Chicago radio veteran Herb Graham dies at 87

Veteran Chicago radio personality, voice actor and commercial announcer Herb Graham died Monday at 87. He was best known for his 26 years as host of “The Hour in the Middle of the Evening” on beautiful music stations WAIT and WLOO.

Graham, whose real name was Herb Grossman, also played Bubbie Beaver on the Chicago Board of Rabbis’ long-running children’s TV show “The Magic Door,” according to his niece’s husband, former Sun-Times reporter Howard Wolinsky. Continue reading

Is Sun-Times scapegoating Kirk for firing photogs?

Jim Kirk

Jim Kirk

The controversial decision by the Sun-Times to eliminate its entire photography staff continues to bring negative exposure to the struggling newspaper and its parent company.

With nerves still raw from the layoffs of all 28 full-time photojournalists from the Sun-Times and its sister publications on May 30, publisher and editor-in-chief Jim Kirk found himself bearing the blame this week for the unpopular and demoralizing action — thanks to what may have been a misstatement by his boss.

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It’s showtime for Jimmy Decastro at WGN

Jimmy deCastro

Jimmy deCastro

Can Chicago’s greatest radio showman pull off a miracle? We’re about to find out.

Three months after Jimmy deCastro took over as president and general manager of a moribund WGN AM 720, the veteran broadcasting executive and media mogul is about to raise the curtain on his intended revival for the Tribune Broadcasting station. Plans include not only a new roster of familiar faces and voices on the legendary 50,000-watt powerhouse, but a robust presence online and — sometime down the road — an additional programming venue on an FM frequency.

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Fox 32 names replacement for Bob Sirott

Bob Sirott

Bob Sirott

I know it sounds like a punchline, but it’s true: Fox 32 News is replacing Bob Sirott with some guy from Wichita.

After three years as 9 p.m. weekday news anchor, the veteran Chicago broadcaster will sign off from Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 on Sept. 3.

The move paves the way for Sirott and his wife, Marianne Murciano, to work full time for WGN AM 720. Last month the couple joined the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station with plans to co-host a midday or afternoon show, starting in early September. Continue reading

Tribune Media Group to license RobertFeder.com

I’m very happy to tell you that I will be launching my own Chicago media blog, RobertFeder.com, to be licensed and marketed by the Chicago Tribune Media Group. Under our agreement, I will retain sole ownership of the website and its content. The Tribune will be responsible for all advertising and technical support.

I see this as a great opportunity to cover Chicago media in all its forms, expanding on the work I’ve been doing since I started at the Sun-Times in 1980 and later adapted to digital platforms at Vocalo and Time Out Chicago. This new venture with the Tribune guarantees that my blog will be editorially independent.

I’m especially pleased to be working with my old friend and colleague, Bill Adee, who’s vice president of digital for the Tribune and one of the smartest new media experts in the business. Of all the ideas I considered since I left Time Out last April, Bill’s were by far the most creative, exciting and potentially rewarding. Continue reading

Tom Skilling weathers 35 years at WGN

Tom Skilling

Tom Skilling

Thirty-five years ago today — Aug. 13, 1978 — meteorologist Tom Skilling joined WGN-Channel 9. Chicago’s weather has never been the same.

Arguably the most popular figure in local television, Skilling, 61, last year signed a 10-year multimillion-dollar renewal to continue as chief meteorologist for the Tribune Broadcasting station. Though believed to be the highest paid local weatherman in the country, he remains as humble and down-to-earth as anyone who’s ever stood in front of a camera. Continue reading

‘How do you do, ladies and gentlemen’

Fahey Flynn

Fahey Flynn

Thirty years ago — on Aug. 8, 1983 — Fahey Flynn died at age 67, leaving a 42-year legacy in Chicago broadcasting that included a pivotal role in two first-place newscasts and the distinction of winning the market’s first Emmy Award ever presented for best newscaster.

“All local television is based on the local markets, local moods and local problems of the moment,” the anchorman told me in an interview two months before his passing. Continue reading