Robservations: Cumulus opts out of White Sox, Bulls, 101 WKQX, The Loop

Cumulus Media

Robservations on the media beat:

Struggling to emerge from bankruptcy, Cumulus Media announced plans Thursday to drop its money-losing multiyear contracts to broadcast White Sox baseball and Bulls basketball on news/talk WLS AM 890. The company also moved to cancel its deal with Merlin Media to acquire alternative rock WKQX FM 101.1 and classic rock WLUP FM 97.9. Cumulus has been operating the two stations since 2014 under a local marketing agreement. “As part of our operational turnaround, we have been focused on taking proactive steps to address unprofitable areas of our business,” Mary Berner, president and chief executive officer of Cumulus Media, said in a statement. “We are taking this action because the economic terms of these legacy contracts guarantee that we lose money and, as such, continuing them in their current form is not in Cumulus’s best interests.” U.S. Bankruptcy Court is scheduled to rule February 1 on the company’s plan to reject the contracts. It’s not known where the White Sox and Bulls will go or who will operate 101 WKQX and The Loop after Cumulus. Continue reading

Tronc names Jim Kirk interim editor of New York Daily News

Jim Kirk

Veteran Chicago journalist Jim Kirk, former publisher and editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times, was appointed interim editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News Thursday.

The move comes four months after the New York tabloid was acquired by tronc, Chicago-based parent company of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. The Daily News has been without an editor-in-chief or publisher since Arthur Browne retired from both jobs at the end of December. Continue reading

WTTW salutes retiring ‘Chicago icon’ Joel Weisman

Joel Weisman (Photo: WTTW)

An all-star lineup of Joel Weisman’s A-list guests over the years will headline an hourlong special tribute to the retiring host of “Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review.”

Airing at 7 p.m. Friday on public television WTTW-Channel 11 (and online at the special will mark Weisman’s final appearance after a record 40 years as host of the weekly roundtable of Chicago journalists. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago publisher has design on ‘hole’ story

Robservations on the media beat:

It’s only the middle of January, but courtesy of President Donald Trump, we already may know the word of the year: “Shithole,” of course. A Chicago area publisher has secured the online domain and released a line of merchandise bearing the logo he designed featuring the Statue of Liberty. ( was already taken.) “Ultimately, I’d like to create a website that highlights the contributions of immigrants from those so-called shithole countries,” said David Stern, co-founder and publisher of Eckhartz Press. “Until then, all profits from any merchandise sold on [T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, tote bags, etc.] will be donated to charities that improve the lives of people in those areas.” Added Stern: “My parents emigrated from Berlin in 1949. I imagine there wasn’t a bigger ‘shithole’ on Earth back then.” Continue reading

ABC 7 shifts Larry Mowry to weekday weather front

Larry Mowry and Cheryl Scott

With the impending retirement of chief meteorologist Jerry Taft, WLS-Channel 7 announced a change in its weather front Friday.

Larry Mowry, who has been appearing on the ABC-owned station’s weekend morning newscasts, will move to weekdays, starting January 22. He’ll deliver forecasts on ABC 7’s 4 and 6 p.m. newscasts and on the 7 p.m. newscast the station produces for Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN to salute Milt Rosenberg’s ‘lasting impact’

Milt Rosenberg

Robservations on the media beat:

WGN AM 720 will celebrate the life and legacy of talk show host Milt Rosenberg, starting at 8 p.m. tonight. Hosted by Justin Kaufmann, the special broadcast will include tributes from Lorna Gladstone, former program director of the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station, Bruce DuMont, first producer of Rosenberg’s “Extension 720,” and Joe Morris, Rosenberg’s close friend and frequent guest, among others. “The show will be filled with classic interviews and conversation about his lasting impact on Chicago and American radio,” said Todd Manley, station manager and vice president of content and programming at WGN. Rosenberg, who was pushed out of WGN after 39 years in 2012, died Tuesday at 92. Continue reading

Milt Rosenberg 1925-2018

Milt Rosenberg

For nearly 40 years, Milt Rosenberg was the smartest man on the radio.

As host of “Extension 720,” the University of Chicago psychology professor presided over a two-hour nightly meeting of the minds on Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720. The program attracted a national following by virtue of WGN’s powerful signal at night and later reached a worldwide audience through multiple digital platforms.

Milton J. Rosenberg died Tuesday of pneumonia and its complications after entering the hospital on New Year’s Day, according to Joseph Morris, an attorney and close friend. He was 92. Continue reading

Robservations: Telemundo Chicago adds midday newscast

Irene Sánchez

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago’s first Spanish-language midday newscast will premiere January 22 when Telemundo Chicago WSNS-Channel 44 launches “Noticias Telemundo, Mediodía.” Irene Sánchez will anchor at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, with weather reported alternately by María Elena Ponticiello and Jessica Delgado. It will be followed by a half-hour national newscast. Telemundo Chicago also will air local news cut-ins at 6:26, 7:26 and 8:26 a.m. weekdays. “To be first with live news in Spanish in the mornings and midday is an indication of our passion to keep our viewers informed and engaged throughout the day,” Diana Maldonado, Telemundo Chicago vice president of news, said in a statement. Continue reading

The Oprah I know will never run

Oprah Winfrey (Photo: NBC)

I hate to spoil everybody’s fun, but I don’t believe for a minute that Oprah Winfrey will run for president.

Her inspiring acceptance speech Sunday night at the Golden Globes and the “Oprah for President” boom it touched off on social media immediately provoked giddy speculation of a possible White House bid in 2020. The story gained legitimacy Monday when CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that two unnamed close friends of Winfrey said she was “actively thinking” about running for president.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. Continue reading

Robservations: WCCQ turns to country’s ‘old friends’

WCCQ 98.3

Robservations on the media beat:

WCCQ FM 98.3, Chicago’s No. 3 country music station, is turning back the clock. Rebranding itself “Today’s Country & The Legends,” the Alpha Media southwest suburban-based station relaunches its country format today with an emphasis on artists from the ’90s and early 2000s. “We can’t imagine a world without George, Garth, Martina, Kenny, Brooks and Dunn and so much more,” read a message to listeners. “WCCQ is a station for country folks who live life with the music up and the tailgate down. So join us as we give new life to some old friends!” In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WCCQ tied for 30th place with a 0.5 percent audience share. Country competitors WUSN FM 99.5 tied for sixth with a 3.7 share, and WEBG FM 95.5 ranked 23rd with a 1.6 share. Continue reading