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

Studs Terkel Award winners reflect ‘Chicago journalism at its best’

Studs Terkel

Three prominent Chicago journalists and the collective news operation of Univision Chicago WGBO-Channel 66 have been named recipients of Studs Terkel Awards for 2017, Public Narrative announced Thursday.

Individual winners of Community Media Awards are Cate Cahan, senior editor of projects and initiatives at Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5; Carlos Javier Ortiz, documentary filmmaker and photographer, and Steven M. Mills, criminal justice reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Continue reading

Greg Solk to program WXRT, K-Hits for CBS Radio

Greg Solk

Greg Solk, the nationally acclaimed radio programmer who’s been the creative force behind The Drive, The Loop and other iconic brands, has been hired as operations manager and program director of adult album alternative WXRT FM 93.1 and classic hits WJMK FM 104.3, CBS Radio Chicago announced Thursday.

“I have been blessed in my career to work for some amazing stations in my hometown, but this opportunity is off the charts,” Solk said in a statement. “Everyone knows there is no station or staff anywhere in the world that can rival the 45-year heritage of WXRT — ‘Chicago’s Finest Rock.’ I am humbled to be a part of its brilliant legacy. Continue reading

Brain disease ‘shook my world,’ NBC 5’s Mike Adamle says

Mike Adamle (Photo: NBC Chicago)

Mike Adamle’s football career brought him fame, glory and a disease that could cost him everything.

The 67-year-old Adamle, who played for the Chicago Bears and Northwestern Wildcats, has disclosed he’s been diagnosed with dementia, the final stage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease doctors attribute to repeated concussions and other head injuries on the field. Doctors also say football likely caused the epilepsy he has fought for 19 years. Continue reading

RedEye to reopen as weekly — just for fun

RedEye Chicago

RedEye Chicago

No one would have been surprised if RedEye Chicago had closed forever. With the rise of mobile devices and social media, the Chicago Tribune’s grand experiment in publishing a free newspaper for young adult commuters had run its course.

Last Friday marked the final appearance of RedEye as a daily print tabloid after 15 years, bowing out with a 16-page edition just slightly larger than many of the 12-page issues being turned out lately. Continue reading

ABC 7’s Charles Thomas to retire from ‘front row to history’

Charles Thomas

Charles Thomas

Charles Thomas, the veteran broadcast journalist and ace political reporter, is retiring after more than 25 years at WLS-Channel 7, the ABC-owned station announced Thursday.

Following the February rating sweep, his last day at ABC 7 will be March 3. Thomas, 65, told colleagues his plans include launching a digital platform focusing on issues in the African-American community. Continue reading

Entercom merger brings new day to CBS Radio Chicago

WBBM Newsradio

WBBM Newsradio

With the surprise merger of CBS Radio and Entercom announced Thursday, it’s a whole new day for the seven Chicago radio stations in the CBS portfolio.

Employees awoke to news of the $1.7 billion deal that will create a new company for all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9; sports/talk WSCR AM 670; Top 40 WBBM FM 96.3; country WUSN FM 99.5; adult album alternative WXRT 93.1, and classic hits WJMK FM 104.3. Continue reading