Robservations: Guild staffers picket Tribune awards

Chicago News Guild demonstration Friday (Photo: Rick Kambic)

Robservations on the media beat:

Editorial employees at the Pioneer Press suburban newspapers, the Lake County News-Sun and the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune have been without a contract since December 2016. To protest the lack of progress with owner tronc, about a dozen members of the Chicago News Guild demonstrated outside the Chicago Tribune’s annual Beck Awards ceremony Friday at River Roast. They passed out fliers and erected a large inflatable rat in front of the LaSalle Street restaurant. “The company gala came just two days after company negotiators refused to change their offer that amounts to taking money from the pockets of the few hard-working employees who remain,” said Rick Kambic, Pioneer Press unit chair of the Guild. “Tronc’s divisive actions continue to far outweigh any illusion of harmony, and we’re willing to call them out on it.”

Monday noon update: A spokeswoman for tronc released the following statement: “We are engaged in active negotiations and do so at the negotiating table.”

Brooke Hunter

Brooke Hunter, longtime Chicago radio personality, told Facebook friends Saturday she is in therapy for alcoholism. “I have had a drinking problem for about a year, but things really took a downward spiral over the past 6 months,” she wrote. “This disease is SO destructive. It has destroyed relationships, jobs, and most importantly, people’s trust in me. I am sad, I am ashamed, I am depressed and I feel alone & very scared.” Hunter, who most recently hosted weekends on Hubbard Radio adult contemporary WSHE FM 100.3, previously worked for WLIT FM 93.9, WCFS FM 105.9, WKQX FM 101.1, WTMX FM 101.9 and the former WZZN. “I do believe that I am taking the proper steps to recovery . . . but all that time when I chose to mask my sadness and fear in alcohol has only made this journey extremely difficult,” she added.

Alpha Media

Shoppers at Gurnee Mills soon may be able to browse past a few local radio stations on their way to the food court. The Daily Herald’s Doug T. Graham reports Alpha Media is in talks to move four of its stations to the north suburban mall. Hot adult-contemporary WXLC FM 102.3, Spanish sports/talk WKRS AM 1220, active rock WIIL FM 95.1 and news/talk WLIP AM 1050 would broadcast from the site, according to the plan. The company’s studios in Waukegan sustained major flooding after heavy rains in July 2017. “There have been many flooding experiences in that building over the years,” general manager Karl Wertzler told Graham. “Our corporate officers would like to get us out of there.”

Fred Winston

Illinois Entertainer’s February issue checks in with Chicago radio legend Fred Winston. “I guess I am retired,” he told Rick Kaempfer, “although I don’t feel like it’s done. I’m always reticent to say that I’m done now because I do feel like I could drop back behind the mic and with a little [WD-40] in the mouth, I could pick up where I left off.” Winston, 71, who first joined WLS AM 890 in 1971 when it was a Top 40 powerhouse, last worked full-time in 2013 at classic hits WLS FM 94.7. He’s busier than ever on his Berrien County farm in Southwest Michigan. “The frustrating thing about being a gentleman farmer . . . are the many tiny engines that need spark plugs and oil changes. Rather than flap my mouth, I now bang my knuckles.”

Old Time Radio’s Comedy Couples

Dan McGuire, a Bensenville writer and broadcast historian with a fondness for old time radio, has a new book out just in time for Valentine’s Day. Old Time Radio’s Comedy Couples, available for pre-order from BearManor Media, tells the stories of five couples who were married both on the air and in real life: Goodman and Jane Ace (“Easy Aces”); Phil Harris and Alice Faye; Ozzie and Harriet Nelson; George Burns and Gracie Allen; and Jim and Marian Jordan (“Fibber McGee and Molly”). It’s billed as a look behind the scenes at some of radio’s biggest stars and the contrasts between their public characters and private lives.

Friday’s best comment: Carol Marin: Hedy Weiss is a fine journalist, fair reporter, fine writer, and superb critic. This will not be the final act. Bravo, Hedy, for all your fine work.