Charles Thomas quits WVON morning show: ‘I’m getting my life back’

Maze Jackson and Charles Thomas

In the latest Chicago radio surprise, longtime political journalist Charles Thomas has resigned as co-host of Maze Jackson’s morning show on WVON 1690-AM, the Midway Broadcasting African-American news/talk station.

Thomas quit days after Politico Illinois Playbook reported on connections between Jackson and a political consultant working for the reelection campaign of Governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner recently appeared on the show, where he declared: “We’ve done historic things for the black community. I would argue more than any other governor.” Continue reading

Now on The Score, David Haugh aims to keep ‘strong voice’ in print

Mike Mulligan and David Haugh

Can one of Chicago’s most prominent sports columnists also host the city’s premier morning-drive sports radio talk show? David Haugh is about to find out.

Starting today, Haugh will join Mike Mulligan as co-host from 5 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM. The longtime Chicago Tribune columnist is replacing Brian Hanley, whose contract was not renewed after 26 years at The Score. Continue reading

Robservations: Consumer ace Stephanie Zimmermann rejoins Sun-Times

Stephanie Zimmermann

Robservations on the media beat:

Stephanie Zimmermann, the nationally known consumer investigative reporter, is returning to the Sun-Times after a five-year run with ABC News. She’ll rejoin the paper next month to cover a wide-ranging consumer beat in print and online. “Stephanie’s work when she was at the Sun-Times was always top notch, and her work at ABC has made her an even better journalist,” Sun-Times editor-in-chief Chris Fusco said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to again call her a Sun-Times staffer and look forward to seeing her produce stories that continue to differentiate us from our competition.” After 16 years at the Sun-Times, including a long run as “The Fixer” consumer columnist, Zimmermann joined ABC News as a reporter/producer with the network’s investigative unit. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, she previously worked for the Daily Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Continue reading

Farewell Friday to ‘Mully & Hanley Show’ at The Score

Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley

It’s over and out for “The Mully & Hanley Show.” Friday will be Brian Hanley’s last day as morning co-host alongside longtime partner Mike Mulligan on Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM.

As first reported here July 3, Chicago Tribune sports columnist David Haugh is expected to replace Hanley from 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays, starting Monday. Hanley, a 26-year veteran of The Score, will shift to fill-in and vacation-relief duties. Continue reading

Robservations: FCC chairman defies Trump on Sinclair deal

Sinclair Broadcast Group

Robservations on the media beat:

Ajit Pai

Despite heat from President Donald Trump, FCC chairman Ajit Pai isn’t backing down from the action that doomed Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media (including WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM). “I stand by our decision,” Pai told the House Energy and Commerce Committee at a hearing Wednesday. “So long as I have the privilege of serving as the chairman of the FCC, I’m going to find the facts, I’m going to follow the law and I’m going to call them like I see them.” On Tuesday, Trump blasted the Republican-dominated FCC, tweeting: “So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn’t approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune. This would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice for and of the People. Liberal Fake News NBC and Comcast gets approved, much bigger, but not Sinclair. Disgraceful!” Continue reading

Robservations: Tronc cutting its way to ‘meaningful journalism’

New York Daily News

Robservations on the media beat:

tronc

The bloodbath that wiped out half the editorial staff of the New York Daily News Monday will continue today at other units of Chicago-based parent company tronc. That’s the word from CEO Justin Dearborn, who told employees the cutbacks would “accelerate our company’s transformation into a truly digitally-focused enterprise — one that creates meaningful journalism, delivers it more quickly and more frequently, and develops new approaches to engage our reader.” Tronc bought the money-losing Daily News in 2017 for the token price of one dollar in what many saw as a grab for its printing plant and real estate. Dearborn acknowledged that further personnel cuts would be implemented today “to reduce expenses and contain costs.” While the latest job losses are expected to include a substantial number of positions at the corporate level and in other departments, a tronc spokeswoman said there would be no editorial layoffs in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune newsroom last underwent major downsizing in March. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN staffers still mum on Sinclair setback

WGN

Robservations on the media beat:

Tom Skilling

No matter how dead the deal may look, employees of WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM aren’t ready to speak out about the apparent collapse of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of their Tribune Media parent company. Though many privately expressed relief that the FCC has derailed the $3.9 billion transaction, most declined to comment publicly. One exception was WGN’s superstar meteorologist, Tom Skilling, who said: “I don’t know how final these latest developments are and want to be careful not to get out ahead on this. Ours is a very special television station and I work with an amazing group of people here. My hope is however this comes out that my fellow WGN employees feel secure and happy at the outcome.” Paul Rennie, president and general manager of WGN, was out of the country and could not be reached. Continue reading

Robservations: FCC blasts Sinclair ‘misrepresentation’ in Tribune deal

WGN

Robservations on the media beat:

FCC

The Federal Communications Commission officially pushed back on Sinclair Broadcast Group Thursday, citing the Maryland-based company for “misrepresentation and/or lack of candor” in its application to acquire Chicago-based Tribune Media, including WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM. Strongly questioning whether the $3.9 billion deal would be in the public interest, the FCC voted unanimously to refer the case to an administrative law judge, effectively blowing it up. A key point was the FCC’s concern over Sinclair’s scheme to sell WGN to an auto dealer connected to Sinclair chairman David Smith, while maintaining control over the station’s programming, advertising and other operations. “Specifically, we question the legitimacy of the proposed sale of a such a highly rated and profitable station in the nation’s third-largest market to an individual with no broadcast experience, with close business ties to Smith, and with plans to own only the license and minimal station assets,” the FCC order read. “Indeed, one could argue that Sinclair’s proposal to divest what has been described as one of the ‘crown jewels’ of Tribune makes no sense from a business perspective unless that divestiture permitted Sinclair to maintain effective control over the station.” (Here is the link.) Tribune Media said in a statement: “We will be greatly disappointed if the transaction cannot be completed, but will rededicate our efforts to running our businesses and optimizing assets.” Continue reading