Robservations: Rich Warren retiring from WFMT’s ‘Midnight Special’

Rich Warren

Robservations on the media beat:

Marilyn Rea Beyer

Rich Warren is stepping down after 37 years as host of “The Midnight Special,” the venerable weekly showcase for folk music, show tunes and comedy on WFMT 98.7-FM. His final broadcast of the show on the Window to the World Communications classical station will air July 25, but he’ll continue to host WFMT’s “Folkstage” concert series at 8 p.m. Saturdays. “Working for WFMT embodied my youthful dreams, and it has been my privilege and pleasure to contribute to the station and our audiences for 46 years,” Warren said. “As of last Saturday, I have hosted 1,268 installments of ‘The Midnight Special,’ and have never missed a single program. After these many years and programs, it’s time to let someone with their own fresh ideas take the microphone.” Starting August 1, the show will be hosted by Marilyn Rea Beyer, former midday host and music director at WUMB in Boston. Beyer, who grew up in south suburban Lansing, said she’s been a fan of “The Midnight Special” since her teens. Founded by the late director (and onetime WFMT announcer) Mike Nichols in 1953, “The Midnight Special” airs at 9 p.m. Saturdays.

Cate Cahan

Cate Cahan is calling it quits as senior editor at WBEZ 91.5-FM, the Chicago Public Media news/talk station. Her last day will be June 26. Since joining WBEZ in 1998 to help launch the magazine show “Eight Forty-Eight,” Cahan served as project editor, interim news director and managing editor, among other roles. She most recently led the station’s effort to memorialize victims of COVID-19. Cahan previously worked as editorial director and planning editor at all-news WBBM 780-AM under CBS ownership. In 2017 she received a Studs Terkel Community Media Award from Public Narrative.

Nick Digilio

A tip of the hat to overnight host Nick Digilio, who this week marks his 35th year at Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM. Listeners first met Digilio in 1985 through legendary midday star Roy Leonard, who invited the Chicago native and Columbia College student onto his show to talk about movies. That led to a regular segment for Digilio and eventually to part-time hosting work. He moved up to full-time host in 2013. “I love this place, I love this station, I love being on the radio with you, and I love my listeners, and I thank you for all the support over the years,” he told fans. In 2017 Digilio was inducted in the WGN Radio Walk of Fame.

Studs Terkel

The deadline to submit nominations for this year’s Studs Terkel Community Media Awards has been extended through June 30. Presented by the nonprofit Public Narrative, the awards honor journalists whose work reflects Chicago’s diverse communities. They’re named for the late Chicago author and broadcaster who was the group’s guiding spirit. “Journalism is often pretty thankless work, but once a year we get to appreciate a few amazing Chicago journalists,” said project manager Mareva Lindo. “This feels like a particularly significant moment to do that.” (Here is the link to submit nominations.) Awards will be presented September 24.

John Burnett

John Burnett, the British-born former morning host on WDCB 90.9-FM, is being remembered for his 19 years as “Your British-American Buddy” on the College of DuPage jazz station. Burnett died Monday of congestive heart failure in Virgina, where he lived with his wife after retiring in 2015. He was 81. In addition to his radio work, Burnett also led a popular big band and ran a security consulting firm. “John Burnett is such an important part of WDCB’s history,” said station manager Dan Bindert. “Our listeners loved waking up to his warm and friendly voice every morning. He was a true gentleman, a class act and an all-around nice guy both on and off the mic. And no WDCB listener will ever forget his ‘Chip-Chip Cheerio!’ sign off.”

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Richard Heffernan: I’ve think I’ve made three comments on Rob’s column over its long and rich history. One was about Bill Frink. Another was congratulating Rob on an anniversary. I’ve long tried to ignore the same clowns making the same comments every day, every week, to every column. I would guess that they’ve got too much time on their hands because of the coronavirus, but their drivel long preceded that tragedy. Perhaps they are lonely. Or just desperately need attention. But it must be painful to be so myopic and predictable and dull. And then to inflict their fatuity on the rest of us, every day, day after day is just sad. Robert, I love your column. I’m sorry that every day the same group of malcontents have to whine about their perceived grievances, and make the rest of us ponder why they come off so frail and tragic that they can’t hold themselves back from making the tedious comments for even one day.