Robservations: Ex-anchor recalls earlier era when WGN made news at 10 o’clock

Jack Taylor, Harry Volkman, Rick Talley and Len O’Connor

Robservations on the media beat:

A note here the other day about the ratings success of WGN-Channel 9’s 10 p.m. newscast prompted a gentle correction from Jack Taylor, the legendary Chicago broadcaster who anchored “Chicago’s Very Own” throughout the 1970s. It seems this isn’t the first time the station finished second at that hour. Taylor, 91, recalled: “In the early ’70s, [WGN station boss] Sheldon Cooper called me to congratulate me. He said: ‘Our 10 o’clock news has beaten Channel 2 and Channel 5 in the ratings. This is the first time an independent station has topped stations owned and operated by CBS and NBC. We went head to head with them and beat them in the ratings.’ We were, however, unable to get a larger audience than Fahey Flynn and his ‘Happy Talk’ gang at Channel 7. Harry Volkman, Rick Talley and Len O’Connor joined me each night in our effort to present a telecast that had wide appeal and integrity. They are gone now, as is Jack Brickhouse and the other sports people who were on the air when Rick Talley was not available. It is only fair to recognize that WGN News was outstanding in attracting a large audience in the past as well as the present.”

Millions of Moments

The discovery of five million negatives of Sun-Times photographs — spanning the 1940s to the early 2000s — turned into a treasure trove for the Chicago History Museum and lovers of priceless historic images. The long-lost archive was found in a storage locker in Dixon, Illinois, about 100 miles outside of Chicago. The result is “Millions of Moments: The Chicago Sun-Times Photo Collection,” a major new exhibit at the museum, 1601 North Clark Street. Curated by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, it’s one of the largest newspaper photograph collections ever acquired by an American museum. Many can been viewed through digital portals. (Here is the link.)

Larry Wert

Larry Wert, who retired last fall after four decades as one of Chicago’s most prominent broadcast executives, speaks candidly about his battles with anxiety, his heyday running The Loop, and his financial losses after the market crashed in an interview published in the August issue of Chicago magazine. (Here is the link.) “In my early 50s, it snuck up on me — different forms of panic and anxiety,” Wert, 64, told journalist Mike Thomas. “I couldn’t sleep and I lost a bunch of weight. It probably got triggered by big layoffs at GE and NBC, a lot of which I had to preside over. I tried a few antidepressants, but they just made me feel worse. . . . I learned a little bit about my engine at that age: You can’t come in hot every night, expect to flip the switch off, get six or seven hours’ great sleep, then flip it right back on.”

Thursday’s comment of the day: Nancy Angell Babendir: “Now more than ever” is an expression that belongs on the same trash heap as “thoughts and prayers.”