Sunday, August 5, 2018

New Trib/tronc, new WGN, Esmeralda Leon, banking break

If you're planning on going to the bank on Monday, you're outta luck, because it's a banking holiday in Scotland. If you're not in Scotland but are in Chicago, or are interested in some Chicago-related media nerdiness, you're in luck, because I have some pictures.

  • First of all, I got a tour of the new Tribune/tronc digs, but I was told I couldn't take any pictures inside (I've also been to the Trib's Freedom Center, where they also print other stuff, but I couldn't take pics there either...but I swear I was really there). Suffice it to say, the new location is high-tech and beautiful. I know a lot of people were whining about the move and getting all dewy-eyed because the operation would no longer inhabit The Tower, but the new place is so open, so sleek, so cutting edge, I could easily work there, or even just hang out and gab with folks around the kitchen and other sociable areas, sipping coffee from their fancy maker and eating some snacks from their wired-in snack machine, while they wonder who I am :p Perhaps one day I will be able to take pictures of the interior, but in the meantime, this is what I got:


Chicago Tribune new entrance
A glimpse of its modernity is on the right. Believe me, I really went inside.

  • And speaking of fancy coffee machines, I saw the latest at the new WGN Radio home, which is also sleek and modern, though not at the same level as the Trib (not knocking the radio station, but it's simpler). Luckily, they seemed to not mind if I took a couple pictures.

WGN newsroom late at night. I don't know why this is vertical. But note the old typewriter.

Andrea Darlas Patti Vasquez WGN
Andrea Darlas and Patti Vasquez on the air in the brand new studios.


Bonne nuit!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

John Siuntres, Faruq Basir, Stephanie Trussell, Ricky Gieser, iced tea

Are you hot? Well have an iced tea, because today is National Iced Tea Day! There's also still time to hang out in Andersonville, where I will be volunteering for Midsommarfest...stop by the beer tent to say hello!

iced tea
I hope that green snack doesn't have some weird dye, or mold, or whatever.

  • Major congratulations goes to Faruq Basir, who is now full-time at iHeart Radio's Total Traffic Network, where he will continue to be on the air at WGCI, KISS-FM, and WLIT and continue to produce. He also is an editor at WBBM Newsradio, so he's quite busy.


Faruq Basir
Faruq Basir in charge of the newsroom late at night. 
  • And this just in: Rick Gieser's (who[m] I interviewed) son is going to be on Patti Vasquez's show on WGN (I'm assuming in the new studio) on Monday night at 11:30, so tune in to hear him talk about his passion, bees.

  • And in case you went to the WLS website and saw that Stephanie Trussell has a show on Saturdays from 1-3 pm, that would be wrong...they haven't updated the site, but she's now on the air from 3-6 pm on Saturdays. I highly recommend her interview with Larry Elder, who talks about the hardships his father faced, in addition to their strained relationship.

  • And speaking of interviews...I've just posted my latest one with John Siuntres, who's worked at several radio stations, including WSCR The Score in its early days, Hubbard Radio, WBBM...and is one of the *pioneers* of podcasting. He started his podcast, Word Balloon, in 2005, which is when podcasting was in its infancy. He's pretty much the only person I have met who was there when it all started, and his podcast has become very popular, with sponsors and thousands of listeners. The interview also includes samples of his voice and production work. I think it's a compelling interview, and I was very glad to talk to a long-time, established, successful podcaster. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Ryan Denham, Jeff Burnett, Josh Morgan, Brooke Brighton, INBA, jelly beans

Today is the last day of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association conference in East Peoria, and I've had such a great time, I want to go to the next conference in the fall. A lot of people assume it's for newbies, but I have learned so much and feel really energized and motivated to keep doing stuff and staying on track.


  • One person who totally made the conference worth the trip is Ryan Denham, Digital Content Director at WGLT Radio. He did an amazing presentation about creating compelling digital stories. Every single person who creates digital content, not just news people, could apply what he talked about. Actually, when I asked a seasoned pro why more people don't join the INBA, he said it's because they say they already know what's needed. It was clear that what Ryan was talking about is not practiced by those pros, and he really should be speaking to all kinds of content-creating groups. He also deservingly [don't know if that's a legitimate word] won a couple AP awards.


WGLT's ​Ryan Denham and News Director Charlie Schlenker
btw--WGLT is at Illinois State University in Normal. 
  • Also, what's happening right now (I'm obnoxiously typing during a conference session) is that WEEK-TV (in Peoria) producer Jeff Burnett (who's also on the air at WBWN Radio and is also one of my supportive podcast listeners) is speaking about working in small markets. There are actually people who don't care about going to Chicago, or they end up not caring once they find their niche in a smaller market. He's presenting with WREX (in Rockford) News Director Josh Morgan and WMBD-WYZZ Meteorologist Brooke Brighton (who weirdly didn't show up in the photo, but I don't have time to solve that problem).
Jeff Burnett and Josh Morgan
Now back to my offline life, though I won't be eating jelly beans despite it being National Jelly Bean Day.

A modest selection to represent today.

Friday, April 20, 2018

INBA, WILL Radio, Craig Dellimore, Joe Ward

Greetings from East Peoria, where I'm at the Illinois News Broadcasters Association spring convention! I ended up joining the organization late last year when board member Jeff Burnett (who[m] I will meet in-person for the first time) asked if I was interested in signing up. I figured, why not? And here I am! 

So far, people seem very friendly, and I didn't realize how badly I needed to get out of Chicago to be able to relax and reflect. Here are a couple of people I met who work far away from Chicago, all the way in ChampaignUrbana at WILL RadioSteve Morck, who's a host and producer (left), and Brian Moline, who's the Morning Edition host and Managing Editor. They seem really friendly and are very content with what they're doing...and busy. Seems like that public radio station is doing lots of interesting stuff and is expanding...which is rare in the radio world!

Steve Morck and Brian Moline, WILL Radio
They had no idea about my podcast...guess it doesn't play in Peoria.
All right, back to my East Peoria adventure...stay tuned.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Christopher Robling, Martin Hawrysko, Caitlin Fry, Rey Diaz, waffles

Long time no see/write! In addition to working, I spent several weeks dealing with a very badly dented car (scroll down for photo), thanks to someone who crashed into me in a parking garage. It wasn't a matter of simply calling their insurance company and taking it in to the body shop to be fixed; there were mini battles and obstacles along the way, including on the last day when I finally got my car back. There are too many details to bore you with (if you see me elsewhere, I'll describe that "ordeal" if you want).

But it became a kind of mini-hobby, in addition to one of my more official ones...volunteering at the Swedish American Museum. Why do I mention this? Because today is Våffeldagen, aka Waffle Day. I've noticed the Swedes enjoy treats and relaxation, and the holiday season provides a valid excuse to enjoy life even more. So if you're in Andersonville today, go to the museum to eat waffles! I am actually helping out a bit before I close out the night at my radio job, so I might see you there!

waffle day
Courtesy of "Institutet för språk och folkminnen," a Swedish site I barely understand
because my Swedish is still quite awful.
  • Also today (or technically, tonight), Christopher Robling will be guest-hosting the "Beyond the Beltway" show from 6-8 pm. Mr. Robling is a very understanding person because one time I bluntly told him that his political analysis was off, and he didn't hate me for it (that's the risk of often having to be silent...I'm not allowed to express myself, so I sometimes blurt stuff out to kind people like him).
  • Time now for a public service announcement: Caitlin Fry, a writer/pro communicator who was at WGN Radio before moving out West, has a great blog post about a failed company that was initially celebrated on TV and had been giving her a hard time. I remember when blogs were pretty much mocked and derided by journalists in the early days before those pros jumped on the bandwagon. Now it's more difficult to find lengthy, heartfelt blog posts due to the proliferation of social media, but Caitlin does offer such a style, as in the days of yore. (btw--I'm not naming the company because their response to her seemed frightening, and I don't want to incur their alleged wrath either).
  • Another notable blog post (I love blogs, so if you have a good one, let me know) is from radio/media fan (and digital content pro) Martin Hawrysko about the White Sox on WGN Radio. I am *very* glad they made it to 720, but the style is still...well, it hasn't changed. I'll let Martin explain.
  • And speaking of sports and the White Sox...my latest pod interview is with Rey Diaz, who works on the morning and midday shows at The Score (former home of the White Sox). He's one of the most decent guys I've met in radio, especially sports radio, and he's also an interesting guy. Listen to the interview here.  
My car...a Valentine's Day crumple at Northwestern. Yay.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Steve and Johnnie, John Siuntres, Elliot Abrams (again, interview this time), shortbread

If you have flour, sugar, and butter, today is for you because it's Shortbread Day!

french shortbread cookie
This is French shortbread. I hope the Scots don't mind.

  • The year started with witnessing history: for the last time, Steve King & Johnnie Putman had their New Year's Eve show in WGN's Showcase Studio. They're not giving up their show, but WGN will be moving across the river to 303 E. Wacker Drive. So if I get the chance next (this) year, I will attend that show at the new digs and post a picture. In the meantime, here's a picture of them on the air pretty much right after the clock struck midnight in freshly-minted 2018.


Steve and Johnnie New Year's Eve on WGN Radio
Steve and Johnnie on the air. Maybe I should've made this the first picture so it would be prominent.

And here's a picture of Steve in front of a bling Christmas tree and all the branding available:

Steve King on WGN. Maybe I should've made *this* the first picture.


  • Steve said he's working on an album and other projects, and they're pretty much doing what they'd say they do "some day," because Some Day is here. Bonus for reading this far: their book A Little More Les is currently being offered at a discount.
  • As you probably know, I've posted a couple essays by AccuWeather meteorologist Elliot Abrams (heard on WBBM Newsradio and stations on the East Coast that are probably buried in snow right now). He's not only a weather geek and linguist, but is a total radio guy as well. He discussed his long career, puns, and weather, of course. Listen to the interview here.
  • Speaking of podcasting and geek(s), John Siuntres, who does traffic on WBBM Newsradio and has a lot of radio experience that includes The Drive and The Score, has a popular podcast called Word Balloon, which is about comics, movies, and other "geek" culture (though at this point, I don't know if that's considered nerdy because it's become more mainstream, but that's another subject for another day). He's been doing his podcast longer than even moi, back when podcasts barely existed. He just posted a fresh episode about Star Trek (which is probably nerdy/geeky, so maybe you should ignore my previous commentary).



Saturday, December 23, 2017

I'm back, Elliot Abrams, Neil Fiorito, Pfeffernusse and Eggnog celebrations

No, I haven't forgotten about anyone out there in information-consuming land. I've just spent a lot of time working (mostly non-radio, with some radio sprinkled in) and taking a couple of classes: Swedish (which I'll continue in 2018 at the Swedish American Museum) and "Principles of Design & Development for Digital Media" (for which I got an A, I just found out) at City Colleges. In addition to meeting work deadlines and running around Chicago between four jobs, I spent many hours doing homework, working in the computer lab, and doing lots of projects, including redoing the Metrofiction site (which I established before my radio "career") as my final project. Now that I know more about web design, I have to redo my Radiogirl site, where you can find my most recent interview with Neil Fiorito, who does traffic at WBBM.

But enough about me...what about Festivus, which is today, or, more importantly, National Pfeffernusse Day! I've consumed these over the years, plus other German treats. They really know how to bake!

Photo from SavortheBest.com (I hope they don't mind)

But even much more importantly, Christmas Eve is also National Eggnog Day! I love eggnog!

Spiked eggnog is the best.

And just in time for the holiday, meteorologist Elliot Abrams (co-founder of AccuWeather radio) kindly gave me permission to post his essay, "Christmas Day 2017" (he's a very smart guy who does more in one day than most people do in a week):

Christmas Day 2017

The Declaration of Independence was signed in the warmth of a Philadelphia summer in 1776. But as 1776 came to a close, it appeared the Revolution might be doomed. George Washington and his forces had suffered a string of losses, and with each loss, there was less and less public support. After all, if the Revolution was lost and the British won, all who participated or aided in the revolt could be tried and convicted of treason against the Crown.

And so, when Washington and his depleted forces dared to cross the icy Delaware River on Christmas Night...then cunningly circled around and attacked Trenton from the north with the winds at their backs...sleepy eyed Hessian defenders waking up on the morning after Christmas were greeted by wind-launched darts and tacks of stinging sleet in their faces and a hail of bullets from the Americans who could hardly be seen through the storm.

The stunning victory at Trenton proved to be the turnaround event that fueled the rebel fire once again. But that was far from obvious to George Washington as he and his forces recrossed the river and regrouped. The army was about to dwindle away. Enlistments were over at the stroke of midnight, New Year's Eve. Desperate, and without official authorization, Washington called on the soldiers to stay, offering them a bonus if they extended their enlistments. The soldiers did not respond at first, but then one stepped forward, then another...and then another.

They hatched a plan to attack the British once again. Meanwhile, the snow on the ground melted. The rebels crossed the Delaware again on New Year's Day. This time the British were ready, and the rebels were forced into a corner. They were stranded in muddy fields, backs to the river...with no way to escape. One bold attack by the British would wipe out the American forces and end the war.

But George Washington was a Virginia farmer, and farmers watched the weather. He had experienced winter days with blue skies and northwest winds. He had seen the temperature hold steady during the those days, then sink below freezing at night. He had a thermometer and at noon it was 39 degrees and holding. A stiff northwest had erased the 50 degree weather of the previous day. Washington ordered the troops to prepare huge bonfires after sundown and make the appearance of bustling around in the camp.

Behind the fire glow, it was dark. We in the age of light pollution are not used to the kind of dark faced every moonless night back in the 1700s. But in the darkness, Washington's troops readied their equipment, even wrapping wagon wheels in cloth to minimize the noise. The ground froze. The forces moved out, picking their way northward...away from the encamped British who were lying in wait to mount their own attack at first light.

Dawn broke to the sight of rebel soldiers marching toward Princeton through fields laced with frost. The Battle of Princeton was fierce, but lasted less than an hour. One casualty was General Hugh Mercer. Mercer County NJ is named for the fallen patriot. The British were defeated again, and pulled back to their garrisons farther northeast in New Jersey. News of the rebel victories spread like wildfire back in Europe weeks later. Soon the French would be emboldened to declare war on Britain and help the American cause. George Washington and his weary forces set up camp in Morristown NJ, with hills to offer cover, and yet close enough to their enemy to spy on their activities.

If George Washington had not been up on his weather knowledge, and had not realized it would freeze at night as he did, his forces would have been surrounded and captured the next day. The hard-fought gains at Trenton would be meaningless.

A vast and empty field marks the place where the Battle of Princeton was fought 240 years before this coming January. As I stood there in an icy wind a few Decembers ago, storm clouds were increasing. It was a raw and unforgiving wind, a wind soon to be armed with sleet and freezing rain.

Aside from the wind in the trees, it was silent in that field. Darkness was moving in. I closed my eyes for a moment, and could almost imagine the footsteps of some of our first war veterans rustling through the fallen frosted leaves so long ago. And I said a silent thank you. If they hadn't done what they did when they had to, we couldn't do what we want to in freedom...today.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bill Cochran, Jason Skaggs, Ken Jennings, Elliot Abrams

Today is International Podcast Day! When I started doing my pod in 2009, there weren't many out there, but now there are a lot!

  • In honor of this day, I will be referring to a few pods in this post (being informative yet self-promotional) starting with the freshest: this week I posted a new interview with Bill Cochran, whose voice you've heard all over the airwaves, for years on WNUA and online Smooth Jazz, and most recently on MeTV-FM. But he also does and talks about a lot more! Very interesting guy. 
  • The major news is Jason Skaggs' (who* I interviewed) departure from Chicago radio to Houston, Host of Hurricane Harvey (deliberate alliteration there). Jason was the Commercial Manager at WGN and is going to be Production Director at Cox Media Group. I often say this in various places online and off, but to reiterate: the best time I've had in radio (not that it's still not fun) was working for and filling in for Jason. Actually, it was one of the best work experiences I've ever had (I described that plus more at my non-media blog). 
  • And another major promotion is Ken Jennings (who was a guest when my pod was in its infancy), who went from mere Studio Crew (like cameraman, cake presenter, etc.) at Big Ten Network to Studio Operations Supervisor. He's also a huge Ohio State fan, so if your Big Ten team is playing the Buckeyes, watch out! 
  • Now you're probably wondering why I'm not mentioning International Translation Day at this point...well here's a media representation to honor it: a reporter and cameraman from Telemundo interviewing someone outside Holy Name Cathedral, where they had a special mass for victims of the earthquake in Mexico.

Telemundo Holy Name Cathedral
I didn't stick around long enough to try to understand what they were saying.

  • And as we're on the brink of October, I have a special essay/reflection written by Accuweather's Elliot Abrams. You've probably heard him for years on WBBM (and throughout the country). Not only is he very knowledgeable about weather, but he's totally into radio (he co-founded Accuweather's radio service) and is a dynamic person with varied interests and a quirky sense of humor. 

October colors scream for attention as summer's emerald draperies are splashed with auburn, set ablaze with firethorn, streaked with burnished copper, then saturated in chocolate just before Halloween. 
If March is the chameleon month, October is its cousin. One day is bright and crisp, brimming with fresh vitality; the next is under a dreary roof of slate framed by steel wool curtains...a lint-filter sky. 
Nature takes its full palette of pastels, earth tones and half shades and thrown them together in a tapestry simultaneously chaotic and yet invitingly familiar. Autumn is our annual sunset, the rich colors and interweaving of light providing our last look at the year, with the winter night temporarily postponed but imminently inevitable. 
October's loud colors are matched by its noisy winds. The brittle leaves crackle in the breeze, a sure giveaway it's autumn on those increasingly rare warm south wind nights.  The leaves lodge in the lawns, shove into shrubs and burrow into the bushes; the nachos style crunchiness amplifies the sound of footsteps. 
Brash noise and sullen solitude. Bold bright colors and dim dreariness. Tossed trees with spiced scenery.  How they match life's many moods and tastes. For here in one month is captured the diversity of the entire annual cycle of earthly life. Yet for all of its richness and variety, few of its scenes and sounds will last out the year.

But, when winter's scouts retreat north for reinforcements, an eerie still is left behind.  The quiet is punctuated by the quick tick of a bouncing acorn. The scene of vivid crispness is hidden by a haze that smears the colors. The waning sun is too feeble to stir the grimy soup; fog lingers through damp mornings. Later, the haze tints muted sunbeams on bittersweet warm afternoons. You can just barely feel the hint of bygone summer, but the lengthening shadows and eager evening dusk say warm times are headed for history. 
As the sun wearies of its heated climb through summer skies, the woodlands are tossed into an autumn salad bar. The leaner diet of light and the fingers of frost lace the chervil and sage greens of summer with oregano, pumpkin spice and cinnamon. The ocean of summer green now has islands of amber and auburn amidst currents of crimson, the mixing colors changing each day.   
Fall days can bring wondrous variety: 
We can have windy days. In the nooks and crannies around buildings on a dry day you see dust, paper scraps and leaf fragments whipped into whirlpools, the tiny pieces sucked in and thrown out as the vortex vanishes. 
Out in the countryside, cumulus cloud shadows race along the ground, racing along the ridges and vaulting the valleys. The trees, still in leaf. have their twigs twisted and their branches bent. In the fields and weedlots, unseen waves rustle the tassels and taller grass blades, the surface rippling like waves on a lake.  
Other days represent just the opposite: foggy calm mornings and hazy quiet mellow afternoons. Tiny spider mites weave threads and fragile strands that drift in the slightest puff of wind. The leaves detach from their summer homes to form a carpet of brown crinkle on the forest floor. Acorns snap to ground. You can still feel a hint of summer in the afternoon air; the long shadows of late afternoon and the early dusk make us sense somehow the summer party is over.  
Only later do we find ourselves skewered on the rotisseri of reality, sucked in by the shop-vac of autumn's summer remnants, raked over by nature's leaf blower, the rototiller of northerly winds. The annual chilly eraser transforms the artful tapestry of October to the gray canvas of late fall and winter. 

by Elliot Abrams
Sr. VP
AccuWeather Inc 
Twitter: accuelliot

 *I know it's supposed to be "whom" but I want to say "who."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Doreyde Vazquez, Josh Liss, Karl Clauson, blueberry popsicles

It's interesting how things appear symmetrical, because last week when I posted tidings it was National Cherry Popsicle Day, and today is National Blueberry Popsicle Day. So once again, you have an official reason to eat a popsicle...enjoy!
blueberry-popsicle
I have real blueberries in the fridge.

  • Wow, Doreyde Vazquez has come a long way since her early days as a student at Columbia College and intern at Telemundo, CBS Chicago, WLS, WGN Radio, and ABC Chicago (and working at some of those places as well). Since then, she's been working in TV in Los Angeles for a lot of shows and companies, and she's just started a Post Coordinator/Scheduling job at Disney ABC. Way to go! Remember us little folks from your humble beginnings :p
  • Also moving on, literally, is Erik Zachary, who's been on the air at WKSC/Kiss-FM. He's officially moved to New York to host MTV's Total Request Live (which oddly doesn't seem to have its own web page) and do other features there. But he'll still going to be hosting nights on KISS-FM, thanks to the beauty of modern technology. 
  • My current guest is Josh Liss, who's the sports director and reports sports every weekday morning on WBBM. Not only does he have a fantastic job, but he seems to be a really nice, sincere guy, which is not common in sports media IMHO.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Bob Roberts, Alison Moran, Neil Fiorito, just because

Why should you enjoy a cherry popsicle today? Just because. That's my clever way of mentioning two special days within a singularity: today is Cherry Popsicle Day and tomorrow is Just Because Day.

because I want to
Translation: Today I'm happy because I want [to be], because I can, and because I feel like it!

  • But much more importantly, today at 6:00 pm, Bob Roberts (who* I interviewed) will be on the air, but not on WBBM (where he's been a fantastic, hard-working reporter for several years). He will be spinning records (not sure if he's literally doing that, but it's a nice phrase, in addition to hearkening back to yesteryear when jocks such as him+ did that) at Indiana University on his alma mater's radio station, WIUX (which was WIUS when he was there). The question is if he'll go by his then-on-air name "Frankie B. Rhodes." You can find out by listening live at the station's stream link
  • I've been reading and writing blogs for several years (while established media folks were deriding them before they themselves had to jump on the digital bandwagon), and longtime sports radio and writer Alison Moran just shared a new post on her Token Female blog. Her blog about sports and life, and is an example of the quality that's remained as other bloggers have jumped textual and visual ship to social media exclusively.
  • Another radio pro who has on online project is traffic reporter Neil Fiorito, who is also a concierge at the Residence Inn in River North. His "Neil's News" videos cover activities and interests in Chicago, and they demonstrate his talent broadcasting visually as well as audioally (not a word, I know, but I want to be linguistically obnoxious).


*I know it's supposed to be "whom" but I want to say "who." 

+I know it's supposed to be "he" but I want to say "him." 

Latest News

New Trib/tronc, new WGN, Esmeralda Leon, banking break

If you're planning on going to the bank on Monday, you're outta luck, because it's a banking holiday in Scotland. If you're ...