Robservations on the media beat:
Just in time for coverage of White Sox Opening Day Friday, NBC Sports Chicago will unveil its fancy new studio. The 4,100 square-foot space will serve as the main set for White Sox, Blackhawks and Bulls pre/postgame shows as well as “SportsTalk Live” and additional programming. Among its many bells and whistles is an LED floor equipped to break down plays for all sports. “Our incredible new studio will allow our expert talent roster to showcase our robust multi-platform content like never before,” said Kevin Cross, senior vice president/general manager of NBC Sports Chicago. “The state-of-the-art design will lend itself to our ongoing innovation on how we deliver content to the entire Chicago sports fan base. We’re very excited and looking forward to Friday night’s inaugural broadcast from this world-class studio facility.”
Tina Sfondeles has resigned as chief political reporter at the Sun-Times to join the Washington-based political team of Business Insider, the national news website. Starting in August, she’ll cover the presidential campaign of Democrat Joe Biden. “Every so often, we have to say goodbye to colleagues whom we trust and treasure — and acknowledge they are making career moves that are perfect fits for them,” Sun-Times executive editor Chris Fusco told staff. “She’s been a quick study at every turn, soaking up the knowledge of her bosses and colleagues and becoming a mentor to our next generation of great journalists.” Before joining the Sun-Times as a preps sports writer in 2007, Sfondeles was a news writer at all-news WBBM 780-AM and a production assistant for “The Steve Dahl Show.” She’s a graduate of Lemont High School and holds degrees from Loyola University and Columbia College.
Tom Weinberg, the revered Chicago video pioneer, documentary producer, and founder of the nonprofit Media Burn Independent Video Archive, will headline a virtual talk about his work at 6 p.m. Thursday on Zoom. (Here is the link to register.) The free hourlong event is the third in a series of screenings and discussions with “impactful videomakers.” Weinberg earlier founded the Fund for Innovative TV and created the landmark public-television series “Image Union” and “The 90’s.” He also taught video and documentary courses at Columbia College and Loyola University.
Kenny Jay, former program director of Entercom country WUSN 99.5-FM, has landed as national director of radio marketing for Big Loud Records, based in Nashville, Tennessee. He was among dozens of staffers who were cut in April as part of sweeping layoffs at Entercom Chicago radio stations. Jay, whose real name is Kenny Voss, joined US99 in 2018 from KMPS in Seattle. US99 has been without a full-time program director since he left.
Lucia Anaya has been hired as director of marketing and communications at City Bureau, the nonprofit civic media organization based on the South Side. A lifelong resident of Pilsen and a DePaul University graduate, Anaya helped start The Gate newspaper in Back of the Yards and held a fellowship with Medill’s Social Justice News Nexus, where she wrote about a former Southwest Side public housing project. Anaya most recently worked in content management at VSA Partners and Cooler Screens.
Dominic Calabrese, former president of the Publicity Club of Chicago, has endowed a scholarship at Columbia College in memory of his mother. The Elizabeth Frances Calabrese Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to students who are blind or have other disabilities. The endowment coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Dominic Calabrese, who was a longtime adjunct professor at Columbia College and senior vice president of public relations for the nonprofit Chicago Lighthouse, now lives in Columbia, South Carolina.
The Chicago Reader just moved closer to becoming a full nonprofit entity by securing a fiscal sponsorship with the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation. The affiliation will allow the Reader to receive grants from other foundations. Tony Martinez, Jr., president and CEO of the west suburban foundation, said: “Independent journalism is a vital service to our local communities, and support of the Reader is a good fit with the foundation’s vision of a vibrant, sustainable and caring community.”
The Institute for Nonprofit News has announced the launch of the CatchLight Local Chicago Initiative to assist local newsrooms in reporting on the COVID-19 crisis and how it has exacerbated inequality in Chicago. In partnership with the San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit CatchLight, a steering committee from the Better Government Association, Block Club Chicago, Borderless Magazine, and ProPublica Illinois will oversee a new “visual desk,” starting in September. It will include photojournalism, video, graphic design and data visualization.
Monday’s comment of the day: Dan Ronan: The 850 AM frequency once was WIVS and Mal Bellairs was the owner along with his wife. I’m sure Mal and Mrs. Bellairs are spinning in their graves.