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.
A West Rogers Park man has been charged with misdemeanor electronic harassment for sending a threatening message to a Chicago Tribune Facebook page. On Wednesday Chicago police arrested Giann Chiazim, 28, who has a criminal record that includes aggravated discharge of a firearm, according to police. Chiazim’s threat “was not specific or aimed at any individual employee,” according to an email to Tribune staff from Tim Knight, president of tronc, and Bruce Dold, publisher and editor of the Tribune. Security at all tronc newspapers has been on high alert since the June 28 shooting at the company’s Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.
There’s more fallout from the apparently derailed $3.9 billion deal by Sinclair Broadcast Group to acquire Tribune Media, parent company of WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM. According to a Wall Street Journal report Thursday, the Justice Department is investigating whether Sinclair, Tribune and other independent television station owners violated antitrust law in ways that inflated local television advertising prices. The probe is examining whether the owners “coordinated efforts when their ad sales teams communicated with each other about their performance, potentially leading to higher rates for TV commercials.” More to come.
Godspeed to the great Carl Grapentine, 69, Chicago’s premier classical music radio personality, who retires today after more than three decades as the golden-voiced morning host at Window to the World Communications WFMT 98.7-FM. While stepping down after 46 years in radio and moving back home to Michigan, he’ll still be heard on WFMT with a new weekday morning feature, “Carl’s Almanac,” starting September 3. He’ll also continue as the stadium voice of the University of Michigan Marching Band. Succeeding Grapentine from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays on WFMT, starting August 6, will be weekend host and former program director Dennis Moore.
Author Marilynn Preston, the former Chicago Tribune TV critic and syndicated fitness columnist, returns to town next week to talk about her latest best-seller, All Is Well: The Art (and Science) of Personal Well-Being. She’ll headline Jenniffer Weigel’s “Conversations with Weigel” series at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Wilmette Theater. (Here is the link for tickets.) Preston also will be honored as one of 80 celebrated authors with ties to Chicago at the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Carl Sandburg Literary Awards October 9.
Could The Loop be coming back to Chicago? Lance Venta’s Radio Insight reports a domain registration for “1051TheLoop.com,” which could point to a possible deal here between Univision Radio and Cumulus Media. Univision owns regional Mexican WOJO 105.1-FM, and Cumulus controls the call letters and intellectual property of WLUP, which ceased broadcasting in March when its home at 97.9-FM was sold to Educational Media Foundation. One scenario has WOJO’s highly rated “Que Buena 105.1” shifting to another station owned by Univision. It’s all speculation at this point, but as Radio Insight notes: “There is lots of smoke surrounding this right now.”
Thursday’s comment of the day: Ken Churilla: I hate to see [Brian] Hanley go. He’s long been one of the best The Score has had to offer as well as a great guy.