Robservations: Tribune recovering from computer virus attack

Tribune Publishing

Robservations on the media beat:

While distribution was pretty much back to normal for Sunday newspapers across all Tribune Publishing properties, a cyberattack continued to disrupt production at the Chicago Tribune and other publications on their shared production platform. The source of the malware, identified by the Los Angeles Times only as a “foreign entity,” was still under investigation. Among omissions from print editions of the Tribune were paid death notices and classified ads. “This issue has affected the timeliness and in some cases the completeness of our printed newspapers,” Marisa Kollias, vice president of communications and public relations for Tribune Publishing, said in a statement. “Our websites and mobile applications however, have not been impacted. There is no evidence that customer credit card information or personally identifiable information has been compromised.” Continue reading

Robservations: WCPT cuts afternoon host Ben Joravsky

Ben Joravsky

Robservations on the media beat:

Ben Joravsky, the longtime Chicago Reader political writer who’s been moonlighting as a talk radio host, is out as afternoon personality on WCPT 820-AM. His last day on the Newsweb Radio progressive talk station was Thursday. “We want to thank Ben for all of his hard work and dedication to Newsweb Radio Company,” said Mark Pinski, general manager of WCPT. “Ben did a great job of moving our brand forward, and we want our next host to take us to the next level.” (Audience figures for WCPT are not available because Newsweb Radio does not subscribe to Nielsen Audio ratings.) Joravsky had been hosting afternoons since he succeeded Wayne Besen in March 2017. He’ll continue with the Reader, where he’s been a full-time staff writer and columnist since 1990. Until a permanent replacement is named, Pinski said, a “rotating cast of experienced broadcasters” will be filling in from 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays, starting today with Joan Esposito, the former Chicago news anchor. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: Christmas music lights up Lite FM

Melissa Forman

For the 18th consecutive year, around-the-clock Christmas music catapulted WLIT 93.9-FM to the top of the ratings, according to Nielsen Audio figures released today.

The iHeartMedia adult contemporary station ranked No. 1 among all listeners with an 8.3 percent share and a cumulative weekly audience of more than 2.1 million. The previous month the station tied for 11th place with a 3.2 share. Continue reading

Mancow to host mornings on WLS: ‘The time is right for me to return’

Erich Mancow Muller

It’s official: Erich Mancow Muller, whose bluster and bravado once made him Chicago’s most notorious shock jock, is returning to radio to host mornings on conservative news/talk WLS 890-AM.

Starting January 3, Muller will replace the morning team of Big John Howell and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, whose last day together on the Cumulus Media station was Friday. Howell is moving to solo host from 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays.

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‘Happy ending’ to stellar career as Steve Dahl leaves WLS today

Brendan Greeley, Steve Dahl and Dag Juhlin

Forty years after Steve Dahl burst onto Chicago radio as a 23-year-old cocksure kid hosting a morning show called “Steve Dahl’s Rude Awakening,” he’s bowing out as an elder statesman with humility and gratitude.

Friday marks the final day on the air for the broadcast icon and Radio Hall of Famer as afternoon personality on WLS 890-AM. The Cumulus Media news/talk station is replacing him with Ben Shapiro, a Los Angeles-based conservative commentator deemed more compatible with Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and the other syndicated hosts onboard. Continue reading

Robservations: After Christmas, Lite FM turns to ‘Relaxing Favorites’

Lite FM

Robservations on the media beat:

When WLIT 93.9-FM wraps up its annual run as Chicago’s Christmas Lite next week, look for the iHeartMedia adult contemporary station to begin marketing its sound as “Relaxing Favorites.” The move away from “The Best Variety From the 80’s, 90’s and Now for Chicago!” appears to signal a shift to a soft adult-contemporary format — perhaps to compete more effectively against Weigel Broadcasting’s Me-TV FM (the soft-rock oldies and classic hits station at WRME 87.7-FM). In the latest Nielsen Audio survey — before the start of Christmas music — Lite FM tied for 11th place with a 3.2 share. Me-TV FM tied for ninth with a 3.3 share. A spokesman for iHeartMedia Chicago declined to comment on any changes. Continue reading

Robservations: Countdown shows to battle for New Year’s Eve viewers

Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies

Robservations on the media beat:

New Year’s Eve Live in Chicago

It’s not too early to start making your TV viewing plans for New Year’s Eve. Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies will mark their 18th year of ringing in the New Year together when they host “Countdown Chicago 2019” on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Joining them from venues around the city and suburbs will be ABC 7’s Terrell Brown, Cheryl Scott, Liz Nagy, Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini. Highlights will include the third annual Giant Pierogi Drop presented by the Knights of Columbus in Whiting, Indiana. Over on NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, Marion Brooks, Siafa Lewis and Chris Hush will host “New Year’s Eve Live in Chicago!” Joining them will be Christopher “Fred” Frederick of Kiss FM, Ally Sturm of Big 10 Network and Ji Suk Yi from “The Grid” at the Sun-Times. Also featured will be musical performances by Nick Gehlfuss of “Chicago Med” and Joe Minoso of “Chicago Fire.” Both specials will start shortly after 11 p.m. and culminate with midnight fireworks from Navy Pier. Continue reading