Robservations on the media beat:
Break out the silver. It’s 25 years at WLS-Channel 7 for news anchor Cheryl Burton. The South Side native and University of Illinois graduate called it “an honor and blessing” to work at the top-rated ABC-owned station. She signed on in 1992 from KWCH, the CBS affiliate in Wichita, Kansas. “To be able to cover and report stories in the city where I was born and raised has been a priceless gift,” Burton, 54, said Wednesday. “ABC 7 has given me the opportunity to report on such historic events as the inaugurations of the first African American president and enabled me to travel the globe covering the opening of Oprah Winfrey’s prestigious school for girls in South Africa. But my most memorable moments have come from sharing stories of ordinary Chicagoans doing extraordinary things in the rich and diverse neighborhoods that have shaped my life.”
Big things are in the works for WGN Morning News sports anchor and stand-up comedian Pat Tomasulo. If all goes as planned, he’ll star in a local show to premiere this winter on WGN-Channel 9. Details are still under wraps, but advertisers were told this week that the show would have “national potential.” Tomasulo joined the Tribune Broadcasting station in 2005 from WKBW, the ABC affiliate in Buffalo, New York, where he was a sports anchor.
Stephanie Menendez has been promoted to director of news and operations at Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720. The Northeastern Illinois University graduate and former ABC 7 intern joined WGN as a producer in 2008 and moved up to executive producer, assistant program director and operations manager. “I am excited for this opportunity to lead our news team as we continue to curate strong content 24/7,” Menendez said in a statement. “We have the best team of journalists, hosts and producers in the city, and I look forward to seeking innovative ways to further expand WGN Radio’s presence in the digital space.”
Weigel Broadcasting, Chicago-based owner of WCIU-Channel 26, Me-TV and a host of other stations and digital networks, is growing by leaps and bounds. This week the company agreed to a $23.2 million deal with OTA Broadcasting to buy KTLN and KAXT in San Francisco and KFFV and KVOS in Seattle. It’s the company’s third major acquisition in recent months. “These stations, along with our previous announcements on Los Angeles, St. Louis and Salt Lake City, give us new opportunities to serve more viewers,” Weigel Broadcasting chairman Norman Shapiro told employees Wednesday.
Country music fans are welcoming the return of the Heartland Network to Chicago television. Since October 1, the digital broadcast service has been airing on Oxford Media Group’s WJYS-Channel 62.4 and on Comcast Channel 385. Tennessee-based Luken Communications rebranded the Nashville Network as Heartland in 2012. Joel Wertman, president of Luken Communications, said in a statement: “These are exciting times for Heartland. Not only are we experiencing exceptional growth in our over-the-air and cable viewership, but our team is investing in more original content including a soon to be released Americana series and the production of several specials.”
WFMT FM 98.7, the Window to the World Communications classical music station, has a Halloween treat in store for movie fans. Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips hosts “The Film Score: Music for Halloween” at 10 p.m. Monday. The one-hour special, produced by Michael San Gabino, highlights terrifying tunes from the silver screen, including music from “Psycho,” “The Shining,” “Alien,” “The Exorcist,” “Get Out,” “The Witch” and more.
Wednesday’s best comment: Andrew Herrmann: As of Wednesday afternoon, the AP is reporting that half of Puerto Rico is still without power. It’s not a fully functioning place. In a sense, it is similar to a war zone, based on reports from there. We don’t ask reporters embedded with troops to go find a Holiday Inn at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be practical. Why won’t people believe Puerto Rico is a real disaster?