Friday, April 05, 2024

Media Notebook--4-5-24


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




=This month’s Illinois Entertainer is out and includes my interview with Me-TV FM program director Phil Manicki. Next month: New WXRT afternoon man Andy Chanley.

 *WBEZ Disbands Podcast Unit

=NerdetteMaking and When Magic Happens were all canceled. Their podcasts were always high quality. In all, 14 staffers were let go. Urban alternative Vocalo Radio (91.1) is also going to be shuttered. Broadcasts will end on May 1. 


*Colin Cowherd on Danny Parkins

=Here's what the nationally syndicated Cowherd said about Parkins (afternoon co-host at the Score) when he had him on his show this week: "The most talented sports talk radio host I think out there right now at his age…”

*WLS 100

=Three new interviews posted on the WLS website. Interviews with WLS legends John Records Landecker and Jeff Davis, plus that interviewed teased in last week’s photo with media critic emeritus Robert Feder.

*Loop Lisagor

=This happened over the weekend…

 *Podcast Corner

=The Webby Award nominations were announced this week. Full list of nominees is here. Nearly 13,000 podcasts submitted entries. Winners will be announced on April 23.

=Coming soon to the world’s podcast library: Suits, the podcast. It will be hosted by two of the stars of the hit TV show, Patrick J. Adams and Sarah Rafferty.


*Tom Sochowski

=Former WJMK/WCKG/ESPN/WZFS Tom Sochowski has a big day coming up on May 4th. For the last 30 years he has been serving as PA announcer for Maine West basketball games in Des Plaines. For his many years of outstanding service, he was named to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

*Ex-Chicago Radio

=Former WGN host Brian Noonan is killing it in Milwaukee at WTMJ. This week they moved him into the 1-3pm slot. More details are here.

=Former WCKG/WMET/WLUP jock John Fisher was the victim of a format change this week in Seattle. His alternative rock station KPNW switched back to country music.

=Former B-96 jock Julian Nieh is in the same boat after another format switch at KPLZ in Seattle.


*Tommy Williams

=I’ve gotten quite a few notes and emails from Score and former Score staffers about the passing of Tommy Williams. He was highly regarded by his former colleagues. See if you can name all of the faces on this throw-back ad from the Score, when they were still at the 1160 AM frequency. The second to last one is Tommy Williams. (h/t Tom Shaer)

*Rest in Peace

=Larry O’Brien

The WCFL great was 81 years old. This is an aircheck of Larry on the air at WCFL in 1970.



*March 31—Dean Richards birthday

=Dean has been a key part of the WGN-TV morning show for decades now. He’s also a major contributor to WGN Radio. I interviewed Dean back in 2008 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.


*March 31—Orion Samuelson birthday

=He turned 90 this week. The man who taught Chicago radio listeners about pork bellies worked at WGN radio for five decades. I had the honor of interviewing him on the eve of that anniversary back in 2010.


*March 31—Jock Hedblade birthday

=Jock was a producer at WGN (Bob Sirott) and WLS (Roe Conn), and later produced for the Rosie Show at Harpo and the Steve Harvey Show during his time in Chicago. He is now the executive director of the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

*March 31, 2008—CBS 2 Announces 17 Departures

=It was a bloodbath in the CBS 2 newsroom this week in 2008. Mary Ann Childers, Diann Burns, Mark Malone and 15 others were let go on the same day.


*March 31, 1994—Madonna’s appearance on David Letterman’s Show

=Such a memorable appearance that Latenighter wrote this oral history of the interview on its 30th anniversary.

*April 1—Rob Johnson birthday

=Rob is also a former Channel 2 veteran. He was an anchor at WBBM-TV for 13 years, ending in 2019. Rob is active in many charities including the Special Olympics, and currently runs his own media consulting firm.


*April 1—Norm Van Lier birthday

=Norm was one of a kind and is still missed by those who knew him, including me. His former producer Tom Serritella wrote this tribute to Norm when he passed away in 2009. 

*April 1—Bernie Tafoya birthday

=One of the top radio reporters in Chicago, Bernie has been doing it for decades at NewsRadio WBBM-AM, although he is now semi-retired. I interviewed him about his career back in 2009 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.


*April 1—Jim Shorts birthday

=This is the listed birthday of the Kevin Matthews show sportscaster. How many of you have interviewed an imaginary character in a foreign language? One of the oddest moments of my career. The English translation of that interview is here.


*April 1—Penny Lane birthday

=Penny Lane was in your ears and in your eyes in the 1970s as one of the gals on WSDM (a station with all female jocks), which later became the Loop. She was also a very prominent commercial voice-over artist for many years, and was married to the great Wayne Juhlin (WFYR). I interviewed her in 2011 about her memorable career


*April 1—Eddie Volkman birthday.

=Eddie is best remembered for his days with Jobo on B-96, but he currently holds down the fort afternoons on the Star network in Chicago’s suburbs. (Photo of Eddie & me taken back in his podcasting days)

*April 1, 1991

=WFYR (103.5FM) becomes the Blaze, featuring hard rock and roll all day long. Leslie Harris was there.

*April 2—Jim Johnson birthday

=The veteran WLS newsman is struggling through dementia these days. His daughter often posts poignant pieces about him on her Facebook page. I was lucky enough to interview Jim back in 2010. 


*April 2--Dr. Demento birthday

=The king of the wacky song, Dr. Demento championed Weird Al Yankovic and a whole generation of parody song writers. Including me. When Stan Lawrence and I got our first songs on Dr. Demento during our Ebony & Ivory days (1991-1992), it was one of the highlights of our career. Dr. Demento retired from terrestrial radio in 2010 but is still hanging in there. This week he turned 82 years old.


*April 3—Paul Konrad birthday

=Konrad is one of the stars of the WGN-TV Morning News, the top-rated morning television show in Chicago. He shares a birthday with someone else on that show.

*April 3—Brhett Vickery birthday

=Brhett does traffic.


*April 3, 1975

=The first mobile phone call was made. Martin Cooper stood on a sidewalk on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan with a device the size of a brick and made the first public call from a cell phone to one of the men he'd been competing with to develop the device.


*April 3—Ellen Miller birthday

=Ellen is the co-host of Out Chicago on WCPT, Sundays from 11am-1pm. She previously worked at WXRT for many years as a senior account executive. Ellen is married to Chicago radio newscaster Kathy Voltmer.


*April 3—Brian Noonan birthday

=Brian is a stand-up comic who graced the airwaves at WGN radio for 15 years, usually in the evening and overnight slots. He can currently be heard on the air in Milwaukee at WTMJ. I previously interviewed Brian for Chicago Radio Spotlight back in 2008.


*April 4—Wayne Juhlin birthday

=Wayne would have been 87 years old this week. The former WFYR morning man is uncle to Gregg and Dag Juhlin who both went into the media as well, and husband to former radio personality Penny Lane.


*April 4, 1994—Hillary Clinton gets a wet one from Harry Caray

=This incredibly memorable Chicago Tribune photo from this week in 1994 still haunts me…

*April 4, 2013—Roger Ebert passes away

=Hard to believe he’s been gone eleven years already. Roger was one of the all-time greats. A Pulitzer Prize winner. A great storyteller. And one of the most memorable people I’ve ever met. John Landecker wrote about his friend Roger in his book Records Truly Is My Middle NameYou can read that free excerpt here.


*April 5, 1948

=Broadcasts begin for WGN-TV on Channel 9. Still going strong 76 years later.


*April 5--Pat Brickhouse birthday

=Jack Brickhouse’s widow Pat was a dogged champion of her late husband’s legacy. Pat was tough as nails, and not afraid of anyone. She was the one who got the statue of Jack (on Michigan Avenue) created. Pat passed away in January 2022 at the age of 91.


*April 6—Dan Sorkin birthday

=When I asked Fred Winston who he considered the greatest Chicago radio morning man of all-time, he said a name that surprised me: Dan Sorkin. I didn’t know about Dan at the time, but the more I researched him, the more I wanted to talk to him. Sorkin was the morning man at WCFL in the early 60s and discovered a local Chicago comedian named Bob NewhartI was lucky enough to interview Dan in 2010 for Chicago Radio Spotlight. He passed away in 2016.




*WGN at 3:30am

=Have you checked this out yet? I’d recommend rolling tape. Jeff Hoover gave a preview before the week began…

*Cable News Corner

=The Newsmax/Smartmatic case has a trial date: September 24. It wouldn’t be a shock if this was settled out of court before then.

=Greg Gutfield signs contract extension at Fox News.

*Larry Potash's Backstory Returns for New Season

=The show returns this weekend (April 7) and there will be four new episodes. Backstory airs on Saturday nights at 7pm and Sunday nights at 11pm on WGN-TV, and also on the WGN+ app.

*Rest in Peace

=Joe Flaherty

SCTV veteran. Also appeared as the Czech security guard in Stripes. Great comedy star. Don’t forget this character in Happy Gilmore.

=Louis Gossett Jr.

The Academy Award winning actor was 87 years old.




*Lisagor Award Finalists

=The Chicago Headline released the finalists for this year’s Peter Lisagor Awards. The full list is here, and of course, is led by the print powerhouses in Chicago, the Sun Times and the Tribune. The Reader, The Daily Herald, Block Club Chicago, New City, Hyde Park Herald, Crain’s, the Southside Weekly, Chicago Health Magazine, The Windy City Times, the Evanston RoundTable, The Crusader, Axios Chicago, the Invisible Institute and City Bureau, Bloomberg, Reuters, the AP, Poynter, Chalkbeat Chicago, and the DePaulia all garnered at least one nomination.

=Of the radio finalists, WBEZ was the far and away leader, but WGN and the Score were also finalists. As was Car Con Carne.

=The television leader was WTTW, but NewsNation, Voice of America TV, and WLS-TV also received nominations.

=Special congratulations go to the Lifetime Award winners: former Tribune writer Fred Mitchell, retiring meteorologist Tom Skilling, retiring traffic reporter Roz Varon, and WBBM radio's Craig Dellimore. 

*The National Enquirer

=Incredible piece in the New York Times magazine by Lachlan Cartwright, who worked at the National Enquirer during the leadup to the 2016 election. A lot of this will come out in the trial, but it is even sleezier and creepier than you think.

*White House Correspondents Awards

=Among the winners this year, Peter Baker of the New York Times. Full list is here.



*The Truth Hurting Truth Social

=More details emerged this week about the true financial status of Trump’s media company (it lost $58 million last year) and that has sent the stock plunging. It’s still ridiculously overvalued at this point. 

=Truth Social was kept afloat before the IPO by a truly shady group of characters


*X Hires New Safety Chiefs to Repair Relationships with Advertisers

=I think that’s a better plan than Musk’s previous “Go F Yourself” approach (he literally said that). 

=Also, X has reinstated blue check marks to any user with over 2500 verified followers. Previously, he forced users to pay for that. 


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, April 04, 2024

20 Years: Free Excerpts from EveryCubEver


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.

One of my best selling books was the Cubs book EveryCubEver. I don't often offer excerpts here, but this week three pretty interesting Cubs are celebrating birthdays.

These are the entries for Big Jeff Pfeffer (March 31), Jack Harper (April 2) and Don Prince (April 5).

Big Jeff Pfeffer 1882--1954
(Cubs 1905, 1910)
Big Jeff was a college boy (from the University of Illinois) during a time very few MLB players went to college. The downstate native got his crack at the big leagues after he graduated, the year before the Cubs set the record for most wins in a season. The 1905 version of the team was just a few players short…they hadn’t yet acquired Orval Overall, Harry Steinfeldt, or Jimmy Sheckard. Pfeffer was essentially an extra starting pitcher, and occasional reliever. Unfortunately for Big Jeff, he left the best team in baseball to pitch for the worst (the Boston Braves). He returned to Chicago for their pennant-winning 1910 season, and pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen that year. If he had only been a bigger star, surely Jeff Pfeffer would have inspired a tongue twister. Here’s mine: 

    Jeff Pfeffer’s Heifer Heather Left a Leather Sweater.

Jack Harper 1878--1950
 (Cubs 1906)
Harper may be the greatest example of “what goes around, comes around” in baseball history. In 1904 when he was a pitcher with the Reds, Harper beaned Cubs first baseman Frank Chance several times. One time he knocked him out cold. Chance didn’t get mad, he got even. By 1906 Chance was calling the shots for the Cubs. He contacted the Reds to see if they would be interested in trading Harper. Sure enough…they traded him to Chance. Frank let him start one game, pulled him in the first inning, and let him fester on the bench for the rest of the year. Harper never pitched in the big leagues again.

Don Prince 1938--2017
 (Cubs 1962)
Prince’s entire big league career consisted of exactly one inning pitched. He did it for the Cubs on September 21, 1962. The Cubs were playing the Mets at the Polo Grounds. Don faced four batters. He walked one, hit another one, and then faced future Cub Jim Hickman. Hickman grounded into a double play. The last batter Prince faced was Sammy Drake. He was easily retired, and Prince escaped with a perfect lifetime 0.00 ERA. After his playing career, in his golden years, Prince was sent to prison for hiring a hitman to murder two people. It wasn’t a hitman. It was an undercover cop.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Last Comiskey

 Available for pre-order beginning today...

Studio Walls--April 3, 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.

March 31, 1984—Jonathan Stoddard birthday. The actor talked us through the secret of the perpetual 3-days-unshaved look. 

April 1--The Empire Carpet Man (Lynn Hauldren) birthday. We played an audio bit I wrote for John Landecker's show featuring Lynn. The Empire Carpet Man Strikes Back.  

April 1, 1976—Apple Corp founded. We talked to the man who owned 10% on that first day, but sold it for a few hundred dollars, Ronald Wayne 

April 1--Jim Shorts birthday. I interviewed Kevin Matthews' sidekick in German on AM 1000 back in the day.

April 2--Dr. Demento birthday. I told my Dr. Demento story in this episode of Minutia Men

April 2—Marvin Gaye birthday. Record producer Bill Schnee told us the story of creating Marvin's live album. 

April 3, 1983—“She’s a Beauty” by the Tubes released. Fee Waybill told us the story about David Foster producing that song. 

April 3, 2018—WJMK becomes WBMX. I worked on WJMK. The Mayor of Slowjamistan works for WBMX.  

April 3--Billy Hayes (Midnight Express) birthday. A man that can answer Peter Grave's question in Airplane with an unqualified yes: "Have you ever been in a Turkish Prison?" 

April 4—World Rat Day. Tours with Mike has a whole tour about rats. : 

April 4--Robbie Rist birthday. The former Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch was one of our first ever celebrity interviews. At one point, we talked about his balls. 

April 5—Jane Asher birthday. Paul Saltzman met her in India and told us a lovely story about meeting up her later in London

April 6--Marilu Henner birthday. I told my Marilu Henner story in this episode of Minutia Men.

April 6, 2012—Tom Latourette appears on Johnny B to sing a song I wrote. Details here. Will we play the song this week? 

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Publishing Portal--April 2, 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.

New Book Release!

=Just in time for opening Day, the new updated 6th Edition of EveryCubEver is now available at Eckhartz Press. Over 100 new or revised entries since last year's edition. Click here to get your copy.

Happy Birthday!

Two Eckhartz Press authors are celebrating birthdays this week. Eric Litt, author of Oscars Biggest Mistakes (April 1) and Dan Burns, author of Recalled to Life. Eric has become a well regarded film critic in Chicago and has a new book about movies coming out with us later this year. Dan has gone into film since leaving Eckhartz Press. (Here's a sneak peek at his latest). He is also the treasurer of the Chicago Writers Association.

Children's Book Day!

April 2nd is Children's Book Day, and though we aren't primarily a children's book publisher, we have published a few. Thank you to Ken Korber (featured this week in CEO Weekly), Tom Latourette, Scott Redman, Butch Zeppo, Dena Mendes, and Manton Clue for their contributions!

Happy Anniversary!

Two Eckhartz Press books were released this week. In 2015, Kipper McGee's well respected analysis of the media in America, Brandwidth, was released. In 2018, the book Cubsessions (written by Becky Sarwate and Randy Richardson) came out. The authors staged our most successful book launch party ever at Murphy's Pub. A Who's Who of Chicago Media and Cubs Nation attended, including the Budweiser Clydesdales. That's Eckhartz Press publisher David Stern reading Cubsessions to one of the Clydesdales.

 Inside Melania

=Eckhartz Press author Lauren LoGiudice is coming to town to do a variety show on April 11th. We've got our tickets. Do you have yours?

Close Encounters of a Chicago Kind

=Vicki Quade is also coming out with a show, beginning on April 12. Now in its 14th year, Bible Bingo is a long-running comedy about the Catholic culture of fundraising and bingo, featuring the character, Mrs. Mary Margaret O'Brien, a former nun who now heads a fictitious archdiocese fundraising department. It’s written by Vicki Quade, one of the creators of the international hit comedy, Late Nite Catechism, and of course, the great Eckhartz Press book Close Encounters of a Chicago Kind. Ticket prices are $35, group rates available. At the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Call the box office: 773-404-7336

The Loop Files

=Big Loop Files news this week...

=Two big events that happened this week in history are chronicled in The Loop FilesJonathon Brandmeier held a big party at the Chicago Theater for his 5th anniversary at the Loop (1988), and then at the same place for his tenth anniversary in 1993. The stories of those memorable broadcasts are told in the book. Here are a few photos too...

=Loop sportscaster Jim Shortz is also celebrating a birthday this week (April 1). Rick interviewed him live on the air in 1993. The translated transcript of that interview is here. Kevin made Rick do it in German.

Records Truly is My Middle Name 

=This week in 2013, John Landecker appeared on WCIU-TV to discuss his book Records Truly is My Middle Name.  

=It was also a bittersweet week for John. His good friend Roger Ebert passed away. John appeared on Roe & Roeper's show on WLS Radio to talk about Roger. John also discussed Ebert in the pages of his book. We offered up that section as a free excerpt.

=April 4, 1968 was the day that Martin Luther King was assassinated. Landecker was doing a radio show with Martin's good friend Stevie Wonder when that news came across the wire. He tells the story in his book. You can read it here. 

Jerry Krause

=The man that Bulls fans booed even after his death, Jerry Krause, would have been celebrating a birthday this week. Would you believe that Krause appears in three different Eckhartz Press books? Chet Coppock devotes an entire chapter to Krause in Your Dime My Dance FloorRich King discusses the late Bulls GM in his book Ike and MeHe also tells that story in this podcast. And finally, Chuck Swirsky's Always a Pleasure also delves into the legacy of Jerry. He even has a picture.

Phil Regan

=His nickname was The Vulture and he played for both the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. Because he played for the Sox in 1972, he appears in Chili Dog MVP. Because he played for the Cubs at all, he's naturally in EveryCubEver. He turns 87 years old this week.

The Daly News

=This week in 2014, Joel Daly appeared on the air at WGN Radio to discuss his memoir. It was an evening appearance on Pete McMurray's show.

=This week in 2009, his TV station (Channel 7/WLS-TV) aired this time capsule of Joel's career...

Back in the DDR

=This week in 2007, the American Army housing area in Heidelberg Germany known as Mark Twain Village was officially closed down. Several crucial chapters in the novel Back in the DDR take place there.  RIP to a time and place gone by.

Your Dime My Dance Floor

=Both of these Chicago icons (Chet Coppock & Norm Van Lier) are no longer with us, but they live on in the pages of Chet's book. Norm would have been 77 years old this week (April 1).

Brian Noonan

=The former WGN Radio host now hosts the evening show in Milwaukee (WTMJ), and is celebrating a birthday this week (April 3). We love him at Eckhartz Press. He has given back cover blurbs for two of our books, Father Knows Nothing by Rick Kaempfer and The Unplanned Life by Roger Badesch.

    "It doesn’t matter whether you’re the father of sons or daughters, the stories in Father Knows Nothing will hit close to home. I laughed out loud picturing Rick breaking up fights between his sons, flinging the top layer of a pizza across the kitchen and scaring his son out of lawn maintenance. The frequent laughs are balanced with emotionally touching stories and insights. This book is a wonderful record of an exciting, tumultuous time that all parents will relate to."

    “Roger Badesch is like an onion. He has many layers and if you’re too close to him for any length of time you’ll cry. The tears will be caused by laughter, sympathy or the act of shaking your head wildly in disbelief. If you’ve listened to Roger on the radio, you’ve no doubt experienced all three. I know I have. With The Unplanned Life, Roger regales us with the story of a life that is funny, tragic, hopeful, at times idiotic, but always endearing. You’ll want to laugh with him, cry with him, hug him and shake some sense into him all at the same time. Finally we can stop saying “Wait, what did he just say?” when Roger finishes a story. We can re-read his various tales and marvel at how a kid from Chicago could have enjoyed such a full and undoubtedly unplanned life. Just remember, if he offers you a ride home in a snowstorm…take the bus!”