Serving up Chicago media Turkeys of the Year — with relish

Rafer Weigel

With a deep bow to the late, great Roy Leonard, whose Turkey of the Year Awards were a Thanksgiving Day tradition on news/talk WGN 720-AM for decades, here’s a hearty flip of the bird to this year’s Chicago media recipients:

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for Rafer Weigel to hit the “send” button on explicit photos of himself and the married mother of four with whom he was having an affair. As the year’s tawdriest soap opera played out in an Indiana courtroom, the “Good Day Chicago” news anchor found himself caught up in three-way allegations of harassment and revenge porn involving the scorned woman and an ex-fiancee. Vowing to clear his name, Weigel (who has not been charged with a crime) remains suspended without pay from Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. Continue reading

Robservations: Four Chicago stations to host New Year’s countdowns

Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies

Robservations on the media beat:

New Year’s Eve revelers will have four live, local TV specials to choose from when they ring in 2020. Together again for their 19th year, Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies will make merry (and, in all likelihood, smooch at midnight) on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Over on Nexstar Media WGN-Channel 9 Ana Belaval, Dean Richards and Sarah Jindra will host the debut edition of “Chicago’s Very Own New Year’s Eve Blast.” Also airing countdown specials will be NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and Telemundo Chicago WSNS-Channel 44 — although hosts for those shows have not been announced. After all, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: WBBM Newsradio, 94.7 WLS and V103 tie for first place

Greg Brown

For the first time ever there’s a three-way tie for Chicago’s most popular radio station, according to the latest Nielsen Audio survey.

Ratings released Monday showed WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM, the Entercom all-news combo; WLS 94.7-FM, the Cumulus Media classic hits station; and WVAZ 102.7-FM, the iHeartMedia urban adult-contemporary station, sharing the top spot with identical 5.1 percent audience shares among all listeners. Continue reading

‘Horrible mistake’ prompts John Tesh to return Radio Hall of Fame award

Radio Hall of Fame

Earlier this month syndicated radio host John Tesh was among nine broadcasters inducted in the 2019 class of the Radio Hall of Fame. A few days later he packed up his award and mailed it back.

What ticked off Tesh?

Sources at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, which administers the Radio Hall of Fame, said Tesh objected to the way his wife and business partner, actress Connie Sellecca, was treated as a presenter at the induction ceremonies. Continue reading

Robservations: Reporter Jesse Kirsch moving up fast at ABC 7

Jesse Kirsch

Robservations on the media beat:

Jesse Kirsch, who was hired straight out of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism as WLS-Channel 7’s first digital reporter in 2017, has been promoted to general assignment reporter at the ABC-owned station. A native of Livingston, New Jersey, Kirsch graduated summa cum laude from Medill, where he was news director and anchor for Northwestern News Network. Several of his stories have been picked up by ABC News. “Jesse has done a terrific job for us and has made impressive contributions on all of [our] platforms,” said Jennifer Graves, vice president of news at ABC 7. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago Reader to go nonprofit route

Chicago Reader (November 14, 2019)

Robservations on the media beat:

Tracy Baim

After nearly 50 years as the city’s premier alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader is about to move to a nonprofit business model. Owners Elzie Higginbottom and Leonard Goodman, who rescued the Reader from Sun-Times mismanagement in 2018, have made a deal to sell the newspaper to a newly created nonprofit, the Reader Institute for Community Journalism, in early January. The Reader hasn’t turned a profit in ages, although revenue is said to be up almost 50 percent this year. As an official nonprofit, the door will be open to additional revenue sources, including foundation grants and other donations. “I am so excited about the opportunities this new move will have for the Reader,” said Tracy Baim, who’s staying on as publisher along with most of the current staff. “More media companies are turning nonprofit to expand their support networks. The Reader has a very loyal readership. We believe community-supported journalism is an important part of the future for most independent media, and certainly for the Reader.” Continue reading

Robservations: Entercom sets sights on new Chicago boss

WBBM Newsradio

Robservations on the media beat:

Rachel Williamson

Nothing is official yet, but look for Rachel Williamson, a New York-based media and marketing executive, to succeed Jimmy de Castro as senior vice president and market manager of Entercom Chicago. De Castro announced Friday he’s stepping down next month after two years overseeing the seven-station group. Since 2016 Williamson has been president of Gamut, the advertising, marketing and promotion services arm of Cox Media Group (which is about to be acquired by Apollo Global Management private equity funds). She previously worked as director of digital revenue development for Cox Media Group and director of national sales for Cumulus Media. She also held sales positions with Nielsen Audio and Hubbard Radio Chicago. Entercom Chicago includes all-news WBBM 780-AM and WCFS 105.9-FM; 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. Continue reading

Banner year ahead with Dahl brothers teaming up

Patrick Dahl

They’re not exactly following in their famous father’s footsteps, but two of radio legend Steve Dahl’s sons are now working together in the content creation business.

Coinciding with the relaunch this week of Chicago-based video production company Banner, Patrick Dahl, 38, has been promoted to president, and brother Michael Dahl, 36, has signed on as executive producer. Continue reading