Robservations on the media beat:
The dulcet voice of legendary Chicago anchorman Bill Kurtis won’t be heard on WGN 720-AM anymore. New owner Nexstar Media Group has dropped Kurtis after three years as the signature voice of the news/talk station. Starting today, station identifications and promos will be recorded by Steve Kamer, a New York-based voice-over artist known for work on NBC Olympics coverage. Under executive vice president Sean Compton Nexstar is seeking to broaden the appeal of the former Tribune Broadcasting radio flagship and tie it more closely to TV sister station WGN-Channel 9. Case in point: New jingles for WGN Radio incorporate the familiar theme music from the TV station’s newscasts. “We are embracing our Midwest roots,” a Nexstar spokesman said. “Going to bring back the warmness of WGN — a station for everyone.”
It only took seven months for Jenniffer Weigel to part ways with Erich Mancow Muller. Friday was Weigel’s last day as sidekick and traffic reporter for Muller’s morning show on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM. Starting October 8, Weigel will host her own show on the station from 10 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday. The multitalented Chicago journalist, author and broadcaster will replace a syndicated show hosted by John Batchelor. WLS program director Stephanie Tichenor called Weigel’s new show “the only locally produced female-hosted show in our market,” saying it would feature “a blend of all things Chicago — arts, entertainment and politics.” No word yet on who’ll succeed Weigel on “The Mancow Morning Show.”
Former sports anchor Ryan Baker debuts today alongside Erin Kennedy as co-anchor of WBBM-Channel 2’s weekday morning newscast. But don’t look for Audrina Bigos to be there with them. Earlier this month the CBS-owned station announced the promotion of Bigos as “breaking news anchor” on the show, but sources said she changed her mind and decided to call it quits. No comment from CBS 2 bosses. Bigos joined CBS 2 as a general assignment report in 2015 from WCCB, the CW affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was a reporter and weekend news anchor.
Remember Justin Dearborn? He’s the former CEO of Tribune Publishing (aka tronc) who headed the company in the Michael Ferro era. Dearborn departed in January to join ICM Partners, the Hollywood talent and literary agency, as chief operating officer. Now he’s leaving there too. Variety reports that Dearborn and chief human resources officer Cindy Ballard, another Tribune Publishing expatriate, are on their way out at ICM. “Both will remain onboard through the end of the year to assist with the transition,” according to the company.
Chicago Parent magazine has changed hands after 30 years of ownership by Oak Park-based Wednesday Journal Inc. Terms of the sale to Zoe Communications Group, Detroit-based publisher of parenting magazines, were not disclosed. “We have loved publishing Chicago Parent all these years,” said publisher Dan Haley, who now turns the company’s focus entirely on its four community publications — the Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.
CityXones, the journalism-data tech startup headed by former Chicago Tribune managing editor Jim O’Shea, has teamed with Crain’s Chicago Business on its latest project. This time, CityXones takes a deep dive into water, detailing how and why water supplies may be dwindling for the Chicago area’s collar counties. It includes an interactive map that allows readers to access data on their individual town’s water supply. As a bonus it all can be viewed on smart phones. (Here is the link.)
Devotion to Accuracy Department: Apologies to Pete Sack, fill-in meteorologist at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, whose name was omitted among the station’s forecasters mentioned here Friday. Sack has been on staff at NBC 5 since 2002, when he arrived from WDJT, the CBS affiliate in Milwaukee. The addition of Paul Deanno, incoming from CBS-owned KPIX in San Francisco, will bring to six the number of meteorologists on NBC 5’s weather front.
Friday’s comment of the day: Doug M. Cummings: Gotta love the hyperbole in these “disputes” between Dish and the networks. It’s only about money and they all get settled almost immediately but, to attract attention, it’s got to sound like the WWF. Hilarious.