WTTW promotes veteran producer Jay Smith to news director

Window to the World Communications

In what may be the least surprising promotion of the year, Jay Smith was named news director of WTTW-Channel 11 and executive producer of “Chicago Tonight” Wednesday.

Smith, a 32-year veteran of the Window to the World Communications public television station and senior supervising producer of WTTW News, has been serving as acting executive producer for nine months. Continue reading

Another shakeup at Chicago magazine: Amy Carr steps down, Terry Noland returns

Amy Carr

For the second time in six months there’s been a change at the top of Chicago magazine.

Amy Carr, the former top features editor at the Chicago Tribune who succeeded Susanna Homan in June as editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine, is stepping down to join Time Zone One, a global creative communications agency.

On Tuesday Chicago Tribune Media Group named Terry Noland editor-in-chief of Chicago, starting in January. It’s a return to the magazine for Noland, who previously served seven years as executive editor. Continue reading

Robservations: Janet Davies debuts showbiz podcast; George Papajohn named editor of ProPublica Midwest; Deborah Douglas wins Dorothy Storck Award

Janet Davies

Robservations on the media beat:

Broadway and Beyond

The stellar Janet Davies, who covered Chicago’s entertainment scene with authority and style for 37 years at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, is back on the beat with her own weekly podcast. “Broadway and Beyond with Janet Davies” just launched on Apple Podcasts and soon will appear on other platforms. (Here is the link.) “Now that entertainment is roaring back, I have the opportunity to take my over four decades (yikes!) of reporting experience and focus on long-form interviews with creatives,” she said. “Please check it out if you love performance, if you love Chicago and if you are curious what people really want to say after they do a short news soundbite.” The premiere spotlights changes at The Second City, including interviews new executive producer Jon Carr and 109th revue director Anneliese Toft. Added Davies: “I think there cannot be enough coverage of arts and entertainment in Chicago.” Continue reading

BGA forms Illinois Solutions Partnership with $10 million grant from McCormick Foundation

David Greising

Chicago’s Better Government Association, the nonprofit investigation journalism and government watchdog organization, is about to expand dramatically, thanks to the largest gift in its 98-year history — a $10 million grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Over the next five years, the grant will be used to more than double the investigative and enterprise reporting staff of the BGA and broaden its mission to encompass “solutions journalism” across a variety of platforms. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Bozo’s Circus’ rewinds the ’70s; WCPT owner bankrolls news site; Lisa Dent feels ‘so at home’ on WGN

Bozo’s Circus (1971)

Robservations on the media beat:

Big news for Bozo fans: “Bozo’s Circus: The 1970s,” a two-hour primetime special featuring clips from the beloved children’s show that haven’t been seen in nearly 50 years, will premiere December 19 on WGN-Channel 9. Among the cache of recently found tapes was a master recording from 1974 that no one knew was languishing in the Nexstar Media station’s archive. Credit the discovery to George Pappas, program specialist and unofficial station historian at “Chicago’s Very Own,” who’s producer and writer of the special. It’ll be hosted by WGN entertainment reporter Dean Richards. For most of the show’s run from 1961 to 2001, “Bozo” was the hottest ticket in town, often boasting a waiting list as long as 10 years. Continue reading

Chicago area newsrooms join forces to find ‘The Path Forward’ after pandemic

Solving for Chicago

The largest collaborative journalism effort ever assembled in Chicago spent the last year reporting on essential workers and how the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped work and employment throughout the region.

Now, thanks to increased support from the Solutions Journalism Network, the joint project dubbed Solving for Chicago has been renewed for another year. This time it will focus on how COVID-19 has prompted communities to rethink solutions to problems of housing, education, public safety, employment and public health. Continue reading

Robservations: WVON reports on missing women; Dick Allen book gets optioned; Block Club named Publisher of the Year

Candace McCollum

Robservations on the media beat:

A five-part radio documentary series on more than 50 Black women and girls in Chicago who vanished without a trace will air on WVON 1690-AM, the Midway Broadcasting news/talk station. “The Invisible Ones: Voices of the Missing,” hosted and produced by WVON morning news anchor Candace McCollum, will premiere November 29 and air four times daily throughout the week. “I sought to humanize many of these women whose names we never knew,” said McCollum, who was born and raised in Naperville and graduated from Neuqua Valley High School and Columbia College. “I cannot name one Black woman whose name is etched in the psyche of America because she went missing.” Continue reading