NBC 5 promotes Siafa Lewis to lead sports anchor

Siafa Lewis

After three years on the sports staff of WMAQ-Channel 5, Siafa Lewis has been named lead sports anchor, the NBC-owned station announced Monday.

Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at NBC 5, said in a statement: “Siafa has been an integral member of our team since joining us in 2014. We are thrilled to have him anchor our weeknight sportscasts alongside news anchors Rob Stafford and Allison Rosati.” Continue reading

Robservations: Traffic tie-up could jam Bart Shore

Bart Shore

Robservations on the media beat:

Bart Shore, who’s been Chicago radio’s premier voice of traffic for 17 years, soon may be off top-rated CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9. Starting April 1, CBS Radio is dropping its affiliation with iHeartMedia’s Total Traffic Network and launching its own traffic service with USTN (formerly Radiate Media). The catch is that Shore and other key voices of traffic and sports on WBBM Newsradio (including Kris Habermehl, Mike Pries, Bonnie Greene, George Ofman, Rick Gregg and Dave Kerner) are locked into contracts with Total Traffic Network. CBS Radio has begun staffing their positions under new traffic operations chief Kevin Scott. No comment from CBS Radio bosses here. Continue reading

ABC 7 suspends Mark Giangreco for ‘lunatic’ Trump tweet

Mark Giangreco

WLS-Channel 7 has slapped sports anchor Mark Giangreco with a multi-week suspension for a tweet in which he called President Donald Trump a “cartoon lunatic” and referred to Trump voters as “simpletons.”

Management of the top-rated ABC-owned station released the following statement Thursday: “Mark Giangreco’s Twitter comments are not in line with ABC 7 Chicago’s non-partisan editorial standards. We’ve reviewed the matter and are taking the appropriate action.” Continue reading

It’s Knight time for tronc’s digital division

Timothy Knight

Timothy Knight, who was Michael Ferro’s right-hand man at Sun-Times parent company Wrapports for four years, is back in Chicago and working for his old boss again.

Knight, 51, has been hired as president of troncX, the digital content and commerce division of tronc, the company announced in its fourth quarter earnings report Wednesday. He starts in the newly created position immediately. Continue reading

Louise Kiernan named editor of ProPublica Illinois

Louise Kiernan

Louise Kiernan, a veteran Chicago journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, has been hired as editor-in-chief of ProPublica Illinois, an investigative news organization soon to be launched here.

Kiernan most recently has been an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and co-director of Medill’s Social Justice News Nexus, the school’s social justice and investigative reporting specialization.

Illinois will mark the first regional publishing venture for ProPublica, the independent, nonprofit producer of investigative journalism, founded in New York in 2007. Continue reading

Robservations: Surprise! It’s 65 and sunny for Tom Skilling

Tribune Broadcasting president Larry Wert, WGN general manager Paul Rennie and Tom Skilling

Robservations on the media beat:

Tom Skilling

Even Chicago’s spectacularly beautiful weather was in on the conspiracy to make Sunday a perfect day for Tom Skilling. Family, friends and co-workers from WGN-Channel 9 gathered Sunday night to surprise the superstar meteorologist, who turns 65 on Monday. What Skilling thought would be a quiet birthday dinner with friends became a grand and heartfelt tribute to Chicago’s most beloved broadcaster and America’s greatest weatherman. “I’m a senior citizen now — it’s official!” he told the roomful of well-wishers. “And by God, there’s life after senior citizenship!”  Happy birthday, Tom. Continue reading

Robservations: Layoffs hit DNAinfo

DNAinfo Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:

Even a lean and efficient digital news operation backed by a billionaire isn’t immune to economic pressures. Two full-time editorial employees were cut last week at DNAinfo Chicago, sources confirmed Thursday. The layoffs follow the recent departure of columnist Mark Konkol after four years at the hyperlocal news source. His position is not expected to be filled. Shamus Toomey, managing editor of DNAinfo Chicago, said in a statement: “We’re always working to find the correct size for our team covering Chicago’s neighborhoods.” Joe Ricketts, billionaire patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, bankrolls DNAinfo, which he founded in New York in 2009. He expanded to Chicago in 2012. Continue reading

Robservations: Bling to ring in Cubs season on ABC 7

Chicago Cubs on ABC 7

Robservations on the media beat:

The third year of WLS-Channel 7’s agreement to broadcast Chicago Cubs baseball will begin with something new — a World Series Ring Ceremony. The first of 25 games to air in primetime, daytime and weekends on the ABC-owned station this season will be the Cubs matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on April 12. It will be preceded by the on-field presentation of the rings to players (including the participation of 20 fans), starting at 6:30 p.m. “When we began this partnership in 2015 we knew good things were going to happen, but a World Series win in Year 2 was magic,” John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, said in a statement. “We know the Cubs will generate a tremendous amount of excitement again this year and we’re thrilled to showcase the World Champions on ABC 7 Cubs broadcasts.” Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Dick Biondi Film’ launches Kickstarter campaign

Dick Biondi

Robservations on the media beat:

Pamela Pulice

A Chicago filmmaker who’s been working for three years on a documentary about Radio Hall of Famer Dick Biondi is seeking help to reach the finish line. Pamela Pulice has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 to complete production of “The Dick Biondi Film.” Billed as “the story of a rebel disc jockey who changed how a generation listened to the radio,” it features interviews with more than 50 friends and fans of “The Wild I-Tralian,” and chronicles the unparalleled career of one of the most influential radio personalities of all time. Fifty-seven years after he first took Chicago radio by storm, the beloved Biondi, 84, is still riding the airwaves — from 6 to 10 a.m. Saturdays and 7 to 10 a.m. Sundays on Cumulus Media classic hits WLS FM 94.7. Continue reading