Robservations on the media beat:
A hearty high five to Bob Stroud, top-rated midday star at Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM, on celebrating 40 years as host of “Rock ’n Roll Roots.” This weekend he’ll feature songs from his 12 compilation CDs and intersperse air checks from shows on WMET, The Loop, AM 1000, CD 94.7 and WXRT. “In May of 1980 when ‘Rock ’n Roll Roots’ debuted on WMET, Dick Biondi was debuting his new Sunday morning show opposite me on The Loop,” Stroud told me. “I remember thinking: ‘What are the chances?’ I didn’t think ‘Roots’ would last four weeks let alone 40 years. I’m a lucky guy.” “Rock ’n Roll Roots” airs from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays (rebroadcast from 9 p.m. to midnight Sundays) on The Drive.
Governor J.B. Pritzker defended his press secretary’s decision this week to bar radio personality Amy Jacobson from his daily coronavirus media briefings. As reported here Tuesday, Jacobson, who co-hosts mornings on Salem Media news/talk WIND 560-AM, was cited for speaking at a Reopen Illinois rally Saturday outside the Thompson Center in Chicago. In response to a question at Wednesday’s briefing from Charlie Meyerson of Chicago Public Square, Pritzker said: “Look, when you stand up at a rally where people are taking a political position, holding up Nazi swastikas, holding up pictures of Hitler, and taking an extreme position, as she did, it strikes me that that’s not objective in any way. It’s not the way you act, it’s not the way your colleagues in the media act who are reporters. That is not a reporter. She represents a talk show that has a particular point of view. We allowed her to ask questions because once upon a time she was a reporter. But she proved that she is no longer a reporter.” Tweeted Jacobson: “Where to begin? @GovPritzker didn’t make the decision to kick me out. His comms dir did. Man up! I have Jewish family members. I DENOUNCED the 2 signs on Twitter when I was reporting on the rally. A civil rights violation?”
Lori Rackl resigned Wednesday as travel editor of the Chicago Tribune. “With the traditional travel beat on indefinite hold, it seems like the right time to step aside, so I took the buyout offered to union members,” she wrote on Facebook. “I’m going to miss my colleagues, but I’m looking forward to taking a break, catching my breath and plotting my next trip.” Rackl joined the Tribune in 2016 from the Sun-Times, where she spent 12 years as TV critic, travel editor and reporter. A graduate of Addison Trail High School and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she began as a reporter for the Daily Herald. “Not many reporters in town can say they worked at the state’s three biggest papers: the Tribune, Sun-Times and Daily Herald,” said her husband, Chris Fusco, editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times. “Lori Rackl not only worked at all three, but she excelled in each newsroom on a variety of beats.”
Congrats to Dan Bernstein, midday host at WSCR 670-AM, on his 25th anniversary at the Entercom sports talker. The Deerfield native and honors graduate of Duke University signed on as a reporter/anchor in 1995 and moved up to full-time host in 1999. Mitch Rosen, program director of The Score, called it “a remarkable accomplishment to work at one brand for 25 years,” adding: “Dan continues to produce and host great content on a daily basis on the air and on all of our digital platforms. We are planning a celebration of this milestone with our audience sooner than later.”
Troy Hanson, vice president of operations for Cumulus Media Chicago and program director of alternative rock WKQX 101.1-FM, just added corporate stripes. On Wednesday he was promoted to the additional job of vice president/corporate programming—rock formats. “We’re grateful that Troy’s mastery of every rock variant — alternative, active and classic — will enable him to oversee these formats within Cumulus and Westwood One,” said Brian Phillips, executive vice president of content and audience. Hanson joined 101.1 WKQX as program director in 2015 from WNNX in Atlanta.
Courtney Cobbs, a writer for Streetsblog Chicago, has been promoted to assistant editor of the online news site focusing on sustainable transportation and livable communities. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, and graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Cobbs joined Streetsblog Chicago last fall. Steven Vance, who co-founded the site with editor John Greenfield in 2013, has taken on the new title of editor-at-large. Greenfield and Vance previously co-wrote the transportation news website GridChicago.com.
Critics no longer can accuse Chicago Tribune columnist and “Chicago Way” podcaster John Kass of not living in the city. In a column the other day, Kass disclosed that he sold the Western Springs home he and his wife owned since 1994 and have moved to a three-flat in Chicago. “Thousands upon thousands have moved out of Chicago and Illinois as part of the great Illinois Exodus, fleeing crime and corrupt politics and the always ravenous taxman. But we decided to go in the other direction,” he wrote. Dennis Rodkin of Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Kass sold his west suburban house in March for $685,000. No word on what neighborhood Kass and his wife chose.
Two specials of note today: Cheryl Burton will moderate “Race and COVID-19: Chicago Impact and Opportunities for Change,” a one-hour online virtual town hall, starting at 3 p.m. on ABC-owned abc7chicago.com. And Micah Materre and Lourdes Duarte will host “WGN News Special Report: The COVID-19 Divide,” a one-hour special starting at 7 p.m. on Nexstar Media Group WGN-Channel 9. Both programs will focus on health disparities in minority communities suffering from the coronavirus.
Joe Dawson is being remembered fondly as one of the original DJs who launched the “Hot Hits” format at WBBM 96.3-FM in 1982. Known to fans as Smokin’ Joe Dawson, he died of pneumonia Tuesday in Atlanta, according to friends. His eight years in Chicago also included a stint at the former WFYR. Dawson most recently was running a sports advertising business. “Always happy, always positive, always kind!” recalled former B96 program director Buddy Scott. “I will always remember Joe with love. His story is remarkable. Joe was a dreamer who believed he could do anything. And he would do it!”
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Philip J. Smith: According to the FCC, WFMT’s main transmitter is on the east mast atop Willis Tower, so if there is an outage they can flip to their backup transmitter which is . . . on the west mast atop Willis Tower. Great disaster planning, bosses. Round of applause.