 



*Cable News Corner

=Steve Doocey: The Unexpected Voice of Dissent at Fox News


*Trump Sues ABC for Defamation

=He is suing because George Stephanopoulos said “Judges and two juries have found him guilty of rape and defaming the victim of that rape.”  Trump says it was only sexual assault, not rape, even though the judge did explicitly rule that describing it as rape was “still substantially true.”  Good luck winning that one.


*Rest in Peace

=David Seidler

Oscar-winning writer of The King’s Speech.

=M. Emmet Walsh

The character actor (Blood Simple, Blade Runner) was 88.





*Gannett and McClatchy are dropping the AP

=This is a shocking development. We’re talking about 230+ newspapers nationwide. Details are here, via Poynter. 



*Prince Harry’s Lawyers Go After Rupert Murdoch

=This is all about the phone hacking controversy involving newspapers in Britain. The AP has the latest details. (Take that Gannett & McClatchy)


*Sports Illustrated Will Continue Operations Under New Publisher

=Someone grabbed the defibrillator and put it on Sports Illustrated’s chest. Turns out, SI is not dead yet.

=Who is Minute Media, and can they really save SI? 



*How American News Lost its Nerve

=The subtitle says it all: Very few have balls. This is the take of Max Tani from Semafor.

 *Rest In Peace

=Dave Van Dyck

I missed this news a few months ago. The former Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times sports reporter was 76. He had retired to Florida.





*Reddit is a Content-Moderation Success Story

=At one time Reddit was the place to find communities peddling revenge porn, violence, and racial animus. After installing robust content moderation, they have become a trusted news source, and went public with an IPO. The story of that journey is told in the New York Times. 

=The first day of trading, shares rose 48%.


*Don Lemon’s Elon Musk Interview

=Lemon released it this week. Here area few takeaways from the interview. To me, this moment made the hair stand up on my neck a bit. Sounds like something a mafia don would say…

        When Lemon suggested that the companies’ suspension of their advertising was a form of free speech, and that Musk might bear responsibility if X fails, he grew frustrated.

“You said, ‘If they kill the company, it’s them,’ but doesn’t the buck stop with you?” Lemon asked.

Musk appeared rattled.

“Don, I have to say, choose your questions carefully,” he responded.

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 21, 2024

20 Years: Free "Back in the DDR" 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.

In November of 2022, I released my third novel, Back in the DDR. It's the story of a young boy coming to grips with being uprooted and moving to West Germany in 1976. Real life events are woven into the story line, including one that happened this week in 1976: Patty Hearst was convicted.

I present this portion of the book here as a free sample...

Dad was reading the Stars and Stripes on the blue recliner while Mom got breakfast ready. She always made him a full breakfast every morning, even on Saturdays and Sundays. It smelled like bacon. I knew Dad didn’t like being disturbed before he read the paper and had his first cup of coffee, so I sat patiently on the blue couch. I could see the main headline on the front page: “Patty Hearst Found Guilty in San Francisco Bank Robbery.”

                He harumphed. I saw that as an opening.

                “Is Patty Hearst a terrorist?” I asked.

                “Small potatoes,” my dad said. “She’s just a rich girl who got caught up in something after they kidnapped her. The real terrorists are right here in West Germany. The Baader-Meinhof Gang. The Red Brigade. The Communists. We have most of them in prison now, but they are still terrorizing the whole continent. They have to be stopped.”


                He didn’t respond. He was still reading the paper.


                “What?” He sounded irritated.

                “Never mind, we can talk about it later.”

                He put the paper down. If anyone wanted to portray the word “exasperation” without saying the word, they should have taken a Polaroid of Dad’s face at that moment. The last thing he wanted to do was talk to me.

                “It’s OK,” I said. “Go back to your paper.”

                “What is it?” he asked.

                Mom walked into the adjoining dining room with two plates in her hand.

                “Breakfast is ready,” she said.

                “Rudi has a question first,” Dad said. The unsaid portion of his statement would have included the phrase “and it better be good.”

                “It’s not important,” I said, and jumped off the couch toward the dining room table. Dad put his newspaper down on his chair and followed me. Mom went back into the kitchen to retrieve her plate. She always served herself last.

                I took my seat to Dad’s right and waited for him to say the blessing. He was still staring at me as Mom took her seat. The eggs and bacon smelled great.

                “Dear Lord,” Dad said, “Thank you for the blessing of this food, and thank you for sending us a son who will now tell me what he wants to say. Amen.”

                “Amen,” Mom and I replied.

                I started eating the eggs. They were scrambled. Like normal people eat them.

                “You want us to buy you something, don’t you?” he asked.

                I shook my head. “Nope.”

                “Well then what is it?”

                I put my fork down and looked him in the eye. It seemed like such a crazy question; I was afraid to ask it.

                “WHAT?” he said. His irritation made the question plop right out of my mouth.

                “Are you a spy?”

                Dad burst out laughing. “That’s what you wanted to ask me?”

                “David told me that you were in military intelligence,” I said.

                “Do you know what military intelligence is?” Dad asked, not waiting for my reply. “It’s an oxymoron, that’s what.”

                I noticed that he didn’t answer my question.

                “But are you?”

                “I told you,” He said, “I’m an engineer. I build dams, bridges, and tunnels. Right now I’m heading up the project to build an American Junior High School in Heidelberg. That’s why I’ve been gone so much lately.”

                “But that’s not a dam, bridge or tunnel,” I pointed out.

                Dad sighed. “It’s also not being a spy. Am I spying on junior high kids?”

                It was clear he wanted this conversation to end, but I wasn’t ready to end it.

                “Why is a guy who works with you, David’s dad, in military intelligence?” I asked.

                “Who told you that?”


                “Oh he did, did he?”

“Uh huh.”

Dad looked me right in the eye.  “Colonel Schatz, the lead engineer in my office, is secretly a spy? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Uh huh.”

“If that’s true, then isn’t telling his son about it breaking some sort of a spy code?”

                Ooh. That’s a good point. What spy would tell his son he’s a spy? On the other hand, maybe that’s why Dad can’t tell me that he’s a spy.

                Dad sighed. “Do I look like a spy to you?”

                I didn’t know what to say. True, he didn’t wear a top hat like the spy in Stratego, but I’m pretty sure spies don’t look like that in real life.

                “Look at me. I’m 44 years old. I’m out of shape.” He patted his not-insignificant beer belly. “I’m a family man. I’m an engineer. Who would hire a 44-year-old-out-of-shape-family-man-engineer to be a spy?”

                “Military intelligence?”

                He guffawed.

“Good one.”

I wasn’t totally satisfied, but on the other hand, Dad laughed at my joke. Dad never laughs at my jokes.

Here's a bonus piece from the archives: My brush with William Shatner. I wrote it in this week in 2007 (on Shatner's 76th birthday), but the meeting with Shatner occurred in the late 80s.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Studio Walls--March 20, 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.

Here are a few from the archives...

March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)--Timothy O’Shea (Irish musician) appeared on the show and performed for us.  

March 17—Catholic Confession Hotline. We've called it before. Will we call it again?

March 18—Rich King birthday. The former sportscaster/author appeared on the show several times, including this one.

March 18—Adam Levine birthday. The lead singer of Maroon 5 was discovered by one our guests, famed songwriter/record producer John Denicola. He told us that story.  

March 19—Frank Jasper birthday. The Oscar gate crasher told us all about his famous stunts.  

March 19—Dave T. Koenig birthday. The Mrs. Maisel star chatted with us a few years ago. 

March 19--Bruce Willis birthday. I told the story of my mid-90s brush with Bruce on this episode of Minutia Men.

March 19, 1953—First TV broadcast of the Oscars. Our go-to Oscar expert is Eric Litt.

March 20—Carl Reiner birthday. Carl is my writing hero, and I told the story of what is was like meeting him, on this episode of Minutia Men.  

March 20, 1966—The Rascals appear on the Ed Sullivan show. Felix Cavaliere was on the show and told us the story of that day

March 20--Mitch Michaels birthday. Our interview with Mitch is here

March 21—Eddie Money birthday. Kurt Elling came on the show and told us the greatest Eddie Money story ever.  

March 22--Werner Klemperer birthday. Dave had a brush with Werner and told us that story in this episode.

March 22—William Shatner birthday. One of the strangest interviews we ever did was with a street band (one guy) from Seattle who goes by William Shatner's Hairpiece.

March 22—Andrew Lloyd Webber birthday. One of his main lyrical collaborators (Glen Slater) told us what Sir Andrew is really like.  

March 23, 2003—The documentary Scrabylon released. We talked to the director, Scott Petersen

March 23, 2023—Marquee announces “When it was a game” Cubs special (that I participated in). It was eventually called "Cubs Flicks". You can see part of it here.  

March 23—Mark Buehrle birthday—Spike Manton is a friend of the White Sox great and told us a funny story about him