Robservations on the media beat:
It’s official: Bruce DuMont is stepping down as president of Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications when his term expires at the end of the year. DuMont, 73, notified the museum board Tuesday that he will relinquish the leadership position he has held since he founded the nonprofit institution in 1983. “It’s time to bring in some new blood to meet the day-to-day challenges of the museum and plan for its future,” he said. No decision has been made on a successor, according to interim board chairman Larry Wert. In addition to exhibits on the history of television and radio in America, the museum at 360 North State Street is currently drawing record crowds to its multimedia attraction Saturday Night Live: The Experience.
The demise of public television WYCC-Channel 20 and the failure of City Colleges of Chicago to maximize its value in the FCC spectrum auction is the subject of an investigation published this week by ReelChicago.com. Scott Sanders, a longtime media public interest activist, reports that the $15.9 million sale may have cost the college system $130 million, thanks to a series of missteps and missed opportunities. “Similar bandwidth for metropolitan areas like Chicago sold during the auction went for up to 10 times as much — $126.1 million to $160.7 million,” Sanders noted. “When factoring the $9.6 million liability of the station’s 15-year antenna lease — signed just a year before auction registration began — the channel’s effective sale price will be $6.3 million.”
Mike Toomey, the Chicago stand-up comedian best known as announcer for the top-rated WGN Morning News, will emcee this weekend’s 59th annual regional Emmy Awards. The black-tie event, hosted by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, will be Saturday night at the Swissotel, 323 East Upper Wacker Drive. Live streaming of the festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. via chicagoemmyonline.org.
The biggest public relations hits and misses of 2017 will be analyzed and dissected next week by a panel of Chicago journalists, including Sara Burnett of Associated Press, Natasha Korecki of Politico, Michael Puente of WBEZ FM 91.5, and Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune. Hosted by the Publicity Club of Chicago, the noon luncheon event will be December 6 at Maggiano’s, 516 North Clark Street. I am honored to serve as moderator. For information and reservations see: publicity.org.
Confirming a report here, Entercom filed a request Monday with the FCC to transfer the call letters WBMX from the company’s hot adult contemporary station in Boston to WJMK FM 104.3, the Chicago station that just switched from classic hits to a classic hip-hop and R&B format branded as 104.3 JAMS. Chicagoans may recall WBMX as a legendary urban contemporary station from 1973 to 1988. The Boston station will become WWBX, according to Radio Insight.
A tip of the hat to the invincible Harvey Wittenberg, who begins his 60th year in Chicago radio this week. He’s still in the game as senior account manager at Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV FM 97.1 and press box announcer for the Chicago Blackhawks. Wittenberg got his start as a news writer at WLS AM 890 on December 1, 1958 — the day of the Our Lady of Angels School fire. He later served as general manager of the former WLOO and Shadow Traffic Chicago. “It’s been a great run,” Wittenberg says.
Tuesday’s best comment: Rob Johnson: Steve [Baskerville] is one of the nicest guys ever, talented, and has been a marvelous co-worker, and friend. I am sorry he is leaving but so happy for Steve and his family!! . . . [Mark Suppelsa] always a class act from the moment I met him. Happy trails in the Montana mountains!