Robservations: ‘Reader’s gonna grow,’ says CEO Eisendrath

Chicago Reader

Robservations on the media beat:

Edwin Eisendrath

The Chicago Reader is in no danger of folding — or getting folded into the Chicago Sun-Times. That’s the word from Sun-Times Media CEO Edwin Eisendrath, who seems as bullish on the alternative weekly as he is on the daily tabloid. “Like everything else here, the Reader’s gonna grow,” Eisendrath said in response to rumors of downsizing the unprofitable brand. “It’s gonna have to think about its mission. It’s not the same thing as the Sun-Times. If somebody says it’s the Sunday magazine for the Sun-Times, that’s fantasyland. We’ve never thought about that.” But he acknowledged he’s still looking for ways both publications can share resources. Reader editorial employees recently ratified their first contract via the Chicago News Guild. “The truth is, they were underpaid,” Eisendrath said of the staff he inherited. “I approved the contract not because it made economic sense, but because it was inhumane what they were being paid.”

Carol Fowler

Bucking industry trends, the Sun-Times posted openings Wednesday for nine new positions in its expanding digital news unit. They include audience engagement editor, multimedia executive producer, digital operations director, multimedia journalist, digital content producer and sports digital content producer. They’re all under Carol Fowler, newly named senior vice president of digital news products. “HIRING: Come work on the @suntimes team and kick some butt!” Fowler tweeted.

“The Schweddy Ball 2017”

Ready or not, here comes “The Schweddy Ball 2017.” Billed as “a holiday party like no other,” the fundraiser for Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications will be Saturday, December 30, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Named for the 1998 “Saturday Night Live” sketch with Alec Baldwin, Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer, the event is tied in with Saturday Night Live: The Experience, the multimedia exhibit now running at the museum, 360 North State Street. Guests are encouraged to wear their best ugly Christmas sweater or dress as their favorite SNL character. For ticket information: www.eventbrite.com.

Wally Lockard

Urban Grind TV, a weekly music video show now in its eighth year on Chicago’s Comcast Cable Channel 25, has just gone national. Founder and executive producer Wally Lockard reports it’s been picked up by FUBU Television, a New York-based provider of media and entertainment over multiple platforms. “This is really big for the Midwest, for the city, most importantly for the arts and culture,” Lockard said. “Our events, our talent, our videos, our artists have one more platform at home for the world to see them, and for that we are thankful.”

Friday’s best comment: Gustaf Rand: Set aside Dann Gire’s reporting/criticism for a moment. Instead, focus on his astonishing career accomplishment. One employer — 42 years. Loyalty in both directions. He is a throwback to days of yore when an upstanding chap could say with pride, “I’m a Sears man.” Or, “I’m with Illinois Bell.” Congratulations to this fellow for pulling it off. He performed . . . and they appreciated him. That is very cool.