Robservations on the media beat:
If Marquee Sports Network turns out to be the disaster some critics are predicting, another broadcast partner of the Chicago Cubs stands to benefit handsomely. Fans who booed bossman Tom Ricketts when he mentioned the cable network at last weekend’s Cubs Convention — and others alienated by the loss of free games on TV and the unknown cost of the new service — can still hear it all on Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM. Under a long-term deal through 2022, Cubs broadcasts on The Score (with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer) “will remain as free as sunshine and a summer breeze,” in the words of Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal, who surmised nearly a year ago: “Hughes and Coomer might even gain listeners amid all the upheaval from the 2020 Marquee launch.” If reaction to Ricketts’s botched rollout Friday is any indication, he’s right. (Here is the link via Aldo Soto.) Said one avid reader of this space and lifelong Cubs fan: “Guess I’m going to be listening to the radio a lot more this season.”
David Jackson and Gary Marx, longtime investigative reporters for the Chicago Tribune, are the latest staffers to sound the alarm about their company’s new largest shareholder. In an op-ed piece posted Sunday by the New York Times, Jackson and Marx warned that New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital poses “an urgent threat” to newspapers owned by Tribune Publishing. (Here is the link.) “Unless Alden reverses course — perhaps in repentance for the avaricious destruction it has wrought in Denver and elsewhere — we need a civic-minded local owner or group of owners,” they wrote. “The alternative is a ghost version of the Chicago Tribune — a newspaper that can no longer carry out its essential watchdog mission. Illinois’s most vulnerable people would lose a powerful guardian, its corrupt politicians would be freer to exploit and plunder, and this prairie metropolis would lose the common forum that binds together and lifts its citizens.”
Although he’s still under suspension from Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, news anchor Rafer Weigel got a favorable ruling from a Northwest Indiana court last week. The sordid revenge-porn case involving Weigel, his ex-fiancee and a Valparaiso woman was dismissed for lack of evidence. “He was never charged to begin with and now there is no risk of him being charged in the future,” according to Weigel’s attorney, Steven Alvarez. An order of protection against Weigel remains in place, but his attorney said he expects it to be overturned. No comment from Fox 32 on whether Weigel will ever return to “Good Day Chicago,” the newscast he co-anchored from 4 to 6 a.m. weekdays with Roseanne Tellez.
“Step It Up with Steph,” the weekly health and fitness show hosted by Chicago weight-loss coach and corporate wellness trainer Stephanie Mansour, has rolled out nationally via American Public Television. “My dream has always been to have a positive and solution-oriented television show to inspire and motivate viewers to create their own version of healthy and happy within their lives,” Mansour said. “My hope is for audiences to walk away with ideas and tips they can implement into their everyday lives.” “Step It Up with Steph” airs at 9 a.m. Saturdays on Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11.
“Gabby Road with Hannah, Fred and Justin,” the weekly talk show hosted by Chicago broadcast veterans Hannah Stanley, Fred Weintraub and Justin Kulovsek, has just been picked up for national syndication by SmartTalk Radio Network. “We are thrilled that the show is gaining traction and because of SmartTalk Radio we will have the opportunity to spend Sundays with listeners from around the country,” Weintraub said. Launched locally in October, “Gabby Road” airs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays on WCGO 1590-AM/95.9-FM, the Evanston-based talk station owned by GAB Radio Network.
Steve Dale, Chicago media’s foremost pet expert and host of the long-running radio show “Steve Dale’s Pet World,” has been named winner of the first Excellence in Media Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association. “For more than 30 years Steve has been a champion of veterinary medicine and the animals we treat,” said Dr. John Howe, president of the association. “Steve’s rapport with the public has helped build awareness of animal health and well-being as well as the veterinarian’s role in animal care.” Dale will be honored in August at AVMA Convention 2020 in San Diego. “Pet World” airs at 5:30 a.m. Sundays on Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM.
In observance of Martin Luther King Day, WGN-Channel 9 news anchor Micah Materre will host “The Six Principles of Nonviolence,” a half-hour special on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Airing at 7 tonight (and rebroadcast at 4:30 p.m. Sunday) on the Nexstar Media Group station, the special will feature interviews with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Father Michael Pfleger, rapper/activist Common, poet and performer J. Ivy, author Michael Eric Dyson, former Chicago alderman Dorothy Tillman and members of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago.
Saturday’s comment of the day: Darrell Birkey: A media reporter should know that the [Marquee Sports] Network will not be inaccessible to any Comcast subscriber because it will be available on a number of streaming outlets. Any Comcast customer can keep their broadband and dump Comcast TV for one of the streaming options. That goes for any broadband customer in the Cubs MLB market.