Robservations on the media beat:
WGN-Channel 9 will celebrate its 70th anniversary with a one-hour special hosted by star meteorologist Tom Skilling. “WGN-TV: 70 Years as Chicago’s Very Own,” airing at 8 p.m. April 5, also will feature Dan Roan on WGN’s sports history, Micah Materre, Larry Potash, Robin Baumgarten and Paul Konrad on major news events WGN has covered, Dean Richards on legendary children’s programs, and Lourdes Duarte on the station’s community involvement. The Tribune Broadcasting flagship debuted April 5, 1948, with a grand opening program from Tribune Tower. Will this turn out to be a requiem? With parent company Tribune Media slated for sale to Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, “Chicago’s Very Own” may not belong to Chicago much longer.
Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis issued a public apology Thursday for buying Twitter followers in violation of the newspaper’s code of ethics. Calling it a “cheap and easy way to increase my Twitter audience,” he acknowledged purchasing 5,000 fake followers in 2015 from a company subsequently linked to a “black market” of bogus accounts. “That I have contributed to the diminishing of readers’ trust in me and in the Chicago Tribune fills me with shame,” he added. Stantis said he has deactivated his original account at @SStantis, which had about 22,000 followers, and opened a new one at @ScottStantis. In a letter to readers posted on the Tribune’s website, publisher and editor-in-chief Bruce Dold wrote: “We regret this violation of your trust in the Chicago Tribune.”
Coverage of Chicago’s real estate market is about to get a new player. The Real Deal, a magazine and online site reporting on New York, Miami and Los Angeles commercial and residential real estate, is expanding to Chicago. The financial news media company was launched in 2003 by publisher and film producer Amir Korangy. Starting in April, TRD Chicago will be headed by senior reporter Scott Klocksin, a Chicago native who most recently was commercial real estate reporter for New York-based Bisnow Media.
Chicago’s red hot Me-TV FM has its first export. The soft-rock oldies format of Weigel Broadcasting’s WRME FM 87.7 has been picked up by a new station in the Midland, Bay City and Saginaw market in Michigan. Starting in early April, the Northern States Broadcasting outlet will launch as 1250 WJMK (acquiring the call letters of the former Chicago station). “We are excited to bring the Tri-Cities the proven Me-TV music format, which attained ratings far surpassing the heritage stations in Chicago in only one year of being on the air,” station manager Philip Bernstein said in a statement.
Collin Lambert, vice president of Moody Radio, has resigned after 15 years at the broadcast division of Chicago-based Moody Bible Institute and parent company of WMBI AM/FM 1110/90.1. Under his leadership, Moody Radio expanded to more than 70 full-power stations and translators, six Internet stations and more than 1,600 outlets that carry its Christian ministry programming. Lambert told staffers he is moving back home to Austin, Texas, where he will join friends in a restaurant business. A search for his successor is underway.
An award in honor of the late Cecilia Vaisman has been established jointly by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The Cecilia Vaisman Award for Multimedia Reporters will be given annually to audio and video journalists “who bring light to the issues that affect the Latinx and Hispanic communities in the U.S. and around the world.” Vaisman, who died in 2015, was a multimedia producer for NPR who taught audio documentary and bilingual reporting classes at Medill. In 2016, she was honored posthumously with a Studs Terkel Award from Chicago-based Public Narrative.
Thursday’s comment of the day: Shane Gericke: It’s shameful. [Michael] Ferro’s $15 million “consulting contract” would have funded those [Chicago Tribune] reporters for years, if corporations had the balls to fire executives and offer no rich severance packages, as they routinely do to the workers who actually MAKE the product the public buys.