Robservations: Alabama goes solo on Big 95.5 mornings

Amber “Alabama” Cole

Robservations on the media beat:

Big 95.5

The long-anticipated shakeup of iHeartMedia Chicago’s country music station Tuesday didn’t end with the exit of Steve Stewart as program director and midday host. Also out after three years at WEBG 95.5 FM is the morning team of Mason Schreader and Zach “Remy” Hoesly. The lone holdover is Amber “Alabama” Cole, who’ll now host mornings solo. The native of Pinson, Alabama, who joined Big 95.5 as afternoon personality in 2015, had been co-hosting mornings with Mason & Remy since 2016. Incoming as program director and midday host is Lance Houston via iHeartMedia in Boston. From Chicago, Houston will continue to program WBWL in Boston as well. Underperforming ratings were cited for the shakeup. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, Big 95.5 ranked 25th with a 1.7 percent audience share. It fared no better in the 25-to-54 revenue-generating demo. Continue reading

Robservations: Chess Records remote fulfills dream for Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra (Photo: Kevin Nance)

Robservations on the media beat:

Dave Hoekstra, the esteemed Chicago journalist and author who hosts weekends on Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720, will broadcast his “Nocturnal Journal” show Saturday from historic Chess Records studios, 2120 South Michigan Avenue. Airing from 9 to 11 p.m. it will feature news about the future of the landmark site from Jackie Dixon, president of Blues Heaven Foundation. “Just as the Chicago River runs through the city’s canyons, the legacy of Chess Records flows through Chicago’s collective spirit,” Hoekstra said in a statement. “Blues Heaven/Chess is one of the most important cultural sites in America. The opportunity to broadcast live from the studio is the realization of a once impossible dream.” Continue reading

Robservations: Ed Lover ‘excited to share love for music’ on 104.3 Jams

Ed Lover

Robservations on the media beat:

Jennifer Farina

It’s official: Ed Lover, one of the original hosts of “Yo! MTV Raps,” will debut Thursday as morning personality on WBMX FM 104.3, the Entercom classic hip-hop and R&B station. Lover, whose real name is James Roberts, also hosted Sirius XM’s Backspin classic hip-hop channel, and most recently worked in Atlanta for Radio One and Reach Media syndication. “Hold on to your britches, ladies and gentleman, ’cuz ‘The Ed Lover Morning Show’ will be the premier morning destination for Chicagoans’ daily dose of nostalgic throwbacks and so much more,” he wrote in a note to colleagues. “All I do is great radio and I am so excited to share my love for music with the great people of Chicago.” Lover’s co-host from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays will be Jennifer “Jen BT” Farina, former programming assistant at iHeartMedia Chicago and assistant program director at the former WNUA. The Chicago native most recently worked as executive assistant to the CEO and president of CEDA, the non-profit community action agency of Cook County. Airing without on-air talent since its inception in November, mornings on 104.3 Jams currently rank fourth among listeners between 18 and 34, according to Nielsen Audio. Continue reading

Robservations: Linda Yu cooks up Sun-Times food show

Linda Yu (Photo: Ashlee Rezin)

Robservations on the media beat:

Linda Yu, the legendary news anchor who retired in 2016 after 37 years on Chicago television, is back in front the camera. Starting today, she’ll host “Food We Love with Linda Yu,” a new weekly video series produced for the website of the Sun-Times. It will feature Chicago celebrity guests talking about the food traditions of their families and sharing their favorite recipes. “I’d like you to feel like we’re bringing you into our kitchen,” she said. Yu and her partner, Stuart Ellison, are part of the investor group assembled by Edwin Eisendrath that bought the Sun-Times in July. Continue reading

Tribune shakes up newsroom roster

Tribune Tower

The Chicago Tribune unveiled a massive reorganization of its newsroom Thursday, including an extensive overhaul of its editorial masthead.

Confirming plans first reported here March 5, the moves followed the elimination last month of at least a dozen reporting and editing positions at the newspaper. More layoffs are expected as the Tribune prepares to relocate from its historic headquarters at Tribune Tower to smaller space at Prudential Plaza. Continue reading

Tom Skilling’s revised forecast ‘not related to Sinclair’

Tom Skilling

Tom Skilling’s decision not to host his annual weather seminar had nothing to do with the impending takeover of Tribune Broadcasting stations by Sinclair Media Group, the WGN-Channel 9 chief meteorologist said Wednesday.

Skilling posted a lengthy message on my Facebook page after I reported that he would not be hosting his annual Tornado and Severe Weather Seminar for the first time in 38 years. The early April event has drawn sell-out crowds to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia since Skilling started it in 1981. Continue reading

Robservations: Cumulus buys WKQX from Merlin

101 WKQX

Robservations on the media beat:

Cumulus Media has agreed to buy WKQX FM 101.1 from Merlin Media, securing the station’s future as an alternative rocker. The deal, announced late Tuesday, also includes the call letters of WLUP and that station’s intellectual property. Reported price was $18 million. Last month Merlin sold WLUP FM 97.9 to Educational Media Foundation, ending The Loop’s run operated by Cumulus under a local marketing agreement. “I am truly pleased that we have reached an agreement to bring WKQX into the Cumulus family and fully focus on driving growth in the Chicago market,” Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Chicago, said in a statement. “We have lots of great programming planned for WKQX and our other stations in the Chicago market, and we look forward to growing these legendary stations and providing great content to our listeners and effective marketing strategies for our advertisers in and around Chicago.” Cumulus also owns news/talk WLS AM 890 and classic hits WLS FM 94.7. Insiders speculate that WLS FM morphs into “94.7 The Loop” (but management denies that). With the end of Merlin in Chicago, it’s so long to CEO Randy Michaels. Continue reading

Derek Dalton named general manager of CBS 2

Derek Dalton

Just in from Rochester, New York, longtime television station executive Derek Dalton has been named president and general manager of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. He succeeds Marty Wilke, who stepped down after six years at CBS 2.

Dalton, 61, who most recently was vice president and general manager of WHEC, the NBC affiliate in Rochester, previously worked in Chicago as national sales manager for WGN-Channel 9 and director of sales for Tribune Broadcasting. Continue reading

‘Chicago’s Very Own’ in peril: WGN tries to keep a lid on Sinclair resistance

WGN News

Jeff Hoover, a longtime producer and on-air contributor for WGN-Channel 9’s top-rated morning news show, was the first employee to speak out Monday about the impending takeover of the Tribune Media station by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

He also was the last.

In response to a video montage that went viral last weekend showing anchors at Sinclair stations delivering identical messages parroting President Donald Trump’s anti-media talking points, Hoover tweeted: “Re: Sinclair – There is NO WAY any of our on-air anchors and reporters will read their scripted messages on our show. Chicago’s Very Own, not owned.” Continue reading