Robservations on the media beat:
Chicago magazine editor and publisher Susanna Homan calls it “our biggest story of the year,” and that’s no exaggeration. Contributing writer David Bernstein’s exclusive interview with former Governor Rod Blagojevich in Chicago’s October issue includes the first published photo of him in the federal penitentiary in Englewood, Colorado. “The prison wouldn’t allow us to send in a photographer to shoot Blagojevich, so for the cover shot, he went to the prison commissary, rented a camera, and had someone shoot it on the prison grounds,” Homan said. Bernstein began pursuing the interview three years ago with Blago’s lawyer, his wife Patti and ultimately Prisoner 40892-424 himself. Added Homan: “We were surprised at how candid the former governor was in their conversations.” (Here is the link.) Phil Rogers of NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 also has a three-part exclusive interview with Blagojevich through Wednesday at 10 p.m. (Here is the link.) NBC 5 will air a half-hour special at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Radio legend Dick Biondi’s legion of fans will be leading the cheers Wednesday when “The Wild I-Tralian” celebrates his 85th birthday. Tributes are expected to include social media posts, on-air salutes all day on WLS FM 94.7 and a “Happy Birthday, Dick Biondi” spread on the Cumulus Media classic hits station’s Facebook page. A Radio Hall of Famer and beloved broadcasting treasure, Biondi has been on leave as weekend morning host at WLS FM since April because of a chronic leg ailment. In a statement he told fans: “I want nothing more than to get back to entertaining the greatest radio audience in the greatest city in the world!”
Bill Kurtis is the voice of a charming new AT&T commercial starring Taylor Swift. The two-minute spot promotes the new Taylor Swift NOW Video On Demand experience. (Here is the link.) It’s familiar territory for the iconic Chicago anchorman, who fronted a memorable series of commercials for AT&T Mobility broadband service back in 2008. At the close of each ad he’d famously declare: “I’m Bill Kurtis, and I’ve just found the Internet.”
Keith Middleton, a prominent suburban Chicago broadcaster for decades, died Saturday in Munster, Indiana, after a long illness. He was 85. A longtime host on WJOB in Hammond, Indiana, Middleton retired in 2009 as station manager and host at WCGO 1600 AM in Chicago Heights. As a young singer and recording artist, he was a winner of “The Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour” on radio. He also was a U.S. Marine veteran. He is survived by his wife and three sons, including Brian Middleton, who was an on-air personality on WBBM FM 96.3 and the former WILV (now WSHE FM 100.3). Services will be held September 17 at Panozzo Bros. Funeral Home in Chicago Heights.