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.”

Erik Runge

WGN-Channel 9 reporter Erik Runge and his crew from the Nexstar Media Group station got a rude welcome Tuesday when they arrived in Washington, D.C., to cover the presidential inauguration. After briefly stepping away from their locked car, they returned to find the windows smashed and all of their equipment stolen. Police are investigating. WGN declined to comment.

Nick Gale

Nick Gale, morning news anchor at WLS 890-AM, has been promoted to news director of the Cumulus Media news/talk station. The north suburban Glenview native and graduate of Glenbrook South High School and Southern Illinois University joined WLS full-time in 2013. As news director, he succeeds the retiring John Dempsey, whose last day on the air will be January 29. “As the great John Dempsey signs off, it is humbling to even have been considered for the position that he and others synonymous with Chicago radio and WLS have held — think Jennifer Keiper, Steve Scott, Bud Miller,” he said in a statement. “I am proud to say that all have been my mentors over the years.” Gale will continue as anchor for the morning show hosted by Bruce St. James and Judy Pielach. No word yet on a replacement for Dempsey as afternoon news anchor.

Justin Kaufmann

Justin Kaufmann will emcee a “virtual inauguration celebration” from 5:30 to 7:30 tonight on Newsweb Radio news/talk WCPT 820-AM. Hosted by the progressive grassroots coalition Indivisible Chicago, “Everything New is Blue Again” will feature a panel of Democratic U.S. representatives from Illinois — Lauren Underwood, Sean Casten and Marie Newman — moderated by Marj Halperin and Tom Moss. Kaufmann will introduce live improv comedy and special musical performances by Jeff Tweedy, Michael McDermott, Jon Langford and Rashawn Scott. “While we can’t all be together on inauguration night, it’ll be incredibly gratifying to join virtually and celebrate our volunteers who fought through the pandemic to ensure real leadership for this country,” said Darcey Regan, executive director of Indivisible Chicago. The event also will stream live on Facebook, Twitch and multiple websites.

Jack Taylor

With Jack Taylor marking his 75th year on the air in 2021, the legendary Chicago broadcaster wondered aloud this week whether anyone anywhere has been at it longer. Starting in 1946 as an Armed Services Radio announcer at KNOX in Fort Knox, Kentucky, Taylor has never left the business. Since 1950 he’s been a fixture on the air in Chicago, including long runs as staff announcer and principal news anchor at WGN-Channel 9 and host of “The Stock Market Observer” on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26. These days he delivers non-political commentaries, “A Few Minutes with Jack Taylor,” on John Russell’s “Midwest Ballroom” at 5:45 p.m. Saturdays on College of DuPage’s WDCB 90.9-FM. Taylor, 92, recalls his late wife Virginia saying: “You love being on the air. How long will you do it?” His reply: “Until I get it right.”

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Mark Deger: Will truly miss The Beachwood Reporter’s passion, wit and underlying demand that our politicians and media figures be their best and do what is right. Chicago muckraking takes a serious hit.