Robservations: Trenier Ward joins ABC 7; Phil Kadner retires; Teri Arvesu heads Univision ‘social impact’

Trenier Ward

Robservations on the media beat:

Trenier Ward, a multimedia journalist who grew up in Chicago and graduated from Northern Illinois University, is coming home to join ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 as a per diem reporter, starting Monday. Ward most recently was a reporter for WBAL, the NBC affiliate in Baltimore. Earlier he worked for stations in Louisville, Kentucky; Huntsville, Alabama; and Davenport, Iowa. “When I set out on this journey to be a TV journalist, I honestly never expected a path would be paved back to my home city to work as a reporter at its No. 1 news station,” Ward tweeted. “I’m so overwhelmed. I am grateful for this opportunity to share the stories of my city where my dream first manifested as a child — watching this very station with my mother.”

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New book from Daily Herald’s Grammar Moses commands readers to watch their words

Jim Baumann

Every Sunday Jim Baumann, the mild-mannered managing editor of the Daily Herald, slips into his waggish alter ego as Grammar Moses to remind readers why they need to speak, write and think carefully.

Now he’s ready to throw the book at them.

Eckhartz Press, the Chicago-based publishing house led by Rick Kaempfer and David Stern, just announced the release of Grammar Moses: A humorous look at grammar and usage. The 169-page paperback is available for pre-order now. (Here is the link.) Continue reading

WTTW documentary recalls how Chicago gave birth to improv

Inventing Improv

From the Compass Players at the University of Chicago to The Second City, Chicago has been synonymous with improvisational comedy for decades. But few know the real story of how the world-famous art form began.

“Inventing Improv,” the latest installment in WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Stories” series, premieres at 8 p.m. Friday on the Window to the World Communications public television station. Continue reading

Lorraine Forte rejoins Sun-Times to lead editorial board

Lorraine Forte

Lorraine Forte, former executive editor of The Chicago Reporter and former editor-in-chief of Catalyst Chicago, was named editorial page editor of the Sun-Times Monday.

It marks a return to the Sun-Times for Forte, who stepped down as a member of the editorial board in August to work for the Chicago Police Department in communications. Earlier in her career she also worked as a reporter for the Sun-Times. Continue reading

Robservations: Will we ever hear from Kathy Hart?; Steve Cochran’s podcast returns; Dave Juday advises a radio winner

Kathy Hart (Photo: Radio Hall of Fame)

Robservations on the media beat:

Now that Melissa McGurren, Cynthia DeNicolo and two other former employees of WTMX 101.9-FM have alleged mistreatment of women in court filings against morning host Eric Ferguson and the hot adult-contemporary station, will we ever get the inside story from Kathy Hart? It’s been four years since Hart left The Mix without explanation, ending a 21-year run with Ferguson as the most popular morning duo in Chicago radio history. Her settlement with Hubbard Radio is believed to include a non-disclosure agreement that bars her from discussing her departure. Now living in Bozeman, Montana, with her son, Allen, Hart has not commented on her former radio partner or the litany of misconduct allegations against him. (On Facebook Saturday she posted a poem of inspiration “to every one of you who is pushing through, showing up, not giving up.”) The only way Hart might go public about her time at The Mix, according to legal experts, would be if she were compelled under court order to testify in one of the cases against Ferguson and Hubbard Radio. As a phenomenally successful and shrewdly marketed radio team, “Eric and Kathy” were inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame in 2016. Ferguson, whose attorneys deny allegations against him, was taken off the air through the end of October. Continue reading

CBS 2 hires former NewsNation forecaster Albert Ramon as chief meteorologist

Albert Ramon

Fresh from his yearlong stint with Chicago-based cable news network NewsNation, Albert Ramon has been hired as chief meteorologist at WBBM-Channel 2, the CBS-owned station announced today.

“We are thrilled to welcome Albert to the team at CBS Chicago,” Jeff Harris, vice president of news, said in a statement. “He is an experienced forecaster who excels in severe weather coverage. We look forward to having him and the other members of our weather team draw on their expertise to keep everyone in Chicago safe and prepared.” Continue reading

Robservations: Melissa McGurren sues The Mix; fourth woman targets Eric Ferguson; Rick Party joins 104.3 JAMS

Eric Ferguson

Robservations on the media beat:

Melissa McGurren

As allegations of misconduct continue to pile up against Radio Hall of Famer Eric Ferguson, his bosses show no sign of wavering in support of their beleaguered morning personality. While Ferguson remains off the air at least through the end of October from the WTMX 101.9-FM show that bears his name, former co-host Melissa McGurren filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Hubbard Radio Chicago Thursday for defending Ferguson against her earlier claim that he was a “serial abuser of women” who subjected her to an “unbearable hostile work environment.” Jeff England, vice president and market manager of Hubbard Radio Chicago, declined to comment on the suit, but earlier the company said it had “thoroughly investigated” McGurren’s charges in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint and declared: “We do not agree with Melissa’s characterization of events.” The lawsuit claims Hubbard’s investigation “was never conducted or, at a minimum, was a sham investigation.” McGurren, who left The Mix after 22 years in 2020, now co-hosts mornings on Audacy country WUSN 99.5-FM.

Jennifer Ashrafi

A fourth voice added to the chorus of accusers against Ferguson was Jennifer Ashrafi, former afternoon co-host and traffic reporter on The Mix. She was known on the air as Jennifer Roberts. In a filing attached to McGurren’s lawsuit Thursday, Ashrafi called Ferguson “rude and dismissive to women” and said he was known to engage in abusive behavior. “It is humiliating to watch and dehumanizing to know that nothing can be done because the management at The Mix approved Ferguson’s misconduct by their silence in not reprimanding him,” she claimed in the filing. Ashrafi, who did not work directly with Ferguson at The Mix, left the station after 16 years in 2020 to accept a new job in corporate communications. “A lot of people get prematurely put ‘on the beach’ in this business and I’m thrilled that I’m making my exit completely on my terms,” she tweeted at the time. Continue reading

Robservations: Crain’s adds ‘Juice’ to politics coverage; Steve Harvey renews radio deal; TV Academy launches podcast

Juice

Robservations on the media beat:

A.D. Quig

Chicago’s next mayoral election may be 16 months away, but Crain’s Chicago Business is about to expand its coverage of politics and government in a big way. Monday will mark the launch of Juice, a new daily morning email focusing on “the intersection of power and politics.” Written by Crain’s savvy reporters Greg Hinz and A.D. Quig, it will include contributions from Washington-based public policy journalist Dan Vock. Along with the newsletter, Quig will host “A.D. Q&A,” a new weekly podcast featuring in-depth conversations with key newsmakers. “Our readers tell us they want more from us when it comes to news about policy as it intersects business,” Crain’s publisher and executive editor Jim Kirk told me. “Starting Monday, we deliver just that and more with the launch of Juice. We can’t wait to get started.’’ Continue reading

Weigel Broadcasting spends $100 million on ‘unique, strategic opportunity’ in New York

Weigel Broadcasting Co.

In a series of transactions totaling nearly $100 million, Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting has acquired two stations serving the New York market as affiliates for the company’s MeTV digital networks.

Weigel officials confirmed Tuesday they bought WJLP, which has been the outlet for MeTV in New York since 2014. The $62.5 million deal will transfer ownership of the station from New Jersey-based PMCM TV, LLC. Continue reading