Robservations on the media beat:
John Coleman III, the prominent Chicago music mixer and producer better known as “DJ Lil’ John,” has been named evening personality at Crawford Broadcasting urban adult-contemporary WSRB FM 106.3. Effective Tuesday, he succeeds Tony Sculfield, who left to host mornings at KBLX in San Francisco. Coleman, who most recently hosted “Club 1063” Friday nights on the station, spent eight years as a top mixer at iHeartMedia urban contemporary WGCI FM 107.5. He began in the 1980s at Kennedy-King College’s WKKC FM 89.3. The new Monday-through-Friday lineup on 106.3 FM features the syndicated Tom Joyner from 5 to 9 a.m., Ericka “Sundance” Campbell from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mike Love from 2 to 6 p.m., and “DJ Lil’ John” from 6 to 10 p.m.
Happily back behind a microphone after a seven-year absence is Chuck Schaden, Chicago’s preeminent radio historian and former host and producer of the old-time radio showcase “Those Were the Days.” Starting this week, the Radio Hall of Famer is hosting a monthly podcast, “Chuck Schaden’s Memory Lane,” on his website at SpeakingofRadio.com. The first installment is an audio journey including stops with James Cagney (as George M. Cohan), a visit to the Chicago Theatre to see Peggy Lee with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and a flashback to “Hoop-Dee-Doo,” a Perry Como polka popular during the summer of 1950. Schaden, 82, retired in 2009 after 39 years with “Those Were the Days.” The show is still going strong under his successor, Steve Darnall, from 1 to 5 p.m. every Saturday on College of DuPage’s WDCB FM 90.9.
John Flynn Rooney, a distinguished Chicago journalist and longtime staff writer for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, died Thursday after a two-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 56. Son of another great Chicago newsman, the late Edmund J. Rooney Jr., he graduated from Loyola University and started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, where he broke the the story of Chicago-area deaths from cyanide-laced Tylenol in 1982. Rooney also worked as a producer for Walter Jacobson at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 before joining the Daily Law Bulletin in 1988. “My plans did not include to stop working at just shy of age 56,” he wrote in a farewell column when he stepped down last August. “But my condition dictates that action.” (Here is the link to the Daily Law Bulletin tribute.)
Colleagues also are mourning the passing of Steve Yahn, founding editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, who died Tuesday at 69 of health problems including Parkinson’s disease. A University of Illinois graduate who began as a writer for the former Chicago Daily News, Yahn launched Crain’s Chicago Business in 1978 after working for the company’s Advertising Age. Dan Miller, who worked for Yahn and succeeded him as editor, recalled: “A hard-news reporter and editor, as a journalist Steve valued elegant and refined writing above all, and was a brilliant editor of reporters’ copy. He could write knowledgeably about pensions and investments as well as American poetry and fine arts.” Yahn went on to become financial editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and the New York Daily News, and editor of Ad Age and Editor and Publisher.
Friday marks the 75th anniversary of the first commercial ever shown on American television. On July 1, 1941, WNBT in New York (now WNBC) aired a 10-second ad for Bulova watches (“America runs on Bulova time”) before the broadcast of a game at Ebbets Field between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Bulova paid $9 for the spot. “It’s a historic day,” said Bruce DuMont, founder and president of Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications. “I think people will be surprised to learn that television existed before the attack on Pearl Harbor.”