Robservations: Marquee Sports Network needs to get its Cubs programming in gear

Marquee Sports Network

Robservations on the media beat:

Michael Santini

With the launch of Marquee Sports Network barely three months away, the future TV home of the Chicago Cubs finally got around to hiring a programming chief. But it still hasn’t announced any deals with on-camera talent. Michael Santini, former vice president of production at MLB Network, has joined Marquee as senior vice president of programming and production. He previously worked with Marquee general manager Michael McCarthy at MSG Network. “Mike has operated the best baseball production unit in the business for years,” McCarthy said in a statement. “We have no doubt he’ll give Cubs fans what they want and deserve as head of programming and production at Marquee.” The new network is set to debut in February 2020, although there’s still no agreement with Xfinity/Comcast or several other major services to carry it. Marquee is jointly owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Cubs.

Meghan Kluth

It’s over and out for Meghan Kluth, who’s been a per-diem reporter at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 since January. A graduate of Walter Payton College Prep High School and Boston University, Kluth is the daughter of Mike Quigley, Democratic congressman from the North Side. She joined ABC 7 from Stadium digital sports network where she was a college football sideline reporter. Earlier Kluth worked for WGNO, the ABC affiliate in New Orleans, as well as for MLB.com, Comcast CN100, former sports/talk The Game 87.7 FM, and the Sun-Times.

Kenny Jay

Kenny Jay, program director of Entercom country WUSN 99.5-FM, is taking on additional responsibility for programming at KMNB, the company’s country station in Minneapolis. He succeeds Lucas Phelan, who was forced out earlier this month as program director and afternoon host. Jay, whose real name is Kenny Voss, joined US99 in 2018 from KMPS, Entercom’s country station in Seattle. He’ll continue to be based in Chicago, according to Jimmy deCastro, senior vice president and market manager of Entercom Chicago.

Amy Guth

Amy Guth, the veteran Chicago journalist, has announced her resignation as executive director of the Midwest Independent Film Festival. She headed the nation’s only film festival dedicated to Midwest filmmakers since July 2018. “I’ve forged tremendous connections in the past year and a half with the festival, and I wish the board, members and sponsors nothing but the best in everything they do,” she wrote on Facebook. She declined to elaborate on why she resigned. Guth continues to host “The Daily Gist” podcast for Crain’s Chicago Business.

Don Hayner

Don Hayner, who rose from general assignment reporter to editor in chief during a stellar 30-year career at the Sun-Times, has just written the definitive biography of Jesse Binga, the first black banker in Chicago. Published by Northwestern University Press, Binga: The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s First Black Banker tells the little-known story of an ambitious African-American realtor who became a millionaire bank owner but later was convicted of embezzlement and died in poverty as a parish janitor on the South Side. Hayner, who retired from the Sun-Times in 2012, also has written (with co-author Tom McNamee) Streetwise Chicago: A History of Chicago Street Names, The Metro Chicago Almanac: Fascinating Facts and Offbeat Offerings about the Windy City, and The Stadium: 1929–1994, The Official Commemorative History of the Chicago Stadium.

Cliff Kelley

Cliff Kelley, who stepped down in March as afternoon host at Midway Broadcasting urban news/talk WVON 1690-AM, will be honored Saturday at Parkway Ballroom, 4455 South King Drive Chicago. “An Amazing Tribute to Cliff Kelley” will feature performances by Joan Collaso and the Larry Hanks Trio. (Here is the link for tickets.) Kelley, who was a fixture at WVON for 25 years, hosted mornings for 13 years before moving to afternoons in 2007.

Friday’s comment of the day: Steve Dahl: This is broadcasting genius! It’s very difficult for the average person to have access to weather on their own.