Robservations: WLS Radio celebrates 95 years on the air

WLS Radio engineers (1932)

Robservations on the media beat:

WLS 890 AM

On April 12, 1924, Sears, Roebuck and Company officially began broadcasting its new radio station from the Sherman House Hotel in Chicago, naming it WLS (for “World’s Largest Store”). To mark its 95th year on the air, WLS 890-AM — now a conservative news/talk station owned by Cumulus Media — will host a daylong celebration on the air today. It will feature audio highlights from the station’s illustrious past (“Oh, the humanity!”) and interviews with former personalities and station bosses, including John Records Landecker and Roe Conn with morning host Mancow Muller, and John Gehron, Mick Kahler, Jeff Davis, Garry Meier, Tom Tradup, Phil Duncan, Tim Sabean and Landecker with late-afternoon host Big John Howell. Continue reading

Big John Howell health scare alarms WLS listeners

Big John Howell

Chicago radio talk show host Big John Howell said he plans to see a neurologist after a health scare on the air took him by surprise and alarmed many of his co-workers and listeners.

Howell, 58, was nearing the end of Tuesday’s show on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM when he suddenly sounded disoriented and distressed. Listeners heard him struggle to connect his thoughts or read the copy in front of him. Continue reading

WGN’s Andrea Darlas to join U of I as Chicago liaison

Andrea Darlas

After more than 21 years as a multitalented and award-winning news anchor, reporter and program host at news/talk WGN 720-AM, Andrea Darlas is opening a new chapter in her career.

Darlas has been hired as senior director of constituent engagement at her alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, starting May 8. From Chicago, she will lead the university’s engagement and outreach efforts throughout the metropolitan area and serve as public affairs and media liaison. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Ken Davis closing down ‘Chicago Newsroom’

Ken Davis

“Chicago Newsroom,” the weekly roundtable of local journalists and newsmakers, is bowing out at the end of May after a nine-year run on Chicago Access Network TV.

For host Ken Davis and his all-volunteer operation, it’s been a labor of love since he launched the show on the nonprofit CAN TV public-access channel September 9, 2010 — in the twilight of Richard M. Daley’s last term as mayor of Chicago. Continue reading

A few protips from the media for Chicago’s new mayor

Lori Lightfoot (Photo: CBS Chicago)

As Chicago’s new mayor, will Lori Lightfoot learn from the mistakes of her predecessors in dealing with the media?

Rahm Emanuel stumbled early in his administration by trying to control the media through secrecy, favoritism and confrontation. Despite efforts to soften his image and appear more accessible, it’s arguable that Emanuel never fully recovered from his rocky start with the City Hall press corps. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Scorecard’ tees up 10th year on The Score

Ed Sherman and Steve Olken

Robservations on the media beat:

Ed Sherman and Steve Olken this weekend tee up the 10th year of “The Scorecard on The Score,” their weekly golf talk show on Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM. It will air from 6 to 8 a.m. Saturdays for 22 weeks through the end of August. Sherman and Olken will preview the Masters with NBC Golf Channel analyst Mark Rolfing and offer tips from local pros. This also marks the start of Olken’s 20th year on The Score. Continue reading

Susan Smith Richardson to head Center for Public Integrity

Susan Smith Richardson

Susan Smith Richardson, former editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter, has been named chief executive officer of the Center for Public Integrity. Her appointment, effective May 20, was announced today.

Based in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit investigative journalism organization is marking its 30th year of exposing abuses of power by government and corporate interests. Continue reading

NBC Sports Chicago’s Leila Rahimi joins Harvard panel

Leila Rahimi

Leila Rahimi, the anchor, host and reporter for NBC Sports Chicago, is heading to Harvard University this weekend to participate in a global conference on Iranian culture and its impact on the arts, science and business.

Rahimi will be among panelists discussing “Iranian Americans Shaping the Game” at Harvard’s fourth annual summit of influential Iranians. With her will be attorney/author Cyrus Mehri, who created the “NFL Rooney Rule” to promote diversity for head coaching jobs, NBA agent Mayar Zokaei, and entrepreneur Shar Pourdanesh, who was the first Iranian-American player in the NFL. Continue reading