Robservations: New owners plan ‘more diverse’ Reader

Dorothy Leavell (Photo: WTTW/Chicago Tonight)

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago Reader

The new owners of the Chicago Reader hope to expand the alternative weekly’s distribution and advertising beyond the North Side and lakefront, while retaining its investigative reporting and coverage of culture and entertainment. That’s the word from Dorothy Leavell, who heads the group that brought the Reader last month from the Sun-Times. “It’s going to be more diverse in its circulation especially,” Leavell told Phil Ponce on “Chicago Tonight.” “There are many of our communities — African-American communities — on the South Side and the West Side that you can’t get a Reader. So we’re No. 1 going to be expanding its reach.” Leavell, who also publishes the African-American Chicago Crusader and Gary Crusader, said she plans to develop a “full-scale sales team” for the Reader. “We don’t expect any real earth-shattering things from the beginning. . . . There may be some other areas people would like to see us focus on. We’re going to listen to them before we make any real changes.”

Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair Broadcast Group pushed back strongly last week against opponents of its plan to buy Tribune Media stations (including “Chicago’s Very Own” WGN-Channel 9 and news/talk WGN 720-AM). In response to numerous petitions to deny the deal, Sinclair wrote to the FCC: “Contrary to petitioners’ rhetoric, the sky is not falling. Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune will not radically disrupt the media marketplace or impede viewers’ access to quality local news, nor will it violate any FCC rules or policies. . . . Because Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune will neither violate any FCC rules or policies nor impede viewers’ access to high-quality local news and information programming, petitioners resort to speculation, exaggeration and outright misstatement to conjure alleged harm. Petitioners’ objections to the proposed transaction are not supported by the record in this proceeding or other observable facts, but are instead rooted in unfounded assumptions, misunderstandings of law, ignorance of the modern media landscape, a desire to silence voices with which they disagree and, in many instances, blatant self-interest.”

Beethoven

A three-part series on the life and music of Beethoven marks the debut of “Classical Profiles,” a new audio download series produced by Steve Robinson, former general manager of classical WFMT 98.7-FM and the WFMT Radio Network. (Here is the link.) It’s written and narrated by John C. Tibbetts, associate professor at the University of Kansas, who previously produced “The World of Robert Schumann,” distributed by the WFMT Radio Network. “My goal with ‘Classical Profiles’ is to help ‘casual’ listeners develop their appreciation and become lifelong fans by providing fast-paced, dramatic, informative and entertaining programs about the great composers — at a very reasonable cost,” said Robinson, who formed Chicago-based New Media Productions in 2016. Future offerings will include a 10-episode series on Mozart.

Veronica Carter

Wrapping up more than 12 years on Chicago radio, Veronica Carter has signed off as afternoon traffic reporter at Entercom all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM to move back home to California. In addition to two stints at WBBM Newsradio, the former news anchor also worked at Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN 720-AM and Merlin Media. “My kids have grown up and now I have zero obligations, so I’m going to do what I want for the next two or three decades!” Carter wrote on Facebook. “That includes spending a lot of time outdoors, visiting my mother, sisters and other family members, and of course chillaxing on the beach!” Applications for her replacement are being accepted at Entercom.com, according to Ron Gleason, director of news and programming at WBBM Newsradio.

Mark Suppelsa

Sunday was moving day for Mark Suppelsa. Seven months after he retired as news anchor at Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9, Suppelsa, 56, packed up and moved with his wife, Candus, to their longtime vacation home in Bigfork, Montana, near Glacier National Park. Suppelsa surprised his bosses, colleagues and viewers when he announced that he was calling it quits after a 25-year run on Chicago TV news. He anchored his final newscasts for WGN in early December, withdrew from all social media, and recently closed on the sale of his house in Evanston.

Comment of the day: Gary Vanicek: I don’t understand the move. Perhaps there is more to this. Mully & Hanley rate highly in the key demo (top ten in town, usually). Perhaps they don’t generate enough billable revenue. Perhaps the host’s salaries are too high. Perhaps deCastro likes Haugh since he worked at the failed FM sports station, too. The Score’s ratings have held up since the last shake-up, although not a lot of time has passed yet. Will that trend continue?