Robservations on the media beat:
Now we know how WGN 720-AM is going to fill one of the hours previously occupied by evening host Justin Kaufmann, who left last week after his contract was not renewed. Starting tonight the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station will simulcast WGN-Channel 9 news from 10 to 11 p.m. weeknights. That includes the half-hour newscast at 10 p.m., followed by “WGN News Special Report: COVID-19 Pandemic” at 10:30 p.m. “We are going to do it for at least a month or longer depending on how long we are in this period,” said a WGN Radio source, calling it “critical for an out-of-home audience heading to work shifts, truckers etc.” Since December WGN Radio has been simulcasting the first hour of “WGN Early Morning News” from 4 to 5 a.m. weekdays, leading into Bob Sirott’s morning show.
With people stuck at home and searching for entertainment alternatives, this might be a good time to launch a new podcast. At least that’s the hope of Mike Love and Victor “The Dizz” Blackful. Back together after 13 years, the original “Bad Boyz” of urban contemporary WGCI 107.5-FM just debuted “ChicagoFamous,” a podcast series in which they recount their phenomenal rise and eventual breakup. (Here is the link.) Special guests will appear in subsequent episodes. “During this pandemic all media plays a role in how information is put out there, but again balance is important,” Blackful told Rolling Out. “Sometimes too much bad news can stress people or cause panic and sometimes you need an escape. A good song or a good story can change the mindset of somebody who might be feeling worn down.”
Homebound like the rest of us, Oprah Winfrey has started a new series for Apple TV+ — “Oprah Talks COVID-19” — in which she FaceTimes with experts and everyday people to “provide insight, meaning and tangible advice for the human spirit.” (Here is the link.) In the first episode, she interviews actor Idris Elba and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre, who both tested positive for coronavirus. “Like millions of people all over the world, I’ve been staying safer at home for over a week now,” Winfrey tweeted. “I know a lot of people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and uncertain. Because of that, I want to offer some hope and gather thought leaders and people going through it to add some perspective.”
Just when no one was looking, a major new investor has turned up at Tribune Publishing. Mason Slaine, former CEO of business information publisher Thomson Financial, last week acquired a 7 percent stake in the company, making him the third-largest shareholder behind New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Boca Raton, Florida-based Slaine now owns nearly 2.5 million shares.
Kudos to John J. Kim, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, and Rick Kogan, the Chicago Tribune and WGN treasure, for collaborating on a hauntingly beautiful video of a city under lockdown set to Pablo Neruda’s poem “I Like For You To Be Still.” (Here is the link.)
In case you missed it, here’s the front page of Saturday’s Chicago Sun-Times:
Friday’s comment of the day: Randy Volz: Truth be told, I can get, and frankly, am inundated with COVID-19 news nearly every waking moment these days. I need a place where I can get away from the truly ubiquitous word “coronavirus” even if it’s for just a while. I’m grateful ‘XRT hasn’t ramped up their news delivery.