Robservations: Report says ex-CBS 2 boss tried in vain to ‘change the culture’

CBS 2 Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:

Marty Wilke

In 2018 Marty Wilke stunned the Chicago media community when she abruptly resigned after six years as president and general manager of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. Except for a brief statement expressing gratitude “for having the opportunity to run my hometown CBS station,” Wilke declined to elaborate on her decision to walk away. “It struck some as odd that a 53-year-old woman would retire at the peak of her career,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “She was a battle-tested manager who had previously run the iconic WGN station in Chicago during a turbulent time — the corporate bankruptcy of its parent, then known as Tribune.” On Sunday an L.A. Times investigation revealed that Wilke had been forced out by CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn after the two repeatedly clashed. (Here is the link.) Once she left CBS 2, nearly all of the senior female executives Wilke had championed were also driven out, she told the L.A. Times. After obtaining a waiver from her nondisclosure agreement, Wilke met with investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, including racism and misogyny, at the company’s highest levels. “My goal is to change the culture for the benefit of so many good people still at the company,” Wilke was quoted as telling them. But now she wonders whether it was worth it. “What was that whole investigation about? Was it just for show?” Wilke asked. “The culture starts and stops with Peter Dunn.” Dunn declined to comment. Continue reading

Rebranded ‘NewsNation’ moving Joe Donlon to solo news hour at 6 p.m.

Joe Donlon

After five months as co-anchor of NewsNation, the signature primetime newscast on WGN America, Joe Donlon is being reassigned as solo anchor of a one-hour news show at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“The Donlon Report,” billed as a mix of “news and interviews with today’s newsmakers,” will premiere March 1 — coinciding with a rebranding of the Nexstar Media Group cable network from WGN America to NewsNation. Continue reading

Robservations: Crain’s, Daily Line team up to launch Chicago Index

The Chicago Index

Robservations on the media beat:

Jim Kirk

Crain’s Chicago Business and The Daily Line, the subscription newsletter on state and local politics, are teaming up to launch The Chicago Index, a quarterly opinion poll on policy and government issues in Chicago and Illinois. Along with ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 as broadcast partner, The Chicago Index will debut in February with results of a survey that will gauge public sentiment and voter satisfaction with government leaders, elected officials and the governments serving them. (Here is the link.) “By pairing the Daily Line’s deep focus on public policy and governmental issues with Crain’s authoritative politics coverage and commitment to fostering useful public policy discussions, we believe this project will help us all better understand the evolving priorities of Chicago-area residents and drive positive change,” said Jim Kirk, publisher and executive editor of Crain’s Chicago Business. Added Daily Line publisher Don Vincent: “This project fills an unmet need in Chicago for an ongoing, independent assessment of public sentiment on key issues that will give decision-makers the baseline knowledge they need to implement useful policies.” Survey participants may sign up for free at TheChicagoIndex.com. Continue reading

Robservations: NBC Sports Chicago cuts Bears, Blackhawks writers

NBC Sports Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:

J.J. Stankevitz

Another bloodletting at NBC Sports Chicago cost the jobs of at least three writers Thursday and elicited another “no comment” from the regional sports network. Announcing their ousters on Twitter were Chicago Bears Insiders J.J. Stankevitz and Cam Ellis and Chicago Blackhawks Insider Scott King. “I’m so grateful for my 11 years there, starting as a college intern in 2010,” Stankevitz tweeted. “It’s literally the only place I’ve ever worked. I don’t know what’s next but I couldn’t have asked for better people to work with over the years.” Tweeted King: “Unfortunately, I’m joining a lot of people in the industry who lost their gig during the pandemic.” The latest cuts, first reported by the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal, come five months after the last major purge at NBC Sports Chicago, which included the layoffs of hosts Leila Rahimi and Laurence Holmes and the cancellation of “Sports Talk Live.” Continue reading

Robservations: Natasha Korecki to cover White House for Politico

Natasha Korecki

Robservations on the media beat:

Natasha Korecki, who was a star reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald before joining Politico, has been promoted to White House correspondent. She covered the campaign of Joe Biden for Politico throughout the 2020 presidential race. A University of Illinois graduate, Korecki joined Politico in 2015 after 12 years at the Sun-Times and seven years at the Daily Herald. She wrote the daily Politico Playbook on Illinois politics before being named national correspondent in 2018. “Having the opportunity to cover the White House is an honor of a lifetime, particularly given the unprecedented crises our nation is facing,” Korecki told me. “I’ve long cherished my role as a journalist and that’s especially been true at a time when the media has been under fierce attack. I’m thankful for having gone through the reporting rigors at places like the Daily Herald and the Sun-Times, which helped prepare me for this moment.” Continue reading

Robservations: Jerome McDonnell ‘pushed from the nest’ at WBEZ

Jerome McDonnell (Photo: Karen Kring)

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM bid farewell this week to Jerome McDonnell, who hosted the international affairs talk show “Worldview” for 25 years until its cancellation in 2019. Most recently he’s been reporting on energy and environmental issues for the station. “Jerome has made an indelible impact on our local and global community during his more than 30 years at WBEZ,” said Steve Edwards, chief content officer for WBEZ. “He led daily conversations with many of the most insightful leaders and changemakers of our time, but Jerome’s true passion is to elevate the perspectives of those less frequently spotlighted in the news, be they marginalized voices or everyday people fighting to make the world a better place.” McDonnell is expected to work with WBEZ on a number of freelance projects this year. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, McDonnell began as a volunteer intern at the station in 1984 and produced “Midday with Sondra Gair” until the host’s death in 1994. “After 37 years I’ve been pushed from the nest,” McDonnell wrote on Facebook. “I’ve been very fortunate to have [a] home there and meet so many great people.” Continue reading

‘Black Ink Crew’ star Charmaine Bey named midday host on WGCI

Charmaine Bey

Charmaine Bey, who leveraged her popularity on the VH-1 hit reality show “Black Ink Crew: Chicago” into a radio career, has been promoted to midday personality at WGCI 107.5-FM, the iHeartMedia hip-hop station.

Starting today Bey will be on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The midday slot on WGCI has been open since November when Frankie Robinson exited after five years. Continue reading

Media watchdog Steve Rhodes suspends Beachwood Reporter

Steve Rhodes (Photo: Chicago Newsroom)

There’s one less watchdog keeping an eye on Chicago media these days.

Veteran journalist Steve Rhodes is stepping back after 15 years as media critic for The Beachwood Reporter, the independent website he founded and nurtured as editor and publisher.

“The site is officially suspended in animation until further notice,” Rhodes announced Friday, preferring to call his move a “hiatus” rather than a permanent shutdown. Continue reading

Jim Tilmon 1934-2021

Jim Tilmon

It’s a sign of how much Chicago loved Jim Tilmon that when he retired in 1994, Mayor Richard M. Daley proclaimed it “Jim Tilmon Day in Chicago,” the Federal Aviation Administration named an airway navigation point after him, and United Airlines awarded him the title of “honorary United Airlines captain.”

As one of the nation’s first Black commercial airline pilots, Tilmon spent his entire 29-year flying career with American Airlines. But such was the respect he earned that it even extended to rival airlines.

The pioneering aviator, who also was a trailblazing Chicago television host, weather forecaster, and science and aviation reporter, died Saturday in Scottsdale, Arizona. Tilmon was 86. Continue reading