Robservations on the media beat:
Critics may wonder whether he left the business or the business left him. Either way, Mike North has announced he’s quitting sports radio for good. It’s been 25 years since the high school dropout and former hot dog stand owner became one of the founding personalities at CBS Radio sports/talk WSCR AM 670. At his peak on the station he was making $1.5 million a year in addition to television and endorsement deals. North exited The Score in 2008, taking on various sports-related media ventures, including network and local radio, podcasting and a column in the Daily Herald. “I’m heading in another direction because I think the timing is right,” he told Phil Ponce Monday on WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight.” “I’m not leaving broadcasting. I’m leaving sports radio.” North, 65, said he plans to live part-time in Las Vegas and become a spokesman for Light Keeper Pro, a Glenview-based manufacturer of holiday light repair tools.
Rob Stafford returned to a hero’s welcome this week as 10 p.m. news anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. It was his first time back on the air alongside co-anchor Allison Rosati since February, when he began treatment for amyloidosis, an incurable blood disorder. “Feeling good. And I’m so happy to be back,” Stafford told viewers and colleagues Monday night. “I want to thank everybody for the prayers and the well wishes that we’ve received over the last six months. I want to thank Dick Johnson for doing a fabulous job filling in five shows a day. And thank you for all your support. You’ve seen me at my worst, and I’m feeling good now. Thank you. We’re back.”
A mistake in calculating Chicago’s radio ratings is forcing Nielsen Audio to reissue its audience estimates for July. The company acknowledged that it failed to combine numbers for Univision Radio’s WVIV FM 103.1 and WVIX FM 93.5, which simulcast a Spanish urban “Latino Mix” format. On Tuesday Nielsen will release corrected figures. “Audience shares for other stations may be slightly affected,” the company said, although the overall impact is expected to be negligible. Doug Levy, senior vice president and general manager of Univision Chicago, declined to comment on the snafu.
Mitch Michaels will be toasted Thursday at a gathering to honor the release of his new memoir, Doin’ the Cruise: Memories From A Lifetime in Radio and Rock & Roll. Written with Ken Churilla and published by Eckhartz Press, it’s a straightforward account of the ups and downs of a Chicago radio career spanning nearly five decades and encompassing such iconic call letters as WXRT, WDAI, WKQX, WLUP and WCKG. Most interesting are insights Michaels shares about his personal life, including growing up as an only child of adoptive parents in a Cleveland suburb, and coping with the death of a 21-year-old son, who fell victim to drug addiction. Still rocking at 69, Michaels now hosts afternoons at Alpha Media classic hits WERV FM 95.9.
Veteran Chicago radio producer Scott Miller, who’s between media jobs at the moment, is taking time out this weekend for a hirsute pursuit. He’ll compete in the 2017 Remington Beard Boss World Beard & Moustache Championships. The three-day event in Austin, Texas, will attract beard enthusiasts from around the world. “As I continue to search coast to coast for my next career move, I have also been concentrating on cultivating a world class follicle presentation,” Miller said in a statement. “My father blessed me with the ability to sprout hair like none other, lets just hope I can bring home the gold . . . or at least have fun trying!”
Cliff Levine, who capped a long career as a Los Angeles radio sales executive with a stint as general manager of WLS AM 890 and the former WYTZ under Capital Cities/ABC from 1987 to 1989, died Friday at 89. “He was a remarkable man who leaves behind cherished memories, many terrific accomplishments, and three generations of family that love him and will be forever grateful that he was in our lives,” said his son, Ken Levine, an acclaimed comedy writer, director and producer.
How’s this for an elaborate marriage proposal? Jake Hamilton, reporter for “Good Day Chicago” on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, pretended he was asking girlfriend Lauren Deschenes to watch a movie trailer at the Music Box Theatre on Chicago’s North Side. It turned out to be a ruse for Hamilton to pop the question. Of course she said yes. Here is the video: