Robservations on the media beat:
After five years as weekend news anchor at WFLD-Channel 32, Larry Yellen is returning to full-time reporting duties at the Fox-owned station. Replacing him alongside Natalie Bomke on the 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday newscasts will be Scott Schneider, just hired from WXIX-TV, the Fox affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio. A Los Angeles native and graduate of California Polytechnic State University-Pomona, Schneider spent 14 years at WFMJ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Youngstown, Ohio, before joining WXIX in 2013. Fox 32 insiders suspect he may not be on weekends for long. If Jeff Herndon splits, as has been rumored, look for Schneider to replace him at 9 p.m. weekdays alongside Dawn Hasbrouck. Either way, it’s back to a Monday-through-Friday work week for Yellen, an investigative reporter and legal analyst for Fox 32 since 1994.
Johnny Carson, the longtime king of late-night television, will be the subject of a major exhibition at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications. “Here’s Johnny! The Making of the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” an exclusive collection of memorabilia from the show, opens January 12 and runs through mid-October. The display was created by Jeff Sotzing, Carson’s nephew, former “Tonight Show” producer and current president of Carson Entertainment. The exhibition coincides with the comeback of Carson’s “Tonight Show” episodes on Tribune Media’s Antenna TV. Starting January 1, they’ll air at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 9 p.m. on weekends. Carson, who retired after three decades in 1992, died in 2005 at 79.
Tal Rosenberg, digital content editor of the Chicago Reader, has been named culture editor of the alternative weekly owned by Sun-Times Media. In the new position, he will be steering and editing all arts and culture coverage, according to Reader editor Jake Malooley. “Tal has a lot of interesting ideas about the future of the Reader’s culture coverage, and I’m looking forward to working with him to shape those beats,” Malooley told staff in a memo last week. Before joining the Reader, Rosenberg was a staff writer at the music magazine Stylus. Also at the Reader, editorial assistant and writer Brianna Wellen was promoted to associate editor.
Barbara Brotman spoke for many of her colleagues Sunday in a gracious and touching farewell column after nearly 38 years as a reporter, writer and columnist at the Chicago Tribune. Brotman was one of dozens of editorial employees who accepted buyouts last week under Tribune Publishing’s voluntary separation program. “I am excited about the projects I plan to pursue,” she wrote. “The future feels alight with possibilities. But I am also leaving behind a life I’ve loved deeply. In moving forward, I’m also looking back, with gratitude. It’s been grand.”
Also taking a buyout is columnist Phil Kadner, a giant of local journalism and 37-year veteran of the Daily Southtown (which has been under Tribune Publishing ownership since late last year). Kadner, 63, who grew up on the Southwest Side and graduated from Bogan High School and Northern Illinois University, has won countless awards and legions of fans for his work. Also leaving the Daily Southtown are reporter Steve Metsch, metro editor Tom Finn and news editor Mike Deacon, according to the Reader’s Michael Miner, who quoted Kadner saying the timing of the buyout offer “just seemed right.” Of the accolades pouring in on his retirement, Kadner tweeted: “Overwhelmed by all the kind words. Thank you so much.”
Two talented and highly regarded sportswriters are among the casualties of the latest round of layoffs at ESPNChicago.com. Jon Greenberg has been a columnist and staff writer for ESPN Chicago since the website debuted in 2009, while Scott Powers was the site’s Blackhawks beat reporter also since 2009. As many as 300 employees were targeted in a cost-cutting mandate by ESPN owner Walt Disney Co. “ESPN Chicago changed my life,” Greenberg tweeted. “Very grateful of opportunity and proud of the work we did.” He continues as a writer and producer for Chicago-based TouchVision.
Memorial services will be held December 6 for longtime Chicago radio personality Bernie Allen, who hosted middays during the golden era of Top 40 WLS AM 890 in the 1960s. He died November 16 of pulmonary fibrosis at 86. Allen, whose real name was Bernard Hallenberg, worked as a child actor in Hollywood on the “Our Gang” comedy series in the 1930s and in radio as a regular on “Screen Guild Theater” and the “Jack Armstrong” series. Back home in Chicago, he joined WBEZ FM 91.5 and later worked for WIND AM 560 and the former WJJD before joining WLS in 1963. With subsequent stops at the former WCLR, WLAK and WCFL, he retired from WJJD in 1990. “Golf and bowling are my sports,” Allen once said, “but record hops can be just as much fun.”