Robservations on the media beat:
Ten months after Dan Schmidt announced his retirement, the parent company of public television WTTW-Channel 11 and classical radio WFMT 98.7-FM has finally settled on a new president and CEO. The board of trustees of Window to the World Communications Inc. will announce Schmidt’s successor Thursday, according to Anne Gleason, senior vice president of marketing and digital media for WTTW. The board retained the Connecticut-based executive search firm Blinkhorn LLC to solicit candidates, but kept the public out of the process entirely. Schmidt, who joined the company as senior vice president of WFMT and its radio network in 1991, was president and CEO since 1998. Chief operating officer Reese Marcusson has been serving as acting CEO in the interim.
The Sun-Times published today’s edition with a deliberately blank front page to dramatize the launch of its digital-subscription model. “Imagine our city without our headlines,” the paper said in what it called an “urgent appeal” inside. “Without our journalists to tell your side of the story. Without our beat writers to cover sports. Without our watchdog reporters to keep an eye on government. Without our columnists and editorial board to be a second voice. Imagine it. Then help us make sure it doesn’t happen.” Readers are asked to subscribe online for $7.49 a month.
WCKG 1530-AM and WCKG 102.3-FM, the DuPage Radio simulcast combo licensed to west suburban Elmhurst, is dropping its time-brokered format and switching to sports talk. Starting today, the station’s lineup will feature syndicated hosts Clay Travis from 5 to 8 a.m., Dan Patrick from 8 to 11 a.m., Colin Cowherd from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Rich Eisen from 4 to 7 p.m. Station manager Matt Dubiel said he’ll announce plans for local programming from 2 to 4 p.m. at a video press conference at 11 a.m. today at WCKG.com.
It’s a whole new day at the Chicago Journalists Association, the 79-year-old nonprofit professional organization formerly known as the Chicago Press Veterans. Under new president Maudlyne Ihejirika, urban affairs columnist and reporter for the Sun-Times, the group has unveiled a new website and expanded its executive board. It also has eliminated annual membership dues, with plans to pursue alternate fundraising options. “This surely is an exercise required of 20th century journalism organizations in a 21st century digital landscape,” Ihejirika said.
A tip of the hat to Mike Lorber, who marks his 20th anniversary this week as the high-flying “Sky 5” helicopter reporter for NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. The Chicago native and graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been airborne for NBC 5’s morning and afternoon newscasts since 1998. “It’s also been a privilege to provide aerial reports of several breaking news events, as well as the citywide celebration of sports championships by the Bulls, White Sox, Blackhawks and Cubs,” Lorber said.
Friday’s comment of the day: Charles Edward: After two solid weeks of smarmy Tom Negovan it is way overdue for Joe Donlon to debut. I trust that Joe will join with Micah [Materre] to keep WGN as free of Sinclair propaganda as possible. And please keep Ben Bradley as the first reliever for vacations, sick days, etc. Ben is not only a professional reporter and anchor but his sensitive and genuine personality comes through in every one of his broadcasts. Welcome Joe. Please help keep WGN – Chicago’s Very Own – and not a shill for the right wing Sinclair bosses.