Last March, comedian Paul F. Tompkins performed and recorded a sold out show at the Lakeshore Theater in Chicago. Nine months later, he released this show for posterity(and money!) in the form of his second album, Freak Wharf. The album starts with a stream of consciousness opening to the show, a comic method that Tompkins has been experimenting with recently. As Tompkins has found himself dabbling with his form, he found himself trying out new venues to accommodate his comic format. As he booked a show in Atlanta, this summer, Tompkins found himself trying to fill a small but empty venue as he began a series of smaller, more intimate shows. Anxious to try out his new routine (and perhaps a little bit desperate) Tompkins and his loyal fans stumbled upon a new way to use social media to book comedy shows. I spoke to Tompkins on the phone about his new album and the Tompkins 300...
Dec. 15, 2009
Dec. 15, 2009
Former Streeterville ringmaster Jerry Springer may have uprooted his syndicated talk show and relocated to Connecticut last summer, but he's still on the move in Chicago: His local outlet will switch this fall from Fox-owned WPWR-Channel 50 to Weigel Broadcasting's WCIU-Channel 26.
"Jerry Springer has a long, colorful history in Chicago," Neal Sabin, executive vice president of Weigel and general manager of "The U," said Monday. "We will come up with our own unique spin in adding his show to our morning schedule."
Sabin won't say exactly what he has in mind to promote Springer on Channel 26, but Weigel will have its own Web camera installed at NBC Universal's facilities in Stamford, Conn., where Springer's show is produced. "He'll be coming back in town for sales calls and pie fights," Sabin added.
Dec. 14, 2009
With less than eight weeks to go before a primary election involving contests for U.S. senator, Illinois governor and Cook County Board president, it might seem like an odd time for a news organization to fire its veteran political editor. But that's what happened Friday at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32.
In a move that caught most staffers by surprise, Jack Conaty, 63, was forced out after 22 years as chief political correspondent. Many of his Channel 32 co-workers learned the news when they read it on Phil Rosenthal's Chicago Tribune blog. By then, Conaty had taped his last "Fox Chicago Sunday" show and left the station for good.
Dec. 11, 2009
Reports of Roe Conn's demise -- like that of another Midwestern humorist -- have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the Chicago radio veteran is close to signing a new deal to continue as afternoon personality on Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890).
Barring a last-minute snafu, sources said, Conn is expected to sign a two-year renewal any day now, superseding his current contract, which expires June 1. In exchange for the additional security, he's likely to accept a reduction in his previously reported seven-figure salary.
The only obstacle to finalizing the deal could come from Citadel Broadcasting's top bosses, who were reported to be preoccupied Thursday preparing to file for bankruptcy by the end of the year.‚ Such a move would allow the company to restructure its $2 billion debt.
Word of Conn's renewal comes despite speculation that his days are numbered at WLS. After the latest Arbitron survey showed him significantly underperforming the rest of the station, the Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare cited unnamed "observers in the local radio market" who asserted that "the high-priced WLS talent might not be able to hold on at the station much longer." My friends at the ever-vigilant ChicagolandRadioandMedia.com went even further, declaring it "the end of the line for Roe Conn at WLS," and identifying three potential replacements for him.
Dec. 10, 2009
Dec. 10, 2009
As the World Turns creator Irma Phillips
Like hearing of the death of a celebrity you'd long assumed already dead, my first reaction to news of the cancellation of "As the World Turns" was surprise that it was still on the air. I'm not proud to admit that, but it's true.
As the last soap opera produced by Procter & Gamble, the company for which the term "soap opera" was coined, "As the World Turns" was a relic of another era in television -- when millions of housewives (and later millions of college students) followed Monday-through-Friday daytime dramas religiously. It became an indelible part of American history on Nov. 22, 1963, when Walter Cronkite interrupted a live broadcast of the program with the first bulletin of President Kennedy's assassination. The show's title took on special meaning that day.
After a 54-year run on CBS, "As the World Turns" will air its final episode at the end of this season. The announcement followed the network's cancellation earlier this year of Procter & Gamble's "Guiding Light" after 72 years on TV and radio. CBS Chairman Les Moonves told the New York Times:
"It's certainly the end of the client-owned soap. All good things come to an end, whether it's after 72 years or 54 years or 10 years. It's a different time and a different business."
While it's possible for "As the World Turns" to be revived on cable, that's not likely to happen, considering the show's production costs and dwindling audience. When the curtain falls in September, it almost surely will mean the end of what was the No. 1-rated soap on television from 1959 to 1971 and the winner of 58 Emmy Awards. It also will close a chapter in Chicago history.
Dec. 9, 2009
Luis Gutierrez, the Chicago Democrat, surprised fellow members of Congress earlier this year with the revelation that he and his wife were participants in an Arbitron ratings survey. They'd been chosen to carry Portable People Meters, which are compact devices that monitor radio listening electronically.
What Inside Radio called Gutierrez's "shocking announcement" not only ignored Arbitron strictures against survey panelists disclosing their participation, it also underscored why the PPM system -- which replaced the old paper-and-pencil diary method -- has not yet gained full acceptance by the industry or federal regulators. "It really is very burdensome technology," Gutierrez said of his experience during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on minority broadcast ownership. "My wife's dresses sometimes did not accommodate the little gadget."
Dec. 8, 2009
For 15 years, Tim Bennett has been the man who made the trains run on time for Oprah Winfrey. As president of Chicago-based Harpo Inc., he's been the buttoned-up diplomat who quietly and efficiently oversaw every aspect of Oprah's vast media universe.
On Monday -- less than three weeks after Oprah announced plans to end her top-rated syndicated talk show in 2011 -- Bennett, 60, made it official that he'll retire from the company this May, telling friends he plans to move to Santa Barbara, Calif. It's a tribute to Bennett (and the huge job he performed) that his duties are being divided between two inside executives.