Robservations on the media beat:
With the hiring of Chicago television veteran David Plummer as executive producer, Weigel Broadcasting moved a step closer Wednesday to launching its new morning news and lifestyle show. The still-untitled show is slated to debut in mid-summer on WCIU-Channel 26. Plummer’s producing credits include a long run with the syndicated “At the Movies” and a number of roles with “Windy City Live” on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, he began as an intern with “The Late Show with David Letterman.” “What excites me the most is the chance to put a spotlight on the everyday people who often go unnoticed, but ultimately make this city so special,” Plummer said. “Our goal is to entertain and connect with our viewers, while giving them the information they need to start their day.” Last month The U cut Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman as hosts of “You & Me,” airing from 6 to 8 a.m. weekdays. Since then Jon Hansen, the show’s social media coordinator, has been hosting “You & Me” with a mix of guest co-hosts.
Joining ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 as a per diem reporter is Cate Cauguiran, who most recently was a general assignment reporter and fill-in news anchor at KPIX, the CBS-owned station in San Francisco. A graduate of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, she previously worked at KTVL, the CBS affiliate in Medford, Oregon. “She’s energetic on air, enthusiastic behind the scenes and is excited about making Chicago her home,” Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director at ABC 7, told staff Tuesday. Cauguiran starts here May 8.
Niala Boodhoo, former host of “The Afternoon Shift” on Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5, will be spending much of the summer back in Chicago. As host and executive producer of “The 21st,” a daily talk show based out of Illinois Public Media and airing across four stations, she’ll be broadcasting from the Chicago newsroom of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. The other reason she’ll be here is to undergo treatment for breast cancer, diagnosed a few months ago in her first-ever mammogram. Calling herself “the poster child for early detection,” Boodhoo, 41, said: “It has, almost certainly, saved my life. I’m so thankful to my doctors, nurses and medical team. Like many other Americans, especially women with breast cancer, I plan to continue to work through my treatment. I am so thankful to be surrounded by wonderful family and friends, as well as incredible co-workers, who have been so supportive.”
Chicago’s beloved “Mr. Fix-It” Lou Manfredini is taking on the Big Apple. WABC Radio in New York has picked up “House Smarts with Lou Manfredini” for airing each weekend. His weekly home improvement talk show continues to air here from 7 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720. “I’m like your big brother in the business, giving straight answers and having some fun along the way, too,” he said in a statement. Manfredini also appears as a regular contributor to NBC’s “Today.”
In a followup to Monday’s report here on the future of DNAinfo Chicago in the wake of staffers’ efforts to unionize, a company spokesperson confirmed that management has seen the letter from employees about their intent to organize. “At this point, DNAinfo is considering its options, but whatever the company decides to do, it will be in accord with both the letter and spirit of the National Labor Relations Act,” the spokesperson said. “Beyond this, we have nothing more to say at this time.”
Chicago radio veterans are remembering the great Jim Gannon, who died April 1 at 86. Once known as the dean of morning radio newscasters, he was a longtime news anchor at WIND AM 560, including 16 years alongside top-rated morning star Howard Miller. A native of Dixon, Illinois, and graduate of Notre Dame University, he also was a prominent sports announcer for Mutual Radio Network and the radio voice of Northwestern University football. After his retirement, Gannon recorded books for The Chicago Lighthouse, a nonprofit service for the blind and visually impaired.
Tributes also are pouring in for Dick Penn, former executive vice president of NBC Radio Network and the first general manager of WKQX FM 101.1, starting in 1978. Penn, who was 75, died of lung cancer Saturday in Philadelphia. A native of Columbus, Ohio, and graduate of Ohio University, he also launched the Talk Net radio network, syndicating Sally Jessy Raphael and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and later was an executive with Shadow Broadcast Services, NAVTEQ and iQMedia Corp.