Robservations on the media beat:
We may be among the first in the media, but we’re not likely to be the last. Citing the shutdown of consumer spending caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its expected impact on revenue, the Daily Herald has reduced the salaries of staff members by 15 percent, effective April 10. Officers of parent company Paddock Publications have had their salaries lowered 20 percent. “We are confident that we can weather this, provided we pull together and make some short-term sacrifices for the long-term health of our employee-owned company,” executives of Daily Herald Media Group told employees Friday. “While other industries have shut down and their workers released, with your support we will stay the course. We will continue to deliver on our mission — to provide valuable, trusted news and information to readers in print and online and to serve with excellence our many customers who depend upon us to meet their needs.” (Disclosure: I am a full-time employee of the Daily Herald and am affected by the cut.)
In another sign of the times for local journalism, 22nd Century Media has suspended publication of its 14 weekly community newspapers covering the North Shore and southwest suburbs, including The Northbrook Tower and The New Lenox Patriot. In a plea for financial support to sustain its digital operation, publisher Joe Coughlin wrote in a letter to subscribers: “We hope you enjoy our work and that it enriches your life and your community. We now need your support more than ever . . . to help us all weather this storm.” Coughlin said all print subscriptions have been converted to digital ones.
WXLC 102.3-FM, the Alpha Media hot adult-contemporary station that bills itself as “Lake County’s Best Variety,” parted company Friday with afternoon host Jason Cornell. “Without warning or any clue, I was just let go from my job,” he wrote on Facebook. “Not sure what the future holds but please pray for our household as this is a huge blow. God will provide but the next few months will not be easy.” Cornell, who also was the station’s chief engineer, moved up from evenings to afternoons in January 2019.
Bowing to the shutdown of sports betting, WCKG 1530-AM has scuttled plans to rebrand the DuPage Radio sports/talk station as “Sportsbook Radio.” For the time being the west suburban Elmhurst station will continue as “Fox Sports Radio,” with the addition of Westwood One national news updates three times an hour supplementing local news and local sports updates. “When this crisis is over, we will be going all in on ‘Sportsbook Radio’ once again,” promised station manager Matt Dubiel.
Weigel Broadcasting has begun rebroadcasting select Chicago area high school basketball games on its “Game of the Week” on Saturdays, starting at 1 p.m. on The U (WCIU/WCUU-Channels 26.2/48.1). “As the season got cut short, Weigel Broadcasting Co. and The U’s commitment to high school sports remains strong,” said executive producer Fred Weintraub. “We want to honor the students and coaches and share their stories with those at home, so The U will air the best of ‘The Game of the Week’ basketball.”
Friday’s comment of the day: John Garcia: Listened to a little of Thom and Lissa’s podcast yesterday. They are the best. Can’t wait for more!