Robservations on the media beat:
Thanks in part to a boost from retired Cub David Ross on “Dancing with the Stars” as a lead-in, it looks like ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 will score another win for its 10 p.m. newscast in the May rating sweep, which ends Wednesday. Barring a miracle, ABC 7 also is poised to beat NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 among viewers between 25 and 54 — the group most sought by advertisers. NBC 5, which led in the key Nielsen demo in recent years, has been challenged by the absence of a key player. Principal news anchor Rob Stafford has been out since March on medical leave for a bone marrow transplant and treatment of amyloidosis, a rare blood disease.
John Farneda, who returned to WXRT FM 93.1 as interim music director last month, has been appointed to the position permanently. He previously spent more than 30 years at the CBS Radio adult album alternative station, including an earlier run as music director from 2001 to 2014. “John’s rich history here and his unequalled knowledge of the Chicago rock market make him the perfect programming partner,” Greg Solk operations manager and program director of WXRT, said in announcing the promotion. Said Farneda: “I’m very fortunate to rejoin my beloved colleagues at WXRT.”
Jon Kelley, the former Chicago news anchor and sportscaster, is making a comeback as a game show host. Starting this fall, he’ll host “Funny You Should Ask,” a syndicated game show described as “‘Hollywood Squares’ without the squares,” featuring comedians and other celebs answering questions. In Chicago, it will air late nights on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26. Until 2015 Kelley was an anchor on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32’s “Good Day Chicago.” He also was a sports anchor at NBC 5 in the ’90s.
Chicago Public Media is “moving forward actively” to seek a replacement for Ben Calhoun, who resigned last month as vice president of content and programming at WBEZ FM 91.5. But it could be three to four months before a new program chief is named, according to Goli Sheikholeslami, president and CEO of Chicago Public Media. “My preference would be to fill the position as soon as possible, but this is a significant position in the organization and I want to make sure we make a deliberate and thoughtful decision,” she said Tuesday. Calhoun left to return to the staff of “This American Life,” where he spent five years as a producer and reporter for the public radio magazine show. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WBEZ ranked 24th with a 2.0 share of all listeners.
WGN AM 720 hosts Wendy Snyder and Steve Bertrand will emcee the WGN Radio Walk of Fame induction ceremony from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday on the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station. This year’s honorees are sportscasters Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd (both posthumously), overnight host Nick Digilio, news anchor Judy Pielach, sports producer Jack Rosenberg, crime reporter Larry Schreiner (posthumously), and traffic reporters Leonard Baldy (posthumously), Lincoln Hampton, Mike Mathis and Anne Maxfield. The event in front of Tribune Tower at 435 North Michigan Avenue will be open to the public and broadcast live on WGN.