Robservations on the media beat:
Patrick Soon-Shiong, the biotech billionaire who paid $500 million to buy the Los Angeles Times from Chicago-based tronc, may have his sights on acquiring the rest of the Chicago Tribune’s parent company. Business Insider reports that Soon-Shiong is seeking to join an investor group that’s been in talks with tronc since early August. Soon-Shiong reportedly would team with Donerail Group, the private equity firm led by hedge fund manager Will Wyatt. With a nearly 25 percent stake in tronc, Soon-Shiong already is the company’s second-largest shareholder. (The largest shareholder, Michael Ferro, has a nearly 26 percent stake.) In addition to the Tribune, tronc owns the New York Daily News, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and papers in six other cities.
Kenny McReynolds, longtime sports director at Weigel Broadcasting, was back at work last week — just 12 days after undergoing a double mastectomy. The procedure followed an earlier surgery for a malignant tumor in his upper left arm. By Wednesday he was on the job taping his weekly “Sports Edition” talk show for Me-TV and U Too. Two days later he was working the sidelines for the U Too broadcast of the High School Game of the Week between Maine South and Glenbard West. On both occasions he was wearing a protective compression vest under his shirt. McReynolds was inducted in the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Mitch Rosen, operations director of Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, will be among 10 inductees this year in the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. As recipient of the group’s Media Award, Rosen will be cited for The Score’s contributions to Chicago area sports journalism since 1992. Other honorees include former Chicago Bear Kevin Butler, women’s hockey Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne Schofeld and Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw. The 22nd annual event will be October 3 at Wintrust Arena, with proceeds supporting the Special Olympics during its 50th anniversary year. Emcee will be Peggy Kusinski, sports reporter at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. (Here is the link for tickets.)
John Gallagher has been hired as director of sales at Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN 720-AM. He replaces Jeff Hill, who left in May to join Cumulus Media’s Chicago group as vice president of sales. Gallagher previously was vice president and market manager of Hubbard Radio Chicago. Earlier he was president and general manager of news/talk WLS 890-AM under ABC Radio and Citadel Broadcasting. “John is filled with the entrepreneurial spirit we treasure at WGN,” Todd Manley, station manager and vice president of content at WGN, said in a statement. “Having his leadership in our hallways is a game changer for our brand and our business partners.”
Tom Langmyer, who was vice president and general manager of WGN 720-AM from 2005 to 2012, announced last week he’s leaving as VP/GM of WTMJ and WKTI in Milwaukee. His departure this fall will coincide with the sale of the E.W. Scripps Co. stations to Good Karma Brands. No word yet on what’s next for Langmyer, who told staffers in an email: “It’s been a true honor to lead our group over these past five years. I’m extremely proud of our terrific team – and honored to have had the opportunity to work with you. I will leave Radio City with a fond place in my heart for you and these terrific stations.”
Scott Miller, who’s been an outstanding producer for a variety of Chicago radio stations, is becoming a full-time on-air personality. He’s been hired to host afternoons at WJBC, the Cumulus Media news/talk station in Bloomington, starting September 10. Miller, whose credits include Oprah Radio, Tribune Broadcasting and FM News 101.1, most recently was morning show executive producer at Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM. “I’ve worked with and learned from the best in Chicago for over 20 years; it’s time to follow in the radio tradition of stealing all their bits and making them my own on WJBC,” he said. “Now if I can just get a hold of Piranha Man, 100,000 disco records and re-work the lyrics to ‘On Top of a Pizza!’”
Jonathan Hood, evening host at ESPN sports/talk WMVP 1000-AM, will host a new weekly show before all Notre Dame football broadcasts. “Chicago’s College Tailgate on ESPN 1000,” co-hosted with Chris Bleck and Adam Abdalla, will debut Saturday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. from the Four Winds Casino in South Bend. Hood said the show will provide analysis of the day in college football, gambling picks of the games and up-to-the-minute scores. In addition to hosting “Under the Hood” at 7 p.m. weeknights, he also co-hosts weekends with Jeff Dickerson nationally on “Dickerson and Hood” on ESPN Radio and the ESPN app.
Bob Barnes-Watts, the former Chicago radio personality known for his distinctive British accent, died of cancer August 13 at his home in Inverness, Scotland. He was 63. Starting in 1984, Barnes-Watts hosted middays at the former WFYR and later worked a variety of shifts at the former WCKG. “Bob was a true lover of radio as well as railroads and travel, and he loved to joke,” recalled former WCKG program director Dan Michaels. “He was great with a turn of phrase.” Barnes-Watts last visited Chicago in 2016, prompting him to observe: “All my favourite wee watering holes have disappeared to be replaced by TV showrooms which just happen to sell beer.”
Credit Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX 101.9-FM with raising $1,042,678 for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago during its five-day fundraiser last week. The 19th annual event culminated with a live broadcast Friday from the hospital by The Mix morning show host Eric Ferguson along with Melissa McGurren and Brian “Whip” Paruch.
Friday’s comment of the day: Darel Jevens: When I was on the market in 1989, the editor of a major newspaper told me to stay away from the Sun-Times because it would be dead within two years. Almost 30 years and many paychecks later, I’m glad I dismissed that forecast.