Robservations on the media beat:
On the same day iHeartMedia announced a long-term renewal for syndicated morning star Steve Harvey Tuesday, the company initiated another wave of layoffs nationwide. No full-time on-air personalities in Chicago were affected, but sources said at least two part-time weekend hosts were among the cuts here. With the company staggering under $20.4 billion in debt and warning investors it may not survive the next 10 months, does it really help iHeartMedia to put a couple of part-timers out of work? Matt Scarano, president of iHeartMedia Chicago, did not respond to requests for comment. Harvey’s show airs on urban adult-contemporary WVAZ FM 102.7.
Brad Hamm, dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, is defending a decision not to seek continued accreditation for the school from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. “We find little value in the current version of accreditation,” Hamm wrote in an email to alumni Tuesday. “Investing 18 months and hundreds of hours of faculty and staff time within the current flawed system is not useful. . . . We hope ACEJMC will commit very soon to changing its leadership, strengthening and updating its standards, and improving the review process.” Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, Class of 1982, wrote: “Maybe now that Medill has rejected being officially approved, it can really go out on a limb and return to using a name that doesn’t make loyal graduates cringe.”
Voting is under way among Chicago area broadcasters to eliminate Kenosha County, Wisconsin, from the Chicago metro market defined by Nielsen Audio. Proponents say the move would “level the playing field” since Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV FM 97.1 derives up to one-third of its ratings from its simulcast signal on WWDV FM 96.9 at the Wisconsin border. Jeff England, vice president and market manager of Hubbard Radio Chicago, did not respond to a request for comment. Along with the addition of Jasper County, Indiana, the proposal would more closely align the radio market with Nielsen’s Chicago television DMA (Designated Market Area). If three-fourths of Nielsen’s clients approve the change, the new boundaries would take effect later this year. Voting ends May 12.
Speedy recovery wishes to Chicago radio legend Steve Dahl, who’s in the hospital again for diverticulitis. On Tuesday he underwent surgery to repair his large intestine. “He has been touched by all the kindness and love, and wishes he could broadcast this like the vasectomy [in 1989],” wife Janet Dahl told Facebook friends. “He also wishes his post op only involved a bag of frozen peas on the groin. . . . We are blessed by the circles of love and support. You can never have too much family.” Dahl hopes to return next week to his afternoon show on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890.
Returning to live air shifts at night, Cumulus Media classic hits WLS FM 94.7 will rotate Tom O’Toole and Danny Lake as hosts from 7 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday. Jeff Davis, who had been on at night since John Records Landecker resigned in 2015, will continue as weekend and fill-in host. Most recently Davis has been filling in Saturday and Sunday mornings for Dick Biondi, who’s recovering from a leg ailment. “I am still very much involved with WLS, as I have been for a very, very long time,” Davis told Facebook friends.
Vincent Sollecito is moving up after nine years as vice president and general sales manager of ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. He’s been promoted to President of ABC National Television Sales for the ABC Owned Television Stations Group. John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, said Sollecito “has developed fantastic relationships with our valued clients both here in Chicago and around the country,” adding: “He leaves behind a legacy of building one of the top sales and sales management teams in the industry.” An 18-year veteran of the ABC Owned Station Group, Sollecito began as an account executive at WABC in New York. No word yet on a successor at ABC 7.