Robservations on the media beat:
On the heels of NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 announcing the launch of a 4 p.m. Monday-through-Friday newscast comes word that Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 is ready to pull the trigger on its own 5 p.m. weekday newscast. It’s been talked about for years, but insiders say it finally will happen this summer. Look for current 9 p.m. news anchors Jeff Herndon and Dawn Hasbrouck to front the new show as well. The expansion coincides with the arrival of Matt Piacente as Fox 32 news director — the station’s fourth in four years.
The sudden death this week of Doug Banks, top-rated afternoon star at WVAZ FM 102.7, created a huge void in the radio world — and a dilemma for the iHeartMedia urban adult-contemporary station. While Dee Dee Renee, who co-hosted with Banks, carries on their American Urban Radio Networks syndicated show for now, look for V103 to go back to local hosts from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays in the very near future. Among other options, that could mean a reunion of Joe Soto and Ramonski Luv, former top-rated nighttime hosts of “The Real Show.” Luv, whose previous employment at V103 abruptly ended in July 2014, just returned as a part-time fill-in personality. He started last weekend as host of “The Friday Night Old School Mix.”
Scott Kleinberg, social media editor of the Chicago Tribune, is leaving to work for the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as director of social media and digital engagement. It’s a homecoming for the Brooklyn native, who has spent the last 11 years in Chicago, starting as senior news editor of RedEye and becoming the Tribune’s social media maven in 2011. Kleinberg’s weekly So Social column appeared in newspapers around the world and on more than 80 websites. Kleinberg also was a regular contributor to Tribune Media news/talk WGN AM 720.
Ben Ponzio made news last August when he resigned as general sales manager of CBS Radio Top 40 WBBM FM 96.3 to follow what he called “a lifelong dream” and pursue a full-time career as a professional poker player. Now he’s decided to get back into the radio business. Ponzio just joined Hubbard Radio Chicago as an account executive, selling advertising for its three stations here. “I am still going to be playing poker,” he said, “but I decided I should work for another eight to 12 years before hanging it up.”
NBC 5 was named a finalist Tuesday in this year’s Peabody Awards for Carol Marin’s reporting on the Laquan McDonald investigation. McDonald was the 17-year-old African American whose fatal shooting by white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was captured on dash cam video. Also named a finalist was “This American Life,” created by Ira Glass and Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5, for the podcast “Abdi and the Golden Ticket.” Winners will be honored May 21 in New York.
“Operation Greylord,” an original documentary on the FBI sting operation that uncovered massive corruption in the Cook County Circuit Court system in the 1980s, will debut Friday on Decades Network, the joint venture of Weigel Broadcasting and CBS Television Stations. Among those interviewed are former U.S. Attorneys Dan Webb and Tom Sullivan, journalists John Drummond and James Merriner, and Terry Hake, the Chicago attorney who posed undercover as a corrupt prosecutor. The half-hour special will air at 7 a.m. and 1 and 7 p.m. Friday on WBBM 2.2, a subchannel of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, and on Comcast Xfinity Channel 338, Wide Open West Channel 172, RCN Channel 75 and Cablevision Channel 112.