Friday, June 14, 2024

Media Notebook--6-14-24















MEDIA NOTEBOOK

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




RADIO/PODCASTS

 

*Chicago Radio Ratings

=The ratings for May came out this week (click here), and the top ten stations in Chicago are (6+, M-Su, 6am-Mid)...

The Drive (7.1)

WLIT (6.3)

WVAZ (6.3)

WBBM-AM (5.2)

WUSN (5.1)

WXRT (4.9)

WOJO (4.2)

WLS-FM (3.8)

WBMX (3.5)

WRME (3.2)

The Score (3.2)

=These are record numbers for the Drive. They were #1 last month and somehow increased their lead despite second place WLIT also having a big month. US-99 (WUSN) had the biggest increase of all Chicago stations (4.1—5.1). WVAZ also made a big jump (+0.8), WBMX went up 0.5, and Me-TV FM (WRME) is up 0.4 to make the top ten for the first time in a few years.

=On the other side of the ledger, WOJO had the biggest drop (-1.0), followed by WLS-FM (-0.8) and WGN (-0.8). Former ratings powerhouse WTMX is no longer in the top ten, and WBEZ has dropped all the way out of the top 20.


*The River Changes Formats

=The folks at Alpha Media are at it again. Last week they switched two of their suburban stations to country. This week they are changing the format of WERV The River from Classic hits to Classic Alternative hits. They have a new content director (Todd "Nuke 'Em" Noker) and a new logo (below), but they will still be called "The River". More info is here.



WLS Fires Steve Cochran and Rehires Ray Stevens

=This news came out just a day after my last column, but I had to mention it. Steve Cochran is out after two years as the morning host, along with co-host Jane Clauss. Steve made a statement over the weekend via social media here, and did an extended interview with Barrett media yesterday.

=Ray Stevens, who had been doing talk radio in Kansas City, returns to host mornings. Ray is no stranger to the WLS airwaves. He co-hosted the morning show (with John Howell) from 2016-2018 and filled in at the station the past few years. Ray had this to say after his hiring…

"I am beyond ecstatic to be back doing mornings at WLS and 890 in my hometown…I can't wait to get to work and be on the air at the legendary 890 WLS-AM talking NASCAR, politics, football, and everything that makes us the greatest city in the world!"

=Also gone from the station is the live and local afternoon show, The Closing Bell and PM Chicago, anchored by Brett Gogoel. Other than mornings, WLS now only airs nationally syndicated conservative-talk programming. Gogoel is being replaced by syndicated conservative talkers Matt Walsh and Michael Knowles. They join the ranks of Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino, and Mark Levin in the WLS lineup. Radio Ink has more information.

=In the May ratings released this week, the station is ranked 27th overall in the market.

=I have previously interviewed Cochran and Stevens several times. Here are a few examples...

(Steve in 2017)

(Ray in 2010)

 

*Podcast Corner

=Julia Louis Dreyfus hosts one of the most popular podcasts in America (“Wiser than Me”) these days. That’s what led to this NY Times profile, the darker side of Julia Louis Dreyfus.

=The Curry father and son team debuted yesterday…


 *AfroZones to Go National

=AfroZones is a show produced here in Chicago at WPWX (Power 92) and hosted by Sheila O. Sheila spins an eclectic mix of tunes, that includes trending hits in urban music and Afrobeats, a fusion of British House music, Hiplife, Dancehall, Soca, R&B and more. This week they announced a national distribution deal. More information is here.


*Tim Richards Joins Alpha Media

=Programmer Tim Richards (formerly of WKQX-Chicago) has joined the new country stations owned by Alpha media (Free Country, WCCQ/Joliet & WXLC/Waukegan) as their content director. RAMP broke this story yesterday


*Ex-Chicago Radio

=Kevin Robinson was once the program director of WJMK in Chicago. He has gone on to program other stations in other markets. This week he signed on as a music radio columnist at Barrett Media. This is the official announcement


*Rest in Peace



=Paul Brian

Sad news. Paul was a broadcasting pro in Chicago, probably best remembered for his time at WGN radio. He was 73. I got a chance to interview him in 2008.





=Joe Kelly

Joe was one of the most famous rock and roll voiceover guys of all time (you’ve heard him on countless concert ads). Kelly was the co-founder of SuperSpots. Nationally recognized. One time voice of the Loop in Chicago. He was 82.

 

MEDIA BIRTHDAYS/MILESTONES

 

*June 9—Mel Tovar birthday

=Mel was the sidekick to DreX on the Kiss-FM morning show. I interviewed her in the midst of that run, in 2010, for Chicago Radio Spotlight

 

*June 9—Rob Hart birthday

=Rob is the midday anchor at WBBM-NewsRadio these days, but has previously worked in Chicago at WGN, Q-101, and the Loop. I interviewed him a number of times over the years, including this one from 2009.

 

*June 9—JayBeau Jones birthday

=Jones was the PD of the Jammin’ Oldies station in Chicago (103.5) in the early 00s.


*June 9, 1934--Donald Duck makes his debut

=His first film appearance and he wasn't wearing any pants. 90 years ago this week…


 *June 10—Neil Steinberg birthday

=The Sun-Times columnist is one of the best writers in Chicago. I’m a big fan of his writing, although when I interviewed him for my podcast a few years ago, I discovered he’s not a big fan of mine…at least not of my book covers.

 

 *June 10—Kevin Robinson birthday

=Kevin was the program director of WJMK in the 1990s, guiding the ship with passengers like Dick Biondi, John Landecker, Fred Winston, and more. The latest career news about Kevin is detailed above in the radio/podcasts section of this column. I interviewed him in 2008 for Chicago Radio Spotlight.

 

*June 10, 1928—Lee Phillip Bell birthday

=At one time she was one of the best-known television hosts in Chicago. The Lee Phillip Show ran from 1952-1986. Lee was also the creator of the soap operas The Young & the Restless and The Bold & the Beautiful.

 

*June 11—Carla Leonardo birthday

=The former WDRV/Q-101/Loop jock passed away in November of 2013. I was lucky enough to interview her for Chicago Radio Spotlight in2012.


*June 12—Cara Carriveau birthday

=I’ve interviewed Cara a half dozen times over the years. She’s always a great interview. I think this is the most recent one from 2018. She currently works at WLS-FM.

 

*June 12—Ken Churilla birthday

=Ken is a former radio guy (the Score, WCKG) but has gone on to a career in PR, songwriting and writing books. He was the co-author of Mitch Michael’s book Doin the Cruise.

 

*June 12, 2013—Bill Bailey death

=The former WLS jock passed away this week eleven years ago. John Landecker wrote about his time working with Bill in his book Records Truly Is My Middle Name. That portion of his book is presented here as a free excerpt.

 

*June 12, 2018—Block Club Chicago founded

=This important Chicago news resource has found an audience and provides a valuable service to the city. I interviewed their co-founder and editor Shamus Toomey on my podcast a few years ago. 

 

*June 13—Max Armstrong birthday

=Max was a longtime reporter at WGN Radio. In 2010 I got a chance to talk to him about his long and impressive career. 

 

*June 13, 1918—Frazier Thomas birthday

=The former host of Family Classics and Garfield Goose passed away in 1985. For people my age (and older) he was part of our childhood.



*June 13—Bill Turck birthday

=The former WGCO talk show host currently helms the Chicago Writers Association podcast. I interviewed him in 2019 for Illinois Entertainer.

 

*June 14--Tom Hoyt birthday

=The former president of Heftel Broadcasting, former owner of the Loop. He will be the topic of my next column at Illinois Entertainer.


*June 14--Lauren LoGuidice birthday

=Podcast host of Reconcile the Aisle on the Radio Misfits Podcast Network. Author of Inside Melania.


*June 15—Steve Dale birthday

=Steve is a Pet expert, radio host (WGN), former radio producer (WCFL), and former media writer who almost got me fired when he wrote about me back in my Steve & Garry days. I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight in 2009.


TV/STREAMING

 

*Carol Marin

=Last weekend Carol Marin and her new husband (longtime producer Don Moseley) had a party to celebrate their recent nuptials at Cafe Brauer. A who’s who of Chicago media attended, including Ron Magers, the Ponces and more. Congratulations to the couple.

 

*WGN Morning News Welcomes Kevin Costner

=As only they can…


*New Blackhawks Announcer

=The Blackhawks are moving to a new TV network in the fall, and as part of that move they are replacing their TV play-by-play man. Chris Vosters is out. The new guy is Rick Ball. For the past ten years he has been doing play-by-play for the Calgary Flames. His color analyst will be Darren PangMore info here.


 *White Sox Postgame Show

=Yes, the White Sox are really hard to watch these days. But this pre- and post-game show with Ozzie and Chuck is often gold…


 *Cubs on Roku

=This weekend (Sunday) the Cubs-Cardinals game will air for free on Roku. More details are here.


*REM

=For the first time in 30 years...


*Reality Show Lawsuits

=It’s happening more and more. “Love is Blind”, “Vanderpump Rules”, “Real Housewives” and others face lawsuits over the way contestants are treated. The New York Times has the story here.


 *Daytime Emmy Awards

=Dick Van Dyke set a record this week for being the oldest-ever winner of an Emmy Award. He is a spry 98. Dick got his Emmy for his role in “Days of our Lives”. (The full list of winners)

=This also happened…


 *Paramount Merger Blows Up

=Just last week Paramount and Skydance announced a pending merger. What happened? This is how Puck media writer William Cohan described it: “with the finish line in sight, it appears that Shari Redstone is getting somewhat greedy.” Sure enough, she blew it up a few days later. The Guardian has more.

 

*Why a Cocaine-Fueled Chicken Dance Didn’t Burn My Career to the Ground

=Part of the reason I’m sharing this article is my love of the Hollywood Reporter headline. That’s one for the ages. The article is about the co-star of “The Gentlemen” Daniel Ings, who actually did a cocaine-fueled chicken dance in the series. Great series. Great scene. But then again, I’ve always been a chicken-dance aficionado.


*Cable News Corner

=How Fox News Massaged the Trump Interview. (Via Semafor)

=Fox board members subpoenaed in Smartmatic case. (Via CNN.com)

=CNN has reconnected with the AP, which will once again provide news to the CNN website. (Via Puck)

=Salem broadcasting launches a TV news channel. Yes, this is the same Salem that just had to publicly apologize for distributing the bogus Dinesh D’Souza film. (Via Inside Radio)


*Rest in Peace

=Howard Fineman

Journalist for Newsweek, and later for Huffington Post. He was also a frequent contributor to MSNBC. He was 75.

=Michael Mosely

British TV presenter. His body was found in Greece. He was 67.

=Ben Potter

YouTube star (3 million followers) known as the “Comicstorian”. Single-car crash. He was only 40 years old.


DIGITAL/PRINT

 

*Right Wing Media Reckoning

=Right wing outlets that intentionally pushed false election claims in 2020 (and blamed it on people or organizations that were innocent) are feeling the effects of that. Bankruptcies, huge payouts, and expensive lawsuits are beginning to cripple some of these outlets. More info here.

=Lack of interest is hurting others. The top ten conservative sites are down 40% since 2020. Daily Caller is down 57%. Drudge is down 81%. The Federalist is down 91%. Paul Fahri wrote this piece in the Atlantic.


*Gershkovich to Stand Trial for Espionage in Russia

=The Wall Street Journal reporter has been imprisoned for more than a year. The AP has the story about his new escalation


*Rest In Peace

=Mike Downey

Long-time Chicago sportswriter and columnist, transplanted to Los Angeles. 


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 rick@eckhartzpress.com or amishrick@yahoo.com. 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, June 13, 2024

20 Years: EveryCubEver free excerpts

 

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 2019 the first edition of EveryCubEver was released. (The 6th edition is out now!) This book was a ten-year project for me, beginning with my website Just One Bad Century, which I created in 2008 to try to explain the 100 years of Cubs losing. Along the way I discovered so many great stories, including these two stories below. Both are appropriate this week...


June 14, 1949

Eddie Waitkus became a household name in America, but he certainly didn’t want it to happen the way it did.

While he was with the Cubs, the young first baseman was known for his great defense, his smoking line-drives, and his left-handed bat. The pinnacle of his Cubs career came in 1948, when he made the all-star team. But after the 1948 season the Cubs decided they needed to boost their pitching staff, so they traded the popular Waitkus to the Phillies for two aging starting pitchers (Dutch Leonard and Monk Dubiel). Many people in Chicago were very upset by that trade, but nobody was more upset than young Ruth Ann Steinhagen.

She kept an encyclopedic scrapbook of pictures and clippings of Waitkus. How big of a fan was she? She heard that Eddie was Lithuanian, so she studied and learned the language. Needless to say, 18-year-old Ruth Ann’s world was shattered when Waitkus was traded, and according to her mother, she “cried night and day”.

Eddie had no idea who Ruth Ann was, but he found out on this day in 1949. He was hitting over .300 for Philadelphia, and was leading all NL first basemen in all-star game balloting when the Phillies came to Chicago to play the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

He must have felt vindicated when his Phillies trounced the team that traded him, 9-2. He had a celebratory dinner that night with his teammate Russ Meyer and Meyer’s parents and fiancĂ©. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when they returned to the Edgewater Beach hotel around 11:00 that night.

There was a note waiting for Eddie there, from a “Ruth Ann Burns,” a girl Eddie had been dating. The note simply said that Ruth Ann was staying in room 1297. Excited to see her, Eddie quickly went to room 1297 and knocked on the door. Instead of Ruth Ann Burns, however, another girl was waiting for him there. She claimed to be Ruth Ann’s friend.

“Ruth Ann will be back in a few minutes,” the girl said, “why don’t you have a seat.”

Thinking it was perfectly conceivable that the statuesque 6-foot brunette was a friend, Eddie took her up on the offer. He was sitting in a chair in room 1297 when Ruth Ann Steinhagen emerged from the closet holding a 22 caliber rifle, and said…

“If I can’t have you, nobody can.”

Then she shot him in the chest.

As Eddie slumped to the ground in agony, Ruth Ann Steinhagen calmly picked up the phone and told the front desk that she had just shot Eddie Waitkus. That phone call probably saved his life. The bullet narrowly missed his heart, and miraculously missed all of his other major organs, but he surely would have bled to death. As it was, it took several hours in the operating room to successfully remove the bullet.

When it came time to punish Ruth Ann Steinhagen, Eddie refused to push for a harsh sentence. He did not attend the trial, and never saw her again. When asked about her, he simply replied: “She had the coldest looking face I’ve ever seen.”

At her trial she couldn’t explain why she had done what she had done. She simply explained that “I’m sorry that Eddie had to suffer so, (but) I had to relieve the tension that I have been under the past two weeks.” Ruth Ann was found legally insane, and was sent to a mental institution. After a few years of electric shock therapy, she was declared “sane” and released in 1952.

Eddie Waitkus missed the rest of the 1949 season, but eventually returned to the Phillies the next year, and played six more seasons in the big leagues. His baseball abilities didn’t seem altered by the event, but as you might imagine, Eddie changed. The once affable and friendly Waitkus became withdrawn. After his career, he became an alcoholic and a recluse. He died in 1972 at the very young age of 53.

His story is said to be the inspiration for Bernard Malamud’s novel about a crazy female fan “with cold eyes” who shoots a baseball star. That novel is called “The Natural.”


June 14 is flag day. Why do we celebrate Rick Monday on Flag Day? This profile entry from Every Cub Ever explains it quite well…

~Rick Monday 1945 (Cubs 1972-1976)
Monday was a key member of the Cubs during the early-to-mid 70s. The former first overall pick in the draft cost the Cubs Kenny Holtzman to acquire him, but he was a rare combination of power and speed during his Cubs years, averaging over 20 homers a season out of the leadoff spot. But that’s not why he is remembered as a Cub. He’s remembered for one particular day. He was patrolling centerfield for the Cubs against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodgers stadium on April 25, 1976 when two protesters came out on the field with an American flag, some lighter fluid, and some matches. Their plan was to set the American flag on fire. Their mistake was to do it within running distance of former United States Marine Reservist Rick Monday. While they were trying to set it on fire, Monday ran up to them and snatched the flag away just in time. Rick then ran it all the way over to the dugout to protect it. The crowd erupted into a spontaneous singing of the song “God Bless America,” the protestors were arrested and escorted out of the ballpark, and the next time Monday came up to bat—and mind you this was in an opposing team’s ballpark, the scoreboard flashed the following message to him: “Rick Monday…you made a great play.” The following year the Dodgers acquired Monday in the trade that brought Bill Buckner and Ivan DeJesus to the Cubs. (Photo: Topps 1973 Baseball Card)