Robservations on the media beat:
The Chicago Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group had more than a year to get their act together to launch Marquee Sports Network. Even so, Saturday’s long-awaited debut turned out to be the worst new product launch in memory. Still without Comcast Xfinity, the region’s largest cable provider, it only got worse from there. Hulu + Live TV, touted as a streaming alternative for cable cord cutters, pushed back its start date for Marquee to perhaps opening day March 26. Also left in the dark were countless Charter Spectrum and DirecTV customers. Others had no idea where to find Marquee, thanks to the network’s inadequate marketing efforts. Remember when Cubs bossman Tom Ricketts got roundly booed onstage at the mere mention of Marquee during last month’s Cubs Convention? Those boos just got louder.
Issues of race, diversity and the failings of Chicago’s legacy media dominated the conversation at Chicago Journalism Town Hall 2020 Sunday at the Allegro Hotel. Moderated by Ken Davis and Heather Cherone, two dozen industry leaders debated the state of the industry before a crowd of more than 200 and viewers of Chicago Access Network TV. Bruce Dold, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune, declared the “duopoly of Facebook and Google” as the greatest threat to his newspaper. The need to educate consumers in media literacy also was stressed by panelist Carol Marin among others. Louise Kiernan, editor-in-chief of ProPublica Illinois, recalled hearing from a reader who thought “anonymous sources” were anonymous to reporters. “It’s not about their ignorance, it is our arrogance that we believe everyone should know how we do our jobs,” Kiernan said.
“Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks was named No. 1 on the “Top 1,000 Country Songs of All Time” by iHeartMedia country WEBG 95.5-FM. The weeklong countdown on Big 95.5 culminated Saturday with these top 10 (in ascending order): “Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis, “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, “Stand By Your Man” by Tammy Wynette, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by Loretta Lynn, “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones, “The Dance” by Garth Brooks, and “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks.
Did you hear about the Chicago TV reporter who snagged the airplane seat next to the former Illinois governor just after his release from federal prison? No, not Chuck Goudie and Rod Blagojevich. It was 1975 and the reporter was Peter Nolan of NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and the ex-governor was Otto Kerner. Nolan, who retired from NBC 5 after 38 years in 2006, recalled the coup in his memoir, News Stories. “We began a conversation that would last through a stop at Indianapolis and on into Chicago,” Nolan said of that Eastern Airlines flight home from Lexington, Kentucky. “He was in an upbeat mood and very cordial. I supposed it was because he had regained his freedom after many months and was returning home to a beautiful wife and two devoted adult children, Anton and Helena, who had stood by him and never missed a day of his trial.” Kerner, the first Illinois governor convicted of corruption, died of lung cancer in 1976.
Roy Bellavia, a longtime Chicago radio manager who programmed WXRT 93.1-FM in its pre-rock music era, died Thursday of complications from Parkinson’s Disease. He was 88. From 1961 to 1971 he was program manager of WXRT. He also managed the time-brokered ethnic and foreign language station WSBC 1240-AM for Diamond Broadcasting and Newsweb Radio. A Chicago native, U.S. Army veteran and Roosevelt University graduate, Bellavia began his broadcasting career as program director of WLTH in Gary, Indiana. Services will be Saturday at Queen of All Saints Basilica in Chicago.
Friday’s comment of the day: Tim Kulchar: How many other great people like Kelly Crull be casualties of that monster that is the Marquee Sports Network? Tom Ricketts was booed at the convention and asked, “What’s wrong with the Marquee Network?” Not having Kelly Crull, not having David Kaplan, not having Luke Stuckmeyer. Finally NOT being able to watch the Cubs on a channel that covered the Cubs for 72 years, NOT being able to watch the Cubs on the TV provider I’ve had for 15 years. So sorry, good luck, Kelly Crull. We will miss you. Say hi to Chip Caray.