Robservations: WGN family and friends remember a fallen wizard

Marshall Brodien

Robservations on the media beat:

Marshall Brodien as Wizzo the Wizard

The flag in front of WGN-Channel 9 studios was lowered to half-staff Friday to honor Marshall Brodien, the famed Chicago magician who played Wizzo the Wizard on “Bozo’s Circus” and “The Bozo Show” from 1968 to 1994 on the Tribune Broadcasting station. Earlier that day Brodien died of complications from Alzheimer’s at 84. The outpouring of tributes that followed, led by longtime friend and WGN entertainment reporter Dean Richards, underscored not only a genuine affection for Brodien, but the deep connection “Chicago’s Very Own” has with generations of viewers. Magician Lance Burton recalled: “When I was a kid I bought ‘TV Magic Cards.’ Later in life I got to become close friends with Marshall Brodien. Marshall was responsible for the Lance Burton Magic Sets. . . . He was one of the kindest people I ever met. I sure will miss him.” WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling called Brodien “a joy — kind, talented and without airs. An unpretentious man who who brought joy to so many during an amazing career.” Rich “Svengoolie” Koz called him “a good and kind man — and the last of the original ‘Bozo’ cast.” In 2012 Brodien was inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Mitch Rosen

The first-ever Score House was a smashing success, according to the bosses of Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM. The stars of The Score — including midday hosts Dan Bernstein and Connor McKnight and afternoon hosts Dan McNeil and Danny Parkins — survived under one roof together in Scottsdale, Arizona, while broadcasting their shows last week from Cubs spring training in Mesa. “It exceeded my expectations . . . [with] great content for the listeners over the air and through our digital platforms,” said Mitch Rosen, operations director of The Score. “The feedback from our audience was overwhelming.” Although he couldn’t say where or when the next one might be, Rosen declared: “We will definitely do it again.”

Eric Cox

Eric Cox, who grew up in Aurora dreaming of working as a Chicago television reporter, has just signed on at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. “As I walked into the newsroom, it felt so surreal,” Cox wrote on Facebook. “I’m finally doing what I love in my hometown TV market. It was my grandmother who planted the seed that grew into my passion for reporting. I still remember sitting on her lap in front of the TV watching the news. Back then, I never would have guessed I’d be the guy someone would see on that screen.” The graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign most recently was a news anchor and reporter at KMOV, the CBS affiliate in St. Louis. He previously was a reporter at WRTV, the ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, and WBND, the ABC affiliate in South Bend, Indiana.

Jennifer Keiper

Jennifer Keiper has resigned as afternoon news anchor at WLS 890-AM, the Cumulus Media news/talk station. Her last day on the air was Friday. “WLS AM has treated me well over the last four and a half years, but I felt I had done all I could do there and that it was time for a change,” Keiper said. “I have left on very friendly terms and look forward to my next challenge.” Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Chicago, said he expects to announce a replacement for her “sometime next week.”

Justin Kaufmann

In addition to hosting the revival of “Extension 720” weeknights on WGN 720-AM, Justin Kaufmann is hosting a new audio podcast for the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station. Along with producer Pete Zimmerman, he’ll produce “Lower Wacker Live,” a comedic news brief that will be available five days a week on and through iTunes subscription. (Here is the link to the pilot for the series.) In his new role, Kaufmann also will serve as principal fill-in for all of WGN’s weekday personalities.

Museum of Broadcast Communications

For the first time in more than 20 years, Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications is out of debt. Thanks to a $6 million windfall from the sale of two floors of its four-story building at 360 North State Street, the museum has paid off a $3.7 million mortgage held by Pepper Construction Co. With the remaining funds, officials say they hope to “reimagine” the museum’s mission with its downsized gallery space. Immediate plans call for opening two new rotating exhibits from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland. Saturday Night Live: The Experience ends its 18-month run on March 31.

Friday’s comment of the day: Joseph A. Morris: I am delighted that “Extension 720” will be revived with Justin Kaufmann in the chair. Somewhere the shade of Milt Rosenberg is smiling and saying “I told you so!” (polymathically in 16 languages).