Robservations on the media beat:
On Friday I had the honor of attending a special performance of “And That’s The Way It Is: Cronkite’s Journey” at Lincoln Center in New York commemorating the centennial of Walter Cronkite’s birth. Cronkite’s family and members of his staff were among those honoring the legendary anchorman. The three-act multimedia tribute was presented by Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, home of the Walter Cronkite Memorial. Long known as “The Most Trusted Man in America,” Cronkite was born in St. Joseph on November 4, 1916.
Jane Pauley, whose inauspicious start as a Chicago news anchor led to one of the great careers in all of television, has been named the new anchor of “CBS Sunday Morning.” She succeeds Charles Osgood, who retired Sunday after 22 years with the top-rated news program. First paired with Floyd Kalber at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 in 1975, the 24-year-old ingenue from Indianapolis overcame brutal critics (including the Chicago Tribune’s Gary Deeb, who quoted an unnamed executive saying she had “the IQ of a cantaloupe”). Pauley went on to a Hall of Fame career as host of NBC’s “Today” and “Dateline NBC.”
On the eve of the 2016 presidential debates the Museum of Broadcast Communications is spotlighting its exhibit on the 1960 debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in Chicago. That encounter originated 56 years ago today — September 26, 1960 — from the McClurg Court studios of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. The exhibit includes the camera used for Kennedy’s close-ups and the Secret Service map of the building. “It was the day when television and politics were first brought together — and neither politics nor television have been the same since,” said museum president Bruce DuMont.
They’re figuratively popping Champagne corks at WFLD-Channel 32 over September ratings that show the Fox-owned station tied at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday with Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9 among viewers between 25 and 54. Both scored a 1.4 rating in the adult demo. “Fox 32 News is on the move!!!” general manager Dennis Welsh wrote in a memo to staff. “A daily focus, commitment to excellence and team work are the keys to success. Everyone should be really proud to work for a station that produces the best news shows in Chicago (that are only going to get better from here).” But there’s a catch: Fox 32 included its late news ratings following a Bears game on September 1, and shortened its 9 p.m. news on at least three Fridays to air Bears programming and a Fox fall preview from 9:30 to 10 p.m.
Recommended reading: Michael Miner’s salute to Steve Bogira, who’s leaving after more than three decades of distinguished work as a senior writer for the Chicago Reader. “I’ve been so lucky to work at the Reader,” Bogira wrote. “I’ve been able to really get to know a subject before I write the first word. To explore the subject, instead of going in with my mind made up. To focus on telling stories more than making points — stories in which readers don’t always know from the outset what’s going to happen, just as I didn’t. And, because of the support of my editors through the years, to be able to write those stories about neglected people in neglected Chicago neighborhoods.”