Robservations on the media beat:
The Chicago-based parent company of WGN-Channel 9 and WGN AM 720 moved closer to its takeover by Sinclair Broadcast Group Thursday when stockholders of Tribune Media voted overwhelmingly to approve the controversial $3.9 billion deal. Now it’s up to the Federal Communications Commission, which recently paused its 180-day timeline for review of the merger to allow for more public comment. A growing chorus of advocacy groups has argued that the resulting behemoth — 233 television stations reaching 72 percent of U.S. households — would hurt media competition and consumers. Coincidentally, FCC chairman Ajit Pai met Thursday in Chicago with Newton Minow, the powerhouse lawyer who chaired the FCC during the Kennedy administration. Afterward Pai tweeted: “Such an honor to meet Newton Minow, President Kennedy’s 1st @FCC Chairman (1961-63)! An amazing life & rich perspectives on law & policy.” I ran into Minow Thursday night at the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law dinner, but he kept his comments about the meeting off the record.
Bailing out of Tribune Media just in time is Teresa Rix, who was named vice president and general sales manager of ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 on Thursday. Rix most recently was vice president of group sales and marketing for Tribune Media. She previously held sales and marketing posts at NBC Universal, ABC National Television Sales, CLTV and Tribune Publishing. At ABC 7, she succeeds Vincent Sollecito, who was named president of ABC National Television Sales in May. “Teresa Rix is a respected and uniquely talented executive,” John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, said in a statement. “Her leadership and vision, combined with extensive national and local sales experience will bring tremendous value to the station and our advertising partners.”
Maureen Ryan, the former Chicago Tribune TV critic who now writes for Variety, is drawing national acclaim for speaking out in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood. In a poignant essay in Variety this week, Ryan disclosed her own experience as a victim of sexual assault by an unnamed television executive in 2014 while she was working for Huffington Post. “I know what it’s like to be shocked by what a fellow human is capable of, because that night, and for so long after, I was stunned into disbelief,” she wrote. (Here is the link to her essay.)
Joshua Short, a 22-year-old graduate of Columbia College, has landed a weekend news anchor job at WNDU, the NBC affiliate in South Bend, Indiana. “It’s surreal, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” he told DNAinfo Chicago, which profiled him Thursday. “I’ve earned everything that I’ve done through hard work, dedication, passion and a will to learn and get better. . . . It’s just a blessing, and I wouldn’t have imagined this a year ago.” A native of Chicago’s South Side and graduate of Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School, Short produced and hosted his own show at Columbia, and held internships with CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and ABC 7’s “Windy City Live,” among others.
Jim Mateja, who reviewed cars and covered the automobile industry for 47 years at the Chicago Tribune, will be memorialized with a scholarship at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. The Midwest Automotive Media Association, an organization Mateja helped found, is working to establish an endowment at Medill that will fund the James L. Mateja Memorial Scholarship in perpetuity. “We wanted to make sure his mark on the Chicago media industry lasts forever,” the group’s board said in a statement. (Here is the link for donations.) Earlier this year Mateja died of cancer at 71.
Wednesday’s best comment: Bill Walsh: Roeper bland annoying critic, faux bon vivant, aging boring fake hipster pretend ladies man and made roe and roeper must miss radio.