Robservations on the media beat:
OK, it’s not the comeback of “Bozo’s Circus,” but it’s still pretty big: Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9 is finalizing plans for a two-hour, live primetime special showcasing Chicago’s “must watch” morning news. The special nighttime edition of “WGN Morning News” will air from 7 to 9 p.m. September 14. Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten are main anchors of the top-rated show, which airs from 4 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. The ensemble also features Dan Ponce, Lourdes Duarte, Paul Konrad, Pat Tomasulo, Dean Richards, Ana Belaval, Erin McElroy, Demetrius Ivory, Marcus Leshock — and a cast of thousands.
Tonya Francisco, a reporter and fill-in news anchor at WGN, has been promoted to co-anchor of expanded Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts at the station. Starting September 10 she’ll anchor alongside Sean Lewis from 7 to 9 a.m. both days. Francisco joined Tribune Media CLTV from WOOD, the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2002 and shifted to WGN in 2012. A Chicago native and graduate of Whitney Young Magnet High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago, she began her career as a desk assistant at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7.
It’s been three years since Bruce DuMont announced his intention to step down as president and CEO of the Museum of Broadcast Communications, which he founded in 1983. Now the succession process is finally underway. Ron Culp, veteran corporate and agency communications executive and director of a graduate program at DePaul University, has been retained on a pro-bono basis to identify and evaluate potential candidates for the role. “It’s time for new leadership to emerge,” said DuMont, 72, whose current term expires in December 2017. The museum board recently filled two key positions with Josh Culley-Foster as vice president of development and Justin Kulovsek as vice president of marketing and innovation.
It’s back in front of the camera for Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips. Throughout September he’ll serve as primetime host of Turner Classic Movies, including a focus on the network’s star of the month, Gene Hackman. It’s a return engagement for Phillips, who last hosted TCM’s “Friday Night Spotlight” series in 2013. Phillips, who joined the Tribune as theatre critic in 2002 and was named film critic in 2006, also co-hosted the final season of the syndicated movie-review show “At the Movies” with A.O. Scott of the New York Times.
Justin Allen’s Ruckus Factory Digital Studios, a Chicago-based content incubator and production studio specializing in comedy, lifestyle and documentary production, has been acquired by Zazoom Media Group, the New York-based premium video producer and multi-platform content distributor. Allen, who launched Ruckus Factory earlier this year, now becomes vice president of production and creative for ZMG. “Our Chicago studio will continue to grow, with a focus on creating original short and long form content here,” he said. As vice president of content and operations for Think Televisual, Allen headed TouchVision, the multi-platform digital programming service at Weigel Broadcasting that ceased operations last January.
Two nationally recognized Chicago programming veterans are teaming up to help fellow broadcasters create great radio. David Martin and Kipper McGee have launched “Brandwidth on Demand,” a 15-minute weekly podcast featuring “tips, tools and trade craft secrets” from top talent, program directors and media innovators. It’s based on McGee’s 2015 book, Brandwidth: How Big Broadcasting Is Missing the Mediamorphosis. “The concept is to engage the best and brightest minds in a conversation about how to create killer content and win the war for ratings,” Martin said in a statement. To subscribe free, text “REBOOT” to 44222.
Chicago actor and improv comedian Jeff Rogers is host and co-executive producer of “Jeff’s Homemade Game Show,” a Chicago-based production now in development. Producers are seeking families to participate in “various fun challenges using common on-site household objects, locations and activities” to win cash prizes and other items. “With Chicago having such strong roots in the history of television, we always thought the Windy City deserves a locally produced game show,” Rogers said in a statement. Families interested in participating can sign up at homemadegameshow.com.