Robservations: WGN Radio boss bans CNN, Fox News and Svengoolie

WGN Radio

Robservations on the media beat:

Rich “Svengoolie” Koz

With Nexstar Media Group’s “News Nation” primetime newscast set to debut September 1 on WGN America, anchors and correspondents from competing networks may no longer be welcome as guests on WGN 720-AM, the company’s news/talk station. Sean Compton, the Nexstar executive vice president who oversees WGN, told staffers in a memo Monday: “Now, with News Nation launching, that will be our go-to for national news talent needs. No more CNN or Fox News personalities — let’s promote and encourage our own product.” Also declared persona non grata on WGN Radio: Svengoolie, the iconic horror-movie host played for more than 40 years by Rich Koz. “As part of Nexstar Media, it’s frustrating to see our own talent promoting and encouraging competitive podcasts and media,” Compton wrote. “This past weekend we had a talent promoting Svengoolie who works at Me-TV. Remember that we own Antenna TV, and Me-TV is a primary competitor.”

Andi McDaniel

In May the parent company of NPR news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM announced the appointment of Andi McDaniel as CEO of Chicago Public Media, effective September 28. But now McDaniel’s hiring may be in doubt. A report in DCist.com raised questions about how McDaniel handled complaints of sexual misconduct against a male reporter while McDaniel was chief content officer at WAMU, the NPR station at American University in Washington, D.C. (Here is the link.) Bryan Traubert, chair of Chicago Public Media’s board of directors, told WBEZ staffers Monday that a committee is working “to ascertain the facts and to inform how we move forward with the CEO role,” adding: “We understand it is our responsibility to bring in a leader who has trust and credibility, and who will continue to build a culture that is welcoming, diverse and inclusive where all staff can thrive.” Stay tuned.

Glenn Marshall

Glenn Marshall, who began as an intern and desk assistant at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, is returning to Chicago as a general assignment reporter at Nexstar’s WGN-Channel 9. Starting August 24, he’ll report for the morning and midday newscasts, succeeding Courtney Gousman, who left to become a weeknight news anchor in Cleveland. Marshall, a Chicago area native and graduate of Northern Illinois University, most recently worked for the Weather Channel and WGCL, the CBS affiliate in Atlanta. Also new to WGN is per diem reporter Brónagh Tumulty, just in from KUTV, the CBS affiliate in Salt Lake City. Born and raised in Ireland, Tumulty holds degrees from the University of Liverpool and the University of Sheffield.

Robin Robinson

Robin Robinson, the former Chicago TV news anchor, is out after four years as director of community affairs for the Chicago Police Department. She was hired under former Superintendent Eddie Johnson to serve as a department spokesperson and to foster “stronger community faith and partnerships in Chicago’s neighborhoods.” She also served as director of the department’s Office of Restorative Justice Strategies. Robinson spent 27 years at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 and four years before that at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.

Dave Hoekstra

It was a five-year labor of love for Dave Hoekstra, the Chicago journalist, author and filmmaker. Now his documentary on the musical legends of Springfield, Missouri, can be seen by the world. “The Center of Nowhere (The Spirit and Sounds of Springfield, Missouri),” featuring such musical legends as Merle Haggard (in his last on-camera interview), Dan Penn and Brenda Lee, will be digitally released today. Viewers can purchase or rent the film from various digital platforms including Amazon, Vimeo and OnDemand on cable networks. “This documentary illustrates how food, air, religion, country hills and even Route 66 shape one of the most unfiltered roots music scenes in America,” said Hoekstra, who wrote, produced, directed and narrated the film. It premiered at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

Jim Williams

Jim Williams, longtime reporter and weekend news anchor at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, will headline this week’s online webinar hosted by the Publicity Club of Chicago. Starting at noon Wednesday, Williams will talk about his work and how TV news coverage has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. (Here is the link to register.) A Chicago native and former press secretary to Mayor Richard M. Daley, Williams joined CBS 2 in 2002. He previously was a correspondent for ABC News and a reporter for WGN.

Monday’s comment of the day: Mark Quinn: It is sure and solid testimony to the greatness of WBBM Newsradio that it can lose a superstar like Felicia Middlebrooks and still dominate the morning airwaves. Pat Cassidy is a terrific broadcaster, but that he works for such spectacular organization is the key to the amazing, and unceasing success of WBBM. Everybody at WBBM, just keep doing what you’re doing. Not only are your numbers terrific, but you have no idea how important your keeping us constantly abreast of the news is to so many of us.