Robservations on the media beat:
Chicago magazine has been nominated for prestigious honors from the American Society of Magazine Editors. The revitalized monthly was named a finalist Thursday for the 2017 National Magazine Awards in the General Excellence – Special Interest category. “We pour a lot of energy and emotion into every issue, and we don’t do it to win awards but to serve our readers,” said Chicago editor and publisher Susanna Homan. “Even so, this particular category is special to us because everyone on the masthead contributed. In our industry, the National Magazine Awards are like the Oscars — being even a finalist is a very big deal.” Sixty-four media organizations were nominated in 20 categories this year. Awards will be presented February 7 in New York.
Thursday marked the debut of “Bill Zwecker’s Chicago,” a new showcase for the veteran show biz columnist in the Sun-Times. His full page on Tuesdays and Thursdays will focus on entertainment stories, personalities, films, TV shows, books and even celebrity chefs — all with a Chicago connection. Thursday’s opener was an interview with Michael Keaton, who stars as Chicagoan Ray Kroc in “The Founder.” Zwecker, who’s been a Sun-Times columnist for 25 years, doubles as entertainment reporter for Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32.
Staffers at WTTW-Channel 11 were sworn to secrecy this week when the cast and crew of Fox’s “Empire” drama series filmed scenes at the Window to the World Communications station’s North Side studios. Stars included Taraji Henson and Taye Diggs along with special guest Phylicia Rashad. “They had requested a ‘closed set’ for the privacy of their performers, so even though I know they were filming around the building, we were asked to keep things as low key as possible,” Kim Mattes, director of production services at WTTW, told employees. “Our hope is now that they know what an amazing facility we have, they’ll shoot here again in the future.”
Angi Taylor, who co-hosts the “Fred + Angi” morning show with Christopher Frederick on iHeartMedia Top 40 WKSC FM 103.5, has taken on additional duties at night. She’s just been named co-host of “The Rendezvous” the relationship advice and music show syndicated by Premiere Networks and hosted by Simon Marcel (formerly known to Chicago listeners as Simon Badinter). “Hosting a syndicated show is a dream come true, and I can’t wait to share the love, romance and fun with a national audience,” Taylor said in a statement. “The Rendezvous” airs here from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday on iHeartMedia adult contemporary WLIT FM 93.9.
Chris McDonnell, former president and general manager of Telemundo Chicago WSNS-Channel 44, has landed as vice president and general manager of KRON, the MyNet affiliate in San Francisco. His position here was eliminated last November and combined with the duties of David Doebler, president and general manager of NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, McDonnell previously worked in sales management at NBC 5.
A tip of the hat to Shel Lustig and Reed Pence of northwest suburban MediaTracks Communications on the 25th anniversary of “Radio Health Journal,” their award-winning weekly public affairs program. Now syndicated to more than 450 stations nationwide, the show is still hosted by the original trio of Lustig, Pence and Nancy Benson. “Considering all the medical advances of the last quarter century, it’s a completely different world from when we first went on air,” Pence said in a statement. “But what hasn’t changed is the public’s need for reliable reporting on the health issues facing us as individuals, communities and as a nation. I mean, our very first segment was on the crisis in health insurance, and 1,250 episodes later — we’re still talking about it.”
Comcast SportsNet Chicago announced plans Thursday for live streaming online and on mobile devices of Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox games during the 2017 season. Danny Ecker of Crain’s Chicago Business reported it first. “With live streaming currently offered for our Bulls and Blackhawks telecasts, the addition of MLB streaming further illustrates our commitment to provide our viewers with the most in-depth and compelling Cubs and White Sox content in and out of the home and on any device,” Phil Bedella, vice president and general manager of CSN Chicago, said in a statement.
The parent company of the Sun-Times this week announced the launch of Digital 312, a new Chicago-based marketing agency. Billed as a “full-spectrum, in-house digital and marketing solutions firm,” it’s designed to serve small and mid-sized businesses as well as national companies. “We recognize that mobile marketing and advertising is a key component in crafting a successful and thorough digital strategy,” Chris Best, director of digital services, said in a statement. “We no longer consider mobile as a future trend — it’s today’s reality, it’s now. We are excited to be a player in this forum.”