Robservations on the media beat:
The owner of radio stations in Elgin and Aurora has just made a deal to buy WCGO AM 1590 in Evanston. William Pollack’s Memphis-based Pollack Broadcasting will acquire the news/talk and foreign-language station from Kovas Communications for about $3 million. Pending government approval, the deal is expected to close in late summer. Pollack plans to add local programming to the station’s current format. Chuck Duncan is expected to continue as general manager. Late last year Pollack bought WRMN AM 1410 in Elgin, WBIG AM 1280 in Aurora, and KSHP in Las Vegas from Rick Jakle, longtime station owner and founder of “The Radio Shopping Show.”
“Chicago’s Very Own” WGN-Channel 9 and WGN AM 720 weren’t the only local media icons this week to lose hometown ties. Ebony magazine, flagship monthly of Chicago-based Johnson Publishing since 1945, eliminated about one-third of its staff and announced plans to move editorial operations to Los Angeles under new owners CVG Group. Among staffers cut were editor-in-chief Kyra Kyles and managing editor Kathy Chaney. Tracey Ferguson, L.A.-based editor of Jet magazine, will double as editor of Ebony. Meanwhile, numerous freelancers are still waiting to get paid.
Tim Franklin, who began his career as a reporter and editor for the Chicago Tribune, is moving back to become senior associate dean at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The job reunites him with Medill Dean Brad Hamm, who worked closely with Franklin at Indiana University’s journalism school. Franklin most recently was president of The Poynter Institute, a non-profit school for journalism in St. Petersburg, Florida. Earlier he was editor of the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel and the Indianapolis Star. “This is an incredible opportunity to play a leadership role at one of the premier schools in the world,” Franklin said.
Rick Jaffe, who ran the sports department at the Sun-Times in the early ’90s, has been named executive producer of VSiN (Vegas Stats & Information Network), the first multi-channel media startup dedicated to sports gambling information. Jaffe, who most recently was senior vice president for news at Fox Sports, served as deputy managing editor of the Sun-Times, where he oversaw the sports, photo and art departments. He also worked for the Los Angeles Times, the National Sports Daily, the Atlanta Journal/Constitution and the Detroit News. “Rick’s more than 16 years at Fox Sports make him uniquely qualified to help us take VSiN to the next step in its evolution,” Chicagoan Brian Musburger, founder and chairman of VSiN, said in a statement.
Tom Corfman, former government and politics editor at Crain’s Chicago Business, has been tapped to emcee the 40th annual Peter Lisagor Awards dinner Friday at The Union League Club of Chicago. Corfman, who also hosted the event last year, currently serves as spokesman for Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas. Presented by the Chicago Headline Club, the awards cite excellence in local journalism in more than 100 categories, encompassing print, broadcast and digital media. Honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards will be Mary Schmich, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and Robert Jordan, retired news anchor and reporter for WGN.
Recommended reading: Tiffany Walden, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The TRiiBE, a digital media platform, has written a terrific oral history of “Bad Boy Radio,” the phenomenally popular nighttime show that aired on urban contemporary WGCI FM 107.5 from 1997 to 2007. Published last week in the Chicago Reader, Walden’s retrospective on hosts Mike Love and Victor “the Dizz” Blackful and legendary program director Elroy Smith is an insightful chronicle of a pop culture landmark in urban radio. Notes Walden: “‘Bad Boy Radio’ found ways to bridge gaps between genres and generations.”
After months of planning and weeks of rehearsing, Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 finally unveiled its new news set Monday. The new look includes a massive wall of video screens and a raised circular anchor desk with lighting built into its surface.