Friday, May 24, 2024

Media Notebook--5-24-24


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



*More Changes at Alpha Media

=The suburban radio group Alpha Media let go two long-time Chicago radio vets this week. Leslie Harris was doing middays at the River. She has been on the air in the Chicago area for decades. Also let go, Maura Myles. She had been doing middays at WCCQ in Joliet. Like Leslie, Maura has been a constant on-air presence in the Chicago area for many years. The rumor is a format change is coming, but it’s a shame they couldn’t find a place for these two consummate pros.

*WLS History Special

=You can hear all of it on Memorial Day…

=Speaking of WLS history, did you catch Garry Meier on with Andrea Darlas this week.

 *30 Years

=Dan Bernstein hit a milestone this week…

=Terry Boers called in to congratulate him.

*Lee Abrams Advice for the Media

=Lee Abrams is one of the most respected names in rock radio. In this piece for Inside Radio, he suggests using rock and roll thinking throughout the media to rejuvenate the industry.

*Brady to Host a Night Show in Nashville

=Kiss-FM’s afternoon man Brady Broski (who also serves as the station’s assistant program director) has added another job. In addition to his Chicago responsibilities, Brady will now also be hosting a country music show every weeknight in Nashville. He announced the news on Facebook…

 *NPR Adds Additional Editorial Oversight

=This is a reaction to the recent controversy involving former NPR editor Uri Berliner’s claims of anti-conservative bias. 


*Dick Biondi Film Fundraiser

=This one will be emceed by Scott Childers and will feature a bunch of local Chicago rock and roll luminaries. Mark your calendar

*Justice Department Calls Live Nation and Ticketmaster an Illegal Monopoly

=Well, yeah, no kidding. When your service charges nearly double the prices, that’s not a good thing.



*May 20—Lorelei Shark birthday

=Who is Lorelei, you ask? This young lady…

 *May 20—Dina Travis Sanchez birthday

=Dina was part of the great Loop promotional team in the 1980s and 1990s. 

 *May 20, 1993

=The final episode of Cheers airs...

*May 21—Spike O’Dell birthday

=Spike had an incredible career in Chicago at WGN Radio, holding down the afternoon and morning shifts for years. I interviewed him about that in 2008


*May 21,1990—The final episode of Newhart

=Possibly the greatest finale ever…


*May 21, 2008—WNUA Signs Off


*May 22—David Haugh birthday

=The co-host of the morning show on the Score, and a long-time Chicago Tribune sports columnist.


*May 22—Leslie Harris birthday

=Leslie did middays at The River until this week (see story above), but she has also worked at the Blaze, Rock 103.5, WCKG, and CD 94.7. I interviewed her for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2011. 


*May 22, 1846—Associated Press founded

=Perhaps the last source of news that everyone considers to be factual and unbiased, the Associated Press, was founded this week 178 years ago.


*May 23--Tom Ricketts birthday

=Say what you will about Mr. Ricketts, but he did bring us a World Series, and he does have great taste in literature. 

*May 24, 1844--Samuel Morse sends first commercial telegraph message

=That’s how it all began. Just two years later the AP was founded, (Item above) and made extensive use of the new technology to deliver news to newspapers around the country.


*May 24—Mike Toomey birthday

=Toomey is the booth announcer for the 9am hour of the WGN-TV Morning News, but he also writes and participates in many of the bits in the other hours of the show. A great standup comedian. I interviewed him on my podcast a few years ago. 


*May 25—Linda MacLennan birthday

=Linda was the co-anchor of the 10:00 News on Channel 2 for years during the Lester Holt era.


*May 25—Steve Seaver birthday

=Seaver signed off at the Drive last year after a long and fruitful run at the station. Back in 2018 I interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer.  This photo was taken at the Loop Files launch party (with Cara Carriveau)



*Murrow Award

=Dave Savini announced it via LinkedIn…

 *CBS Scores Interview with the Pope

=In TV, scoring a huge guest is called “a get”. When you score the most famous person in the entire world, the leader of the world’s biggest church,  the word “get” doesn’t seem like a big enough term. CBS’ Norah O’Donnell interviewed Pope Francis this week for 60 Minutes.


*Dark Days Ahead for NBC-Sports Chicago

=This, unfortunately, has been anticipated...

*America's Most Trusted News Anchors

=A THR/Morning Consult Poll asked who is the most trusted news anchor. #1 on the list is Lester Holt. Bottom of the pile, Sean Hannity. More info is here.

*Schriffen responds to criticism

=A few weeks ago I reported about the bad reviews the new White Sox TV play-by-play man has been receiving on sports talk radio. Last weekend he responded…

=Barrett Sports Media assesses the feud: “Nobody looks good”

*Cynthia McFadden to Leave NBC News

=The TV news veteran has decided it’s time to hang up her journalistic spikes. Variety has the details.

*The Biopic About Trump

=It’s called The Apprentice and it debuted this week at the Cannes Film Festival. The film covers the early Trump years from his days with Roy Cohn to his first marriage. Yes, it’s going to be controversial. Several lawsuits have already been filed. 


*Scarlett Johannson’s AI Voice

=She was the voice of “Her” in the film, so Chatbot AI asked Scarlett to be their voice too. She said no, so they created a voice that sounded just like her. As you might imagine, she isn’t too happy about that.

=SAG/AFTRA backs Scarlett

*Cable News Corner

=CNN’s Sara Sidner to undergo a double mastectomy

*Rest in Peace

=Alice Stewart

She was a CNN contributor, and a Republican strategist. Stewart was only 58.

=Dabney Coleman

The star of “9 to 5” and “Tootsie” was 92 years old.

=Fred Roos

Casting director for “American Graffiti”, “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now”



*Chicago Tribune Makes Its Final Print Run at Freedom Center

=The plant has been printing newspapers for 43 years but will now become the site of Chicago’s first casino.

*Journalists Sue Tribune’s Owner for Pay Discrimination

=It’s a class-action lawsuit brought by Black and female journalists against the owner of the Chicago Tribune. More details are here.

*Vivek Ramaswamy Acquires Buzzfeed

=Actually it’s only 8 percent of it, but he does plan to force Buzzfeed to go in a different direction. I guess we know what direction that is.

*Penguin Random House Fires Two Top Execs

=The biggest publisher in America has fired two of its top executives. Reagan Arthur and Lisa Lucas each ran big imprints for the conglomerate. The New York Times has the details about these surprising moves. 




*Truth Social Loses $328 million in First Quarter

=I’m not a financial expert, but it seems like the amount of revenue during that same first quarter ($770,000), is less than ideal. Axios has more.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

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, May 23, 2024

20 Years: Father Knows Nothing Meets $everance


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 month in 2007, my first novel "$everance" was released. At the time I was writing a weekly Father Knows Nothing column for Lee Publications in NW Indiana (NWI Times, Shore Magazine, NWI-Parent). This column combined the two projects, in a way that my kids still don't find funny.

Their eyerolls are my fuel.

I've probably already told you about my satirical novel (“$everance”) that explains who and what really runs the media, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to get the word out in the media about a book that exposes the truth about the media…

Some authors faced with such a seemingly insurmountable dilemma and an advertising budget of zero, might be deterred or overwhelmed. Not me.

I’ve created the world’s first truly interactive billboard. 

I know this looks like a very fancy billboard, but it’s really just my three sons facing a blank wall, waiting for someone to walk by and look at it. When someone does, this amazing billboard “comes to life.”

The first boy turns around and says: “Severance is available at

The second boy turns around and says: “It’s only $20 if you order right now.”

And the third boy is supposed to turn around and say, "That's a heck of a deal for a 'hysterical critique of corporate morality' that is 'told with the keen insight of an industry insider', and is, take your pick: 'laugh out loud funny', 'yeah, that funny', 'brilliant satire', 'great, funny, sarcastic, and thought-provoking' or 'whiplash-fast choke-on-your-coffee funny'."

(All actual quotes from actual reviews. See them all here: 
Praise for $everance)

Unfortunately, he's only 4, and he usually says "Dad, this is stupid."

I suppose I could try another way. I could ask people to help spread the word by forwarding this post to people who may enjoy the book. Or I could ask people to suggest "$everance" for their book clubs. Or I could just ask people to help rescue these children from the humiliating experience by spending a measly $20 right now by clicking here.

Or.... the boy could learn his lines and deliver them with feeling. What are they teaching these kids in pre-school these days?

Maybe we'll see you this summer. The boys and I will be traveling around the country looking for blank walls that are just screaming for an interactive billboard. With any luck, I'll sell enough books to allow them to go back to school in the fall.

If not, acquiring the salesmanship skills and street smarts this project will teach them will more than make up for what they miss in 6th grade, 4th grade, and pre-Kindergarten, respectively. Don't you think?

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Studio Walls--May 22, 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.


May 19—Pete Townshend’s birthday. 

=Will Wagner wrote a book about his guitar from the Woodstock festival. We talked to Will about his great book.

May 19--Curly Neal birthday

=I told the story of my brush with the Harlem Globetrotters in this episode of Minutia Men

May 19--Dusty Hill birthday

=I told the story of my brush with the ZZ Top great in this episode of Minutia Men. 

May 20—Sainty Nelsen birthday

=We interviewed the actress/producer/voice over artist. She was a delight.  

May 20, 1997—Packers meet President Clinton. 

=Jim McMahon was a member of that Packers Super Bowl team. He legendarily wears a Bears jersey. He told us all about that in this interview.  

May 21--Jay Shatz birthday

=You may not know Jay's name, but he went to college with Dave and I and became a famous television personality in Cincinnati. One day he came into the studio with us to reminisce. 

May 21--Mr. T birthday

=I pity the fool that doesn't listen to my brush with Mr. T. story. I told it in this episode of Minutia Men.

May 22, 2007—Severance radio ads debut 

=Severance is the name of my first novel. Will we play one of them on the show this week?

May 23--Tom Ricketts birthday

=My brush with Tom Ricketts story in this episode of Minutia Men

May 23--Joan Collins birthday

=My story about meeting her is a memorable one.  

May 23, 1946—First Chick Fil A opens in Hapeville GA. 

=Our chicken related interview with the San Diego Chicken

May 23—World Wrestling day. 

=We interviewed the wrestling legend Jake the Snake Roberts

May 24--Mike Toomey birthday

=The WGN-TV comic was on our show a few years ago. He's hilarious.  

May 24—Tommy Chong birthday

=The legendary comedian spent nearly an hour with us just shooting the shit.  

May 24—Rick reads Man with the World’s Longest Name

=You can read it on last week's blog. Or you can hear it here. 

May 25--Mike Myers birthday

=My brush with the Wayne's World star is revealed in this episode.  

May 25--Brian Urlacher birthday

=And my brush with the Chicago Bears Hall of Famer is in this episode.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Publishing Portal--May 21, 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.

Last Comiskey

=Last Comiskey author Ken Smoller was on WGN-TV last weekend promoting his book.

 =What an incredible event Thursday night at the Chicago History Museum, the launch party for Ken Smoller's book Last Comiskey. It was a star-studded and sold out event. In addition to Ken and the filmmaker Matt Flesch (who showed part of the documentary that inspired the book), former White Sox stars Ron Kittle, Jack McDowell, and Don Pall were there. The moderator of the event was Tom Shaer, and there were White Sox and media luminaries throughout the audience including Rich King and Cheryl Raye Stout. Eckhartz Press authors David Fletcher, George Castle and Donald G. Evans attended as well. Thanks to everyone who came out!

=Nancy Faust was there too!


Ike & Me

=Ironically, just two years ago this week (May 21), Rich King had the launch party for his book Ike & Me, and it was held at Comiskey Park (or whatever it was called at the time). Ryan Baker from CBS-2 in Chicago was there to interview him, and so were many of his television friends...

=Rich was everywhere that week. He and Ike appeared on WGN-TV...

=Rich also appeared with Bob Sirott on WGN Radio.

 I Had a Runny Nose

=Tom Latourette first children’s book came out this week in 2017. 100% of the proceeds (approximately $12 from every book) went to The BTB Foundation, a local charity founded by Tom and his brother that has given over $1 Million to local families fighting cancer!


=This week in 2012 (May 25), Randy Richardson's novel Cheeseland was released. It was only the third book published by Eckhartz Press. This Q&A with Randy goes back to this week in 2012.

=In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic shutdown, Randy was also asked to provide a video for the fundraising effort for independent book stores...


Surviving Sue

=Thanks to everyone who came out to Palos Public Library to see Surviving Sue author Vicki Atkinson's presentation last week. 

=Vicki is remaining busy. There remains a few slots open in this writing class she is teaching at Harper College...

=And in July she'll be presenting her program in Woodstock. Details below.


=This week in 2018 (May 19), Beth Jacobellis had a book signing in Park Ridge at the famous Harp & Fiddle restaurant. 

Talking 'Bout My Generation

=May 19 is Pete Townshend's birthday. His guitar from Woodstock is the main character (in a way) in Will Wagner's great novel Talking Bout My Generation

The Loop Files

=Lorelei Shark celebrates a birthday this week (May 20). Who is Lorelei, you ask? Well, she's the girl who launched a radio station, which later launched our most popular book ever, The Loop Files.

Records Truly Is My Middle Name

=Lots of events from this week in history that are featured in John Landecker's book Records Truly Is My Middle Name. On May 20, 1976, Great America opened, and John Landecker was there, broadcasting live on WLS

=Jane Byrne was born this week in 1933 (May 24). John wrote a song about her with musical accompaniment from the band Jefferson Starship. You can hear that here.

=The film Star Wars was released this week in 1977 (May 25). John did a bit on the air the day the film opened with two of the stars of that movie, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. You can listen to that here.

=Elton John's co-songwriter Bernie Taupin is celebrating a birthday this week (May 22). In the book John tells the story of Bernie & Elton playing Foosball against Hugh Hefner and Barbie Benton at the Playboy Mansion. John was doing play by play.

=This week in 2013, John Landecker appeared at the Green White Clubhouse in Des Plaines for a Records Truly Is My Middle Name book signing...

Your Dime My Dance Floor

=Chet Coppock devotes an entire chapter in Your Dime My Dance Floor to something that happened on May 19, 1974. The WHA finals, known as the AVCO Cup finals, took place at a local ice rink in Mt. Prospect. The short-lived Chicago Cougars were in it, and so was one of the all-time greats in hockey history, Gordie Howe.

=Former Blackhawks president John McDonough is celebrating a birthday this week. He also appears in Chet's book...(that's him on the far right next to Chet)

 Chili Dog MVP

=This week in 2022 (May 21), David Fletcher and John Owens had a book signing at Peterino's on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Among the luminaries in attendance that day, former White Sox great Carlos May, and former White Sox organist Nancy Faust.

Life Behind the Camera

=This week in 2020 (May 20), WGN-TV reporter Nancy Loo left Chicago and moved to Los Angeles. Before she did, she provided this review of Chuck Quinzio's book...

  • Finished it in one sitting while on a flight from San Francisco to Chicago earlier this month! The writing is crisp and I enjoyed every chapter, many of them quite funny.

    Nancy Loo, WGN-TV

The Living Wills

=This week in 2012 (May 21), The Vietnam Veterans of America Magazine reviewed The Living Wills. Here's an excerpt of what they said...

  • You have to give credit to Rick Kaempfer and Brendan Sullivan, the two authors of “The Living Wills”. The authors have come up with a cast of realistic, non-sensationalized Vietnam veterans living out their lives in the early 21st century–no Nam vet stereotypes here. That in itself is worth the price of admission.

    Marc Leepsen, Vietnam Veterans of America Magazine


We Have Company

=The late Dusty Hill from ZZ Top was born this week in 1949 (May 19). He appears in Bobby Skafish's book We Have Company


Always a Pleasure

=Mike Breen is celebrating a birthday this week (May 22). He is a big fan of Chuck Swirsky's book Always A Pleasure. Here's what he said...

  • Chuck Swirsky is one of my favorite play-by-play voices in all of sports. His enthusiasm and spirit in every broadcast is something all broadcasters should strive for. But that’s also the way he leads his everyday life, and why he is so beloved by his peers.

    Mike Breen, ABC, ESPN and New York Knicks. 2021 Curt Gowdy Media Award Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

=This week in 2023, Chuck appeared on Fox-32 with Lou Canellis...


 =Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is celebrating a birthday this week (May 23). You know what book he thinks you should own? The 6th edition is available now!


Behind the Glass

=Randy Merkin's book features an entire chapter about this week's birthday boy, former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. Those are Randy's kids with the Bears great.


Cubbie Blues

 =In the days before Eckhartz Press was founded, three future Eckhartz Press authors (Randy Richardson, Donald Evans, and Rick Kaempfer) contributed to a book called Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting for Next Year. This week in 2009 (May 21), a few appeared at the Oak Park Library to promote the book, along with  James Finn Garner and Robert Goldsborough. (Photo: Rick, James, Don, Robert against a backdrop of Stephen Green's photography exhibit at the Oak Park Public Library.)