Robservations: Kaufmann ‘glad to be back’ on WGN

Justin Kaufmann

Justin Kaufmann

Robservations on the media beat:

Without fanfare, Justin Kaufmann returned Monday as host of “The Download,” his weekday evening show on WGN AM 720. He’d been missing from the Tribune Media news/talk station since October 6 while dealing with “a private and personal matter.” He later apologized to family and friends for what he called a “lapse in judgment” in his personal life. “I’m glad to be back,” Kaufmann said Monday. “‘The Download’ is a special show and we’re proud of all the work we put in every day. I look forward to helping out the team produce some more great content for our audience.” The show airs from 7 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rob Wildeboer

Rob Wildeboer

Rob Wildeboer, criminal and legal affairs reporter for WBEZ FM 91.5, has been promoted to senior editor of news at the Chicago Public Media station. As head of daily news coverage, he succeeds Sally Eisele, who resigned last December as managing editor of public affairs. Wildeboer joined WBEZ in 2004 as an intern for “Eight Forty-Eight.” Calling Wildeboer “a remarkable journalist, a generous colleague, and a leader inside and outside this station,” Ben Calhoun, vice president of content and programming, said: “Rob brings a rare combination of judgment, depth, joy and determination to what we do.” Calhoun also announced the promotion of digital producer Tricia Bobeda to senior editor of digital. She joined WBEZ as a reporter/producer in 2012.

Dawn Turner

Dawn Turner

Farewell feted by Chicago Tribune staffers November 19 will be departing metro newsroom colleagues Colleen Mastony, Jon Hilkevitch, Maggie Gentilcore, Bob Secter, Barbara Brotman, Rich Wronski, Bonnie Miller Rubin, Stephan Benzkofer, Dawn Turner, Lisa Black and George Knue. They’re among dozens who reportedly have opted for buyouts under Tribune Publishing’s voluntary staff reduction plan. The buyout offer includes up to one year’s pay along with extended health insurance benefits. Applicants are expected to be officially notified of their acceptance by Thursday.

Dan Ponce

Dan Ponce

It’s another side-splitting, face-slapping telenovela starring WGN Morning News anchors Dan Ponce and Lourdes Duarte and reporter Ana Belaval. “Noticias de mi Corazon: The Missing Emmy,” third in their series of spot-on parody videos, accuses the competition of stealing their beloved Emmy Award. Cameos include local TV news colleagues Mai Martinez, John Garcia, Natalie Martinez, Eddie Arruza, Nancy Loo, Pat Tomasulo and Jeff Hoover. The surprise twist at the end had me laughing out loud. Watch it here: http://wgntv.com/2015/11/09.

Art Vuolo

Art Vuolo

Art Vuolo, the Detroit videographer known as “Radio’s Best Friend,” has been chronicling the work of radio personalities across the country for more than 40 years. Now his vast video archive is about to be transformed into a permanent exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications. “A History of the American DJ” will highlight more than 700 radio performers on the air and behind the scenes. Funds are being solicited for the project, which is spearheaded by Chicago broadcast executives John Gehron, Lisa Miller and Harv Blain.

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

The woman who put City Colleges of Chicago’s WYCC-Channel 20 on the air in 1983 and served as its first general manager agrees the time is right to auction the station’s license. “In today’s world of Internet options and public-access cable channel availability, it makes sense for the mayor to auction the license and use the funds for the City Colleges system,” Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow wrote in an email to me. “These funds should be classroom and faculty based, not used to hire more top-heavy administrators. Present training of students for television careers can be accomplished through internships and through other cable options.” Although Mayor Rahm Emanuel has nixed the idea, City Colleges still has until December 18 to consider an FCC auction of the station’s license that could net up to $474 million.

Jason Knowles

Jason Knowles

No comment from WLS-Channel 7 officials on a defamation lawsuit filed October 30 in Cook County Circuit Court against the ABC-owned station and reporter Jason Knowles. Dr. Irfan Atcha, a Chicago area dentist who specializes in dental implants, claims an ABC 7 investigative series in 2014 accusing him of performing “shoddy work” was false and misleading. The story continues to appear on ABC 7’s website.