Robservations on the media beat:
CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 won a Peabody Award Wednesday for “Unwarranted,” reporter Dave Savini’s ongoing investigation of Chicago police conducting raids on the wrong houses. “Through exhaustive interviews, surveillance of video footage from nearby buildings, and hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, Savini uncovered findings that range from careless to callous,” the judges said, citing the series for its “tenacity, thoroughness and impact.” Saying he was “honored, thrilled and grateful” for the recognition, Savini wrote on LinkedIn: “In the end we uncovered hundreds of negative raids and ultimately dozens of children would tell us their stories. A new law and policy were created but it’s not over.” Also among this year’s Peabody Award winners was “Surviving R. Kelly,” Lifetime’s blockbuster series on women who survived alleged sexual abuse from Chicago-based R&B superstar R. Kelly.
After six months as news director at WGN-Channel 9, Dominick Stasi rounded out his new leadership team Wednesday at the Nexstar Media Group station. Managing editor Rick Strasser was named assistant news director, and executive producer Dana Ballard was named to the newly created position of content and special projects director. “We do 75-plus hours of news and programming each week, not including the additional live coverage we do every day,” Stasi wrote in an email to employees. “Our digital footprint continues to grow and is vital to how we reach and connect with viewers. Because of this, it became apparent to me that building a larger leadership team is necessary to keep WGN strong, to oversee our massive amount of output on air and online, and to push us all to new heights.”
Troi Tyler, the longtime Chicago radio personality who’s been hosting Saturday mornings on 95.1 FM Clubsteppin’, is stepping up to weeknights on the urban adult-contemporary station. Starting Monday she’ll host “The Loft After Dark” from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday (and continue to host from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays). “I am excited to connect with an audience nightly to play their favorite songs and to be able to discuss the issues that are important to the community,” she said. Earlier Tyler was at iHeartMedia urban adult-contemporary WVAZ 102.7-FM and urban contemporary WGCI 107.5-FM.
Veronica Carter, the former Chicago radio news anchor and traffic reporter, has landed at Alpha Media’s KXL in Portland, Oregon, as morning news co-anchor. Carter most recently was West Coast regional news director for iHeartMedia, based in Sacramento, California. Her 12-year run in Chicago included two stints at Entercom all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM as well as anchor roles at news/talk WGN 720-AM (under Tribune Broadcasting ownership) and Merlin Media’s former FM News 101.1.
It’ll be a weekend of “timeless and memorable trifectas” on Me-TV FM, the Weigel Broadcasting soft-rock oldies station at WRME 87.7-FM. Starting at 7 p.m. Friday and running through midnight Sunday they’ll air pop hits that made three of the Billboard music charts at the same time. (Case in point: Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” a No. 1 song across the pop, adult contemporary and country charts in 1975.) “Everybody knows what a one-hit wonder is,” said Rick O’Dell, program director of Me-TV FM. “We think it is a good time to put the Me-TV FM spotlight on another special category, where you have one song being a hit on three different charts at the same time. We can call these timeless trifectas the ultimate crossover songs.”
A virtual memorial service for Zay N. Smith will be streamed online Saturday, June 20, at 11 a.m. The former columnist, investigative reporter and features writer for the Sun-Times died May 11 of lung cancer at 71. Smith was best known for the popular Quick Takes column and for his role in “The Mirage,” the 1978 Sun-Times investigative series that uncovered corruption among city inspectors and others. Speakers are expected to include longtime friends and colleagues Rick Kogan, Roger Simon and Pam Zekman. A link to the live stream will be at ZaySmith.com.
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Abdon M. Pallasch: How do we stop this trend? It may be easier for broadcasters to create shows that preach to the choir, sourcing their navels, mostly on the right, a few on the left. But what about shows like Rick Pearson’s in which he gets the experts, advocates and candidates on and challenges them to defend their approaches so we actually learn? We still have Craig Dellimore’s “At Issue” on WBBM, WBEZ’s many offerings, Bill Cameron’s “Connected to Chicago” on WLS, Roe Conn (who is great when he has guests on) and Bruce DuMont, but I wish there were more public affairs offerings on radio, especially as we come up to the referendum on a graduated income tax. Voters should hear from the experts, not just the paid ads.