Robservations: Cumulus Media’s New York sale worries WLS staffers

WLS 890 AM

Robservations on the media beat:

The sale of legendary New York radio station WABC last week sent shock waves through Cumulus Media Chicago where employees of news/talk WLS 890-AM wondered if their station could be next. The flagship of the former ABC Radio empire went for $12.5 million to Red Apple Media, owned by New York billionaire John Catsimatidis. Mary Berner, CEO of Cumulus Media, sought to allay fears of more sales to come. “In New York’s case, we’ll be exiting a market that has been tough for us, and through these deals we will be able to realize significant value for the company – over and above what we could have generated from continued operations,” Berner wrote in a memo to staff. “And for anyone who is still listening to rumors out there, I will say again that there is absolutely no grand plan to exit our big markets.”

Rickey Smiley

It’s official: Rickey Smiley, the comedian, reality-show star and radio personality, will replace Tom Joyner when the legendary “Fly Jock” and Radio Hall of Famer retires from his syndicated urban adult-contemporary morning show at the end of the year. Joyner introduced his successor Friday, saying he was confident Smiley “will pick up where we left off.” Joyner and Smiley are both part of Dallas-based Reach Media. Joyner’s show airs here on Future Vision Entertainment’s 95.1-FM Clubsteppin’.

Patti Vasquez

Patti Vasquez, who was fired as late-night host at Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN 720-AM, says she wouldn’t rule out a return to radio. In a Chicago magazine interview with Robert Chiarito, she sidestepped the circumstances of her dismissal, but discussed her plans to pursue a seat in the state senate and other ambitions. (Here is the link.) Vasquez described herself as “a comedian who is very active in the community when it comes to helping people understand how their local government affects their lives every day.”

Jim Avila

ABC News senior national correspondent Jim Avila, a veteran of two Chicago television newsrooms, has been chosen for induction in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ Hall of Fame. Before joining the network (and becoming the first Latino White House correspondent), Avila worked for CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. He’ll be inducted along with columnist Elaine Ayala and the late CBS News foreign editor Ana Real at the 2019 NAHJ conference in San Antonio in September.

Mary Wisniewski

Chicago Tribune “Getting Around” columnist Mary Wisniewski has been named a regular contributor to “Morning Shift” on Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM. Starting today, she’ll appear every other Monday with a segment on transportation news. Before joining the Tribune on the transportation beat in 2016, Wisniewski was a reporter for Thomson Reuters and a reporter and columnist for the Sun-Times. She also wrote an award-winning biography of novelist Nelson Algren.

Friday’s comment of the day: Justin Kulovsek: Congrats to Geoffrey [Baer]. I hope to see more locally produced innovative content by WTTW and that more local independent producers get the chance to have their work presented. Think outside the box and shake things up!