Chicago media in review 2016: The year of the tronc

Michael Ferro (Photo: Christopher Michel)

Michael Ferro (Photo: Christopher Michel)

For four years as owner of the Sun-Times, Michael Ferro failed to deliver on his promises of growth and innovation. While meddling in editorial affairs, selling off the company’s suburban assets and cutting jobs (including the entire photo staff), he wasted millions on ill-conceived digital ventures and other products that tanked. No wonder he had his name removed from the paper’s masthead.

So what did he do for an encore? In 2016 the ambitious tech entrepreneur bought a piece of Tribune Publishing and maneuvered his way in as chairman. The man who had done nothing to improve the city’s No. 2 newspaper was now calling the shots at the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, among other dailies. Continue reading

Dear Rahm: Emails reveal how Emanuel works the media — and vice versa

Bruce Dold and Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Bruce Dold and Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Using previously undisclosed personal email accounts, Mayor Rahm Emanuel communicated with dozens of heavyweights in the media — from network news anchors and national political columnists to newspaper editors and publishers.

Among the nearly 2,700 pages of emails released Wednesday in response to a Better Government Association lawsuit were many that showed how the mayor works the media and how some media power brokers try to work the mayor. Continue reading

They’re back: WLS hires Sirott & Murciano for midday show

Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano

Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano

WLS AM 890 has hired the husband-and-wife team of Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano to replace Jonathon Brandmeier as midday hosts on the Cumulus Media news/talk station.

Starting January 2, Sirott and Murciano will be heard from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday as part of a revamped lineup that includes revised time slots for Big John Howell and Ray Stevens in mornings, Rush Limbaugh in middays, Steve Dahl in afternoons, and Mark Levin at night. Continue reading

Jeff McGrath 1943-2016

Jeff McGrath

Jeff McGrath

Jeff McGrath, an influential Chicago television executive for more than 30 years and a mentor to generations of producers and programmers working around the country, died Sunday at Highland Park Hospital after a long illness. He was 73.

His distinguished career in television management included a long run as program director at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, where he first brought Oprah Winfrey to the attention of then-general manager Dennis Swanson. Continue reading

Tahman Bradley promises ‘A+ effort’ as WGN weekend anchor

Tahman Bradley and Jackie Bange

Tahman Bradley and Jackie Bange

Tahman Bradley, who joined WGN-Channel 9 as a general assignment reporter last year, was promoted Friday to weekend news anchor and political reporter at the Tribune Broadcasting station.

As anchor at 5 and 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday alongside Jackie Bange, he succeeds Robert Jordan, who retired in September after 43 years at the station. The role of political reporter is new. The appointment is effective immediately. Continue reading

Robservations: WLS drops Michael Savage

Michael Savage

Michael Savage

Robservations on the media beat:

Jonathon Brandmeier isn’t the only host whose time is up at Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890. Michael Savage’s syndicated talk show also has been dropped, effective at the end of the month. Sources said Westwood One is seeking another Chicago outlet for “The Savage Nation,” which currently airs from 9 p.m. to midnight weeknights on WLS. Savage was inducted last month in the National Radio Hall of Fame. The decision to drop the show after three years comes as WLS prepares to revamp its lineup with the addition of as many as three new shows and adjustments in time slots for others, starting in January. Continue reading

WLS locks in Limbaugh through 2019

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh will continue to hold forth on news/talk WLS AM 890 through the end of 2019, thanks to a three-year renewal announced Wednesday by Cumulus Media and Premiere Networks.

The Cumulus Media station here was one of 33 nationwide covered by the renewed and extended affiliation agreement for “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” billed as the most-listened-to national radio talk show in America. Terms of the multimillion-dollar deal were not disclosed. Continue reading