Robservations on the media beat:
Don’t worry, Me-TV FM fans. Your favorite soft-rock oldies station won’t be going away. At least that’s the word from Venture Technologies Group, which owns the license for WRME 87.7-FM, the low-power analog station on VHF Channel 6 leased by Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting as the home of Me-TV FM. On Monday the FCC reaffirmed July 13, 2021, as the deadline for all low-power Channel 6 TV stations operating as radio stations on 87.7 FM to cease broadcasting. (Here is the link.) “We have a solution and [are] moving forward,” Paul Koplin, CEO of Venture Technologies Group, told me. The company is in the process of converting its Channel 6 stations (including those in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and elsewhere) to digital with an analog audio carrier imbedded in the signal. “We have submitted technical studies to the FCC to demonstrate how this works, and stations in several markets are converting right now,” Koplin said. Neal Sabin, vice chair of Weigel Broadcasting and creator of Me-TV FM, said simply: “Please stand by.” In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, Me-TV FM posted an impressive 3.0 percent audience share, ranking 12th overall.
Chicago journalist Wendell Hutson joined Crain’s Chicago Business Monday as a general assignment reporter. He replaces Sarah Zimmerman, who was promoted to deputy digital editor. A Chicago native and graduate of Columbia College, Hutson previously worked for DNAinfo Chicago, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Defender, Chicago Crusader and Illinois Real Estate Journal. Also at Crain’s, Orphe Divounguy, chief economist of the Illinois Policy Institute, has joined the monthly rotation of opinion columnists. His column appears on the third Monday of each month, alternating with Rich Miller of Capitol Fax, Madeleine Doubek of Change Illinois, and David Greising of the Better Government Association.
After just seven weeks back on the air, Joe Walsh has been declared a hit by his new bosses. The former Republican congressman turned radio talk show host now airs live from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday on north suburban Evanston Broadcasting news/talk WCGO 1590-AM/95.9-FM. (He’d previously been on tape delay.) “I think this will probably come as welcome news for his Chicago listeners as they can now interact with him live versus having to listen via stream in order to participate,” said Chuck Duncan, general manager of WCGO and GAB Radio Network, which syndicates Walsh’s show. “His call volume has been off the charts, with major activity from New York, Philly, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Miami, and his streaming audio numbers are the highest we’ve ever seen from any show on the station — averaging about 2,700 unique instances a day.”
Phil Redo, former vice president and general manager of adult contemporary WLIT 93.9-FM, has retired after more than 10 years as general manager for radio at WGBH, the nonprofit NPR station in Boston. “We added a substantial, trustworthy news organization to the ecosystem of Boston,” he said of his proudest achievement. “At a time when local journalism is shrinking, Boston can be proud that not only have we not shrunk, we’ve added dozens of new jobs for journalists.” Capping more than 40 years in radio, Redo moved to Brunswick, Maine, and launched Flying Pig Farm and Music, a media consulting and music-making firm. Under Viacom ownership, Redo led WLIT from 1989 to 1997, lifting it to No. 1 in ratings and revenue among all FM outlets in Chicago.
Adam Mahoney, a third-year student at Northwestern University majoring in journalism and sociology, is this year’s recipient of the Chicago Headline Club Les Brownlee Scholarship. The Los Angeles native has been an investigative reporting intern for Injustice Watch and The Chicago Reporter. The $5,000 scholarship is named for the late Chicago journalist and educator who served as Headline Club president. The group’s foundation also awarded $5,000 internship grants to Injustice Watch and Block Club Chicago.
Monday’s comment of the day: Patty Martin: Seth Mason had a magical combination of true music passion and business acumen. He was fiercely protective of XRT, willing to take risks and also willing to do the right thing for the big picture. That’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but it was one of his superpowers. The world of radio changed dramatically from the dawn of XRT til the sale — Seth was there for the duration, and able to adapt through it all. As Charlie [Meyerson] said, he was an unsung giant, whose stamp on radio is immeasurable.