Robservations on the media beat:
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s costing more to buy the Chicago Tribune on newsstands. Over the Christmas weekend, the Tribune announced a 33 percent increase in its single-copy price throughout the Chicago area. Monday-through-Saturday increased from $1.50 to $1.99, while Sunday rose from $2.99 to $3.99. (The last price hike was in April 2014.) “The Chicago Tribune is committed to producing the exclusive investigative reporting, suburban news coverage, and thought-leading editorials that our audience expects of us,” said a note to readers. “Our pricing reflects the value associated with these product benefits.” Sun-Times sources say they’re holding steady at $1 on weekdays and $1.75 on Sundays.
Chicago radio veteran Rick O’Dell is pulling the plug after three years on SmoothJazzChicago.net, his excellent streaming digital station, effective Thursday. He cited the prohibitive cost of performance royalties for pureplay webcasters under new rates established by the Copyright Royalty Board. “I realize this is a major disappointment to all of us, and I regret having to do this,” O’Dell posted in an explanatory note to listeners. He continues as program director of Weigel Broadcasting’s WRME LP 87.7, the soft rock/oldies station branded as Me-TV FM.
Melody Mendez, who anchored her final broadcast of “Good Day Chicago” Wednesday, continues to play coy with viewers about where she’s headed. But Mendez is telling friends her next stop is WHDH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Boston. Until then she’ll work out the remainder of her contract with Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 as weekend co-anchor. The New England native and Boston University graduate joined Fox 32 in November 2013 after stops in Denver, Seattle, Champaign, Illinois, and Jackson, Tennessee.
Bosses of CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9 say they’re reevaluating their station’s affiliation with Illinois Radio Network now that it’s been sold to the Illinois Policy Institute, a non-profit conservative think tank. John Tillman, CEO of the Chicago-based institute, announced the acquisition of IRN from Saga Communications, effective Thursday. Terms were not disclosed. WBBM Newsradio was the largest station airing the network’s reports from Springfield. The new owners say they’ll merge IRN with their Illinois News Network. “INN will continue to pursue independent news representing the taxpayer’s voice according to the highest journalism standards,” executive editor Scott Reeder said in a statement. But some critics expressed concerns the group has “a very definite ideological agenda.”
Regardless of the outcome of the New Year’s Eve ratings battle at midnight, the year is ending on a high note for NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. With one night to go in the Nielsen book for December, barely 0.3 rating points separated front-runner ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 from NBC 5 in overall viewership at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. Among viewers between 25 and 54 — the demographic that translates into advertising revenue — NBC 5 beat ABC 7 by a full point, according to Nielsen calculations. It marked the eighth consecutive month NBC 5 beat or tied ABC 7 for first place in the adult demo.
Happy New Year!