Robservations on the media beat:
Pam Zekman, the legendary investigative reporter who lost her job last month after 39 years at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, will be honored by her colleagues with virtual tributes to be posted online at 7 p.m. Sunday. (Here is the link.) Former CBS 2 anchorman Bill Kurtis will host a retrospective of her work, including a few words from Zekman. A second video will feature a montage of remembrances from former co-workers. Over her illustrious career with the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times and CBS 2, Zekman earned two Pulitzer Prizes, two Peabody Awards, two duPont-Columbia Awards and 24 Emmy Awards.
In lieu of this year’s Chicago Pride Parade, Radio Hall of Famer Terri Hemmert will host “Pride in the Name of Life,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday on Entercom adult album alternative WXRT 93.1-FM. “While we can’t party in the streets with our traditional parade, we can still celebrate with a Pride Parade on your radio,” Hemmert said. “This virus is not going to rain on our parade. With music and messages of peace, love and understanding from friends and the XRT family . . . that’s how we’ll come together.”
At long last Marquee Sports Network appears close to a deal with Comcast Xfinity, the Chicago area’s largest cable company. “I would expect we do reach an agreement with Comcast, in particular as we see the potential for some spring training games, potentially with the White Sox, coming even ahead of the July 23rd or 24th Opening Day,” Crane Kenney, president of business operations for the Cubs, told Dan Bernstein Thursday on Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM. “The pace has picked up, and we’re optimistic we’ll get something done soon.” (Here is the link.) The regional sports network, launched in February, is operated jointly by Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Cubs.
Sixty years after the first presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in Chicago, the Museum of Broadcast Communications has unveiled a new online exhibit on “Broadcasting and the Presidential Debates: The Media, the Messages and the Impact.” (Here is the link.) Along with a curriculum for educators, the website covers nine modern presidential debates. “This online exhibit takes a deep dive into how radio, television and online broadcasting have changed and affected the presidential debates,” said Susy Schultz, executive director of the museum. “It is all designed to move the dialogue away from partisanship and rancor by providing historical and analytical context for this election.”
Mary Wisniewski is leaving today as transportation columnist and reporter at the Chicago Tribune to become director of communications for the Office of the Chief Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court. The 32-year veteran of Chicago journalism worked for City News Bureau, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin/Chicago Lawyer, Bloomberg News, the Sun-Times and Reuters before joining the Tribune in 2016. She also teaches creative writing at Newberry Library and is author of an award-winning biography of novelist Nelson Algren. “I loved my time at the Chicago Tribune, and I love my colleagues there,” she told me. “But 2020 is a year for change, and it was time to do something different. I’ve always had a keen interest in the justice system, and I look forward to serving the people of Cook County and helping them stay informed about their courts. I also intend to write more books.”
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace reminisced the other day about his first TV job — as a reporter at CBS 2 in 1973. “I’m still trying to live that down,” the Chicago native joked in an interview with Bob Sirott on WGN 720-AM. (Here is the link.) “I’d worked for the Boston Globe for four years, and I came to Chicago and it was when the Channel 2 newsroom started and the anchors were Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson, Brent Musburger was the sports reporter, I was a fledgling but I was the political reporter. And I have to tell you: I knew then that was a really special group. I’m sure a lot of people would remember some of these names — John Callaway, John ‘Bulldog’ Drummond, a bunch of others. It was a really good newsroom, and we were very proud of ourselves.”
A coalition of labor unions representing media workers throughout the Chicago area will host an outdoor rally and press event this weekend. “Save Chicago News” will kick off at noon Saturday at the Haymarket Memorial monument at 175 North Desplaines Street. “The public’s right to information is at stake more than ever because of the risks journalists face,” said Don Villar of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “Journalists put their health and safety at risk to show how a global pandemic is affecting our city and how protests have roiled the streets of Chicago. They all want to do their jobs in a historic moment, but we have journalists put on the sidelines by furloughs.” Social distancing and other precautions will be in place, according to organizers. A live stream on Facebook will start at noon.
Thursday’s comment of the day: Dan Miller: Here’s why Bruce DuMont is among the best moderators to have appeared or been heard on Chicago media: he prepares before his show. He knows not only what newsworthy questions to bring up to his panels, he knows what kinds of answers the panelists will give, and he’s ready with follow-up questions. Panelists who think “Beyond the Beltway” is a walk-through are soon revealed to have tissue-thin knowledge of current events and political backstories, full of half-baked opinions and foolish biases. Congratulations, Bruce DuMont. Keep up the great work.