Robservations: ESPN 1000 at the finish line for White Sox radio rights

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Robservations on the media beat:

ESPN Chicago 1000

The headline here in August read: “White Sox appear headed to ESPN 1000.” Now it’s about to come true. Sources confirmed Tuesday that the Chicago White Sox have rejected a bid for the team’s radio rights by Entercom, parent company of all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM. With previous radio home Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM out of the picture, that leaves WMVP 1000-AM, the ESPN Radio sports/talk station managed by Good Karma Brands, as the winner. All signs point to an announcement in the coming days. Such a move would fulfill ESPN 1000’s strategy to compete on the local front with Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, home of Chicago Cubs baseball. ESPN Chicago market manager Mike Thomas declined to comment. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey ESPN 1000 tied for 18th place among men between 25 and 54. The Score ranked 15th in the target demo.

Faced with the loss of 90 percent of its advertising revenue due to the pandemic, the Chicago Reader this week instituted voluntary temporary salary cuts ranging from 10 to 25 percent for its 32 employees. Three full-time staffers (including staff writer Maya Dukmasova) opted for multi-week furloughs over the next three months. The belt-tightening comes as the Reader converts to a nonprofit business model. “We will reassess in three months to see how the nonprofit transition is going, and advertising growth as well,” said publisher Tracy Baim, who’s taken a 50 percent pay cut. “We were able to hold off any cuts until now, but as we enter winter and most our clients are unable to re-open with any confidence, we know this will be a tough next three to six months.”

Ismael Pérez

Ismael Pérez, a digital journalist who’s been working as an audience engagement specialist at the Sun-Times, has been promoted to editorial board member and columnist. Pérez, 28, a graduate of A&M-Kingsville in Texas, joined the Sun-Times in 2019 from the San Antonio Express-News, where he was social media editor. “I grew up on food stamps and without running water, so yes. This is my American Dream,” Pérez tweeted. “I’m excited to contribute my voice to the brilliant minds on the board and to write thoughtful columns more regularly.”

Vernal Coleman

Vernal Coleman, an investigative reporter for the Boston Globe, has been hired as a reporter for ProPublica’s Midwest newsroom. It’s a return to Chicago for Coleman, who began his career as a fellow with Northwestern University’s Academy of Alternative Journalism, where he wrote for the Chicago Reader and other local publications. The University of Tulsa graduate also worked for the Seattle Times and New Jersey Star-Ledger before joining the Boston Globe last year. “After cutting my teeth as a journalist in Chicago years ago, I’m thrilled to return to the city and join ProPublica’s newsroom,” Coleman said in a statement. “ProPublica produces some of the most probing and revelatory journalism in the country, and I look forward to bringing that work to all corners of the Midwest.”

Floyd Brown

A hearty shout-out to Floyd Brown, former staff announcer and jazz music host at WGN Radio, who’ll celebrate his 90th birthday Thursday. Brown, who retired in 1999 after 28 years at WGN, was inducted in the WGN Radio Walk of Fame in 2016. Earlier he worked for the former WMAQ Radio. Brown and his wife Betty live in Elgin, where he began as an engineer at WRMN in 1951. When the usual announcer was late one day, Brown stepped in and made his debut, according to the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame (where he’s also an inductee).

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Frank Kurtz: On the topic of MeTV, did any one catch “Collector’s Call” this past Sunday night? Who knew that former WGN Radio host Bill Leff had such a remarkable collection of toys/action figures? His impressive collection of toys brought back a lot of memories. Nice job, Bill!