Robservations on the media beat:
Overshadowed by news of the morning-drive shakeup Friday at Nexstar Media WGN 720-AM was the appointment of the first female general manager in the 95-year history of the news/talk station. Mary Sandberg Boyle, who rose from executive producer to director of news and operations to acting general manager in just four years, has been promoted to the top job. The post had been vacant since Jimmy de Castro left WGN in 2016 (although Todd Manley held the title of station manager until September). “I am thrilled to be named general manager at WGN Radio,” Boyle told me. “I’ve spent my entire life and career here [in Chicago]. To have the opportunity to lead the greatest radio station in Chicago surpasses any dream I’ve ever had.” Before joining WGN in 2015, Boyle was executive producer of “The Steve Dahl Show” on multiple outlets and exec producer of the morning show at Entercom Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM. She’s a graduate of Carmel Catholic High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Kate Van Etten, advertising director at Crain’s Chicago Business, has been named associate publisher, effective January 1. A graduate of Mother McAuley High School and Marquette University, Van Etten joined the company as an account executive in 2006 after three years as an account exec at the Sun-Times. She moved up to sales manager in 2008 and advertising director in 2011. “Kate, on a daily basis, is the definition of what it means to be an incredible leader at this company,” said Jim Kirk, publisher and executive editor of Crain’s Chicago Business. “Under her watch, CCB has been a leader in successful new product launches, including customized email products, sponsored content and custom publications, and new initiatives like ‘People on the Move’ and our ‘Notables’ sections. She’s done all this while building the best sales staff in the city.”
Dan Proft has been tapped by Salem Radio Network to host the nationally syndicated evening show vacated by Joe Walsh. Starting January 2, his new show will air from 8 to 11 p.m. weeknights — although it won’t be heard on WIND 560-AM, the Salem Media Group news/talk station in Chicago. Salem spoken word veep Phil Boyce called Proft “incredibly intelligent, insightful and full of knowledge.” Proft continues to co-host from 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays with Amy Jacobson on WIND, where the two recently signed multiyear renewals. Proft joined WIND in 2015 after four years at Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM. Walsh stepped down from his syndicated evening show and local afternoon show in August after declaring his candidacy for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.
Steve Ruxton, longtime Chicago radio newsman and anchor/reporter for the syndicated financial news show “Business First AM,” has joined Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM as a part-time and fill-in news anchor. “It’s like coming full circle for me,” he said. “I interned at the station during college and have the dubious distinction of being snarled at by Larry Lujack in the jocks’ lounge.” Ruxton, who also was a freelance news anchor for WGN, previously was a host of Weigel Broadcasting’s “Stock Market Observer” and “WebFN.”
Happy to report the return of Mark Bazer’s “The Interview Show” for a fifth season on Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11. Starting January 3, it will air for eight weeks at 8:30 p.m. Fridays (with a rebroadcast at 10:30 p.m. Sundays). Bazer’s guests will include Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, Abby McEnany of Showtime’s “Work in Progress,” David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, David Pasquesi of HBO’s “Veep,” and Greta Johnsen of Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM. The show is recorded before an audience at The Hideout.
Tony Lossano, host and producer of “Lossano and Friends” and “Nude Hippo: The Podcast,” will celebrate Christmas morning with a one-hour spectacular gathering a dozen hosts of shows produced by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network for OppihShows.com. Joining him at the Museum of Broadcast Communications will be: Steve Baskerville and Howard Sudberry of “Back 2 You”; Rick Kaempfer and Dave Stern of “Minutia Men/Minutia Men Celebrity Interview”; Marc Vernon of “The Car Guys Report”; Ed Silha of Radio Misfits Podcast Network; Tommy Mallie, Kimmy Spoons, Samuel Greenberg, Chris Cwiak and Michael Garay of “Lossano and Friends”; and Evie Olson of “Grape Insights.” Added Lossano: “I will be the Fahey Flynn holding the bow-tie shaped holiday cookies.”
Friday’s comment of the day: Ellen Kearns Asleson: Steve [Cochran] is not far right or far left. Like the majority of Americans, he is appalled at what this vile, crass president does on a daily basis. Steve was a moderate before he went to WIND. He wasn’t a good fit there because they wanted him to foam at the mouth and beat his chest like every other right wing talk show host. That’s not him. ‘GN was where he belonged, until the new owner showed up. Steve’s most recent ratings were the highest they had been in years (No. 3), but he wouldn’t kiss the new owner’s butt, so out the door he went. I will miss him.