Robservations on the media beat:
Ben Hollis, the Chicago television treasure who hosted “Wild Chicago” and “Ben Loves Chicago,” among other classic shows, is characteristically upbeat about upcoming brain surgery. Hollis, 61, will undergo procedures Monday and Tuesday for arterial venous malformation, a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain. “I want to be open to whatever support the universe has open to me in terms of good will and good wishes,” he told friends on Facebook. “I feel amazingly calm and confident.”
Jason Benetti, an ESPN sportscaster who grew up in south suburban Homewood, is expected to be named Hawk Harrelson’s replacement for almost all home games in the Chicago White Sox broadcast booth this season. Harrelson is shifting to play-by-play for road games. Ed Sherman broke the news on the front page of Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune, including the remarkable story of Benetti, 32, overcoming cerebral palsy. “He got the job because he’s really a good broadcaster, not because of the side stories,” White Sox marketing chief Brooks Boyer told Sherman. “What stands out is his ability to broadcast a game.”
While one familiar voice from WXRT FM 93.1 is away on a leave of absence, another has returned. As reported earlier, Terri Hemmert temporarily stepped down as midday personality at the CBS Radio album adult alternative station to recover from cancer surgery Monday. On Tuesday, the station welcomed back Frank E. Lee, who retired last May after 35 years at ’XRT. In the coming weeks Lee will be filling in on his old afternoon shift while Marty Lennartz subs for Hemmert in middays.
The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association has named Chicago Tribune veteran baseball writer Paul Sullivan Illinois Sportswriter of the Year, and longtime Chicago Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes Illinois Sportscaster of the Year for 2016. They will be honored this June at the 57th annual NSSA Awards in Salisbury, North Carolina. It’s a first time honor for Sullivan, but the 10th for Hughes, who won Illinois Sportscaster of the Year in 1996, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014, and Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year for three straight years beginning in 1990. Hughes moves with the Cubs this season to CBS Radio sports/talk WSCR AM 670.
Anthem Broadcasting, parent company of USA Radio Network, has taken over programming of WCGO AM 1590, the north suburban news/talk and foreign-language station owned by Kovas Communications. Under a time brokered agreement effective January 1, the company acquired control of the station with an option to buy. While Korean language programming continues in mornings, WCGO has added USA Radio News and syndicated host Rusty Humphries to afternoons. Anthem Broadcasting is a subsidiary of Liftable Media, based in Phoenix, Arizona.