‘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

Three jobs cut in ‘incredibly painful’ layoffs at Univision Chicago stations

Univision Chicago stations

Veteran sports director Hector Lozano and midday co-host/entertainment reporter Aureliano “Auri” Salgado were among three longtime staffers at Univision Chicago who lost their jobs this week in a companywide restructuring.

Both Lozano and Salgado were 26-year employees of the Spanish-language media company.

Lozano doubled as sports anchor at WGBO-Channel 66 and sports talk host and play-by-play announcer on sports/talk WRTO 1200-AM. Salgado co-hosted middays on regional Mexican WOJO 105.1-FM alongside Rafael Bautista. Continue reading

Connor McKnight to host White Sox pregame, postgame shows on ESPN 1000

Connor McKnight

Chicago sportscaster Connor McKnight has been hired as host of Chicago White Sox baseball pregame and postgame shows on WMVP 1000-AM, the Good Karma Brands ESPN sports/talk station and the team’s new radio home.

The former midday co-host on Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM joins a broadcast team that includes play-by-play announcer Len Kasper and color analyst Darrin Jackson.

As part of his new deal, announced today, McKnight also will call play-by-play with Jackson in the radio booth when Kasper fills in on NBC Sports Chicago. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago news bosses warn journalists to be careful out there

Rioters damage media equipment outside U.S. Capitol January 6 (Photo: Associated Press/Jose Luis Magana)

Robservations on the media beat:

In the wake of attacks on reporters at the U.S. Capitol uprising January 6 and the continued threat of violence against journalists nationwide, Chicago area news organizations are on high alert this week. “Your safety is paramount,” Chicago Tribune editor-in-chief Colin McMahon wrote in an internal memo to staffers Wednesday. “If a journalist feels uncomfortable about an assignment — before, during or after — that journalist should raise those concerns immediately. Your assigning editor is there to listen and work with you, and if you feel an assignment is too risky, you will not be placed on that assignment. If you already are on the scene, you should feel free to break off that assignment.” An online training session for Tribune staffers will be held Friday on “Updated Safety Strategies & PPE for High Risk Assignments: Large Crowds, Demonstrations, Political Rallies and Riots with Escalating Crowd and Police Actions & Lessons Learned from Capitol Riot.” At ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, news crews are being urged to cut back on live shots and take other measures to reduce their exposure. “When we have the option, let’s package or do a ‘look live’ instead of being live,” read an internal memo from ABC 7 newsroom management. “You may want to limit the wearing of clothing, face masks etc. with our logo on them. You also may take off the mic flag if you feel it’s drawing attention.”
Continue reading

Robservations: WLS Radio owner Cumulus Media forbids talk of ‘stolen elections’

WLS 890 AM

Robservations on the media beat:

Bruce St. James

Cumulus Media, parent company of conservative news/talk stations nationwide including Chicago’s WLS 890-AM, has ordered its talk show hosts to refrain from spreading lies about the presidential election. In an internal memo first reported by Jerry Del Colliano’s Inside Music Media, Cumulus Media content chief Brian Philips threatened to fire any host who questions the legitimacy of the 2020 vote. “Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended,” Philips wrote on the day of the U.S. Capitol riot. “The election has resolved, there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ Please inform your staffs that we have ZERO TOLERANCE for any suggestion otherwise. If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately. There will be no dog-whistle talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘civil wars’ or any other language that infers violent public disobedience is warranted, ever.” Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Media Chicago, confirmed the memo’s content, adding: “Bottom line: We want our talent on all Cumulus stations to deal with facts and not conjecture. No issues with our local talent.” Bruce St. James, who succeeded inveterate conspiracy monger Erich Mancow Muller as WLS morning host last month, said: “We all received the local version of the memo which reminded us of the responsibility we have to our community to be honest, truthful and factual. Thankfully, our show does not, has not and will not peddle in conspiracy theories, nor lie to the audience to gain favor. In that vein, this directive won’t impact us at all.” The big question is whether the company’s syndicated hosts also will obey the edict. Hello, Mark Levin? Continue reading

Robservations: Len Walter signing off after 52 years at WBBM Newsradio

Len Walter

Robservations on the media beat:

Len Walter, dean of Chicago business reporters and the first journalist to broadcast regularly from the Midwest Stock Exchange, has announced his retirement after 52 years at Entercom all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM. His last day on the air as financial editor will be January 22. The Elmhurst College graduate joined WBBM Newsradio from Detroit’s WJR in 1969. Walter, 82, said he plans to move with his wife to their home in Naples, Florida. “To be able to work as a journalist for the bulk of my career has been a blessing,” he told me. “It’s what I wanted to do since I was a youngster and was fortunate to be able to gear my education toward that end. In this era of world turmoil, it’s critical that listeners hear the unvarnished truth presented without bias. That is what they get at WBBM from an amazing staff of principled professionals.” Calling Walter “synonymous with Chicago business,” Ron Gleason, brand manager of WBBM Newsradio, said: “We will miss his authoritative voice, his business acumen, and his love of radio reporting.” Continue reading

Robservations: MeTV rises and shines with ‘Toon In With Me’

Toony and Bill Leff

Robservations on the media beat:

History will note that Bill Leff took his first pie in the face on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Undoubtedly there are more to come. “Toon In With Me,” the hourlong cavalcade of sketch comedy and Looney Tunes cartoons at 6 a.m. weekdays on MeTV, is off to a sensational start. With Leff joined by talking fish sidekick Toony and human castmates Kevin Fleming and Leila Gorstein, the show’s premiere Monday was seen by more than 500,000 viewers nationally. In Chicago “Toon In With Me” beat CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and tied NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 in key adult demographics, according to Nielsen numbers. Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting and creator of “Toon In With Me,” and Leff will make a joint appearance Sunday with Fred Weintraub and Hannah Stanley. “The Hannah and Fred Show” airs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays on Evanston Broadcasting news/talk WCGO 1590-AM/95.9-FM. Calling Sabin and Leff “two of the smartest minds in television who aren’t afraid to stretch the limits of creativity,” Weintraub said: “I can only imagine what they’ll do on the show and what voices we might hear.” Continue reading