Robservations: Tribune Media offers buyouts to WGN staff

WGN TV (November 25, 2018)

Robservations on the media beat:

Voluntary buyouts are being offered to employees of WGN-Channel 9 and news/talk WGN 720-AM as part of a year-end staff reduction throughout parent company Tribune Media. The move comes despite an 11 percent increase in third quarter revenues and a “strong operational year” for the company. Gary Weitman, senior vice president/corporate relations for Tribune Media, called it a “very small program that will ultimately affect a little more than 1 percent of our employees.” No word on whether layoffs will follow if the goals of the buyout are not met. A similar offer was announced earlier this month by Tribune Publishing, owner of the Chicago Tribune and newspapers in nine other cities.

Jhmira Alexander

Jhmira Alexander has been named co-president of Public Narrative, the nonprofit organization that connects community groups with the media. Since 2014 Alexander has operated 29Eleven Consulting, specializing in social media education, management and strategy development. She joins veteran Chicago journalist Susy Schultz, who has headed Public Narrative and its predecessor, Community Media Workshop, since 2014. “Together Jhmira and Susy’s backgrounds complement one another, and their shared leadership will allow us to expand our reach,” Carol Summerfield, board chair of Public Narrative, said in a statement. In addition to its media training, the group also administers the annual Studs Terkel Awards.

Jack Taylor

On the eve of his 90th birthday, the legendary Jack Taylor is still going strong — and still on the air in Chicago. His non-political commentaries, “A Few Minutes with Jack Taylor,” are heard on John Russell’s “Midwest Ballroom” at 5:45 p.m. Saturdays on College of DuPage’s WDCB 90.9-FM. They also air on The Breeze, John Meyer’s Internet radio stations, at 8 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays. Best known for his 27 years as news anchor and announcer at WGN, Taylor has been a fixture on Chicago radio and TV since 1950. “My late wife, Virginia asked me how long I would stay on the air. I said, ‘Until I get it right,’ ” he joked. In 2001 Taylor was inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Saturday Night Live: The Experience

“Saturday Night Live: The Experience” has been drawing crowds to Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications since it opened in October 2017. The immersive multimedia exhibition, which takes visitors behind the scenes of the comedy series, is slated to close at the end of this year. But now comes word it may be held over through September 2019. Nothing has been finalized, but a spokeswoman for the museum confirmed that “discussions have occurred to extend it.” Sources said organizers of the exhibit are in talks to keep it running with Fern Hill Co., the real estate development firm reportedly planning to buy the third and fourth floors of the museum building at 360 North State Street.

Wayne Stayskal

Wayne Stayskal, editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune from 1972 to 1984, died Tuesday at Windsor Park Manor in Carol Stream after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 86. A native of Oak Park and graduate of Steinmetz High School and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Stayskal joined the art department of the former Chicago American in 1956 and later worked for its successor, Chicago Today. From 1984 to 2004 he was the editorial cartoonist for the Tampa Tribune.

Friday’s comment of the day: David Giesen: Television’s local news programs are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Not only do we have continuous access to “news,” the content is ridiculous. “If it bleeds, it leads” has become a foregone conclusion of local news in Chicago. On any given night, in a 13 minute news hole, 11 minutes will be public safety stories because they make good video. If people think Chicago is the violent crime capital of the universe, it’s because they spend too much time watching local television news here.