Robservations: Reese Marcusson named acting CEO of WTTW, WFMT

Reese Marcusson

Robservations on the media beat:

Reese Marcusson has been named acting chief executive officer of Window to the World Communications, parent company of public television WTTW-Channel 11 and classical music WFMT FM 98.7. James Mabie, chairman of the board of trustees, announced the appointment this week while the board narrows its search for a permanent successor to Dan Schmidt, who retired as president and CEO. Marcusson, 59, joined the company as vice president/controller in 1990 and headed operations and planning before being named executive vice president and chief financial officer in 1998. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2015. Mabie also announced that Renée Weingard has retired after 36 years as assistant to the president and secretary to the board of trustees. Continue reading

Robservations: Ratings soar for Lite FM, 104.3 Jams

Lite FM

Robservations on the media beat:

104.3 Jams

Nonstop Christmas music for the 16th year in a row again paid off for WLIT FM 93.9. The iHeartMedia adult contemporary station shot to the top of the ratings, according to Nielsen Audio figures released Tuesday. Lite FM was No. 1 (up from 11th place) with an 8.5 percent audience share and a cumulative weekly audience of 2,390,700. The other big winner was WBMX FM 104.3 (formerly WJMK), which Entercom switched to a classic hip-hop and R&B format last month. Right out of the box, 104.3 Jams jumped from 18th place to fifth with a 4.4 share and 1,483,200 weekly cume. The latest ratings survey ran from November 9 to December 6. Continue reading

Our top stories: Chicago media in review — 2017

Steve Harvey (Photo: Willy SanJuan)

One last look back at the biggest stories of the year on the Chicago media beat:

After five years in Chicago Steve Harvey packed up his syndicated talk show in May and headed out to Los Angeles. But not before I posted an embarrassing email Harvey had written earlier to his staff, warning them not to approach him. “My security team will stop everyone from standing at my door who have the intent to see or speak to me,” it read in part. “Do not approach me while I’m in the makeup chair unless I ask to speak with you directly. . . . Do not wait in any hallway to speak to me. I hate being ambushed. Please make an appointment. I promise you I will not entertain you in the hallway, and do not attempt to walk with me.” Harvey never apologized for the memo, which immediately went viral and prompted a torrent of tweets mocking him. Headlined the New York Post: “Steve Harvey is pretty much a jerk.” Continue reading

‘Chickenman’ Dick Orkin 1933-2017

Dick Orkin

Over a groundbreaking 68-year career in radio, Dick Orkin was the comic genius behind “Chickenman,” the phenomenally popular serial spoof hatched at Chicago’s WCFL in the 1960s, and later some of the funniest and most memorable commercials ever heard.

Orkin died Sunday in California after suffering a stroke. He was 84. Continue reading

What they’re saying about Jerry Taft

Cheryl Scott and Jerry Taft

Jerry Taft’s announcement Wednesday that he’s retiring next month as chief meteorologist at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 drew an outpouring of comments from readers of this blog and followers of my Facebook page. Here are some highlights:

John Fitch: Hey now, Mr. Feder . . . While I know you’ll go to great lengths to find an excuse to post a picture of the ever-lovely Cheryl Scott in your column, isn’t forcing Jerry Taft into retirement going a bit too far? 🙂 Continue reading

Weather alert: ABC 7’s Jerry Taft to retire

Jerry Taft

Jerry Taft, who’s been a trusted and engaging presence in front of Chicago weather maps for more than 40 years, is retiring as chief meteorologist at top-rated WLS-Channel 7, the ABC-owned station announced Wednesday.

“While I still have my health, wit and vitality it’s time to hang out with my real family, assuming they still remember me,” Taft, 74, told colleagues in an email. “And I also need to hit the golf course while I still have a single digit handicap.”

He’ll make his final appearance on ABC 7 January 19. Continue reading

Robservations: Sue Ontiveros signs off as Sun-Times columnist

Sue Ontiveros

Robservations on the media beat:

Sue Ontiveros, a singular voice on the editorial pages of the Sun-Times for 21 years, posted her farewell column Tuesday. “The Sun-Times was and is one of the great loves of my life,” she told Facebook friends. “I loved being a part of it. I hope the current owners are able to continue to make it thrive.” Said Tom McNamee, Sun-Times editorial page editor: “We have to make changes in columnists, just to change things up, keep fresh, even apart from any question of money. That said, I’m going to miss working with Sue. She’s a pro, she writes about real people, and she’s been a friend and colleague for a long time. I respect her so much.” McNamee declined to comment on other possible changes. Continue reading

Robservations: Dave Fogel returns to WLS FM morning show

Dave Fogel (Photo: CBS 2)

Robservations on the media beat:

Brant Miller

Cumulus Media is bringing Dave Fogel back to classic hits WLS FM 94.7. Starting January 2, he’ll replace Brant Miller, who has hosted mornings since 2012 (and before that from 2008 to 2010). Miller continues as chief meteorologist at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and now adds weather forecasting duties on WLS FM and news/talk WLS AM 890. Fogel, who most recently hosted mornings at classic hits WJMK FM 104.3, has been off the air since Entercom switched K-Hits to a classic hip-hop and R&B format. Fogel last worked at WLS FM from 2010 to 2012. Kim Berk continues as morning co-host. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, the station tied for 18th in mornings with a 2.2 percent audience share. Continue reading

Robservations: Baskerville leaves cloudy weather front at CBS 2

Steve Baskerville

Robservations on the media beat:

As Steve Baskerville wraps up his 30-year run at WBBM-Channel 2 this week, the CBS-owned station has not yet named a successor as chief meteorologist. Friday will mark Baskerville’s last day on the air as 5, 6 and 10 p.m. weekday weather anchor. After that, “a variety of fill-ins from amongst the weather team” will appear on the newscasts, according to Jeff Kiernan, vice president and news director of CBS 2. In other words, look for Mary Kay Kleist and Ed Curran to take turns until further notice. Baskerville, 67, announced his retirement last month, telling colleagues: “It is a natural time for me to step away and be more available for my family and loved ones.” Continue reading