WTTW CEO Dan Schmidt announces retirement

Dan Schmidt

Dan Schmidt, the controversial president and CEO of the parent company of public television WTTW-Channel 11 and classical radio WFMT FM 98.7, will retire at the end of the year, Window to the World Communications Inc. (WWCI) announced Thursday.

Schmidt, 62, joined the company as senior vice president of WFMT and its radio network in 1991 and was promoted to president and CEO in 1998, succeeding the late William J. McCarter, the visionary architect of public broadcasting in Chicago. Continue reading

WBEZ brings back Steve Edwards as chief content officer

Steve Edwards

Steve Edwards, one of the brightest stars to have guided WBEZ FM 91.5 in a generation, is returning to the public radio station as vice president and chief content officer, parent company Chicago Public Media announced Thursday.

Edwards is stepping down as executive director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, where he has worked since leaving WBEZ in 2012. At the time, he was anchor of “The Afternoon Shift,” a live, two-hour weekday call-in program that showcased his enormous talents as an inquisitive journalist, brilliant interviewer and affable host. Continue reading

Former NBC 5 anchor Lauren Jiggetts to join ‘WGN Morning News’

Lauren Jiggetts

Lauren Jiggetts, who resigned last April after 10 years at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, is about to return to Chicago television as a Monday-through-Friday news anchor for the top-rated “WGN Morning News,” sources said.

Jiggetts is expected to join Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9 next month as co-anchor with Dan Ponce from 4 to 6 a.m. She will succeed Lourdes Duarte, who shifted to the station’s 4 p.m. newscast alongside Ben Bradley earlier this year. Continue reading

Robservations: Robin Amer to launch investigative podcast series on ‘The City’

Robin Amer (Photo: Alissa Pagels)

Robservations on the media beat:

Robin Amer, a stellar investigative journalist and former deputy editor of the Chicago Reader, has joined Gannett’s USA Today Network to launch “The City,” an ambitious podcast series examining how cities really work. Debuting in 2018, the first season will focus on Chicago. “It’s clear that there is an investment in podcasting as a news medium, and I’m excited to start working with local journalists at publications across the country,” she said in a statement. “These writers are deeply rooted in their communities and have a strong grasp of the core issues and struggles America’s cities and citizens face.” Before joining the Reader in 2015, Amer was a reporter/producer for Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5 and a contributor to DNAInfo/Chicago. Continue reading

Exclusive: Eisendrath wants Sun-Times to serve ‘the 99 percent’

Edwin Eisendrath

Armed with $15 million from an investment group that includes organized labor and about a dozen well-heeled individuals, Edwin Eisendrath made a stronger than expected bid for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader Monday to secure what he sees as a progressive voice for working men and women.

“Only coming out of Chicago could we put together something that’s progressive but not elite,” he said in an interview. “Great journalism in a great democracy means that the 99 percent should recognize themselves in what gets written.” Continue reading

Robservations: Eisendrath confirms bidding for Sun-Times, Reader today

Chicago Sun-Times

Robservations on the media beat:

Edwin Eisendrath confirmed Sunday that he will submit a formal offer for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader before the deadline set by the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division and owner Wrapports Holdings LLC at 5 p.m. Monday. The Chicago Federation of Labor and a consortium of other investors has joined the effort by Eisendrath, an international consultant and former Chicago alderman. With encouragement from the Justice Department, they’re offering an alternative to a plan by Chicago Tribune owner tronc to acquire the daily Sun-Times and weekly Reader, under a letter of intent signed last month. Eisendrath declined to comment further or identify other investors in his group. Continue reading

Wendy Rice to exit WXRT’s ‘Saturday Morning Flashback’

Wendy Rice

Wendy Rice, the voice of “Saturday Morning Flashback” on WXRT FM 93.1 for more than 30 years, is stepping down from the CBS Radio adult album alternative station. Rice announced at the end of this week’s show that next weekend’s broadcast will be her last.

Airing from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, the program focuses on the music, movies, pop culture and news headlines of a particular year each week. Rice was onboard at its inception in 1985 and was named sole host and producer in 1991. Continue reading

Dawning on The U: Will viewers toast ‘The Jam’ in mornings?

Hosts of “The Jam” (from left): Jordan Cornette, Danielle Robay and Felicia Lawrence

The hosts have been hired, the set is being built and rehearsals are underway on what Weigel Broadcasting promises will be “a whole new fresh take” on morning television for Chicago.

Sometime later this summer — an exact date has not been announced — WCIU-Channel 26 will launch “The Jam,” a live two-hour morning news show with a decidedly youthful, urban edge. It’s the station’s latest effort to draw the 25-to-54 audience and cash in on the advertising bonanza at sunrise. Continue reading

Robservations: NBC 5 hires new anchor from Kansas City

Patrick Fazio

Robservations on the media beat:

WMAQ-Channel 5 has reached out to Kansas City, Missouri, to beef up the anchor bench at the NBC-owned station. Patrick Fazio, who’s been morning news anchor at NBC affiliate KSHB in Kansas City since 2013, will join NBC 5 as an anchor and reporter, starting July 31. His specific anchor assignment has not been set. “We are pleased to add Patrick to our experienced news team,” Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at NBC 5, said in an announcement Wednesday. Fazio, a St. Louis native who previously worked for stations in Terre Haute, Indiana, Springfield, Illinois, and Idaho Falls, Idaho, graduated from Valparaiso University and earned a master’s degree from Indiana State University. Continue reading

‘Eric & Kathy’ still No. 1 — even with Kathy out of The Mix

Melissa McGurren, Brian Paruch, Eric Ferguson, Kathy Hart, John Swanson and Cynthia DeNicolo

Chicago radio ratings released Monday raised new questions about whether Kathy Hart will return to the immensely popular morning show she has co-hosted for more than 20 years.

Hart is in the seventh week of her absence from “The Eric & Kathy Show” on Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX FM 101.9 — with no explanation to her partner, Eric Ferguson, their co-workers, or their vast audience of faithful listeners. Repeated requests for comment from Hart have been turned down. Continue reading