Robservations on the media beat:
Two of Chicago’s most prominent and well-connected communications consultants are teaming up on a podcast that couldn’t come at a better time. Lissa Druss and Thom Serafin bring their outstanding expertise to “The Crisis Cast,” focusing on crisis management in uncertain times. (Here is the link.) Each episode is hosted by Mariam Sobh, former news anchor at WBBM Newsradio, and features expert guests with unique perspectives on the challenges facing today’s businesses, politicians, and nonprofits. Three to five new episodes will be uploaded weekly. It’s the first project from Chicago-based EarSight Studios, just founded by media innovator Todd Manley, former station manager and vice president of content at news/talk WGN 720-AM. “There is such a need for conversations like these,” Manley said of the new podcast. “Personal and professional lives are experiencing upheavals, rapid changes, and in many instances an accompanying crisis. In Lissa and Thom, we have two crisis communicators who are leaders in their craft.”
Terrence Lee signed on this week as early morning news anchor at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. He succeeds Rafer Weigel on “Good Day Chicago” from 4 to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. (Weigel was forced out after a personal scandal in January.) Lee most recently was morning news anchor at ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland. A Maryland native and Temple University graduate, he began his career at WMDT, the dual ABC/CW affiliate in Salisbury, Maryland. Also new to Fox 32 this week is reporter Brittany Garzillo, who was a traffic anchor and reporter for WGAL, the NBC affiliate in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Illustrations by more than 50 local artists are featured in the newly released Chicago Reader Coloring Book. The artists will share in the proceeds from the nonprofit alternative weekly’s fundraising effort, available in both PDF download and limited-edition print form. (Here is the link.) “This was a project we wanted to do next year for the Reader’s 50th, but as soon as the crisis deepened we made a call for artists with a four-day turnaround and were just blown away by the wide range of art we received,” said Tracy Baim, publisher of the Chicago Reader. “These are really difficult times for everyone, including independent media. We are trying to find creative ways to raise money to cover the more than 90 percent drop in advertising revenue we are experiencing.”
Bob Newhart, the legendary Oak Park-born comedian and sitcom star, is recording a public service announcement on the coronavirus pandemic for WGN 720-AM, the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station. Aimed at senior citizens, who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, the message reinforces the importance of social distancing. “Together — but also, apart — families across America can help keep our generation healthy and safe,” he advises. (Some fans may know Newhart best as Professor Proton on “The Big Bang Theory,” for which he won his first Primetime Emmy Award.) He volunteered to tape the spot for WGN weekend host David Plier, who’s also chairman of Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications. Newhart is slated to be the guest of honor at the museum’s annual fundraiser later this year.
WXRT 93.1-FM, the Entercom adult album alternative station, is rebroadcasting classic live concert performances from its archive at 9 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday night. Tonight will feature The Grateful Dead from 1987 at the UIC Pavilion. Coming up: The Clash from 1979 at the Aragon Ballroom on Monday; The Wailers from 1975 at The Quiet Knight on Wednesday; and David Byrne from 1997 at the Riviera Theatre next Friday. “Music has always been the connecting force that brings us together and live music in particular,” said Greg Solk, program director and operations manager of WXRT. “The shared experience and electricity of a great band playing a killer set at a packed venue raises our spirits like nothing else. We sure could use some of that right now.”
On behalf of television and radio stations throughout the state, Illinois Broadcasters Association raised more than $282,000 Thursday to benefit local food banks during the COVID-19 pandemic. That included a $25,000 donation from Nexstar Media Charitable Foundation, which is affiliated with the parent company of WGN-Channel 9, WGN 720-AM and WGN America. The daylong Illinois Broadcasters Uniting Against Hunger online marathon aided the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank and six other agencies affiliated with Feeding Illinois. Donations are still being accepted at www.FeedingIllinois.org/unite (or text FEEDIL to 91999).
Thursday’s comment of the day: Patty Martin: Bravo to The Drive for providing the soundtrack to the city sing-along and light flashing festivities. I live in the South Loop and this has gotten bigger and bigger by the day! It’s centered a few blocks from us, but we can hear the hollering and see hundreds of people flashing lights from their homes in the sky. The Drive is responding to a situation we’re all in together. And, jeez-there’s gotta be some meters amid the crowds! Well done.