Tag Archives: Mike Sanders

It’s a Wonderful Slice

December 23, 2012

“It’s a Wonderful Slice 2012″…with an all-star cast!

It’s that time of year again (and aren’t we glad that the holiday season comes only once a year?), which means that I trot out my annual dismantling of one of the great holiday film classics, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I started this strange tradition about 21 years ago, when I was still working for Gargantua Radio down the dial (sometimes known as WGN). This was when Republic Pictures, the original copyright owner and producer of Wonderful Life, neglected to renew the 1946 copyright in 1974. Slate has the basic story here. This Wikipedia entry covers it in more detail.

At any rate, it seemed to me that folks might like to hear the movie on radio, especially since it wasn’t going to cost the station a nickel. However, I doubted that listeners would be willing to sit through all two hours and ten minutes without visuals. So I recorded the sound track and cut it down to exactly ten minutes and thirty seconds. I tried to get it to under ten minutes, but that’s something I suspect not even God could do.

The ten-minute version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” aired on Gargantua Radio for several years. Then something unfortunate happened. According to Slate:

Republic regained control of the lucrative property in 1993 by flexing a new Supreme Court ruling that determined that the holder of a copyright to a story from which a movie was made had certain property rights over the movie itself. Since Republic still owned the copyrighted story behind It’s a Wonderful Life and had also purchased exclusive rights to the movie’s copyrighted music, it was able to essentially yank the movie out of the public domain: It claimed that since Wonderful Life relied on these copyrighted works, the film could no longer be shown without the studio’s blessing. (Technically, the film itself is not copyrighted. One could hypothetically replace the music, rearrange the footage, and sell or show the new product–but no one has done this.) In 1994, Republic * signed a “long-term” deal granting NBC exclusive rights to broadcast the movie, and the network typically does so between one and three times a year.

So there I was, with a brilliant (if I say so myself) ten-minute version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with no venue. Unless…

Eureka! I knew what to do–memorize not only the script, but also the voices and their inflections (after all, I had everything on tape–and in those days, it really was tape), add some blocking and schtick and Voila: “It’s a Wonderful Slice of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’

Since that time, I have performed the piece on stages, in living rooms, in bars, in Savings and Loans (yes, really), outdoors, indoors and just about any place large than a postage stamp. I have done it on radio numerous times, as well as on video.

And so I present the 2012 version, with a great cast of folks from Chicago’s Progressive Talk, AM & FM. Here’s the cast, with the “actors” listed first, followed by their roles:

Ron Cowgill (host of WCPT’s Mighty House) – Uncle Billy
Mike Sanders (host of WCPT’s OurTown) – God, Bert, Ernie, Martini, Truck Driver, Harry
Lisa Albrecht – Mary
Sarah Batka – Violet, Mrs. Bailey, Janey (she even “plays” the piano!), Zuzu
Dennis Schetter – St. Joseph, Man #1, Man #2, Mean Man, and probably some other character that I’ve lost track of

If you don’t catch it live during the 10:00 a.m. hour on Sunday’s show, you can always listen on my podcast page.

Rick DiMaio gets his Masters…Congratulations!

After last Sunday’s show, I grabbed my stuff, quickly headed out of the station and made my way to Chez Rick DiMaio, where a number of us gathered to surprise my excellent meteorologist on the completion of his M.S. Degree in Meteorology (what else?) from Nothern Illinois University. You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a room full of meteorologists waxing poetic on various weather phenomena.

As Rick stated on the air last week, he didn’t exactly count on finishing his degree 30 years after getting his bachelor’s…but I guess that’s life. Anyway, I was happy to be a part of the surprise celebration at Rick’s apartment overlooking Lake Michigan.

Seriously, I can’t thank Rick enough for having shared his weather wisdom with me and my listeners for almost five years now. In my opinion, he’s the best in the business in Chicago, and I wish him much, much success and happiness in the years to come.

The Big Holiday Harvest Broadcast

December 4, 2011

Welcome to the WCPT Holiday Harvest Broadcast!

The WCPT Holiday Harvest Food Drive is up and running, and I hope that means you’re planning to stop by one of our drop off locations throughout the Chicago area and contribute healthy, local and sustainable goods (that’s our suggestion, though we’ll take anything that a food pantry normally accepts) for distribution to people in need. The drive runs through December 11 and we’ve teamed with the great people at Faith in Place to make it happen.

Mike Sanders, host of Our Town, and I teamed up for a three hour WCPT Holiday Harvest extravaganza on Sunday, December 4. You can listen to the podcast from that broadcast HERE. We were broadcasting indoors and out and this was the guest list:

Here’s the full list of places where you can leave your contributions:

  • WCPT AM & FM, 6012 S. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60629
    Donations are accepted:
    Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 8:00am-2:00pm
    Ring the bell during the week to drop off food
    Donations will go to one of the participating Holiday Harvest food programs.
  • First Evangelical Free Church , 5255 N Ashland Ave Chicago, IL 60640
    Donations accepted:
    Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:00am to 4:30 pm
    Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, Sundays 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on December 11. You can purchase local, sustainable goods, turn around and drop them right in the WCPT bin!
    Donations will go to Breakthrough Urban Ministries
  • Healthy Horizons Inc, 7034 Indianapolis Blvd # 1, Hammond, IN 46324-2244
    Donations accepted:
    Monday-Friday 9:00am-8:00pm
    Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm
    Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm
    (Purchase some of their healthy grocery items, turn around and put them in the WCPT bin!)
  • Little Mountain-Hope Ministries, 5716 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60636-1723
    Donations currently accepted Tuesday evenings and all day Sunday. More times to come. Donations will go to the Little Mountain food program.
  • Travelers Rest Spiritual Church, 7030 S Racine Ave, Chicago , IL 60636
    Donations currently accepted Tuesday evenings and all day Sunday. More times to come.
  • Amor De Dios United Methodist Church, 2356 South Sawyer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623
    Donations currently accepted Thursday afternoons and all day Sunday. More times to come.
    Donations will go to the Amor de Dios food program.
  • Euclid Avenue United Methodist, 405 South Euclid Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on March 24, 2012
    Donations go to the Oak Park/River Forest Food Pantry
  • North Shore Unitarian Church, 2100 Half Day Rd Deerfield, IL 60015
    Donations accepted:
    Monday-Friday 10:00am – 2:00pm
    Sundays 9:00am-1:00pm
    December 4th Special Hours: 8:30am-3:00pm
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on December 4! You can purchase local, sustainable goods, turn around and drop them right in the WCPT bin!
    Donations go to their local food pantries.

If you’re wondering what a “healthy, local and sustainable” food drive is, check out the Holiday Harvest page on this website, where we have tried to show how very possible it is to donate healthy protein-rich foods, preserved and canned goods, healthy grains and dried fruits and more. We’re also promoting local purchases. For more information about that, go to Local First Chicago and read about their city-wide Buy Local campaign for the 2011 Holiday Season called “Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local.”

My thanks also to Barbara Melera at the historic D. Landreth Seed Company for donating about one hundred packets, featuring cilantro, chervil, basil and chives seeds, which we are forwarding to the various churches and food networks.

“Green on McLean” community garden takes home an award

I have repeatedly told the story on my show of the “miracle” of the community garden at the end of my block in the Logan Square Neighborhood. A group of us got together in the spring to create the garden on land owned by a local realtor. We knew that because the land is privately owned, we could be kicked off at any time.

Actually, that’s a challenge that many urban community gardens face. But we took it on because we knew that the neighborhood needed change. The litter-strewn lot needed a face lift. The gangbangers on the corner needed to go. And the people of the neighborhood needed to meet each other in a way that they hadn’t in decades.

Thus, Green on McLean was created and, if you’ve heard the story before, you know that we accomplished most of the goals stated above. We grew some pretty decent vegetables, taught the neighborhood kids how to plant seeds, seedlings and potted plants, taught them how to water and care for those plants, and even battled aphids and cucumber beetles. We put up a blog, had pot luck dinners in the garden and watched as the garden grew and became a sacred place in the neighborhood (no gangbangers allowed–and they respected that rule…most of the time).

We even entered the Mayor’s 2011 Landscape Awards competition. We know that ours is far from the most impressive community garden in the city, but we were proud of what we had accomplished. And, on Saturday, December 3, five of the garden stalwarts–Olga, Carrie, Daeshawn, Moncerratt and I–picked up our 3rd Place Award for Community Landscapes in Region 1. Some of the photos are on this site. It’s pretty neat.

By the way,continuing a tradition I have followed for about a decade, I will have the 2011 Chicago Gardener of the Year, Enrique Gonzalez of Hoxie Prairie Garden, on the show next Sunday.

“Feed the Need” with the WCPT Holiday Harvest Food Drive

November 27, 2011

WCPT Holiday Harvest Food Drive begins December 1–Feed the Need!

Gosh, I’m so excited that you would think Christmas was coming or something. Or maybe it is. Or maybe next Thursday, December 1 is the first day of the WCPT Holiday Harvest Food Drive, which runs through December 11. Our thanks to our partner, Faith in Place, which has lined up a number of the drop off locations listed below.

When you bring your locally bought, healthy and sustainable foods (though we’ll take anything, really), you should look for the barrel marked with the WCPT Holiday Harvest logo (pictured left). Of course, you can’t just show up at 3:00 a.m. and expect to drop in your goodies, so here are the times that we know about so far. If a location in your area doesn’t have all of the information you need, never fear–I will be updating this page as I receive it:

  • WCPT AM & FM, 6012 S. Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60629
    Donations are accepted:
    Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 8:00am-2:00pm
    Ring the bell during the week to drop off food
    Of course, Mike Sanders and I will be standing outside to receive your donations during our special Holiday Harvest Broadcast on December 4 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.
    Donations will go to one of the participating Holiday Harvest food programs.
  • First Evangelical Free Church , 5255 N Ashland Ave Chicago, IL 60640
    Donations accepted:
    Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:00am to 4:30 pm
    Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, Sundays 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on December 11. You can purchase local, sustainable goods, turn around and drop them right in the WCPT bin!
    Donations will go to Breakthrough Urban Ministries
  • Healthy Horizons Inc, 7034 Indianapolis Blvd # 1, Hammond, IN 46324-2244
    Donations accepted:
    Monday-Friday 9:00am-8:00pm
    Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm
    Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm
  • Little Mountain-Hope Ministries, 5716 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60636-1723
    Donations currently accepted Tuesday evenings and all day Sunday. More times to come. Donations will go to the Little Mountain food program.
  • Travelers Rest Spiritual Church, 7030 S Racine Ave, Chicago , IL 60636
    Donations currently accepted Tuesday evenings and all day Sunday. More times to come.
  • Amor De Dios United Methodist Church, 2356 South Sawyer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623
    Donations currently accepted Thursday afternoons and all day Sunday. More times to come.
    Donations will go to the Amor de Dios food program.
  • Euclid Avenue United Methodist, 405 South Euclid Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on March 24, 2012
    Donations go to the Oak Park/River Forest Food Pantry
  • North Shore Unitarian Church, 2100 Half Day Rd Deerfield, IL 60015
    Donations accepted:
    Monday-Friday 10:00am – 2:00pm
    Sundays 9:00am-1:00pm
    December 4th Special Hours: 8:30am-3:00pm
    Site of Faith in Place Winter Farmers Market on December 4! You can purchase local, sustainable goods, turn around and drop them right in the WCPT bin!
    Donations go to their local food pantries.

As noted above, Mike Sanders of Our Town and I will join forces for a three hour Holiday Harvest Broadcast on December 4 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. (I can’t mention that enough.)

As I have mentioned repeatedly, our goal is to do a drive that is “healthy, local and sustainable,” at least to the extent possible and practical. Over the past several weeks on the Holiday Harvest page on this website, we have tried to show how very possible it is to donate healthy protein-rich foods, preserved and canned goods, healthy grains and dried fruits and more.

Last week I talked to Suzanne Keers, co-founder & executive director of Local First Chicago, about their city-wide Buy Local campaign for the 2011 Holiday Season called “Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local.” The idea is to educate citizens on the importance of buying locally. Of course, WCPT and The Mike Nowak Show hope that you shop and buy local food, which you will then donate to the WCPT Holiday Harvest. Simple, no?

This week, I’m pleased to be able to talk to Rev. Dr. Bill Shereos, Senior Pastor of First Free Church in Andersonville, which is one of our drop off locations. They will be sending their collection to Breakthrough Urban Ministries in the Garfield Park neighborhood.

We are continuing to update the Holiday Harvest page, and I hope I hope you’ll check it out from time to time and begin gathering food to donate during our drive. Our motto: Feed the Need. Thanks for whatever you can do.

Will the prairie–and bison(!)–make a comback in Illinois?

Okay, kids. Time for a quick quiz. (Bet you didn’t see this coming.) Of the 21 million acres of prairie that were originally in the Prairie State (um, that’s Illinois, in case you’re stumped), what percentage is left?

A. 10%
B. 1%
C. 0.1%
D 0.01%

If you answered D.–ding, ding, ding!–you’ve been paying attention to just how cavalierly Americans over the centuries have treated their natural resources. I’m getting ahead of myself here, but take a look at the Timeline of the American Bison, courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Believe me folks, it ain’t pretty.

But back to praires. In 1996, a remarkable thing happened for the remaining prairies in Illinois. The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie was established on the former Joliet Arsenal. What made Midewin (prounounced mi-Day-win, and pronouncing it correctly is kind of the secret handshake of Illinois environmentalists) so remarkable is that, among other things, it was the first national tallgrass prairie in the country. The long-range goal was to take 20,000 acres of military and farm land and bring back as much prairie ecosystem as is humanly possible.

Interestingly, Midewin, just a stone’s throw from Chicago in Wilmington, Illinois, is part of the National Forest System, which might seem odd because it is far from being a forest. Perhaps that’s not so bad because the National Forest Foundation, a nonprofit group that works with the U.S. Forest Service to provide financial and technical support, announced in October that it was putting it’s muscle behind the restoration.

About 2,000 acres of prairie fields have already been restored at Midewin, but the land is still dotted with military bunkers and checkered with abandoned farm fields. Much needs to be done, which is why the NFF announced a 10-year plan to restore another 18,000 acres and even reintroduce bison on to the property–hence the bison reference earlier. C’mon, how cool is that? I’ll bet you didn’t even know that there were bison roaming Illinois at the beginning of the 19th Century…unless you clicked on the link above.

Midewin is the eighth site to be part of NFF’sTreasured Landscapes campaign. What does that mean? Well, money, for one–to the tune of helping to raise $174 million for the 10-year restoration project. To get a sense of what they hope to accomplish, take a look at this video. One of their partners in this unique venture is The Wetlands Initiative.

I’m pleased to welcome Mary Mitsos, Vice President of Conservation Programs for the National Forest Foundation and Paul Botts (in the interest of full disclosure, he is Beth Botts’ brother), who is Executive Director of The Wetlands Initiative, to talk about how the future of prairies of Illinois is about bringing back some of its past.

Sustainable Food Fundamentals
The D. Landreth Seed Company 2012 Catalog is on its way!

This is just a quick note to let you know that if you’re one of the people who are trying to keep the historic D. Landreth Seed Company in business by ordering a catalog, there will soon be one in your mailbox. A friend of mine who ordered five catalogs received hers on Black Friday (seems fitting, somehow, that she didn’t have to be among the crazed shoppers).

Barbara Melera, owner of D. Landreth, the oldest seed house in America, wrote to me on Facebook that people who ordered multiple copies are already receiving theirs. If you requested only one (stupid me!), they will arrive soon.

You can get a sense of the quality of this catalog by linking to sample pages here. It makes a great gift for your gardening friends, and they’re only five bucks a pop. Meanwhile, you can log onto these various social media sites to continue to get the word out: Landreth Seed Co, Save Landreth Seed Company, Order their 2012 Catalog!, and more. If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #savelandreth. If you just want to make a contribution, go to ChipIn.com and click the icon on the upper right hand side of the page.

A couple of articles about climate change

Meteorologist Rick DiMaio is a wealth of information, not only about the weather, but about climate change, and he’s always alerting me to stories about the latest in climate science and news. This one echoes Rick’s own thoughts about how a little bit of warming can lead to weather extremes.

However, it can be difficult to have a civil conversation over the holiday dinner table with climate skeptics. If you find yourself in that situation, Mother Nature Network has some tips about the subject in an article called How to discuss climate change with your uncle during the holidays. It might just save your self-esteem…if not your sanity.