Robservations on the media beat:
Not even the owner of Chicago’s top revenue-producing radio station is immune from financial pressures. Entercom Communications, parent company of all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM, laid off eight employees here Tuesday — five in traffic and continuity and three in sales. Another four positions in finance will be cut in August with numerous additional staff reductions on the way, according to insiders. The slow-motion massacre is tied to Entercom’s plummeting stock price since the company’s takeover of CBS Radio in 2017. In a note to employees, Jimmy deCastro, senior vice president and market manager of Entercom Chicago, wrote: “These are longtime co-workers and friends — we want to thank them for their years of hard work and wish nothing but the best for their collective futures.” In addition to WBBM Newsradio, Entercom Chicago includes sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM, adult album alternative WXRT 93.1-FM, country WUSN 99.5-FM, and classic hip-hop WBMX 104.3-FM.
On Thursday, the Chicago White Sox will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Disco Demolition by distributing 10,000 free T-shirts and welcoming radio legend Steve Dahl to throw out the first pitch. But not everyone thinks it’s cause for celebration. In response to vociferous complaints here and on social media, the White Sox released the following statement: “This year’s Disco Demolition T-shirt giveaway was intended to recognize the anniversary of a historic off-the-field moment that has been connected to the organization over the past 40 years. It is a recognizable part of Chicago baseball history. We recently were made aware of comments criticizing the T-shirt giveaway and are in the process of reviewing feedback. We have been communicating with our community partners who have raised concerns to make it clear that the intent of this giveaway was only meant to mark the historical nature of the night 40 years later. We have reinforced that the White Sox organization is dedicated to advocating for a safe, welcoming ballpark experience for all people and communities, and will continue to engage in important, informative discussions with our fans and partners to build toward positive change through sports. We remain proud of our franchise’s longstanding record on advocating for inclusion and diversity.”
Weigel Broadcasting, Chicago-based parent company of WCIU-Channel 26 and multiple digital networks, is about to pick up its first station in Denver. Marquee Broadcasting has agreed to sell KREG to Weigel Broadcasting for $2 million, according to an FCC filing. The station is an affiliate of Weigel’s Heroes & Icons network. “This acquisition, along with our other station additions in the last two years, allows Weigel Broadcasting to continue to provide our networks to more viewers in major markets,” chairman Norman Shapiro told employees. In addition to its Chicago properties, the company owns stations in Wisconsin, Indiana, California, Missouri, Utah and Washington.
Fifty years in radio is remarkable, but 50 years at the same station is practically unheard of. That’s the milestone being celebrated by Andi Lamoreaux, the esteemed music director at Window to the World Communications classical WFMT 98.7-FM. “We are delighted to have the rare opportunity of marking five decades of Andi Lamoreaux at WFMT,” said general manager George Preston. “Andi has been a steadfast, behind-the-scenes presence, guiding much of what listeners love about WFMT, from programming music during select dayparts to coordinating live broadcasts from our studios and from great Chicago area venues such as Ravinia and Millennium Park. Outside of her work at WFMT, Andi has long been in demand as a program annotator, and she is a walking compendium of Chicago music history.”
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Gustaf Rand: I never understand it when readers are shocked by a subject’s actual age. Of course [Derrick Blakley] is 65. He didn’t go to work when he was nine. Two or three years ago when Linda Yu retired some fellow said he thought she was 38 or 48. These people age the same as you and me. Their years work the same way. They have 365 days. The rules don’t change because you’re on television. Brant Miller gets to be in his 70s. Mark Giangreco gets to be well into in his 60s. Pat Cassidy and Felicia Middlebrooks, also 60s. Time marches on for everyone.