Media preview 2017: ‘Oh, the humanity!’

The Hindenburg (1937)

The Hindenburg (1937)

Eight things to look for on the Chicago media beat in the coming year:

  • Chicago’s claim to fame as home of nationally syndicated daytime talk shows dates back to Phil Donahue in 1974. But that 43-year run will end in May when Steve Harvey pulls up stakes at NBC Tower and moves to Los Angeles to launch a new talk show.

  • ProPublica Illinois, a Chicago-based offshoot of the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalism operation, will launch with a staff of 10 full-time reporters — and certainly no lack of corruption to unearth throughout the city and state.
  • Twenty years after it began a syndicated jazz format out of San Francisco, WFMT Radio Network will relaunch and rebrand the WFMT Jazz Network from Chicago. With hosts John Hill, Neil Tesser, Dee Alexander and Dave Schwan, the new national jazz music network has high hopes of being heard here.
  • Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications will celebrate its 30th anniversary with its first change of leadership at the top. Founder Bruce DuMont is expected to hand over the reins as president and CEO as soon as his successor is identified and hired by the museum’s interim chairman, Larry Wert, and a search team headed by Ron Culp, veteran communications executive.
  • May 6 will mark the 80th anniversary of the explosion of the Hindenburg zeppelin in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The chilling eyewitness account of the disaster by Herb Morrison, a 31-year-old reporter for Chicago’s WLS AM 890 — punctuated by his plaintive words: “Oh, the humanity!” — heralded the coming of age for broadcast news.
  • Nine TV veterans — Mary Ann Ahern, Steve Baskerville, Jim Angio, the late Paul Hogan, Katie Carrillo-Majewski, the late Gene Siskel, the late Phil Walters, and the team of Ron Born and Sam Ventura — will be inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on April 28.
  • Cheryl Burton and Jennifer Graves will mark 25 years at ABC 7, Drew Horowitz will mark 25 years at WTMX FM 101.9 and its parent companies, and Charles Gross will mark 25 years at Newsweb Corp.
  • Walter Jacobson, the beloved Chicago newsman known as “Skippy,” will turn 80 on July 28.