Radio giant Entercom begins audacious odyssey as ‘Audacy’

Audacy

The parent company of seven Chicago radio stations — including top-rated all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM — officially changed its name Tuesday from Entercom to “Audacy.”

“It’s part ‘audio,’ it’s part ‘audacious’ and it’s part ‘odyssey,'” David Field, chairman of the Philadelphia-based company, explained to news anchor Steve Scott on New York’s WCBS. “That’s the derivation of the name.”

Whether it will resonate with listeners and advertisers or join the corporate ash heap with “tronc” and other famous flops, the rebranding marks the latest effort by a legacy media company to remain relevant. The new name is intended to encompass broadcasting, podcasting, digital, network, live experiences, music sports and news. Continue reading

Robservations: DraftKings acquires VSiN from Chicago entrepreneurs

Brian Musburger

Robservations on the media beat:

DraftKings

VSiN, the Las Vegas-based sports information network founded by a group of Chicago entrepreneurs in 2017, has been acquired by DraftKings, the sports betting operator and technology company. Terms were not disclosed, but principals in the startup, founder and chief executive officer Brian Musburger and chief operating officer Bill Adee, will continue to manage day-to-day operations, according to DraftKings. “We created VSiN as a destination for sports bettors to find the most credible content to help inform their wagering decisions, whether they consider themselves experienced bettors or are just getting started,” Musburger said in a statement. “Harnessing the power and network of the DraftKings brand will allow us to reach an even wider audience with our unique content.” Musburger previously was a Chicago talent agent in practice with his father, attorney Todd Musburger. Adee is a former Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times editor who also headed digital business development at Tribune Publishing. Said Jason Robins, co-founder, CEO and chairman of DraftKings: “In addition to its brand equity among sports bettors and engaging talent roster, VSiN also has an established infrastructure that DraftKings can immediately help expand in the hopes of adding value to consumers in the U.S. who are looking to become more knowledgeable about sports betting.” Musburger’s uncle, legendary sportscaster Brent Musburger, will continue as VSiN’s marquee personality. Continue reading

Robservations: Swiss billionaire steps up to bid for Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

Could an 85-year-old billionaire environmentalist from Wyoming turn out to be the savior of the Chicago Tribune? Hansjörg Wyss, Swiss-born former chief executive of the medical device firm Synthes, told the New York Times he’s joining the effort of Baltimore businessman Stewart W. Bainum Jr. to outbid predatory hedge fund Alden Global Capital for full control of Tribune Publishing. “I don’t want to see another newspaper that has a chance to increase the amount of truth being told to the American people going down the drain,” Wyss was quoted as saying. “Maybe I’m naive, but the combination of giving enough money to a professional staff to do the right things and putting quite a bit of money into digital will eventually make it a very profitable newspaper.” Key to a deal for Bainum and Wyss may be securing the cooperation of Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, who owns enough Tribune shares himself to block an Alden takeover. Continue reading

Robservations: Ex-anchor urges lawmakers to protect local news

Steve Stadelman

Robservations on the media beat:

Steve Stadelman spent 25 years as a TV news anchor and reporter in Rockford before he became an Illinois state senator. Now he’s sponsoring a bill to protect journalism in small towns and mid-sized cities statewide. It would create a task force to study communities underserved by local journalism and make recommendations on how to preserve and restore news coverage in those areas. “As a former journalist and news anchor, I know how important it is to have access to truly local news,” he said in a statement. “People deserve to know what’s happening in their communities regardless of where they live. Your address should not dictate the quality and type of information you have access to. This measure is meant to start a conversation and provide new ideas to help address shrinking press coverage in our communities.” Stadelman worked for ABC affiliate WTVO in Rockford before getting elected as a Democrat in 2012. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN’s Erin Ivory feels ‘tremendously blessed to be alive’

Erin Ivory

Robservations on the media beat:

WGN-Channel 9 reporter Erin Ivory disclosed Wednesday that she has been on medical leave for more than a month and suffered a heart attack during that time. “I have received the most amazing care from the hospital cardiac team and for that I am so grateful,” she posted on social media along with a photo. “I feel tremendously blessed to be alive and finally back home with my family. Please know how much your emails and love has brightened this hard stretch.” Ivory, 46, joined the Nexstar Media Group station in 2011 after two years as a per diem reporter. She and her husband, WGN meteorologist Demetrius Ivory, have four children at home. Dominick Stasi, news director of WGN, said: “We are so glad that Erin is on the mend. Both she and Demetrius are a huge part of the WGN family. We look forward to her return, but in the meantime, we are wishing her a healthy recovery.”

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Life after ‘Chicago Tonight’ still busy for former reporter Eddie Arruza

Eddie Arruza

Two years ago this week Eddie Arruza stepped down as a host and correspondent for WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight,” capping a distinguished 15-year run at the Window to the World Communications public television station.

While co-workers and admirers were sad to see him go, the veteran Chicago newsman insists he’s had no second thoughts about his move. Continue reading

Robservations: Jamie Kalven stepping down as Invisible Institute director

Jamie Kalven

Robservations on the media beat:

Jamie Kalven, the renowned independent investigative journalist and human rights activist whose reporting first brought the police shooting of Laquan McDonald to public attention, is stepping down as executive director of the Invisible Institute. “It’s time to make way for the next generation of leadership,” said Kalven, who launched the Chicago-based nonprofit journalism production company in 2014. “When you love your work and colleagues as much as I do, there is a danger you will overstay and thereby cast shade that stunts the growth and impedes the flourishing of others. Over time, I have come to understand my role as one of stewardship. That role is best fulfilled at this juncture by stepping aside.” Kalven said he’ll continue full-time reporting and providing editorial support to colleagues. The organization’s board has launched a search for his successor. (Here is the link.) Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: News rules again with WBBM, WBEZ on top

Keith Johnson and Lisa Fielding

Entercom all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM held onto the top spot overall in the latest Chicago radio ratings while Chicago Public Media news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM reprised its first-place finish in morning drive.

Nielsen Audio figures released Monday also showed WBBM Newsradio first in middays with Cisco Cotto, first in afternoons with Keith Johnson and Lisa Fielding, and first in evenings with Bob Conway and Andy Dahn. Continue reading

Onetime listener Shaun Thompson moves up to afternoon host at WIND

Shaun Thompson

Twelve years after he began calling in to talk radio shows as a listener, Melrose Park native Shaun Thompson has been named afternoon drive host at WIND 560-AM, the Salem Media Group news/talk station.

Thompson, who’s been a weekend and fill-in host at AM 560 The Answer since 2016, premieres today from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, replacing Steve Cortes, who held the job since January 2020. Continue reading