Robservations on the media beat:
No one is supposed to know it yet, but WLS-Channel 7 is about to add a new face to its weather front. Larry Mowry, chief meteorologist at CBS-owned KTVT in Dallas, is expected to join the ABC-owned station here next month. It’s a homecoming for Mowry, who worked weekends at ABC 7 in 2004 and freelanced at CLTV in 2003. The addition comes as 32-year veteran Jerry Taft prepares to turn over his 10 p.m. weekday weather duties to newcomer Cheryl Scott. Also in the station’s meteorology mix are Tracy Butler, Phil Schwarz and Troy Christensen. No comment from ABC 7.
Someone at WMAQ-Channel 5 chose an odd image of Ronald and Nancy Reagan to illustrate the NBC-owned station’s breaking news report online and in social media Sunday about Nancy Reagan’s death. In fact, it wasn’t really them at all. It was a photo of life-size wax figures of the former president and first lady from Madame Tussauds in Washington, D.C. Insert your own punchline here.
Ben Meyerson, news editor of Pioneer Press west suburban publications, has been named news editor of Blue Sky Innovation, published by the Chicago Tribune. He previously was editor of Chicago Journal and a reporter for Wednesday Journal and Chicago Current. “Ben has an enthusiasm for journalism — and for technology and the startup scene — that will elevate our daily coverage of the digital economy,” said Andrea Hanis, editor of Blue Sky Innovation. His father is veteran journalist Charlie Meyerson, vice president of editorial for Rivet News Radio.
A month tarnished by fake snow and botched graphics ended in defeat for ABC 7 at 10 p.m. among viewers between 25 and 54. By a 17 percent advantage, NBC 5 won the demographic most closely watched by station bosses and most coveted by advertisers. “WGN Morning News” on Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9 continued to lead in the adult demos during the February sweep. Still and all, ABC 7 again won in overall households for all news time periods. Final footnote: Despite an anchor change last fall at WBBM-Channel 2, ratings for the CBS-owned station’s 10 p.m. newscast declined 42 percent year to year. CBS 2 finished behind ABC 7, NBC 5 and WGN.
Lou Manfredini, Chicago’s home improvement virtuoso, has signed a contract extension that will keep him on WGN AM 720 through the end of 2020. “The Mr. Fix-It Show” airs from 7 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on the Tribune Media news/talk station. “Lou remains the classic neighborhood laborer with a razor sharp wit,” Todd Manley, vice president of programming and content at WGN, said in a statement. “Yet his great work on the radio is still eclipsed by a passion for community service.” Manfredini began at WGN in 1995 as a regular guest with Bob Collins, who dubbed him “Mr. Fix It.” In 2015 he was inducted in the WGN Radio Walk of Fame.
The great Michael Feldman is ending production of his comedy quiz show “Whad’Ya Know?” after 31 years. Wisconsin Public Radio cited diminished interest among stations for canceling the live, two-hour weekly program, as of June 25. “I will be forever grateful to everybody — and their kids! — who made the show so much a part of their lives and of mine,” Feldman said in a statement. Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5 dropped the show in 2008. Before launching “Whad’Ya Know?” in 1985, Feldman briefly co-hosted evenings with Catherine Catalane on WGN.
The Chicago radio community is remembering John Rook, the longtime programming executive who headed operations at WLS AM 890 as a legendary Top 40 station in the late 1960s and consulted the former WCFL in the ’70s. He later became a radio station owner and created the Hit Parade Hall of Fame and Hit Parade Radio. Rook died last Tuesday at his home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, at 78. In 2004 Rook sent me the link to a 12-minute promotional documentary about his programming strategy, produced in 1969 by the sales department of WLS. It’s an amazing time capsule that includes appearances by Clark Weber, Art Roberts and Lyle Dean.