Robservations on the media beat:
Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 announced plans Thursday to expand “Good Day Chicago” by 30 minutes — starting at 4 a.m. Monday through Friday — effective April 10. It means an earlier wakeup call for news anchors Kristen Nicole and Natalie Bomke. “Our energetic team is ready to deliver up-to-the-minute news, traffic and weather reports that prepare early-rising commuters to take on the day,” Matt Piacente, vice president and news director of Fox 32, said in a statement. Nielsen figures for March showed “Good Day Chicago” averaging a 0.9 rating (31,167 households) from 4:30 to 10 a.m. weekdays. Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9 and NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 already start their morning newscasts at 4 a.m. Representatives of ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 said they have no plans to do so at this time.
Sending get-well wishes to Chicago broadcast legend and Radio Hall of Famer Steve Dahl, who’s recovering from an undisclosed illness. Dahl, 62, has been off the air and in the hospital since Wednesday, but he’s expected to return Monday to his afternoon show on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890. “He’s a tough guy,” wife Janet Dahl told Facebook friends. “He will be good as new soon.”
David Kidwell, an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune since 2005, has been hired as special projects editor for the Better Government Association. He joins the nonprofit watchdog organization in mid-April. Kidwell, who broke the Chicago red light camera scandal for the Tribune, previously worked for the Tampa Tribune and the Miami Herald, where his team won a Pulitzer Prize. Said BGA president and CEO Andy Shaw: “We look forward to more impactful, mission-driven investigations from Dave and his team here at the BGA, where we will also be adding more firepower to our other core programs: Policy advocacy, open records litigation, civic engagement and communications.”
Wayne Besen, who was cut last week after two years as afternoon host on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT AM 820, is fighting back: Besen said Thursday he has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board claiming his firing was in retaliation for his activity with the SAG-AFTRA union. He also cited pressure from management to drop his support of Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race last year because Newsweb owner Fred Eychaner was a major Clinton donor. (Read his statement here.) Besen was replaced from 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays on WCPT by Ben Joravsky, political writer for the Chicago Reader. Charley Gross, president of Newsweb Radio, said in response: “Wayne is a talented, passionate guy. WCPT, which has several national shows on weekdays, believes its audience is entitled to hear discussion of local issues as well. We had attempted for some time, without success, to encourage Wayne to focus more on local, i.e. Chicago (not just Springfield) matters. Ben Joravsky, a Bernie Sanders supporter, brings an encyclopedic knowledge of and passionate interest in all things Chicago. We are excited to have him on board and are confident he will provide WCPT’s audience with a focus that Wayne was not willing to pursue.”
Family and friends of Roger Ebert will gather Tuesday to mark the fourth anniversary of the famed film critic’s death. The commemoration will start at 11 a.m. outside the Chicago Theatre, 175 North State Street, where a star was dedicated in Ebert’s honor under the marquee in 2005. At a private reception to follow, Chaz Ebert will award $1,000 grants from the Ebert Foundation to 21 organizations working to improve the lives of Chicagoans and advance the arts. For a complete list of recipients, see rogerebert.com.
After 17 years as the voice of morning-drive traffic on CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9, Bart Shore is getting a new station identification. Starting Monday he’ll be reassigned to iHeartMedia adult contemporary WLIT FM 93.9, working with MyFM morning host Kristina Kage. By coincidence, Shore started his Chicago radio career in 1985 as a disc jockey on the same station (then known as WLAK). Prompted by CBS Radio’s switch from Total Traffic to USTN (formerly Radiate Media), WBBM Newsradio’s new traffic lineup will feature Beau Duran in mornings, Abby Ryan in afternoons, Brian Travis in evenings and Steven Haas overnights.
Monday will mark the debut of “This Morning: America’s First News” on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890. Airing from 5 to 6 a.m. weekdays, the syndicated magazine show is hosted by Gordon Deal and focuses on national and world headlines as well as business, finance, lifestyle, careers and technology. Previously produced by Wall Street Journal Radio Network, it last aired on WLS in 2015.
Another Magers calls it a day: Paul Magers, younger brother of former Chicago news anchor Ron Magers, retired this week after 38 years in television news. In signing off from CBS-owned KCBS in Los Angeles, where he spent the past 13 years, Paul Magers disclosed he’d been in treatment for alcohol addiction earlier this year and planned to focus on recovery. Ron Magers, who went into recovery for alcohol and drugs in 1980 and became an outspoken advocate for addiction treatment, retired last May from ABC 7, culminating five decades in journalism, including 35 years in Chicago.