Robservations on the media beat:
Hours after her bosses publicly bade farewell to Melissa McGurren, the former co-host of Eric Ferguson’s top-rated morning show disputed their version of her departure from WTMX 101.9-FM. In a brief but emotional video posted on social media platforms, McGurren said the statement released by Hubbard Radio Chicago was “not accurate” adding: “The truth will come out.” (Here is the link.) As reported here Wednesday, Jeff England, vice president and market manager at Hubbard Radio Chicago, said the company offered McGurren a contract extension but she declined. McGurren and her agent, attorney Steve Mandell, would not say what was inaccurate about the company’s version and declined further comment.
Here is the text of McGurren’s post:
Hi. It’s Melissa. I was not expecting to do this video today. Work sent out a statement today, and it’s been not the most easy thing to deal with seeing that. I will say I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to handle it, but that statement was not accurate. And I just think that the most important thing is the truth. And hopefully — not hopefully — it will, the truth will come out. And I’ve always wanted to work at The Mix, and this is not how I saw things coming. So here I sit. I can’t even believe this, I am where I am right now. This is bizarre.
Most importantly thank you for all your support. Thank you for the kind words. You guys give me hope in humanity, and I want you all to know that all the feelings I have for you are mutual. I have become friends with so many of you and the listeners. And it has been a really great experience. So I just wanted to say thank you and make sure that I make that point. Thank you.
McGurren’s response drew an outpouring of support from fans, including a Facebook message from Kathy Hart, who shared a similar fate when she was cut after 21 years as morning co-host on The Mix in 2017. “Thinking of you, Melissa,” wrote Hart, who now lives in Bozeman, Montana. “‘Cheers’ to being a pro, and giving your beautiful heart and soul for 22 years. Celebrate what you gave to Chicago and know how much you are treasured. I saw this quote and thought of you: ‘Tomorrow’s a brand new day, that’s never been touched.’ Well, the world is a better place with your touch, my friend. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.”
CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 preempted its 6 p.m. newscast and “Entertainment Tonight” Thursday to air a one-hour special reprising the work of investigative reporter Dave Savini in exposing wrongful raids by the Chicago Police Department. “My Name Is Anjanette Young” recounted the 2019 degradation of a Chicago social worker who was handcuffed while naked during a wrong raid. (Here is the link.) Lawyers for the city had attempted to stop CBS 2 from airing the video. Earlier this year CBS 2 won a Peabody Award for “Unwarranted,” Savini’s ongoing investigation of police raiding the wrong homes. “In compiling these investigative reports, we tell the troubling story of how wrong raids traumatize and impact our community,” said Jeff Harris, vice president and news director of CBS 2. “These disturbing firsthand accounts, told by Anjanette Young and other victims, underscore their courage and the critical need for the city to finally address the disturbing pattern we’ve been uncovering for two years.”
Diana Gutiérrez, who joined Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26 in 2018 as a reporter for “The Jam” news and talk show, has been hired as weekday morning news anchor at WISN, the ABC affiliate in Milwaukee. The Chicago native and DePaul University graduate began as a programming intern at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and previously worked at WBND, the ABC affiliate in South Bend, Indiana. She continues as vice president of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Gutiérrez is not expected to be replaced on “The Jam,” the low-rated former morning show which now airs weeknights at 6 p.m.
“America’s Most Unusual Festivals,” the latest special from the Chicago producers of the “Wild Travels” series, will debut at 9 p.m. tonight (and repeat at 11 p.m. Saturday) on Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11. Hosted by Will Clinger, the show visits such unique public celebrations as Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, Colorado; Sputnikfest in Manitowoc, Wisconsin; The Stand Still Parade in Whalan, Minnesota; Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana; and a dozen more. Harvey Moshman is executive producer and director of the one-hour special, which is being distributed nationally by American Public Television.
Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications has a special online treat to mark the year’s end. Starting at noon today, the museum will present “Stay Home for the Holidays,” a series of classic holiday stories posted on its Facebook page through January 1. Among the storytellers will be Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, former State Department envoy Hannah Rosenthal, ABC 7’s Roz Varon, author Michele Weldon, museum board chair David Plier, and Chicago Sinfonietta artistic director Mei-Ann Chen. (Here is the link.) “We hope this becomes an annual holiday treat, celebrating the rich wonderful traditions we love each year,” said Susy Schultz, executive director of the museum.
This year would have been the 20th annual New Year’s Eve comedy stage show hosted by Chicago radio star and veteran standup comic Steve Cochran. Instead he’s going virtual with “Men of a Certain Rage,” featuring Cochran along with comedians John DaCosse, Tim Benker and Mike Toomey. The one-hour show will stream on demand through the end of the year at cochranshow.com/nye for $10. (Here is the link.) Since he left his WGN 720-AM morning show one year ago, Cochran has been hosting “Live From My Office,” an interview podcast each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on Apple, Spotify and cochranshow.com. Said Cochran: “After deciding the world desperately needed another podcast, this seemed like the obvious next step . . . goofing around with my friends and charging $10 to watch.”
Thursday’s comment of the day: Kevin Singer: Hearing Steve Alexander for the past 12 years doing the agribusiness reporting, it just seemed like a natural succession when Orion decided to call it a career. His presentation and knowledge of how he reported these stories over the years were consistent with what Orion has done. It’s nice to see Nexstar recognize the talents from within rather than trying to reinvent the wheel by bringing someone external in without consistency. Let’s just hope that they continue to recognize types of talents and in doing so, bring GN back towards a radio station that it once was in Chicago (which includes not airing Green Bay Packer games on a Sunday afternoon).