Another round of Robservations on the media beat:
Twenty-three years after she stopped the presses on her autobiography, Oprah Winfrey is ready to set things straight. Macmillan’s Flatiron Books announced this week it will publish her inspirational memoir, titled The Life You Want, in January 2017. “I hope my story inspires other people to live the highest, fullest expression of themselves,” Winfrey said in a statement. At the height of her Chicago-based talk show’s popularity in 1993, she stunned the publishing world when she abruptly halted printing of her autobiography Oprah. Telling me at the time it was “the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” she said: “The book, as written, does a really great job of chronicling the events of my life, but I wanted it to be more than a recitation of my life’s events. . . . I wanted to offer some insight, some clarity and some wisdom that might benefit other people.” Now she must think the time is right.
After a lifetime of rising before dawn, old Wisconsin farm boy Orion Samuelson is finally getting to sleep a little later. Starting in the new year, the Radio Hall of Famer will begin his on-air duties at 9:35 a.m., delivering agriculture and business updates throughout middays on Tribune Media news/talk WGN AM 720. The 81-year-old broadcast icon is in his 56th year at the station. Samuelson’s new schedule coincides with the hiring of Steve Grzanich as business beat reporter and anchor of a new early morning business news hour.
Sick of every other story being labeled “Breaking News” whether it is or not? The latest gimmick to infuse WLS-Channel 7’s newscasts with a sense of urgency is its “Alert Center,” just introduced on the ABC-owned station. “The new so-called ‘Alert Center’ is actually just the traffic area with a rather intense new name,” noted Michael P. Hill on NewscastStudio.com. Hill reported numerous glitches on ABC 7’s new set Thursday morning, including odd shots of meteorologist Tracy Butler, who was “dwarfed by the height of the video wall,” and reporter Tanja Babich, who seemed to be floating in space behind news anchor Terrell Brown. “Thankfully, the station was able to successfully pull up her live shot on the video wall behind Brown without opening a ‘portal to hell,’ but Babich, who was standing to the viewer’s right of the screen, appeared oddly positioned and somewhat hidden behind Brown,” Hill observed.
Joe Walsh, the former suburban congressman turned talk show host, is taking another bite of the Big Apple. While he continues to host his show here from 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays on Salem Media news/talk WIND AM 560, Walsh is launching a new two-hour weekday afternoon show on WVNJ in New York, starting December 14. His last foray in New York (on Salem’s WNYM) ended after 16 months last April. “I’m excited to be back on the air in New York with our message of freedom on a great station like WVNJ,” Walsh said in a statement. “WVNJ will be the flagship station for our national expansion of the program into other markets throughout 2016.”
It’s too soon to plan a going-away party, but there’s talk that Steve Harvey may be leaving Chicago. Sources at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 say no decision has been made, but Broadcasting and Cable reports Harvey wants to move production of his syndicated talk show from NBC Tower in Chicago to Los Angeles. Contract talks are under way with distributor NBCUniversal. Heading west would make it easier to attract more celebrity guests, according to the report, but costs of the move might be prohibitive. In Chicago, “The Steve Harvey Show” airs at 2 p.m. weekdays on NBC 5.
Veronica Carter signed off Sunday after three years as a part-time news anchor and reporter at CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780 and WCFS FM 105.9 and segued back to Tribune Media news/talk WGN AM 720 for weekends. She previously worked twice before at WGN, starting in 2005. She also worked for Merlin Media’s short-lived FM News 101.1. Meanwhile, Carter also has landed a full-time position as a correspondent for Public News Service, according to a note from WBBM Newsradio bosses.
So long, Mickey: Chicago-based Polnet Communications this week completed its purchase of former Radio Disney station WRDZ AM 1300 for $3,450,000. Licensed to west suburban LaGrange, the station brings to five Polnet’s ethnic and foreign-language AM outlets in the Chicago area. Radio Disney took over the former WTAQ under a local marketing agreement in 1998 and later bought the station. In 2014 Walt Disney Co. announced it was ending Radio Disney’s local radio run and shifting to digital.