Chicago TV news warms up to common sense

Gaynor Hall (Photo: WGN)

Often criticized for putting reporters and news crews in hazardous situations unnecessarily, Chicago television finally got smart this time.

Local stations covering this week’s dangerous deep freeze wisely avoided gratuitous live shots of reporters standing outside in subzero temperatures even as they admonish viewers to stay inside. Continue reading

Robservations: Jim DeRogatis to write the book on R. Kelly

Jim DeRogatis

Robservations on the media beat:

Veteran Chicago music critic and “Sound Opinions” co-host Jim DeRogatis is the subject of a glowing profile in the New York Times, which credits him for his heroic reporting of alleged sexual misconduct by R&B star R. Kelly over the past two decades. CNN’s Brian Stelter called it “a must-read story.” (Here is the link.) The case was reignited after the recent airing of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a six-part documentary series on Lifetime. The New York Times also reports that DeRogatis has signed with Abrams Press to publish Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly this fall. In the book DeRogatis will chronicle his reporting of the case and “delve into some of the topics that have consumed him as a critic, like the insidious power of celebrity media.” Continue reading

Robservations: ABC 7 newsroom has family ties to three politicians

ABC 7 Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:

Tanja Babich

ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 isn’t just Chicago’s top-rated television station. With employees related to three prominent Democrats, it also may have the most politically connected newsroom in town. Morning news anchor Tanja Babich is the daughter-in-law of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, recently hired per-diem reporter Meghan Kluth is the daughter of Congressman Mike Quigley, and per-diem reporter Alexis McAdams is the niece of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. It’s strictly a coincidence, according to John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7. “These are all talented people who were hired on their own merit,” Idler said. “No other considerations were involved in their hiring.” Babich married Paul Durbin in 2018 — four years after she joined ABC 7. The station was aware of the connections before Kluth and McAdams started, Idler added. Continue reading

Robservations: Tribune Media sells last piece of Cubs to Ricketts family

Wrigley Field

Robservations on the media beat:

Ten years after the Ricketts family bought 95 percent of the Chicago Cubs from Tribune Co. for $845 million, they’ve just acquired the remaining 5 percent. Tribune Media announced that it has sold its ownership interest in Chicago Entertainment Ventures, parent company of the Cubs, for an undisclosed price. The original deal was structured as a leveraged partnership to allow both parties to avoid capital gain taxes. As of Friday, the Ricketts family has taken full ownership, effectively ending the team’s 38-year association with Tribune Media and its Tribune Co. predecessor. Continue reading

Robservations: CBS 2 alums Sudberry, Baskerville team up on podcast

Howard Sudberry and Steve Baskerville

Robservations on the media beat:

Two well-known veterans of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 — former sports anchor Howard Sudberry and former meteorologist Steve Baskerville — are reuniting to launch their own weekly podcast. Starting in late February they’ll co-host “Back 2 You” for the Radio Misfits Podcast Network. “It’s light, it’s fun, it’s about a lot of this and that,” said executive producer Tony Lossano. “They’ll also talk about various work experiences that everyone can relate to, their contacts with legendary stars, and interviews with well-known people.” Sudberry, who left CBS 2 in 2009, has been senior director of marketing and communications at Arlington International Racecourse since 2011. Baskerville retired from CBS 2 in 2017. Joining Sudberry and Baskerville on the podcast each week will be Alyssa Ali, an on-air reporter for Arlington Park. Continue reading

Former classical music host George Preston named WFMT boss

George Preston

George Preston, former afternoon host and opera producer at WFMT 98.7-FM, is returning to the classical music station as vice president and general manager, parent company Window to the World Communications Inc. announced Tuesday.

Since 2013 Preston has been general manager of Cheyenne Mountain Public Broadcast House’s classical and jazz stations in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He rejoins WFMT on March 1. Continue reading