Robservations on the media beat:
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!”
A private equity firm has made a bid to buy Chicago-based tronc for close to $1 billion, according to a report Wednesday by Politico Illinois Playbook’s Shia Kapos. Kapos did not identify the buyer or her source, but said the deal would be announced “in the next few weeks.” That would dovetail with a report here that massive cutbacks at tronc — including layoffs that wiped out half the editorial staff of the New York Daily News Monday — were getting the Chicago Tribune’s parent company ready for a sale.
In the latest company edict, iHeartMedia is directing its adult-contemporary stations to pick up a new syndicated weekend show hosted by Ellen K, morning personality at KOST in Los Angeles. Starting Saturday, “The Ellen K Weekend Show,” featuring “lifestyle, news and interviews,” will air on WLIT 93.9-FM here and across the country. “We pride ourselves on connecting with our listeners in a meaningful way, and the new weekend program is definitely a feel good show . . . and I think we need more of that in the world today and I’m happy that iHeart agrees,” Ellen K said in a statement. Before going solo, she co-hosted mornings in L.A. with Rick Dees.
Kevin Carpenter, director of digital operations at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, has been named news director of WAOW, the ABC affiliate in Wausau, Wisconsin. The move reunites him with WAOW general manager Curtis Miles, former head of creative services and local programming at ABC 7. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Carpenter worked for stations in New York, Vermont and Michigan before joining ABC 7 in 2002. He also filled in as an ABC News reporter.
Bob Fukuda is out as chief engineer of iHeartMedia Chicago, where he oversaw technical operations at all seven of the group’s stations. Fukuda was a 30-year veteran of iHeartMedia and its Clear Channel Radio and Evergreen Media predecessors here. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he started as an assistant engineer at the former WNUA in 1988, and was promoted to market director of engineering in 2002. A search is on for his replacement.
Former Chicago radio executive and consultant Jack Taddeo has been named vice president and market manager of Cumulus Media’s five-station group in Des Moines. He most recently was market manager for NRG Media in Waterloo-Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Taddeo previously headed suburban Chicago station groups for NextMedia and Matrix Media, and was program director of WLIT and its predecessor, WLAK.
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Mick Kahler: Great for Jim DeRogatis and his accurate reporting on R. Kelly’s alleged shenanigans all these years. I took 20 minutes out of my life to listen to “I Admit” which is Kelly’s personal pity party. He admits to doing some wrongs but there’s always a reason/excuse as to why he did these things. R. Kelly should re-title “I Admit” & play it off his old hit by calling it “I Believe I Can Whine.”