Robservations: NBC Sports Chicago cuts Bears, Blackhawks writers

NBC Sports Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:

J.J. Stankevitz

Another bloodletting at NBC Sports Chicago cost the jobs of at least three writers Thursday and elicited another “no comment” from the regional sports network. Announcing their ousters on Twitter were Chicago Bears Insiders J.J. Stankevitz and Cam Ellis and Chicago Blackhawks Insider Scott King. “I’m so grateful for my 11 years there, starting as a college intern in 2010,” Stankevitz tweeted. “It’s literally the only place I’ve ever worked. I don’t know what’s next but I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with over the years.” Tweeted King: “Unfortunately, I’m joining a lot of people in the industry who lost their gig during the pandemic.” The latest cuts, first reported by the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal, come five months after the last major purge at NBC Sports Chicago, which included the layoffs of hosts Leila Rahimi and Laurence Holmes and the cancellation of “Sports Talk Live.” Continue reading

Robservations: Natasha Korecki to cover White House for Politico

Natasha Korecki

Robservations on the media beat:

Natasha Korecki, who was a star reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald before joining Politico, has been promoted to White House correspondent. She covered the campaign of Joe Biden for Politico throughout the 2020 presidential race. A University of Illinois graduate, Korecki joined Politico in 2015 after 12 years at the Sun-Times and seven years at the Daily Herald. She wrote the daily Politico Playbook on Illinois politics before being named national correspondent in 2018. “Having the opportunity to cover the White House is an honor of a lifetime, particularly given the unprecedented crises our nation is facing,” Korecki told me. “I’ve long cherished my role as a journalist and that’s especially been true at a time when the media has been under fierce attack. I’m thankful for having gone through the reporting rigors at places like the Daily Herald and the Sun-Times, which helped prepare me for this moment.” Continue reading

Robservations: Jerome McDonnell ‘pushed from the nest’ at WBEZ

Jerome McDonnell (Photo: Karen Kring)

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM bid farewell this week to Jerome McDonnell, who hosted the international affairs talk show “Worldview” for 25 years until its cancellation in 2019. Most recently he’s been reporting on energy and environmental issues for the station. “Jerome has made an indelible impact on our local and global community during his more than 30 years at WBEZ,” said Steve Edwards, chief content officer for WBEZ. “He led daily conversations with many of the most insightful leaders and changemakers of our time, but Jerome’s true passion is to elevate the perspectives of those less frequently spotlighted in the news, be they marginalized voices or everyday people fighting to make the world a better place.” McDonnell is expected to work with WBEZ on a number of freelance projects this year. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, McDonnell began as a volunteer intern at the station in 1984 and produced “Midday with Sondra Gair” until the host’s death in 1994. “After 37 years I’ve been pushed from the nest,” McDonnell wrote on Facebook. “I’ve been very fortunate to have [a] home there and meet so many great people.” Continue reading

‘Black Ink Crew’ star Charmaine Bey named midday host on WGCI

Charmaine Bey

Charmaine Bey, who leveraged her popularity on the VH-1 hit reality show “Black Ink Crew: Chicago” into a radio career, has been promoted to midday personality at WGCI 107.5-FM, the iHeartMedia hip-hop station.

Starting today Bey will be on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The midday slot on WGCI has been open since November when Frankie Robinson exited after five years. Continue reading

Media watchdog Steve Rhodes suspends Beachwood Reporter

Steve Rhodes (Photo: Chicago Newsroom)

There’s one less watchdog keeping an eye on Chicago media these days.

Veteran journalist Steve Rhodes is stepping back after 15 years as media critic for The Beachwood Reporter, the independent website he founded and nurtured as editor and publisher.

“The site is officially suspended in animation until further notice,” Rhodes announced Friday, preferring to call his move a “hiatus” rather than a permanent shutdown. Continue reading

Jim Tilmon 1934-2021

Jim Tilmon

It’s a sign of how much Chicago loved Jim Tilmon that when he retired in 1994, Mayor Richard M. Daley proclaimed it “Jim Tilmon Day in Chicago,” the Federal Aviation Administration named an airway navigation point after him, and United Airlines awarded him the title of “honorary United Airlines captain.”

As one of the nation’s first Black commercial airline pilots, Tilmon spent his entire 29-year flying career with American Airlines. But such was the respect he earned that it even extended to rival airlines.

The pioneering aviator, who also was a trailblazing Chicago television host, weather forecaster, and science and aviation reporter, died Saturday in Scottsdale, Arizona. Tilmon was 86. Continue reading

Three jobs cut in ‘incredibly painful’ layoffs at Univision Chicago stations

Univision Chicago stations

Veteran sports director Hector Lozano and midday co-host/entertainment reporter Aureliano “Auri” Salgado were among three longtime staffers at Univision Chicago who lost their jobs this week in a companywide restructuring.

Both Lozano and Salgado were 26-year employees of the Spanish-language media company.

Lozano doubled as sports anchor at WGBO-Channel 66 and sports talk host and play-by-play announcer on sports/talk WRTO 1200-AM. Salgado co-hosted middays on regional Mexican WOJO 105.1-FM alongside Rafael Bautista. Continue reading

Connor McKnight to host White Sox pregame, postgame shows on ESPN 1000

Connor McKnight

Chicago sportscaster Connor McKnight has been hired as host of Chicago White Sox baseball pregame and postgame shows on WMVP 1000-AM, the Good Karma Brands ESPN sports/talk station and the team’s new radio home.

The former midday co-host on Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM joins a broadcast team that includes play-by-play announcer Len Kasper and color analyst Darrin Jackson.

As part of his new deal, announced today, McKnight also will call play-by-play with Jackson in the radio booth when Kasper fills in on NBC Sports Chicago. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago news bosses warn journalists to be careful out there

Rioters damage media equipment outside U.S. Capitol January 6 (Photo: Associated Press/Jose Luis Magana)

Robservations on the media beat:

In the wake of attacks on reporters at the U.S. Capitol uprising January 6 and the continued threat of violence against journalists nationwide, Chicago area news organizations are on high alert this week. “Your safety is paramount,” Chicago Tribune editor-in-chief Colin McMahon wrote in an internal memo to staffers Wednesday. “If a journalist feels uncomfortable about an assignment — before, during or after — that journalist should raise those concerns immediately. Your assigning editor is there to listen and work with you, and if you feel an assignment is too risky, you will not be placed on that assignment. If you already are on the scene, you should feel free to break off that assignment.” An online training session for Tribune staffers will be held Friday on “Updated Safety Strategies & PPE for High Risk Assignments: Large Crowds, Demonstrations, Political Rallies and Riots with Escalating Crowd and Police Actions & Lessons Learned from Capitol Riot.” At ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, news crews are being urged to cut back on live shots and take other measures to reduce their exposure. “When we have the option, let’s package or do a ‘look live’ instead of being live,” read an internal memo from ABC 7 newsroom management. “You may want to limit the wearing of clothing, face masks etc. with our logo on them. You also may take off the mic flag if you feel it’s drawing attention.”
Continue reading

Robservations: WLS Radio owner Cumulus Media forbids talk of ‘stolen elections’

WLS 890 AM

Robservations on the media beat:

Bruce St. James

Cumulus Media, parent company of conservative news/talk stations nationwide including Chicago’s WLS 890-AM, has ordered its talk show hosts to refrain from spreading lies about the presidential election. In an internal memo first reported by Jerry Del Colliano’s Inside Music Media, Cumulus Media content chief Brian Philips threatened to fire any host who questions the legitimacy of the 2020 vote. “Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended,” Philips wrote on the day of the U.S. Capitol riot. “The election has resolved, there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ Please inform your staffs that we have ZERO TOLERANCE for any suggestion otherwise. If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately. There will be no dog-whistle talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘civil wars’ or any other language that infers violent public disobedience is warranted, ever.” Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Media Chicago, confirmed the memo’s content, adding: “Bottom line: We want our talent on all Cumulus stations to deal with facts and not conjecture. No issues with our local talent.” Bruce St. James, who succeeded inveterate conspiracy monger Erich Mancow Muller as WLS morning host last month, said: “We all received the local version of the memo which reminded us of the responsibility we have to our community to be honest, truthful and factual. Thankfully, our show does not, has not and will not peddle in conspiracy theories, nor lie to the audience to gain favor. In that vein, this directive won’t impact us at all.” The big question is whether the company’s syndicated hosts also will obey the edict. Hello, Mark Levin? Continue reading