Robservations on the media beat:
Before it’s all over, Sinclair Broadcast Group may wind up operating two television stations in Chicago. The Maryland-based company disclosed today that it has an option to buy the license for CW affiliate WPWR-Channel 50 from Fox Television Stations for $15 million. (Fox bought WPWR from Fred Eychaner’s Newsweb Corp. for $425 million in 2002. The broadcast signal was sold in the FCC spectrum auction last year.) Sinclair already is poised to take over WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM as part of a deal now valued at $4.6 billion to acquire Tribune Media. Although it plans to divest ownership of the WGN properties, Sinclair would retain control over the stations’ operations — including news, programming and sales — under joint sales and shared services agreements.
It’s homecoming day for “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who’ll visit NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and originate tonight’s broadcast from a remote location near the Chicago River. Coinciding with the May sweeps, it’s part of Holt’s “Across America” tour in which he’ll “bring attention to local issues with national implications, and tell the stories of Americans who are transforming their communities and inspiring others.” Before joining NBC in 2000 Holt spent 14 years in Chicago as a news anchor at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.
Tributes continue to pour in to the great Carl Grapentine, who’s retiring this summer after more than three decades as morning host at WFMT 98.7-FM, the Window to the World Communications classical music station. On July 14 he’ll be honored at a reception before the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert at Ravinia. “We needed to give his well-wishers the opportunity to thank him for his years of wit, warmth and knowledge on WFMT and to congratulate him on some well-deserved time off,” Nick Pullia, Ravinia’s director of communications, said in a statement. (Here is the link for ticket information.) Grapentine’s last day as morning host on WFMT will be July 27.
It didn’t take long for Laura Podesta to get promoted at CBS Newspath, the network’s affiliate newsgathering service based in New York. Just seven months after signing on for weekends from ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, Podesta has moved up to overnight correspondent Monday through Friday. Before her two-year stint as a reporter at ABC 7, Podesta worked at KOAT, the ABC affiliate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She’s a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
The last time the Sun-Times produced something called “Grid” it was a short-lived digital and print business magazine in 2013. Now the Sun-Times is about to launch “The Grid,” a weekly video series highlighting Chicago and suburban neighborhoods. It’s hosted by Ji Suk Yi, former contributor to ABC 7’s “Windy City Live.” “It’s what a possible day-in-the-life would look like of a person that lives there – where they get coffee, eat, drink and hang out,” Yi said of the new series. “On a deeper level it can reveal where they find inspiration or get replenished in the neighborhood, whether it’s through art, music or their favorite book store.” It’ll debut online May 16 with a visit to Logan Square.
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Bruce DuMont: Congratulations to Michael Kutza for his lifelong commitment to the Chicago Film Festival. The force of his personality created the festival and kept it going for over five decades. Along the way Michael may have stepped on a few toes — but that is bound to happen when a dynamic leader is calling the shots. But now is the time to pass the torch — and take a few bows as you head towards the exit. Good luck Michael! Many in Chicago appreciate your dedication and focus.