Remote control keeps WBBM Newsradio on top of the news

WBBM Newsradio

The dedicated journalists of WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM didn’t have time to celebrate winning top honors for outstanding news operation and three other first-place awards this week from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

That’s because they were too busy working from home to keep the top-rated Entercom all-news station up and running during the biggest story of our time. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN Radio declares ‘Virus-Free Friday’

Bob Sirott

Robservations on the media beat:

Sean Compton

They’re calling it “Virus-Free Friday” at WGN 720-AM. Morning star Bob Sirott and every other host at the news/talk station have been ordered to avoid mentioning the coronavirus pandemic that day (except as part of regular newscasts). It’s the idea of Sean Compton, executive vice president of Nexstar Media Group overseeing WGN, who wrote in an email to staff: “If a caller, guest, or even you yourself accidentally brings it up, you get zapped [with a buzzer sound effect] like the opening scene of ‘Ghostbusters.’ . . . This is a great way for us to offer a break for all our listeners and potentially encourage new listeners. Since we are talk radio and rely on current events, this can be challenging, so do some off-the-wall topics.” Sirott said he thought the gimmick would be “interesting,” adding: “I’ve been doing other [non-virus] segments occasionally anyway.” Continue reading

Are there songs radio should avoid during pandemic?

Jim Seals and Dash Crofts

It occurred to me over the weekend when “Get Closer,” the 1976 yacht rock standard by Seals and Crofts, came on: There may be some songs that radio shouldn’t be playing during a global pandemic.

So I reached out to an old friend, Rick O’Dell, program director of Me-TV FM, the Weigel Broadcasting soft-rock oldies station at WRME 87.7-FM, for advice on other songs to add to the list. Continue reading

NBC Sports Chicago to host ‘Together We Can’ telethon Wednesday

Be Chicago: Together We Can

“Be Chicago: Together We Can,” a four-hour, star-studded fundraiser to benefit the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, will be presented Wednesday night on NBC Sports Chicago.

Airing from 7 to 11 p.m., the event will feature appearances by dozens of celebrated athletes and exclusive musical performances from Chicago and Plain White T’s, among many others artists. Continue reading

Robservations: NBC 5’s Dick Johnson riding it out in northern Michigan

Dick Johnson

Robservations on the media beat:

There’s no telling the next time viewers will see veteran Chicago newsman Dick Johnson, who’s been holed up on short-term disability from NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 for nearly two months. “Ironically, in early March I was covering the advent of COVID-19. That’s when my doctors strongly suggested I retreat to a less populated area because of a respiratory condition and my age,” Johnson, 66, told me over the weekend. “We’re fortunate to have a house in northern Michigan. Thankfully, the incidence of coronavirus has been in the single digits here. It was the right call. Despite NBC 5 implementing extraordinary safety protocols, I’m not sure when my doctors will give me the all clear. I’m very much looking forward to returning to work and whatever the new normal might be.” Johnson joined NBC 5 as a news anchor and reporter in 2002 after 20 years at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Continue reading

Robservations: ABC 7’s ‘Windy City Live’ reconnects from hosts’ homes

Ryan Chiaverini

Robservations on the media beat:

Val Warner

For the first time since it stopped production on March 13, “Windy City Live” is returning with new content — just as the May rating sweep gets underway. Starting Tuesday, Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini will host the first half-hour of the show from their respective living rooms, followed by material from past seasons. Their first new guest will be Deon Cole of ABC’s “Black-ish.” No word yet on when a live studio audience will return to the talk and entertainment show, which airs at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Said Chiaverini: “We are certainly excited to reconnect with our viewers in this new normal. I think this has made everybody appreciate the little things in life a lot more, and how fast it can be taken away.” Continue reading

Tribune columnist John Kass clarifies swipe at ‘media elites’

John Kass

John Kass, the Chicago Tribune’s most prominent columnist, says he knows he raised the ire of media colleagues with what they viewed as an attack on their beleaguered profession. And now he’s sorry for that.

“Unlike the tens of millions of Americans who have lost their jobs, America’s cultural elites, in politics, government and media, are doing just fine during the coronavirus shutdown,” Kass wrote in his Thursday column headlined: “Just think about the guy in line at the food pantry.” Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Get Moving with Me’ debuts today on Me-TV FM

Get Moving with Me

Robservations on the media beat:

Here’s one that will brighten your day: “Get Moving with Me” debuts at 7 a.m. today on Me-TV FM, the Weigel Broadcasting soft-rock oldies station at WRME 87.7-FM. It’s an hour of up-tempo high-energy classics Monday through Friday designed to jumpstart the day and encourage homebound listeners to exercise. “With so many of our listeners sheltering-in-place and starting later each day, we wanted to give them a shot of musical adrenalin to get them going in the morning,” said Rick O’Dell, director of programming at Me-TV FM. “You can do a home workout to it or just shake off the cobwebs.” Continue reading

Robservations: ESPN 1000’s Marc Silverman reveals cancer diagnosis

Marc Silverman

Robservations on the media beat:

Marc Silverman, widely admired afternoon co-host on Good Karma Brands ESPN sports/talk WMVP 1000-AM, disclosed on his show Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. He said he would be starting chemotherapy treatment next week. An outpouring of well-wishes followed. “All of us at ESPN Chicago and Good Karma Brands know that Silvy is a fighter and he’s strong,” said Mike Thomas, market manager for ESPN Chicago. “We’re here for him 100 percent whatever he needs during this time.” Silverman, 48, grew up in Skokie and graduated from Niles North High School and Southern Illinois University. He worked as a sports intern and reporter at news/talk WGN 720-AM before joining ESPN 1000 on its launch in 1998. Since 2007 he’s been teamed with Tom Waddle from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Continue reading