Robservations: It’s all over for Johnson Publishing Company

Johnson Publishing Company

John H. Johnson

It’s a good thing John H. Johnson didn’t live to see this day. Johnson Publishing Company, former publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, filed for bankruptcy Tuesday — 77 years after its founding in Chicago. In 2016 the iconic titles were sold to a Texas-based private equity firm, while the company struggled to restore profitability. Now its remaining assets will be liquidated. “Johnson Publishing Company was caught in a tidal wave of marketplace changes and business issues, which, despite exhaustive efforts, could not be overcome,” the company said in a statement. Hailed as one of the country’s most successful and influential African American entrepreneurs, Johnson revolutionized the publishing world with his devotion to celebrating the achievements of black life. The Arkansas-born grandson of slaves died of congestive heart failure in 2005 at 87. “The incredible legacy and impact of Johnson Publishing Company will always be honored and hold a proud place in the African American experience,” the company said.

Greta Van Susteren

Look for former cable news host Greta Van Susteren to turn up this fall with a weekly public affairs show to air on Weigel Broadcasting stations in Chicago and Milwaukee. “Full Court Press” will be syndicated nationally by Gray Television, according to the Los Angeles Times. Van Susteren joined Gray in February as a national political analyst after stints with CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. No decision has been made on when the show will air in Chicago, according to Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting, parent company of WCIU-Channel 26.

Harry Caray

Among a shelf full of new books just out for Chicago baseball fans is The Legendary Harry Caray: Baseball’s Greatest Salesman by Chicagoan Don Zminda. Billed as the first full-length biography of Caray since his death in 1998, it details his Hall of Fame career, including 25 years with the St. Louis Cardinals, 11 years with the White Sox and 16 years with the Cubs. Fun fact: Caray was invited to lead delegates to the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in his signature rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Other notable books in the Caray canon are George Castle’s I Remember Harry Caray (1998), and Steve Stone and Barry Rozner’s Where’s Harry?: Steve Stone Remembers 25 Years with Harry Caray (1999).

Jenifer Surma

Jenifer Surma has resigned after four years as vice president of human relations at Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM. The station said she was leaving to spend more time with her family. Surma previously worked for the Cubs as senior human resources director. A search for her replacement is underway.

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Tom McNamee: Ken Davis could get anybody (well, almost) on that show [“Chicago Newsroom”] because there was such respect for him. Always informed, always fair. With a nice touch of humor. It was good for Chicago. I’ll miss it.