Robservations on the media beat:
With the expansion of news on Saturdays and Sundays, WGN-Channel 9 will increase its output to a record 72½ hours of news each week, the Nexstar Media Group station announced Wednesday. Starting this weekend, the Saturday edition of “WGN Weekend Morning News,” co-anchored by Sean Lewis and Tonya Francisco, will grow to three hours, airing from 7 to 10 a.m. New to the lineup from 10 to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays will be “WGN Weekend News at Ten,” co-anchored by Jackie Bange and Tahman Bradley. Also new will be “WGN-TV Political Report,” a weekly roundup co-hosted by political analyst Paul Lisnek and Tahman Bradley from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Sundays. “Chicago’s Best,” the weekly food magazine show with Elliott Bambrough and Marley Kayden, will move to 10:30 p.m. Sundays.
The first media casualty of the year is WCEV 1450-AM, the time-brokered ethnic and foreign-language station licensed to west suburban Cicero. Owner Migala Communications plans to shut down the station after 40 years, effective January 20. On the air from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, it shares its frequency with Midway Broadcasting Spanish-language WRLL 1450-AM. Lucyna Migala, program director of WCEV, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. It’s the second suburban AM station to go dark in recent months, following the shutdown of Newsweb Radio’s northwest suburban WAIT 850-AM in August.
Marybel González, a bilingual investigative reporter and news anchor at KGBT, the CBS affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, has joined WSNS-Channel 44, the Telemundo Spanish-language station here. A graduate of Pomona College and Columbia Journalism School, she previously worked as a reporter at KDEN, the Telemundo station in Denver, and as a fellow at CNN’s investigative unit in Atlanta. “We are really excited to have her on our news team as a general assignment reporter,” said Diana Maldonado, vice president of news at Telemundo Chicago.
Patty Wetli, a contributor to Block Club Chicago and the former DNAinfo Chicago, has been hired as urban nature and environment reporter at WTTW-Channel 11. She joins the Window to the World Communications public television station’s digital news team Monday. “I’m pinching myself that this perfect-for-me job even exists, much less that I got hired,” Wetli tweeted. The University of Toledo and Northwestern University graduate also has written for the Sun-Times and Chicago magazine.
Chris Berry’s star continues to rise at iHeartMedia. The former Chicago radio programmer was promoted this week from senior vice president to executive vice president of news, talk and sports programming for iHeartMedia. “Chris has tremendous programming experience and he’s been a valuable asset to our team for nearly a decade,” said Julie Talbott, president of Premiere Networks. “As the spoken word format continues to grow, his leadership and vision will help ensure we’re strategically positioned to provide the best content across multiple platforms, while delivering unparalleled results for stations and advertising partners.” Berry spent nine years at CBS Radio all-news WBBM 780-AM and rose to director of news and programming in the ’90s.
The Chicago Headline Club is accepting entries for the 43rd annual Peter Lisagor Awards for excellence in journalism. Among new categories this year are those recognizing special sections as well as coverage of theatre, music, food and literature. Deadline for entries is January 31. (Here is the link.) Awards will be presented May 15 at the Union League Club.
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Bob O’Neil: This marks a reminder of how critical the value of a strong corps of local reporters is to an area. Ron Magers was witty and intelligent and a terrific anchor for the teams of great journalists around him. Congratulations to Ron. Congratulations as well to Jeremy Gorner and his focus on accuracy and fairness in the reporting of news in the Laquan McDonald story as well as the Smollett circus. Honest reporting in the face of Smollett’s Hollywood BS machine, aided by the usual suspects (yes, you, Rev. Jackson) helped keep the focus on the hoax and not Smollett’s self styled martyrdom.