Robservations: Harassment spotlight turns to Chicago

R. Kelly

Robservations on the media beat:

The sexual harassment scandals sweeping media, entertainment, government and corporate America have prompted two prominent journalists to focus on Chicago. Writing in The New Yorker, veteran music critic and “Sound Opinions” co-host Jim DeRogatis questioned why accusations of sexual misconduct against singer, songwriter, and producer R. Kelly haven’t hurt the Chicago performer’s career. DeRogatis has been virtually alone in reporting on the Kelly case since 2000. And former Chicago Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski examined “When Women Stand Up Against Harassers in the Newsroom,” recounting her decision to force the resignation of Tribune columnist Bob Greene in 2002. “The fix is not sexual harassment training, but more people in leadership who already know better,” she wrote in Nieman Reports. Lipinski now heads the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

Eric Ferguson

Bye-bye, K-Hits and My FM: The Nielsen Audio ratings report released last week turned out to be the swan song for two Chicago radio stations. The classic hits format of Entercom’s WJMK FM 104.3 bowed out in a tie for 23rd place with a 2.4 percent audience share. As of November 17 the station known as K-Hits switched to a classic hip-hop and R&B format as 104.3 Jams. And in case you missed it, iHeartMedia late Friday rebranded Christmas music/adult contemporary station WLIT FM 93.9 as “The New 93.9 Lite FM,” reverting to the name it used for 24 years until June 2013. In its final weeks as My FM, it tied for 12th place with a 2.8 share. The Nielsen survey, which covered October 12 to November 8, showed Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX FM 101.9 widening its first-place margin with a 6.3 share overall. The Mix megastar Eric Ferguson led the way with a commanding 9.2 share in morning drive.

Kathy Hart

Could Eric Ferguson’s former partner be poised for a comeback? Kathy Hart, who parted ways in September after 21 years with Ferguson at The Mix, has been seen huddling very publicly with agent Steve Mandell in recent weeks. Friday’s rebranding of Lite FM led Radio Insight and other industry sources to speculate that the station could be a landing spot for Hart after its Christmas music ends December 26. Hart, whose contract with Hubbard runs through the end of the year, has made several guest appearances on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32’s “Good Day Chicago.”

Sandra Torres

Citing “personal and professional reasons,” reporter Sandra Torres said she is leaving CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 December 15. According to insiders, she chose not to renew her contract. “I truly cherished my two years with the station and will forever be grateful for the opportunity,” Torres told Facebook friends. “I’ll be sure to update you on my next chapter soon.” Torres, who was born in Colombia and grew up in Buffalo Grove, joined CBS 2 from WDJT, the CBS affiliate in Milwaukee. She previously worked as a producer at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and a reporter and fill-in weather anchor at Telemundo WSNS-Channel 44.

Newton Minow

Saturday brought doubly good news for Newton Minow, the Chicago lawyer and former FCC chairman. As earlier reported, he was one of nine honorees announced for induction this spring in the Chicago TV Academy’s Silver Circle. Also at the 59th annual regional Emmy Awards, the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences cited “Newton Minow: An American Story” as winner for outstanding documentary. Narrated and produced by Mike Leonard, the film debuted in May on WTTW and later aired nationally on PBS. Minow, who’ll be 92 in January, famously proclaimed television “a vast wasteland” in a 1961 speech.

Mara Shalhoup

Mara Shalhoup, who resigned as editor of the Chicago Reader to become editor of LA Weekly in 2015, is on the loose. Shalhoup, 41, was one of nine editorial staffers fired last when the Los Angeles alternative weekly was acquired by a newly created company, Semanal Media. “We were expecting there to be some pain with the sale of @LAWeekly. But we weren’t expecting the Red Wedding,” she tweeted. “I was hoping for a less heartbreaking ending, but I’m glad we all got to tell the story of this city together.” You can bet Shalhoup won’t be unemployed for long.

Chuck Buell

Happy to hear from Chuck Buell, one of the great voices of WLS AM 890 in its heyday as a Top 40 rocker in the late ’60s and early ’70s. He doubled as music director of The Big 89, helping popularize such fledgling artists as Rod Stewart, Carly Simon and the band Chicago. Buell, who’s back living in Denver, reports that he’ll be inducted next month into the Broadcast Pioneers of Colorado’s Radio Hall of Fame. Since Buell’s last on-air gig as morning host at KBZT in San Diego, he’s been focused on his work as a commercial voice-over artist. “Overall, it’s been a great run for me!” he says.

Friday’s best comment: Greg Cameron: I love Joel [Weisman] and the program. But I have always been curious about something. Does Lester Munson have just one black shirt or a whole closet full of them?