Constable: Just how good are poll's most satisfying job (singer) and least (radio/TV producer)?

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones have made more than a satisfactory living singing hit songs including "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." But according to a recent poll about job satisfaction, Jagger and Richards have the most satisfying job in the country.

Singers scored a 91.7 rating, with 0 being "miserable" and 100 being "very happy," on a survey by the career website Singers beat out firefighters (90.0) to grab the title as most satisfying career. That doesn't surprise Sheri Winkelmann, a Palatine entertainer who performs as Marilyn Monroe, Connie Francis and Madonna.

"I love it. I love the interaction with the audience," says Winkelmann, a Mount Prospect native who did her first performance at age 5 singing "On the Good Ship Lollipop," the signature song of child actress Shirley Temple. "There's no better feeling in the world than to put smiles on people's faces and make them forget the troubles of the world."

Not that performing is easy. In addition to daily practicing, Winkelmann is a self-employed entrepreneur who acts in movies and TV, directs, writes and engages in nearly constant marketing. Some things are out of a singer's control.

"You can't bring your violin. You have to be the violin," Winkelmann says. "Your instrument is your own body, and you can't always control the circumstances."

Before one recent performance in Arizona, she endured two flight delays, was up all night and had no time to rehearse with a new band. "That was pretty nerve-wracking," Winkelmann says.

Even then, singing is akin to meditation when it comes to easing stress.

"With singing, you have to breathe a lot, so it can be very relaxing," Winkelmann says.

One job where relaxation is hard to come by is radio or TV producer, which ranked at the other end of the satisfaction scale. Mail clerk, a job often used as the low point in the corporate climb from mailroom to corner office, is the least satisfying job in that poll with a score of 25. But radio and TV producer, a job many people aspire to, notches a score of just 30.

That makes sense to Rick Kaempfer, a Mount Prospect resident who literally wrote the book on being a radio producer in 2004 with his "The Radio Producer's Handbook," co-written with John Swanson. Kaempfer famously was the producer for the "Steve & Garry Show," featuring the legendary Steve Dahl and Garry Meier on WLUP-FM in the 1980s, and he faced plenty of stressful moments.

"They just expected perfection. If there were technical problems or a guest was late, I got the blame," says Kaempfer, now a 56-year-old author, founder of Eckhartz Press and media critic for the Illinois Entertainer. "I don't want to make it sound like I'm complaining. My career was made by being their producer. But if you know, when you screw up, 300,000 people are going to hear about it, it's really good inspiration not to screw up."

When the Berlin Wall fell, Dahl, knowing Kaempfer spent much of his youth in Germany, had his producer reach out to his sister who lived in Berlin. "She had no accent," says Kaempfer, who also has no accent. Dahl wanted to talk to someone who sounded German, so he ended up talking with Kaempfer's grandmother.

"She had an accent," Kaempfer says, but Dahl "told a Nazi joke and she hung up on him."

When Kaempfer went to Germany, Dahl made him promise to bring back a piece of the wall. "I chipped off a piece of Mount Prospect concrete," Kaempfer says, adding that Dahl displayed the suburban treasure in a glass case. Dahl, who left radio in December and now has a podcast, recently brought Kaempfer in to spill some behind-the-scenes dirt. Kaempfer recorded that Berlin Wall story, but he isn't sure Dahl has heard it.

"The last three or four times I saw him, he's been very nice to me," says Kaempfer, adding that in spite of the stress, he wouldn't change a thing.

Kaempfer hosted the radio show "Ebony & Ivory," with Stan Lawrence. "I was Ivory," Kaempfer says. The father of three also worked as producer for John Records Landecker and has written other books, including, "Records Truly Is My Middle Name," "Father Knows Nothing" and this year's hit, "everycubever."

Kaempfer seems satisfied. If not, there's always singing.

The author of this Chicago Cubs book, and a co-founder of Eckhartz Press, Rick Kaempfer of Mount Prospect spent years working as a radio producer in a stressful job that ranks low in satisfaction. Courtesy of Rick Kaempfer
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