Flooding at Willis Tower knocks TV, radio signals off the air

Willis Tower

A power outage caused by flooding at Willis Tower wreaked havoc on the broadcast signals of several Chicago television and radio stations this week.

The South Loop skyscraper, known until 2009 as Sears Tower, was closed for a second day Tuesday after the weekend rainfall caused the Chicago River to overflow into the lower level of the building and submerge a Com Ed substation. Continue reading

Chicago Public Media hires Andi McDaniel as new CEO of WBEZ, Vocalo

Andi McDaniel (Photo: Jeffrey Watts, American University)

Andi McDaniel, an innovative public-radio executive who grew up in Schaumburg, is coming home to take on the top job at Chicago Public Media, parent company of NPR news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM.

Culminating a seven-month search, McDaniel, 39, was hired Tuesday as president and CEO of Chicago Public Media. Since 2015 she has been chief content officer at WAMU, the NPR station at American University in Washington, D.C., where she developed the widely syndicated show “1A.” Continue reading

WIND’s Amy Jacobson barred from governor’s media briefings

Amy Jacobson at Reopen Illinois rally (Photo: AM 560 The Answer)

Amy Jacobson, the Chicago radio talk show host and former TV news reporter, has been barred from attending Governor J.B. Pritzker’s daily coronavirus media briefings after she spoke at a rally protesting the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Jacobson, who co-hosts mornings with Dan Proft on Salem Media news/talk WIND 560-AM, was among speakers at a Reopen Illinois rally Saturday outside the Thompson Center in Chicago. Continue reading

Robservations’ greatest hits: Looking back at 40 years on the media beat

Robert Feder (undated photo)

Forty years ago this week I began covering the media in Chicago. Where did the time go?

On May 19, 1980 — two years out of journalism school and two days after my 24th birthday — I started at the Sun-Times, where I worked as legman for Gary Deeb, the legendary syndicated columnist who was the paper’s TV and radio critic.

First as a reporter and since 1982 as a columnist, I’ve spent every day of my working life following the ups and downs of the media business in my hometown. I couldn’t imagine a more fun or fitting career for a kid who grew up idolizing Walter Cronkite and subscribing to every trade publication around. Continue reading

Robservations: Nominations open today for Radio Hall of Fame

Radio Hall of Fame

Robservations on the media beat:

Radio Hall of Fame

Nominations open today for the 2020 class of the Radio Hall of Fame. Fans are invited to submit suggestions online for nominees in six categories. (Here is the link.) This year’s induction ceremony, which will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the radio industry, is expected to be held in late October. “We are excited to welcome the Radio Hall of Fame back to its hometown of Chicago,” said David Plier, board chairman of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. “However, we continue to monitor the COVID-19 guidelines daily. If the state of Illinois cannot reach the goals of a Phase 5 reopening for large gatherings, we will seek other alternatives, including holding the event outside of Illinois.” Continue reading

Robservations: Layoffs in the air at NBC 5, Telemundo Chicago

NBC Tower

Robservations on the media beat:

David Doebler

Faced with unprecedented plunges in advertising revenue at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and Telemundo Chicago WSNS-Channel 44, employees of the two NBCUniversal stations are bracing for imminent layoffs. At a virtual town hall last week, David Doebler, president and general manager of the stations, announced the staff reduction plans in response to the coronavirus shutdown. Doebler, who did not say how many positions would be affected, declined to comment further. Earlier the company said it was reducing the pay of senior management by 20 percent and rolling back pay by 3 percent for employees making more than $100,000. Other cuts include elimination of overtime and makeup services. Continue reading