Robservations on the media beat:
The station that told its reporters they couldn’t wear hats in winter now has them wearing bright red jackets branded with the company’s logo. Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 ordered the emblazoned coats and headgear for employees after the station was ridiculed here for telling staffers they had to go hatless during live shots. (Fox 32 boss Dennis Welsh later disavowed the edict, calling it “5,000 percent not a station policy.”) One insider called the new red regalia “a typical overreaction by management.”
Epic fail best describes the City Club of Chicago luncheon Monday on “The Future of Print Media” featuring publishers Tony Hunter of the Chicago Tribune, Jim Kirk of the Sun-Times and David Snyder of Crain’s Chicago Business. To the astonishment of the sold-out crowd (and no doubt to relief of both Hunter and Kirk), no mention was made of Michael Ferro, the reigning czar of Chicago’s two daily newspapers. Asked to account for the lapse, moderator Paul Green said: “No member of the audience asked a question about Ferro.” OK, then why didn’t Green?
Tribune Media, Chicago-based parent company of WGN-Channel 9 and WGN AM 720, took the first step Monday in selling off its assets. In its latest earnings report it announced the hiring of Moelis & Co. and Guggenheim Securities to explore a possible sale. “The strategic and financial alternatives under consideration include, but are not limited to, the sale or separation of select lines of business or assets, strategic partnerships, programming alliances and return of capital initiatives,” the company said. Holdings include 42 television stations nationwide, WGN America, Antenna TV and Gracenote. Tribune Media also confirmed a new two-year employment agreement for Peter Liguori as president and chief executive officer.
Chicago viewers of the Academy Awards Sunday night were deluged with promos for WLS-Channel 7 teasing a “showstopper” and a “game changer” in weather reporting. “Get ready, Chicago, for a first in local weather,” the ABC-owned station hyped. “Coming soon technology to show you weather in a whole new way.” So what’s up? Rumors range from a fancy new radar system to “augmented reality elements” featuring graphics that will “pop out of the floor in the middle of the studio.” For now, ABC 7 isn’t telling: “We’ve got something new and exciting in weather, and we’re looking forward to introducing it soon,” said spokesperson Jayme Nicholas.