Robservations on the media beat:
It’s about to become a lot harder to find a copy of the Daily Herald in Chicago. Sources said the suburban newspaper will cease delivery in downtown Chicago as of this weekend. “We have been studying each single-copy location for sales and have found that the paid circulation in the city was trending lower, thus removing boxes and locations where only a few are sold each day,” said Doug Ray, publisher and CEO of Daily Herald Media Group. “We believe the Daily Herald e-edition and web site will be attractive to those wanting newspaper content online and with the web site immediacy of our suburban news content.” The Daily Herald is owned by Paddock Publications, a privately held company based in Arlington Heights. Paddock recently acquired 12 daily and weekly newspapers in southern Illinois from GateHouse Media.
Thirty years ago — on September 8, 1986 — “The Oprah Winfrey Show” debuted from coast to coast. The chaotic first season of what would become the most successful syndicated program of all time is the subject of an insightful oral history in the September issue of Chicago magazine. Kudos to freelance writer and former Sun-Times reporter Mike Thomas, who chronicles that historic year with sharp observations from all of its principal players — including the star herself. “We were flying by the seat of our pantyhose,” Winfrey tells Thomas. “We were doing shows that came out of a really pure space. We were doing what we thought was interesting and would connect to the audience. We were completely, absolutely so naive about the business of the business. The only strategy was, ‘What do we think will work?’ ”
WHPK FM 88.5, the community radio station of the University of Chicago, will be off the air until September 19 following the discovery of a bedbug at WHPK’s studios at 5706 South University Avenue. Station officials disputed reports of an infestation, insisting in a Facebook post that “at no single time was there ever more than one bedbug seen,” adding: “In order to prevent an infestation, University of Chicago officials mandated that the station be temporarily closed and that hosts have their residences inspected and cleared for bedbugs.” DNAInfo Chicago reported seven DJs have quit, in part because they were told they would have to pay for the home checks — a requirement the university has since reversed.
Two more syndicated programs have been dropped from WUSN FM 99.5 as CBS Radio continues to make over the station as “US 99 Chicago’s Hottest Country.” Gone from the weekend lineup are “Serving Your Country,” hosted by former morning co-host Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, and “The Road,” hosted by midday personality Drew Walker. They’re both off the schedule along with the previously reported “American Country Countdown” and “CMT Country Countdown USA.” “We are just re-evaluating everything on the radio station right now,” said Jeff Kapugi, program director of US 99.
Admirers of Ernest Hemingway will be enthralled by a lavishly illustrated new book based on an array of treasures from the author’s suburban Oak Park birthplace. Hidden Hemingway: Inside the Ernest Hemingway Archives of Oak Park, published by Kent State University Press, is available on amazon.com. It’s Chicago writer Robert K. Elder’s seventh book, this one written in collaboration with Aaron Vetch and Mark Cirino. Elder bills it as “a time capsule of sorts, featuring the author’s never-before-seen teenage diaries, sketches, rare family photos, letters — even a newly-found love poem that reveals a previously unknown romance.” It’s all that and more. Elder is director of digital product development and strategy at Crain Communications.
Brian Hieggelke, editor and publisher of the alternative weekly Newcity, reports good news from the set of “Signature Move,” the crowdfunded film he’s producing around town. Principal photography is more than halfway completed on the indie romantic comedy described as a “coming-of-age [story] of a Pakistani-Muslim-lesbian named Zaynab, who lives in Chicago taking care of her conservative-but-sweet TV-obsessed mother.” The film is being documented in real time using Facebook Live videos several times a day from the set. Locations include the South Asian neighborhood around Devon Avenue and the Mexican neighborhood of Little Village. Hieggelke said Chicagoans are welcome to visit the production.
Chicago’s incomparable Herb Kent, still going strong after 72 years in radio, was inducted Sunday in the National Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in Detroit. Leading the cheers for “The Cool Gent” was Derrick Brown, director of urban programming for iHeartMedia Chicago and program director of urban adult-contemporary WVAZ FM 102.7. Kent, 87, spins dusties from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and from noon to 7 p.m. Sundays on V103. His career began in 1944 at age 16 and has spanned 11 radio stations. Kent was inducted in the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.
Howard Grafman, co-founder and former president of Chicago-based Century Broadcasting, died August 17 in Pacific Palisades, California, at 89. A Chicago native, Grafman said he’d wanted to own a radio station ever since he was 10, and served as station manager of WNUR FM 89.3 at Northwestern University, where he graduated from the School of Speech. In 1964, with an investment of $20,000, he formed Century Broadcasting, which eventually grew to encompass stations in Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Denver and Tampa/St. Petersburg. They included the former WFMF (now WSHE FM 100.3), which Century acquired for $300,000 in 1966 and sold for $77 million 31 years later. Grafman left the company in 1988 and later formed Pacific Coast Communications. Services will be Tuesday in Los Angeles.