WFMT expands, rebrands Jazz Network

Jazz Network hosts John Hill, Neil Tesser, Dee Alexander and Dave Schwan

Jazz Network hosts John Hill, Neil Tesser, Dee Alexander and Dave Schwan

WFMT Radio Network, the global radio syndication division of Chicago-based Window to the World Communications, announced plans this week to launch a new national jazz music network.

Starting January 10, the newly branded Jazz Network will originate from Chicago and feature four new hosts — John Hill, Neil Tesser, Dee Alexander and Dave Schwan. For 63 hours each week, they will showcase a wide range of jazz recordings, “including more new releases, complemented by unique anecdotes and insights into the music,” according to the network. Continue reading

Robservations: Bill Kurtis lends voice to WGN Radio

Bill Kurtis

Bill Kurtis

Robservations on the media beat:

The golden pipes of Bill Kurtis soon will be heard as the signature voice of WGN AM 720. The Chicago broadcasting legend has been hired to record all station identifications and promos for the Tribune Media news/talk flagship, starting in January. “It’s the perfect mashup with Bill [combining] that voice of authority and voice of play,” said Todd Manley, vice president of content and programming at WGN. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Though generations of Chicagoans know Kurtis, 76, as the quintessential purveyor of hard news, millions more recognize his voice from Will Ferrell’s “Anchorman” movies, NPR’s “Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!” and countless commercials and documentaries. He also hosts the daily series “Through the Decades” on the digital broadcast network Decades. Continue reading

Former Tribune publisher Tony Hunter exits tronc

Tony Hunter

Tony Hunter

Tony Hunter, a straight-shooting Chicago guy who rose from circulation manager to publisher of the Chicago Tribune, is leaving the newspaper’s parent company — now known as tronc — at year’s end.

Hunter, 55, will step down as president of national revenue and strategic initiatives of tronc subsidiary Tribune Publishing, effective December 23, according to a filing Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “He will be eligible for severance benefits in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement,” the filing stated. Continue reading

The U renews 7 p.m. news agreement with ABC 7

Jerry Taft, Hosea Sanders, Cheryl Burton and Jim Rose

Jerry Taft, Hosea Sanders, Cheryl Burton and Jim Rose

ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 will continue to produce primetime news for Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU-Channel 26 for at least another year.

Although ratings for the one-hour newscast have been lackluster to say the least, the unusual arrangement has proved beneficial to both stations since “ABC 7 Eyewitness News on WCIU The U” launched in January 2014. Continue reading

Robservations: For the record, Pat Hughes delivers Cubs CD

“The Chicago Cubs Win the World Series!”

“The Chicago Cubs Win the World Series!”

Robservations on the media beat:

Pat Hughes

Pat Hughes

The ideal holiday gift for any Chicago Cubs fan: Pat Hughes, radio voice of the World Champions on CBS Radio sports/talk WSCR AM 670, has just released “The Chicago Cubs Win the World Series!” It’s a 70-minute CD featuring the 2016 season’s greatest moments as broadcast on The Score by Hughes and color commentator Ron Coomer. “If you love the Cubs, you will love this CD,” promises Hughes. It’s available online for $19.95 at baseballvoices.com. Continue reading

Gene Siskel among nine named to TV Academy’s Silver Circle

Gene Siskel

Gene Siskel

Gene Siskel, the late, great Chicago journalist who redefined film criticism in America along with dueling colleague Roger Ebert, will be honored this spring with induction into the Silver Circle of the Chicago Television Academy.

Siskel’s long-overdue recognition will acknowledge his work as film critic for CBS 2 news and “CBS This Morning,” and his legendary 24-year partnership with Ebert on their nationally syndicated movie-review show. Siskel, who also was a critic and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, died in 1999. (Ebert, who was inducted into the Silver Circle in 2005, died in 2013.) Continue reading