Robservations on the media beat:
Still reeling from the sudden departure of its news director, “NewsNation” just lost its best known and most experienced reporter. Dean Reynolds signed off Friday after six months as national political correspondent for the Chicago-based newscast on Nexstar Media Group’s WGN America. Over a distinguished 50-year career, Reynolds was a correspondent for CBS News and ABC News and covered the White House for CNN and United Press International. Reynolds, 72, told me he agreed to a six-month contract in August because he intended to work only through the presidential election and inauguration. “It just ran out. I’m totally fine with that. I have nothing but gratitude for them,” he said, adding: “But I get why the timing looks kind of funny.” Others say Reynolds is getting out just in time. His exit follows the resignation of Sandy Pudar as news director of NewsNation. Pudar declined to comment, but sources said she quit over interference by Bill Shine, the former Fox News senior executive and former White House communications director under President Donald Trump. Unbeknownst to the staff (until Pudar quit), Shine was working as a consultant to WGN America boss Sean Compton since June. NewsNation launched September 1 with a promise to be “100 percent absent of bias,” in the words of Nexstar chairman and CEO Perry Sook.
It’s over and out for Bill Bellis as chief meteorologist at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. He delivered his final forecast Friday. “Bill has helped the people of Chicago survive many historic weather events,” news director Matt Piacente told staffers in an email. “He has done some extraordinary work for us and will be greatly missed. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.” No word on a replacement for Bellis, whose contract was not renewed. Mike Caplan, Kaitlin Cody and Mark Strehl continue on the station’s weather team. “The last 10 years have been amazing at Fox 32. Nothing but true professionals and great friends,” Bellis told me. “I will miss them dearly.” A native of Long Island, New York, and graduate of the University of Arizona, Bellis joined Fox 32 in 2011 from KNXV, the ABC affiliate in Phoenix.
Hector Lozano, who was laid off last month after more than 25 years as sports anchor at Univision Chicago WGBO-Channel 66, has landed at the competition. Starting in March Lozano will join Telemundo Chicago WSNS-Channel 44, working alongside sports anchors Rodrigo Arana and Raúl Delgado on the 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts. “We’re excited to welcome Héctor to the Telemundo Chicago team,” Diana Maldonado, vice president of news for Telemundo Chicago, said in a statement. “He brings great talent, passion and experience to our dedicated sports department and newsroom. We cannot wait for our viewers to meet him.” A native of Guanajuato, Mexico, who attended Columbia College Chicago, Lozano also worked as sports talk host and play-by-play announcer on Univision sports/talk WRTO 1200-AM.
President’s Day brings news of a timely new podcast series narrated by Bill Kurtis and featuring conversations with laureates recognized by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois for leadership and service to humankind. “‘The Lincoln Laureates’ podcast is the Lincoln Academy of Illinois’ way of introducing these honorees to a global podcast audience,” said Julie Kellner, executive director. “The podcast will also serve as an audio textbook that will deepen the value of the honor that laureates have brought to Illinois.” (Here is the link.) Among those in the first season are George Will, Emily Bear, James Lovell, Sheila C. Johnson and Ryne Sandberg. Kurtis, who’s a Lincoln Laureate himself, is interviewed for the series by Bill Plante, the retired CBS News correspondent. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and the TuneIn App, it’s produced by Todd Manley’s EarSight Studios. “This series captures the living history of remarkable leaders, and the inspiring stories that forever link them to Illinois,” Manley said.
Tony Shute, longtime executive producer at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, has announced plans to retire at the end of May. Shute joined ABC 7 in 1988 after eight years as a writer and producer at former Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM. A native of Cleveland, he’s a graduate of Northwestern University School of Speech. Jennifer Graves, news directot at ABC 7, called Shute “one of the most respected voices in our newsroom,” adding: “His knowledge about news and events is vast as he’s documented Chicago history for 40 years. . . . What Tony has covered through the years is truly impressive.”
Friday’s comment of the day: Dave Connell: I have watched “Chicago Tonight” since the ’80s with John Callaway and I still think the show holds up. Over the years with the different hosts it still seems to me to be good. Nice to see people that care enough about their product to call another out when they could potentially be flushing years of work down the toilet. Takes years to build a respectable brand, but nowadays with social media, about five seconds to ruin it.