Robservations on the media beat:
Legendary Chicago TV weatherman Harry Volkman was remembered Sunday as a larger-than-life personality, a generous mentor, and a man of faith. The beloved meteorologist for four local stations died August 20 at age 89 after a brief illness. Friends and family gathered at Glenview United Methodist Church to celebrate Volkman’s life. Among the speakers was an emotional Tom Skilling, who called Volkman “the broadcast meteorologist who literally set the bar for on-air meteorological integrity,” adding: “Through it all, Harry was a father who raised a lovely family, a devoted member of this church, and a paragon of class and dignity in his profession.” Fellow broadcasters at the memorial tribute included Steve Baskerville, Rick DiMaio, Chuck Schaden, Bob Sirott, Roger Triemstra, and Volkman’s son, Eddie Volkman.
Twenty years ago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper was the first to ride the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, regaling readers with the story as he reached the top. On Sunday night, as the ride closed down in preparation for dismantling, Roeper, now the paper’s film critic, was the last to ride. “Coming full circle, so to speak,” he wrote. “Whether you bemoan the Ferris wheel as a regrettable monstrosity of modern kitsch or it puts a smile on your face every time you see it, there’s no denying its prominence on the modern face of Chicago.” A new 196-foot Ferris wheel — 50-feet taller than the old one — is expected to be in place at Navy Pier by next summer.
Former Chicago Tribune TV critic Maureen Ryan has joined the trade paper Variety, where she’ll share the title of chief TV critic with Brian Lowry. She most recently covered television for the Huffington Post. “Not only is Variety a legendary publication, it is meeting the challenges of the current media landscape with resolve, perspective and intelligence,” Ryan said in a statement. “The prospect of contributing to the coverage and criticism of television as part of this group fills me with joy.” Ryan, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, resigned in 2010 after 13 years at the Tribune, where she’d written about television full time since 2004.
A tip of the hat to Linda Kollmeyer, Joan McGrath and all the other hostesses of the Illinois Lottery over the years. As of October 1, the twice-daily drawings no longer will be televised on WGN-Channel 9 — or anywhere else. They’re moving to a new “digital draw system” online. “While we have been proud to partner with WGN over the years, the new digital draw system will allow us to open an exciting new chapter in Illinois Lottery history on behalf of our players,” B.R. Lane, acting director of the lottery, said in a statement. The new system will utilize a random number generator to select winning numbers, which will be posted on illinoislottery.com.
Two prominent Chicago broadcast executives are teaming up to launch a radio management consulting firm. At the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show in Atlanta this week, Michael Damsky and Harvey Wells are expected to announce the formation of Damsky/Wells Insights. Both previously worked together at CBS Radio adult album alternative WXRT FM 93.1, where they served at different times as vice president and general manager. Damsky also headed WLS AM 890 and WLS FM 94.7, while Wells also headed WSCR AM 670, WUSN FM 99.5, the former WCKG and Newsweb Radio stations here.