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‘Chicago ‘ Ed Schwartz To Be Honored On WGN Radio Walk Of Fame

March 27, 2015

I can think of no better way to start this post except with stating the obvious.

It was ‘Chicago ‘ Ed Schwartz who made me aware that a radio announcer could be a friend to those who listened.  Equally important Eddie was wildly successful even though he did not have what might be considered a classic sounding radio voice.  Both of those lessons were ones I took with me to my job at WDOR radio in Sturgeon Bay when I sat in the broadcast booth.

Today it was announced that WGN Radio will include Eddie “Chicago Ed” Schwartz  on its 2015 Walk of Fame class.   Friday, May 29th, ten broadcasting legends will be honored with a ceremony and live broadcast from 1-2pm at the Tribune Tower at 435 N Michigan.  Steve King and Johnnie Putman will also be included in the list of famed broadcasters.

Eddie “Chicago Ed” Schwartz was at the helm of the late-night WGN Radio airwaves from 1982 through 1992 on a show that was all Chicago. Both crusader and advocate, Eddie started the Good Neighbor Food Drive, one of the largest one-day food drives in the country, and fearlessly called politicians in the middle of the night in search of answers to listeners’ problems.

Ed Schwartz’s voice was softer than that of most who find themselves on radio, but his authority and professionalism when behind a microphone was never in doubt.  But the connection he made with his listeners both in Chicago, and as far as the airwaves would allow him to be heard, showcased his civility and big-heart for the causes that he loved.  When he promoted his food drive for hungry folks in Chicago there was no doubt that his concern was deeply ingrained within him.  He wore his heart on his sleeve, and it reverberated inside the radio.


It might seem strange that as a boy in Hancock, Wisconsin I would be tuning into talk radio from Chicago, and bypassing the stations that were closer to me with much stronger signals.  But the world as presented by local stations were too small, and lets face it there is nothing more exciting than Chicago politics.  More importantly over the past years I recognize how lucky I was to have grown up with civil and professional radio broadcasters such as Eddie Schwartz, Steve King, and Clark Weber.  As a teenager I never knew radio to be ill-tempered, lewd, or boorish.

I still recall  an awesome snowstorm that hit Chicago, but one that missed central Wisconsin.  As a boy I wanted the snow in my backyard, but instead turned to Eddie Schwartz  as he broadcast hour after hour about how Chicago was crippled by the snow and wind.  I recall being in my bedroom and feeling like I was there in the midst of a wild storm.  As he talked with snowplow operators, police, and folks trying to get off the expressways I understood the power and intimacy of radio.  I suspect that there are few young people today who can comprehend what I am talking about.

I am so moved by this tremendous honor for one of the nicest men to have ever graced the airwaves.


Steve King And Johnnie Putman Included In WGN Radio Walk Of Fame

March 27, 2015

I called them essential overnight radio. My partner, James, called them his babysitters.  However they are described one thing remains clear.  Steve and Johnnie at times known as ‘Him and Her’ were simply the best at what they did on WGN radio.

Now Steve King and Johnnie Putman was to be honored in the WGN radio Walk Of Fame.  I am super pleased to hear the news this morning.  With over 6,2oo broadcasts under their belts during almost 26 years Steve and Johnnie deserve the honor. I might note those broadcasts were not only a couple of hours at a time, but instead were longer than 5 hour stretches!

I will never forger the time I was interviewed on their program.

Each Tuesday night they devote a portion of an hour segment of their nearly six-hour talk show to the topic of cars.  As such from time to time they like to talk on-air with car buyers about the pros and cons of their recent purchase.  I bought a new VW Beetle in mid-January and contacted them with the news.  Within hours their producer had called me back saying they would be interested in doing a segment on my car.  

It was a blast, and highly conversational in tone.  For about 20 minutes I gave my views on the latest version of the VW Beetle, including the changes in exterior molding, seat design, engine performance, and over-all appeal.  To be honest for a guy who never knew much about cars in general, I have many thoughts about the actual cars I have bought and owned.  It was also good to discover this morning that I am not alone when I name my cars….but that might be a separate post.  It was a real kick to be on the airwaves again, and this time over WGN Radio!    And Steve and Johnnie made it easy and fun.


Steve King and Johnnie Putman

There is much to be pleased with when it comes to the entire group of broadcasters to be honored Friday, May 29th with a ceremony and live broadcast from 1-2pm at the Tribune Tower at 435 N Michigan.  The full list also includes Steve Bertrand, Lyle Dean, Dave Eanet, Franklyn MacCormack, Lou Manfredini,  Ward Quaal, Ron Santo and Eddie Schwartz.

I will have a separate post about Eddie Schwartz as he is a personal favorite from my teenage years and was talked about in my book Walking Up The Ramp.  All the luminaries will be commemorated in bronze plaques placed outside the Allstate Showcase Studio.

An institution for more than 25 years as Chicago’s #1 overnight radio show, husband and wife Steve King and Johnnie Putman featured everything from the whimsical to the technological to the serious on their five to six-hour broadcasts. Their show was a spotlight for music as well, including record releases, live performances and “A Little More Les” segments, stemming from their conversations with close friend and electric guitar creator Les Paul.

Another Air Crash Mystery–Terrorism Front And Center

March 26, 2015

Needless to say the plane that crashed into the side of a mountain is making for lots of discussion at our home.  To the point–did a Germanwings pilot deliberately fly his Airbus A320 into the side of a mountain?

BULLETIN – BBC: “The [28-year-old] co-pilot of the Germanwings flight that crashed into the French Alps wanted to ‘destroy the plane’ … French prosecutors, citing information from the cockpit voice recorder said the co-pilot took sole control of plane and intentionally started its descent. The pilot had just left the cockpit and was locked out.”

–AP: “Just before crash, Germanwings passengers could be heard screaming on audio. … Co-pilot, alone at the controls, … was conscious until impact.

CNN is reporting the worst news of all.


The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 purposely crashed the plane into the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board, officials said Thursday.

“We at Lufthansa are speechless that this aircraft has been deliberately crashed by the co-pilot,” said Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said the co-pilot, 28-year-old German national Andreas Lubitz, apparently “wanted to destroy the aircraft.”

It’s unknown whether Lubitz planned his actions in advance, Robin said. But he “took advantage” of a moment in which the pilot left the cockpit and “activated the descent,” which can only be done deliberately.

Ted Cruz Going After Scott Walker In Fight For Nomination

March 26, 2015

And the cat fight is underway.  Among the top writers in the nation about politics is E.J. Dionne Jr. and he brings his skills front and center to put the Cruz and Walker plot lines in perspective.

Although Cruz has always been a religious conservative, the senator from Texas is much better known for his crusade against Obamacare and his willingness to shut down the federal government. His evangelical turn is his first play to create a base on the right end of the party to challenge Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as the main alternative to Jeb Bush.

The Cruz strategy starts with marginalizing former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson, the physician and best-selling author who has developed a significant following on the right. Huckabee and Carson are also in the running for evangelical votes. If Cruz pushes them aside, he can then go after Walker and, after that, Bush.

Perhaps all this is fanciful, but Cruz knows what he’s doing. 

So far, Walker’s emergence is the key development in the Republican race. “Walker has made a decision to run at Bush from the right, and he’s trying to consolidate the very conservative vote,” says Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a shrewd analyst of conservative voting. “The pop for Walker in the polls shows the deep desire of very conservative voters in the Republican Party to find an alternative to Bush.”

But their constituencies are very different. Among moderates, Bush, the former Florida governor, led Walker 26 percent to 15 percent; conservatives gave Walker 20 percent to 18 percent for Bush. Among those who called themselves very conservative, on the other hand, Walker walloped Bush 24 percent to 7 percent.

Walker’s main competitors for the “very conservative” vote were Huckabee and Carson at 19 percent each. Overall, Huckabee got 10 percent and Carson 9 percent. Add those constituencies up, and you have a number that competes with both Walker and Bush.

Cruz may now be at only 4 percent nationwide in the McClatchy-Marist survey, but he can build a base by grabbing those who currently support Huckabee and Carson. And Cruz’s talk about liberty and the Constitution could help him shake loose some votes from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Whit Ayres, a pollster who advises Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), has a rule about his party’s nomination contests: “No one faction is large enough to nominate its favorite candidate,” he says. “Whoever is nominated will be rooted in one of the factions but will be acceptable to a number of the factions.”

Cruz’s entry is thus very good news for Bush. Cruz has as much interest in taking Walker down as Bush does, and the more right-of-center candidates there are on the ballot come next year, the better Bush’s chances will be.

Therefore, don’t believe anyone who says that little of what happens this year matters to an election that seems so far away. Cruz has just turned the battle for the political souls of religious conservatives into the first bloody crossroads of the GOP’s struggle. And Scott Walker needs to watch his back.

Showing Support For Saudi Arabia Military Strikes In Yemen

March 25, 2015

This is an action I strongly support and encourage until the task is completed.

Just yesterday in a back and forth on another blog I asked the question of what might be our foreign policy response if radicals attacked the Haj?   With the tensions and bloodshed that have mounted in Yemen there is no way to not think of the most hateful things ISIS might attempt.

Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday night that it had begun a military campaign in Yemen, the beginning of what a Saudi official said was an offensive to restore a Yemeni government that had collapsed after rebel forces took control of large swaths of the country.

The air campaign began as the internal conflict in Yemen showed signs of degenerating into a proxy war between regional powers. The Saudi announcement came during a rare news conference in Washington by Adel al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Jubeir said that the Saudis were part of a coalition of about 10 nations determined to blunt the advance of Shiite Houthi rebels, who have overrun Yemen’s capital and forced the American-backed government to flee the war-racked country.

“We will do whatever it takes to protect the legitimate government of Yemen,” said Mr. Jubeir, who spoke to reporters shortly after the air campaign had begun.

Mr. Jubeir did not name the other nations involved in the military campaign, but said that American military forces were not involved in the airstrikes.

Lesson Modern Day Republicans Should Learn About Working With A Democratic President

March 25, 2015

A former Director of the Nixon Library has been a long-time email and internet friend of mine.   John Taylor this evening on Facebook asked in light of the recent news about the Iran negotiations what might have happened had the GOP backed the president?  He asked for answers of 25 words or less.

Well, my readers know that is hard for me to do!

This is what I posted in 130 words.

Richard Nixon was a fiscal conservative at a time in 1946 while the congress was isolationist when it came to foreign aid.  There was a need in Europe that required American involvement, and RN as part of the Herter Commission, traveled to Europe to make an economic assessment.   In the weeks that followed Nixon would be a strong advocate of the Marshall plan.  RN knew 75% of his constituents were “resolutely opposed” to foreign aid.  But Nixon understood the facts, and the needs for economic aid to Europe.  He prepared newspaper columns and went out on the hustings to promote the issue of foreign aid.  It made sense then, and history of course shows RN was correct.  He did all this when a Democrat was president.  Let that lesson be our guide.

Madison Politicians Wrong To Jab At Overture Center For The Arts

March 25, 2015

The latest pointed remark I heard about Overture Center For The Arts–one of Madison’s jewels in the downtown–came from Mayor Paul Soglin during last night’s election debate.  Once again the old refrain was offered that the lack of diversity from those attending performances at the center was somehow a foundational problem that justified attempts to appropriate fewer tax dollars in the city budget.  Over time there have also been attempts to portray Overture tickets as over-priced and the center not user-friendly to a larger segment of our city.

That is simply a ridiculous way to look at the situation.

I placed a call to the Overture ticket office today to inquire about the lowest price tickets that one might request so to listen to the magic created by the Madison Symphony Orchestra.  For $16.00 a person can buy a ticket.  If you are student there is a reduction, and if you are a senior citizen there is a 20% reduction.  There are also great deals on ‘rush tickets’ the day of a performance.

Simply put there is no way to claim that people can not attend the Symphony–as an example–or to use Overture.  That argument is not one that sails.

Several years ago my partner and I wanted to attend plays that were presented at Overture.  We were still paying off our home improvement bills from when we moved in and therefore sought out a different path.  Instead of paying full ticket price for an actual performance we bought a season’s worth of final dress rehearsal shows.  We were even seated in the front row.  Every other month James and I had a really nice night out and loved the experience on a budget.

The arts matter in our lives as I know it does for a wide swatch of Madison.  I also am aware that it takes prioritizing budgets and desires to make any entertainment outing doable.   We all know people who have no problem buying sporting tickets, attending movies with the purchase of popcorn, and carry their portable electronic gadgets and cell phones at all times and yet have the gall to complain they can not afford tickets to a performance at Overture.

It all comes down to what is important to us as individuals.

So to then have the mayor over and over again paint Overture as some elitist and over-priced whites-only playground is truly offensive.

There is not a city our size in the nation that would not drool heavy for the chance to have a performing arts center of the type we enjoy.  Or the fact that this building was presented to the city as a gift!  There is a not place in the nation that would not love to have our symphony orchestra or our chamber orchestra play in such a building.  Yet there is the chorus from some that Overture is a place for rich white people.

There is no way to deny the benefits that the arts provides to a community with continuing economic energy.  I would argue even more importantly the arts provides to individuals texture about life, awakening of the senses, and adds insight about how we feel and interact with sights and sounds.  In a nutshell the arts are essential to being a well-rounded person, and makes for a harmonious community.

I would hope that all our local elected officials–starting with the mayor–might come to the understanding of what the arts provide and how we should all embrace Overture and what it gives to our city.


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