Robservations on the media beat:
It’s been more than five years since Garry Meier was replaced by Roe Conn as afternoon personality at news/talk WGN 720-AM. Now Meier, 70, may be on his way to reclaiming his old job. Sources confirmed Monday that Sean Compton, the Nexstar Media Group executive vice president overseeing WGN, is talking with the Radio Hall of Famer about returning to the station to replace Conn, 56, whose contract is up at the end of the year. Once partnered with Steve Dahl, Meier spent eight years as Conn’s afternoon co-host at news/talk WLS 890-AM before he quit in a bitter salary dispute in 2004. He’s been gone from terrestrial radio since 2014 when his five-year solo run ended at WGN. In 2016 Meier launched a subscription podcast. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WGN ranked eighth in afternoons with a 4.2 percent share. Overall the station was tied for third with a 5.2 share.
Block Club Chicago, the indispensable nonprofit digital news site founded by alumni of DNAinfo Chicago, marks its second anniversary this week with nearly 13,000 paid subscribers — and a very promising future. “We continue to be overwhelmed by the support of our readers,” said editor-in-chief and co-founder Shamus Toomey. “We’ve done our best to cautiously build the team based on what we can afford through the support of our subscribers as well as the individual donors and foundations who believe in our mission. We still have many more neighborhoods to reach with full-time reporters, so that’s the plan for the future. We’d love to round out the map so every neighborhood gets the same volume of local news.”
Sarah Zimmerman, a reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business, has been promoted to deputy digital editor for audience and social media. “We hired Sarah originally as a general assignment reporter, and it was her ability to think quickly on her feet and fill in well on any beat that gave us confidence she would adapt to the editor role,” said Ann Dwyer, editor of the business publication. Zimmerman, a native of California and graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Springfield, worked for the Associated Press and Politico before joining Crain’s last year.
Alissandra Calderon, a former assignment editor and field producer at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, has been hired as associate director of communications at ProPublica Illinois, the nonprofit investigative news organization. She most recently served as manager of marketing and communications for Saint Anthony Hospital and assistant director of communications for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. “With her broad experience in news, nonprofits and state government, Alissandra is a dynamic addition to our organization,” said ProPublica Illinois editor-in-chief Louise Kiernan.
Monday’s comment of the day: Eric Zorn: It’s never been clear to me why local news (but not national news in nearly every case) feels it worthwhile to devote resources to having two people anchoring a newscast. If consultants say it helps ratings, why don’t the networks do it?