Robservations: Chicago Tribune writer goes out with a bang

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

KT Hawbaker

KT Hawbaker didn’t just burn a few bridges after quitting the Chicago Tribune last week. Hawbaker incinerated all of them. Here’s an excerpt from the farewell email the former arts and entertainment writer sent to colleagues: “I want to be clear that I am leaving because the paper’s management continues to prioritize writers who refer to abortion as ‘babykilling’ and who’ve revealed their bald-faced racism by wishing for Chicago’s own version of Hurricane Katrina. The Kavanaugh endorsement was a nasty left-hook to sexual assault survivors across the newsroom — including myself — and offered a clear vision of the misogyny sitting in the bones of this paper like a cancer. I am very aware that these attitudes are a part of the city’s public discourse, but the Tribune’s lopsided politics continue to threaten marginalized communities and alienate the very people we’re trying to reach. How does leadership plan to draw in new subscribers with this kind of reputation? It’s a shame that this institution incubates hostile views of women, queer folks, and people of color while hemorrhaging its diverse talent — the recent mass exodus is not a random coincidence, and I hope the higher-ups see that. I hope they figure out the difference between diversity and equity, and I hope they go all-in on fair contracts for their employees.” Hawbaker, who joined the Tribune as an editorial assistant in 2017, tweeted that she’s now freelancing for the Chicago Reader.

Rick Ungar

With the demise of Norman Goldman’s syndicated talk show, Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT 820-AM has rolled out a new weekday evening lineup. Rick Ungar, former co-host of “Steele & Ungar” on the Sirius XM POTUS channel, now hosts a syndicated talk show from 5 to 7 p.m. “Rick is a progressive who made his mark in radio and TV by being willing to mix it up with anyone with an opposing point of view,” Mark Pinski, general manager of WCPT, said in a statement. “Rick’s show will be entertaining and informative without all of the partisan spin.” Ungar will be followed by Tom Moss, a podcaster from Indivisible Chicago, from 7 to 8 p.m. Mondays, and by David Pakman, a progressive political commentator, from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Colleen Dudgeon

Colleen Dudgeon, former news director of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 (and the first woman to hold the job at any network-owned station), has joined Serafin & Associates, the Chicago-based public affairs consulting firm. In her new role she will be working on media training and strategy, and TV/digital story development. Dudgeon most recently was Midwest producer for NBC’s “Today” and an adjunct professor at DePaul University. Before her 10-year run at CBS 2, which ended in 1991, Dudgeon worked for the Midwest bureau of UPI and Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9.

Julie DiCaro

Julie DiCaro, evening host and update anchor at Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, has launched “The Score: Behind the Headlines,” a new podcast series billed as taking “deep dives into a variety of memorable sports-related stories one season at a time.” (Here is the link.) Produced by Tony Gill, the first season explores the controversy surrounding the 1993 murder of Michael Jordan’s father, James Jordan. “A marriage of true crime and sports!” DiCaro tweeted. New episodes will be uploaded weekly.

Maze Jackson

Also on the podcast beat, two hosts from different stations will team up for a weekly series of “Uncomfortable Conversations,” starting March 7. Maze Jackson, morning host at Midway Broadcasting WVON 1690-AM, and Joe Walsh, evening host at Salem Media WIND 560-AM, will tackle political, social and pop-culture news from their own perspectives on the weekly podcast. It’s an outgrowth of their public forums together. “In a city as diverse as Chicago, these are bold conversations that we need to have now more than ever,” said Melody Spann Cooper, chairman of Midway Broadcasting. “It’s time our dynamic audiences talk to one another versus talking about one another.  That’s what enlightenment is about and how we grow as a community.”

Jim Kirk

Jim Kirk, publisher and executive editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, will be honored this spring as outstanding alumnus of the School of Communication at Illinois State University. Kirk will be recognized for his professional accomplishments and for “having an impact on the greater communication discipline.” A 1987 graduate of ISU, Kirk previously served as publisher and editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times and as editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. The award will be presented at a luncheon April 15 in Normal, Illinois.

Dr. Sammy R. Danna

Dr. Sammy R. Danna is being remembered as the founder of Loyola University radio station WLUW 88.7-FM and the annual Loyola Radio Conference, and as a mentor to generations of broadcasters. Danna, who retired in 2012 after 43 years as professor of communication at Loyola, died of a sudden illness Saturday at his home in Monroe, Louisiana. He was 84. In addition to launching WLUW in 1979, Danna served as its faculty advisor until 1994. “Doc has thousands of people in the communication business in Chicago over the years who owe him a debt of gratitude,” recalled Matt Smith, a longtime friend and protege. “For anyone who’s been affiliated with Loyola, it is a big loss.”

Monday’s comment of the day: Dennis Fisher: An article about a new radio personality in town and we get a comment on the tyranny of Democrats, presupposition regarding taxes, and a slur on a woman’s appearance. This column is like a Rorschach test for knuckle draggers — chained to their preconceived notions.