Robservations: Sinclair still coming to ‘Chicago’s Very Own’


Robservations on the media beat:

Sinclair Broadcast Group plans to sell WGN-Channel 9 and stations in New York and San Diego to comply with ownership limits as part of its amended $3.9 billion proposed merger with Tribune Media, according to a filing Wednesday with the FCC. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be taking over “Chicago’s Very Own.” Even if Sinclair transfers the license for WGN, the company still plans to operate it (and WPIX in New York) under “shared services agreements” with separate licensees. “It’ll be one of those arrangements where, for all intents and purposes, they still own and run the stations,” said a former FCC staffer, who called it “a complete and total evasion of the rules.” In any case, Sinclair is expected to own Tribune Media news/talk WGN AM 720 outright. The controversial merger still awaits FCC and Justice Department approval. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: Eric & The Mix still top of the morning

Melissa McGurren, Eric Ferguson and Brian “Whip” Paruch (Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Eric Ferguson continued his reign as Chicago’s most popular morning personality in the latest radio ratings released Tuesday.

Nielsen Audio figures for the four-week period from January 4 to 31 showed the longtime morning star of WTMX FM 101.9 still solidly No. 1 among all listeners and those between 25 and 54 — the group most coveted by advertisers.

Since the departure of co-host Kathy Hart from the Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary station last year, Ferguson has shared billing on “Eric in the Morning” with Melissa McGurren and Brian “Whip” Paruch. Continue reading

Robert Reed resigns as Tribune business columnist

Robert Reed (Photo: WTTW/Chicago Tonight)

In what he described as “a personal decision,” Robert Reed is calling it quits after 18 months as lead business columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

The veteran Chicago journalist and former editor of Crain’s Chicago Business said he’s not sure what he’ll do next, but felt the time was right to move on. His resignation is effective March 2. Continue reading

Classical morning host Carl Grapentine to retire from WFMT

Carl Grapentine (Photo: WFMT/Ken Carl)

Carl Grapentine, Chicago’s premier classical music radio personality, has announced plans to retire this summer after more than three decades as the golden-voiced morning host at WFMT FM 98.7.

His last day on the morning show will be July 27. After that, he will work on special projects for the station, according to Window to the World Communications, parent company of WFMT. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN Radio sets White Sox broadcast team

Chicago White Sox and WGN Radio

Robservations on the media beat:

Andy Masur

With Chicago White Sox broadcasts moving to WGN AM 720, the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station has designated Andy Masur to host its pregame shows, and Mark Carman and Adam Hoge to split hosting postgame shows. Just hired as executive producer for White Sox baseball is Dave Zaslowsky, who held the same position at Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890, the team’s former radio home. Friday marks the opening of the 2018 Cactus League season, with announcers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson returning to the booth for their 10th season together. Continue reading

Mark Konkol out as Chicago Reader editor

Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol, who promised to “set a new vibe, take risks and make waves” at the Chicago Reader, was forced out Saturday as executive editor of the alternative weekly after the first issue he oversaw ignited a racial and political controversy.

The cover of the February 15 edition featured a caricature of J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic candidate for governor, sitting atop a black lawn jockey and blowing black smoke while an FBI agent listens in on his phone conversation. Three stories inside focused on Pritzker’s wiretapped call in 2008 with former Governor Rod Blagojevich in which they talked about African-American politicians. Continue reading

Robservations: P.F. Chang’s wraps up ABC 7’s Olympics snafu

Mark Rivera (ABC 7, February 10, 2018)

Robservations on the media beat:

An embarrassing blunder for WLS-Channel 7 has turned into a golden marketing opportunity for P.F. Chang’s. It began Saturday when the ABC-owned station mistakenly ran a graphic over news anchor Mark Rivera’s shoulder that referred to the Olympics in PyeongChang as “P.F Chang 2018.” The graphic had been designed for a satirical piece by sports anchor Mark Giangreco that aired the night before. Now the restaurant chain has seized on the snafu by offering free PyeongChang Lettuce Wraps with any entree purchase Thursday. (Here’s the link to the required barcode.) “If you haven’t heard, there was a graphics mix up at a Chicago TV station that alluded to P.F. Chang’s as hosts of a certain winter sporting event,” the company said on its website. “Though it’s not true, we thought it would be appropriate to give the people what they want.” Continue reading

Play ball! WGN Radio picks up White Sox

WGN Radio

Just in time for spring training, WGN AM 720 has finalized an agreement to broadcast Chicago White Sox baseball, the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station and the team announced today.

The three-year deal, which includes all 162 White Sox regular season and postseason games as well as select spring training games, begins February 23 with the opening of the 2018 Cactus League season. Announcers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson return to the radio booth. Continue reading

Robservations: Tronc to funnel all production through Chicago

Tribune Tower

Robservations on the media beat:

Tronc unveiled plans Tuesday to centralize production of all of its newspapers from a new Design and Production Studio in Chicago. The news was contained in a memo from tronc president Tim Knight announcing a companywide reorganization “to reimagine how our newsrooms deliver on our journalistic mission and accelerate our transformation to a truly digital-focused company.” In addition to the Chicago Tribune and suburban publications, tronc papers in New York, Baltimore, Orlando, South Florida, and elsewhere would be produced here. The Design and Production Studio will be led by Cristi Kempf, associate managing editor for editing and presentation at the Tribune, and report to associate editor Colin McMahon. “In collaboration with the editorial managers within each business unit, the DPS team will compile the best content our newsrooms and partners offer into daily print newspapers that serve our most loyal subscribers and advertisers,” Knight told staffers. “Decisions about what stories go on Page One and local coverage choices will remain in each local newsroom.” Good luck with that. Continue reading

It’s official: WGN hires news anchor Joe Donlon

Joe Donlon

Joe Donlon, a leading news anchor in Portland, Oregon, for 21 years, has been hired for the top anchor job at “Chicago’s Very Own” WGN-Channel 9.

Confirming a report here Monday, the Tribune Broadcasting station announced today that Donlon would start in mid-April, succeeding Mark Suppelsa, who retired in December. He’ll join evening and late-news anchors Micah Materre, Ben Bradley and Lourdes Duarte. Continue reading