Robservations on the media beat:
Until a successor is named for the late Doug Banks, look for Joe Soto to continue filling in as afternoon personality on WVAZ FM 102.7. Soto, a Chicago native and 36-year radio veteran, moved up from the evening shift on the iHeartMedia urban adult-contemporary station following the death of the legendary syndicated host April 11. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, V103 ranked No. 1 in afternoons among all listeners. A station spokeswoman said a decision on a permanent replacement is still “a few weeks away.” But Soto would appear to be the odds-on favorite (perhaps reuniting with former co-host Ramonski Luv). In the interim, Chris Michaels is filling in from 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday. Also at V103, Troi Tyler has traded “The Quiet Storm” on Sunday nights for fill-in duties.
Don’t mention the R word (“retirement”) around Jerry Taft. The chief meteorologist at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 took me to task last week for broaching the subject. Notwithstanding the recent hiring of meteorologists Cheryl Scott and Larry Mowry at ABC 7, the 73-year-old Taft is in no rush to step down after nearly 40 years on the air here. When asked about retiring by a viewer, Taft tweeted: “Not planning on it. Rumor started by @RobertFeder.” He then quoted an item I wrote in March that he was “expected to reduce his role later this year and likely will retire in 2017.” He added: “Likely according to who?” Here’s hoping Taft stays as long as he likes.
Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano, the husband-and-wife broadcast duo who recently launched a food blog at susosfork.com, have teamed up with Eli’s Cheesecake Co. on a new recipe. In time for Cinco de Mayo, they’ve created Cheesecake Con Mango, a limited edition cheesecake “topped with sweet, creamy mango and candied lime zest.” They’ll be giving some away to subscribers to Suso’s Fork. It’s also available for purchase online from Eli’s at shop.elicheesecake.com/product/mango.
Rick Kaempfer, author, blogger, media critic, longtime Chicago radio producer and publisher of Eckhartz Press, is adding podcaster to his credits. Starting May 5, Kaempfer and co-publisher David Stern will co-host “Minutia Men,” a weekly podcast for the Radio Misfits network at radiomisfits.com. Produced by Tony Lossano’s Oppih Productions, it’ll feature Kaempfer and Stern sharing stories and drawing on their vast treasures of worthless information (hence the title).
Barbara Pinto, former Chicago-based correspondent for ABC News, has joined FleishmanHillard Public Relations in New York as senior vice president, media training. Since 2013, Pinto has co-hosted “In the Loop,” the weekly news and public-affairs show on City Colleges of Chicago’s PBS affiliate WYCC-Channel 20, along with Chris Bury. A native of New York and graduate of Houghton College, Pinto previously worked for CNBC, MSNBC and WFSB, the CBS affiliate in Hartford, Connecticut.
Rick Soll, star writer for the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times in the 1970s and ’80s, died of lung cancer last Friday at 69. Soll, who also wrote for Chicago magazine among other publications, was married to Pam Zekman, veteran investigative reporter for CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. Soll was born in Chicago and graduated from New Trier High School before receiving degrees from Colgate University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A private memorial for family and friends will be held Saturday.