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Media: July 2022 • “Rich and Ike”

| June 30, 2022


Rich King and Richard “Ike” Isaac (Photo Rick Kaempfer)


For 48 years, Rich King was a constant presence on Chicago radio and television, first as a reporter/writer/editor at WGN Radio and WBBM Radio, then later with WBBM-TV (Channel 2) and WGN-TV (Channel 9). He hosted one of the first sports radio shows in Chicago and covered all of the biggest sports stories.

But that wasn’t the inspiration for his new book Ike and Me (, released last month. The inspiration was his friendship with his former photographer/cameraman Richard “Ike” Isaac. The two men worked together for more than a quarter-century after they met on the job.

“We got assigned together,” Rich explains. “Dan Roan was responsible for bringing Ike into the sports department before I got to WGN. When I was hired to be the main reporter, I was teamed up with Ike, and we worked together for 26 years. About a year ago, I had lunch with Ike and posted a picture of us on Facebook, and a lot of people commented that we should write a book because we have so many great stories. Every ex-broadcaster writes a book about his career. I didn’t want to do that, so I wrote it about Ike and me.”

The poignant book includes the surprising storyline of how race affected their time together and how they each learned from the experience.

“I grew up in a very racist neighborhood (Pilsen in the 1950s/60s),” Rich says, “and here I am working with a Black guy for 26 years and having a great time. The book starts out examining that racial aspect, but it evolves into two guys who just tried to do the job together. Two guys who fought obstacles and became friends. Over the years, we’ve had a great relationship.”

King is very complimentary of Ike’s work as a cameraman/journalist, a job that Isaac continues to do for WGN-TV.

“Ike’s forte is aggressiveness,” Rich explains. “He gets the shot. Period. I remember one time when we needed to talk to (Chicago Bear’s linebacker Brian) Urlacher, and he hadn’t spoken to the press in a while, and there must have been 20-25 camera crews around his locker. Somehow Ike found a way in there. That’s what he loves. He loves the adrenaline of the deadline. Chasing the story. Luckily, there were lots of opportunities for him to do that, particularly during the Bulls championship era.”

The business that the two men worked in a few decades ago, of course, isn’t at all like it is today. **Ike and Me chronicles a special time in Chicago media history and, more specifically, a very special time in Chicago sports history. King explains the significance.

“We do get into the sports stories we covered,” he says, “And that’s because we had access to some of the greatest athletes in history. We had access to Michael Jordan. To Walter Payton. To Mike Ditka. That kind of access doesn’t exist anymore. They’ve separated these stars from the media now. We talked to Michael Jordan every day, especially in his pre-baseball days. We became friends with Walter. Ike and I were invited to his funeral. So we included a lot of stories about those guys, and people like Jimmy Piersall and Harry Caray, what they were like, and what it was like to cover them. I thought, you know, that era is gone. Let’s chronicle it for the future generations to come.”

The Last Dance documentary on ESPN attempted to chronicle that Bulls era too. King says he believes that show got a few important details wrong, a subject he also tackles in his book.

“I was in the prime of my career at that time, and I had tons of sources everywhere. I had several sources on both sides, players and management. Based on what I heard from the people involved in that last season, Jerry Krause was not the villain he was portrayed to be in the documentary. He was difficult at times, no question. He was not the most affable guy in the world. But say what you want to say about him personally; he didn’t break up the Bulls. Phil Jackson was at a point in his life where he had personal issues, and he couldn’t do one more year. He needed a rest. He deserved it too. The guy won six titles. I’m not blaming him for wanting a rest. Plus, Jordan had hurt his finger cutting a cigar. My sources tell me that in the last year of the championship, Michael barely made it through that year. He was battling knee problems. Without those factors, I don’t think Krause would have broken up the team. It might be true that he relished rebuilding it, but he didn’t want the championship run to end. He was not the villain.”

At the end of May, King returned to his hometown of Chicago (he lives in Arizona now) to launch this book, and he reconnected with several of his old friends. The timing was perfect because he just happened to be here during Dan Roan’s retirement week. Rich was back on WGN-TV talking about his old boss and friend.

“I was glad to be able to be here for his retirement,” Rich says, “to help celebrate him and his accomplishments. Ike was there too. Dan Roan was instrumental to both of our careers.”

The highlights of those impressive careers are featured in the book Ike and Me,” available now at

(Full disclosure: Rick Kaempfer is also the co-owner of the publishing company Eckhartz Press)



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Category: Columns, Featured, Media, Monthly

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