Robservations: Joe Knowles leaves Tribune with ‘mixed feelings’

Joe Knowles (Photo: Chicago Tribune)

Robservations on the media beat:

It’s over and out for top sports editor Joe Knowles after 42 years at the Chicago Tribune. He’s one of numerous staffers who’ve taken year-end buyouts offered by the company. (A Tribune Publishing spokeswoman declined to comment on “personnel matters” or say how many employees are affected.) Today is the last day for Knowles, 60, whose previous roles included sports news editor and associate managing editor/design and graphics at the Tribune, and founding co-editor of RedEye. He started as a part-timer just out of high school in 1976 and moved up to full-time in 1980. “Mixed feelings, for sure,” Knowles told me. “My dad taught me to read using the big all-caps headlines that used to be on every Tribune front page. I owe almost everything I have to this place. I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given here, and I am sure I will miss it terribly, but it’s my time to move on. No solid plans yet, but you probably haven’t seen the last of me.”

Andy Shaw

The FBI’s morning raid on the offices of Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke was the talk of the room Thursday night when members of the city’s media elite gathered to toast Andy Shaw as outgoing president and CEO of the Better Government Association. Spotted among the crowd of well-wishers at the Union League Club were Jill Wine-Banks, Bruce Dold, Chris Fusco, Frank Whittaker, Craig Dellimore, Don Rose, Thom Serafin and Laura Washington. David Greising, who succeeded Shaw as head of the not-for-profit government investigative group, announced that Shaw would be recipient of the BGA Watchdog Award in 2019. Shaw says he plans to launch a strategic consulting firm specializing in communications, organizational development and media training.

Betsy Steinberg

Betsy Steinberg, former director of the Illinois Film Office, is stepping down after three years as executive director of Kartemquin Films, the Chicago-based not-for-profit producer of documentaries and community of socially-responsible filmmakers. While a search is on for her successor, the company has named Elspeth Revere as interim executive director. Revere, a consultant and member of Kartemquin’s board, previously was vice president of media, culture and special initiatives at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Stephanie O’Sullivan

Stephanie O’Sullivan, who started as a promotions department assistant at Hubbard Radio Chicago and became a part-time weekend host at adult contemporary WSHE 100.3-FM and producer at Total Traffic Network, just got a big break. She’s been hired as morning co-host and programming promotions director at WCXT “The Coast” in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, Michigan. “I’m super pumped and ready to take on this step in my career,” she said. “I’m sad to leave Chicago and everyone here because I really love living here, but I’m ready to move forward in this career I’ve been working so hard at.”

Alex Burkholder

Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the infamous fire at Our Lady of the Angels School on the West Side that took the lives of 92 children and three nuns. It’s also the release date of Death of the Angels: The Why of a Tragedy, a new book about the disaster written by Alex Burkholder, a former Chicago television investigative producer who worked closely with the late news anchor John Drury. Published by Rick Kaempfer and David Stern’s Eckhartz Press, it includes the stories of survivors and firemen who fought the blaze. Burkholder will discuss the book at a signing at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy, 558 West DeKoven Street.

Thursday’s comment of the day: John Pugs: I would bet that WSCR’s male numbers far outdo the competition at ESPN 1000. It’s clear to anyone who listens to both stations that one (ESPN) is a national carpetbagger of a sports talker whereas SCR has consistently for decades been Chicago’s hometown sports station. As far as the changes at 670 go, they got younger, they got faster and they got more digitally savy. Mac [Dan McNeil] and [Danny] Parkins are the most fun you could have listening to a sports show, and Lawrence Holmes is re-imagining what sports opinion talk sounds like nightly. A momentary blip in ratings for a station that is consistently superior to its immediate competition is nothing but an anomaly. Settle down, ESPN. You are still just a wannabe in the hearts of Chicago sports radio listeners.