Robservations on the media beat:
For Darrin Jackson it’s more than Opening Day as he starts his 22nd season as color analyst for Chicago White Sox baseball broadcasts. Today also marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Ed Farmer, Jackson’s close friend and longtime partner in the radio booth. “This has been the longest year in so many ways,” Jackson told me. “The state of the world, the state of our nation, and we’ve all dealt with personal trials and tribulations. But for me, the loss of Ed’s friendship and love can’t be replaced. I’m sure that I’m one of at least a thousand people who feel this way. Ed was a person who made our world better. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by where I don’t miss him. He was great for the White Sox and better for the community. Other than that, he was just little Eddie Farmer from Chicago.” Farmer, 70, died April 1, 2020, following a long battle with polycystic kidney disease. After an abbreviated 2020 season alongside play-by-play voice Andy Masur, Jackson is teaming with new partner Len Kasper on a new station — Good Karma Brands ESPN sports/talk WMVP 1000-AM.
Block Club Chicago, the must-read neighborhood news site that’s firing on all cylinders, is about to launch a weekly podcast about Chicagoans “helping each other, doing great things and making the city better.” Jon Hansen will serve as executive producer and host of “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast,” set to premiere April 22. The move reunites Hansen with Block Club journalists who worked with him at the former DNAinfo Chicago. Block Club also is looking to hire a part-time producer for its podcast team. (Here is the link.) Hansen continues as host of “The Jam” at Weigel Broadcasting and fill-in host at Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM.
AccuRadio, the Chicago-based online music streaming service, got a jump on April Fools’ Day Wednesday by announcing it was transitioning away from Internet delivery and moving to AM radio. “Liberated from the conventions of online radio, which include a typical spot load of only about four minutes of commercials per hour, in its new competitive environment, AccuRadio on the AM band will be able to field a competitive product even while playing up to 22 minutes of commercials per hour,” the company’s press release facetiously said. Added AccuRadio founder and CEO Kurt Hanson: “Thanks to Rush Limbaugh’s passing, lots of AM stations have become available at affordable prices. While some of us will miss Rush’s insights, perhaps AccuRadio’s diverse music offerings will similarly add to the public good.”
Former Chicago TV news executive Tom Kuelbs died Monday in Cincinnati. He was 79. A Chicago native and graduate of Calumet High School and the University of Denver, Kuelbs worked as a producer at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 before joining ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 as assistant news director. He was promoted to news director in 1980 and spent four years there before joining KHOU, the CBS affiliate in Houston, and later WLWT, the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati. At WLWT Kuelbs was credited with launching Jerry Springer’s career as a news anchor who also delivered nightly commentaries — a role pioneered by Walter Jacobson at CBS 2 here. “I thought it could work for Jerry because it worked for Walter,” Kuelbs told the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1992.
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Gary Lee: Who cares about Audacy? How about the 100 million podcast listeners – and growing? That’s just part of the audio boom, which includes startups like Clubhouse. Rebranding choice aside, Entercom and other traditional radio groups have recognized the need to aggressively compete in the digital audio space. Their survival depends on it. Remember when Clear Channel rebranded as iHeart Media? Same idea.