Robservations on the media beat:
In a rare victory for local ownership, Kovas Communications has pulled the plug on its time brokerage arrangement with Arizona-based Anthem Broadcasting and retaken control of programming on north suburban news/talk and foreign-language station WCGO AM 1590. The deal with Anthem, which had been in effect since January and included a purchase option for the station, was voided by mutual agreement, according to Chuck Duncan, who continues as general manager. Gone is syndicated host Rusty Humphries and the other shows Anthem imported. As of Monday, WCGO’s weekday afternoon lineup features “The Small Business Advocate” with Jim Blasingame from noon to 2 p.m., “The Kate Dalley Show” from 2 to 4 p.m., and Daniel French’s “Everyday with French and Friends” from 4 to 7 p.m. “Our focus remains to build the station’s relevance from the ground floor among the primary communities we serve and continue to expand each adjoining community from there,” Duncan said.
Bob Smith, the affable and multitalented Chicago broadcaster who co-hosted the weekly magazine show “Sorting It Out” with future “Cheers” star Shelley Long, died Sunday after complications from surgery. He was 84. Smith, who began as a sportswriter for the former Chicago Daily News, shifted to television in 1966 when he joined NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 as a sportscaster. He later worked as editorial director and as co-host, producer and writer of “Sorting It Out,” which ran from 1972 to 1976. In 1977, he moved to CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 as executive producer of programming. Winner of 15 local Emmy Awards, Smith also served as president of the Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The history of American television in the ’90s — “from O.J. Simpson to ‘The Simpsons,’ from Jerry Seinfeld to Jon Stewart” — is the subject of a new, open-ended exhibition at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 North State Street. Written by museum curator and eminent media historian Walter Podrazik, “Watching TV in the 1990s” celebrates “the last decade of a media world in which television sets still occupied a central role across generations of viewers, who were usually watching television at home.” In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will host a series of Saturday afternoon public programs.
Scott Smith, former editorial director at Weigel Broadcasting’s short-lived TouchVision and a prominent commentator on digital and social strategies, has landed as director of editorial content at TeamWorks Media, a Chicago-based content marketing, social media and branding company. Smith, who also blogs at ourmaninchicago.net, previously was vice president of content marketing at Cramer-Krasselt advertising and director of digital strategy at Chicago magazine.
History will note that tronc came into being on June 17, 2016 at 4:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. If the new name for the former Tribune Publishing isn’t enough to make you cringe, then surely the “introductory video” released Monday will do the trick. Typical reactions: “Tronc threatens a nightmare hellscape of video content in new warning to employees,” mocked Casey Newton in The Verge. Slate’s Jordan Weissmann called it “a horror — an unrelenting circular saw of vapid media-consultant clichés.” Chicagoist’s Tankboy (Jim Kopeny) said it was “filled with so much jargon and doublespeak we’re still unclear on what, exactly, tronc will do. According to the video, tronc will ‘harness the power of our local journalism, feed it into a funnel, and then optimize it so we reach the biggest global audience possible.’ But what is that? Sounds more like a meat grinder than a media company.” See for yourself: