Sunday, November 25, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions

I wanted to thank everyone that has been checking out this little radio blog. When I started it in January, I just thought it would be fun to showcase people in Chicago radio that I respect and admire. I figured I might get a handful of fellow radio fans to check it out, but I never expected so many people to share my interest. Most of the credit for that goes to the people who have helped me spread the word, especially the newspaper columnists and reporters (Robert Feder, Eric Zorn, Rick Kogan, Ted Cox, Steve Rhodes), the radio message boards and websites (Chicagoland Radio & Media, Crow On, All Access, RadioDailyNews), and the radio shows (too numerous to mention).

I plan on doing Chicago Radio Spotlight for one more year, but I need your help. Please drop me a line (at the "e-mail me" link on the right) if you have a suggestion for a future Chicago Radio Spotlight. There are lots of radio folks who have done, and continue to do, great work in Chicago. Unfortunately, I may not know all of them, especially the up and comers. Also, if there are some Chicago radio pros from the past that you'd like me to track down (or even better--that you have already tracked down for me), let me know that too.

I've had a great time talking to everyone so far. I knew some of them already, and hadn't yet met some others, but every one of them had great stories to tell. It's a fascinating business filled with fascinating people. Below this note, I'll be answering some of the frequently asked questions I receive.

The number one question I get: "Why don't you answer any of our questions on the blog?" is the inspiration for this week's post.

Thanks for your support,
Rick Kaempfer

Frequently Asked Questions

I do try to answer every question via e-mail. If I haven't answered yours, you might have gotten trapped in my spam filter. I apologize.

Q: Why don't you allow comments on this blog?

A: I answered the phones at radio stations for a long time and I know that there are a lot of people out there who like to bash people. I wanted this site to be a totally positive place.

Q: Has anyone ever turned you down for an interview?

A: Yes. Four people. I won't embarrass them by mentioning their names. One told me that something new was going to be happening to him soon and he wasn't ready to announce it yet. He promised he would do it in the future. Another one has been out of the business for awhile and didn't want to talk about "the good old days" anymore. Another one is a good friend of mine who hates the spotlight. I'm still working on him. And the last one was an old boss of mine. I knew that was a long shot before I asked him.

Q: What is your radio background?

A: I worked in radio for twenty years as a producer (Steve Dahl & Garry Meier, John Records Landecker), a music jock (The Loop FM), and a talk show host (AM 1000).

Q: Would you ever consider going back to radio yourself?

A: Never say never, but I honestly don't see it happening. I'm really enjoying my new life.

Q: Why don't you ever tell some of your radio stories?

A: Check out some of the links on the right there. I've previously written about my days with Steve & Garry, and John Landecker, and about the celebrities I encountered in both jobs (Celebrity Snippets), and of course there many additional stories in my book "The Radio Producer's Handbook." I just don't tell them on this blog, because it's about other people's stories.

Q: Why did you write your producer book?

A: I wrote The Radio Producer's Handbook because I wanted to give something back to the business. When I started as a producer, no one trained me. There was no such thing as a job description. They just kind of tossed producers into the deep end of the pool and expected them to figure out how to swim. That always bothered me, so when my co-author John Swanson ("Swany" from the Eric and Kathy Show) approached me about writing a book about producing radio shows, I thought it was a good idea. It came out in 2004, and it's being used to teach radio production all over the country. We owe the publisher an update in two years, so I guess I'll be diving back into that soon.

Q: Aren't you afraid of ticking off the media giants with your novel $everance.

A: Not really. I'm small potatoes to them. The only time I had to deal with them was when I was pitching it to publishers. Those media giants also own all the major publishing houses, and they certainly didn't want to publish a book about the dangers of media consolidation. That's one of the reasons you won't find $everance in every book store. (But you can get it directly from my publisher at

People working in the media, however, have been very receptive to the message in my book. They've been dying for someone to tell this story.

Here's a small sampling from people you may know...

"Rick cuts the modern media conglomerates to the quick in his alternately hilarious and disturbing Severance. Some readers will think his moguls and media personalities are exaggerated. I'm here to tell you they're pretty dead-on."
--Roe Conn, WLS Radio

"It's about time somebody told this story. $everance certainly captured the world of radio, warts and all."
--Legendary broadcaster Clark Weber

Severance is a black comedy that would be funnier if its darkness weren’t so true. And it crackles with the insights and cynicism that made Network and Broadcast News the seminal cinematic treatments of today’s dumbed-down news business. Move over Christopher Buckley----Rick Kaempfer is in town!”
--ABC-TV News Reporter Andy Shaw

"Other than 'love', 'Severance' is the sweetest word in the English language. This really made me laugh."
--WGN Radio's Steve Cochran

"Told with the keen insight of a veteran insider, it's a humorous indictment of an industry that has lost all sense of purpose -- except for making money, of course."
--Chicago Sun Times media columnist Robert Feder

"A hysterical critique of corporate morality"
--WGN-TV Morning News Anchor Larry Potash

"I think it’s a great, funny, sarcastic, entertaining and thought provoking book…that really shows how broadcasting has changed over the last few years.”
--Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Records Landecker

"Brilliant satire! I got a paper cut from the sarcasm. I wish I could say it was great fiction, but having worked in radio, I think it’s just really funny non-fiction. The reality in between the laughs will scare the hell out of you."
--Longtime radio personality and playwright Spike Manton

"I thought this novel was just going to be an amusing story about radio. But the way Kaempfer has woven in elements of all media and politics is masterful, to say nothing of insightful, and frequently laugh-out-loud funny! It’s a brilliant first entry. I can't wait for his next page-turner!"
--Legendary broadcaster and programmer Bob Dearborn

"Too bad Zagorski (the main character) is fictional. Today's media could use someone like him to shake things up. He's the personification of fairness with just enough wicked cynicism to make him completely irresistible. The thought that a team like Zagorski and Lawrence might actually exist should make some big bosses more than a little uneasy."
--Leslie Keiling, WGN Radio

"Rick Kaempfer’s “$everance” is whiplash-fast, choke-on-your-coffee funny, and ultimately frightening. Kaempfer has seen it all in the radio business, and has some dire predictions for the rest of the media, too. It’s the summer’s must-discuss beach read – and probably a sign of the apocalypse."
--Paige Wiser, Chicago Sun-Times columnist

"I laughed out loud many times while reading it - yeah, it's that funny! If you work in the radio business you'll love the inside view of the industry and if you're not in the media you will certainly learn a lot of eye-opening trade secrets."
--Cara Carriveau