Robservations on the media beat:
There won’t be the traditional procession down Michigan Avenue this year, but that’s not stopping ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 from producing its annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival to kick off the holiday season. News anchors Cheryl Burton and Alan Krashesky will host the nationally syndicated special to air on ABC 7 at 6 p.m. Sunday (and repeat at 4 p.m. November 29). Janet Davies will contribute to the one-hour extravaganza, taped on a fantasy winter wonderland set in Pioneer Court. Musical performers will include Jennifer Hudson and Heather Headley. Look for Mickey and Minnie Mouse to give the cue to light up a million twinkling lights along the Mag Mile — just in time for a visit from Santa.
Bill Cunningham, the syndicated talk show host from WLW in Cincinnati, has been picked up by Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM for airing from 9 p.m. to midnight Sundays. His return to the airwaves here recalls one of the darkest chapters in WGN’s history when the radio rabble-rouser was the darling of Tribune Media boss Randy Michaels. In 2010 Cunningham turned down an offer to join WGN Radio, but later launched a trashy daytime TV talk show from WGN-Channel 9 studios. Cunningham’s addition to the weekend lineup and the presence of Phoenix-based late-night fill-in host Rollye James belie the promise of Nexstar Networks president Sean Compton to keep WGN programming local — and to steer clear of divisive political talk. Cunningham and James have been promoting conspiracy theories about voter fraud on their shows.
Patrick Capone, the Harley-riding guitar-playing Chicago rock radio personality last heard on 103.9 The Fox, has landed as a part-time host on WCHI 95.5-FM, the new iHeartMedia rock station. His show’s hours are being worked out, but Capone will be heard Saturdays and Sundays on Rock 95.5, according to James Howard, program director and regional senior vice president of programming. Capone, a native of northwest suburban Barrington, previously spent nine years at The Loop. “Look what you did! It’s all your fault, and there is nothing you can do about it now,” he told Facebook friends. “Listen up . . . you may just recognize the voice you hear coming out of your radio speakers.”
Marvin Zonis, the distinguished University of Chicago emeritus professor who contributed to CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 as international analyst for three decades, died Sunday after falling and hitting his head. He was 84. Educated at Yale University, Harvard Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Institute for Psychoanalysis, Chicago, Zonis joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1966 and the university’s Booth School of Business in 1987. He also headed a Chicago-based international consulting firm. Starting in 1983 he provided insight into global affairs for CBS 2 newscasts. Zonis is survived by his wife, Lucy Salenger, founder and first director of the Illinois Film Office.
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Patti Hansen: Do you know what’s almost as dead as radio? The “radio is dead” sermon from some poster who acts as if it’s the late ’90s and podcasts are some cutting-edge form of entertainment. I’d love to get through five stories without this “breaking news.” Yes, Chicago radio is on life support. Doesn’t the discussion of Mancow, Steve Cochran and no on-air personalities under 40 make this plainly obvious? Maybe these posters need a few more regular references to good ol’ WGN and The Loop to make it clear? I always wonder why it’s implied by this group that I can’t dare listen to terrestrial radio and podcasts. God forbid I mix WTF and ‘XRT. That’s too many letters!!Good for the people out here and some in the industry who are trying to give CPR to Chicago radio.