Robservations: Top bidder for Chicago Tribune called influential liberal donor

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

Hansjörg Wyss

Hansjörg Wyss, the Swiss billionaire who has his sights set on owning the Chicago Tribune, has been a major donor to progressive causes and the Democrats who support them, the New York Times reported Tuesday. Along with hotel magnate Stewart W. Bainum Jr., Wyss has made a $680 million bid for Tribune Publishing, exceeding that of New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital. “As a newspaper publisher, Mr. Wyss would be in a role very different from that of a behind-the-scenes backer of progressive causes,” the Times reported. “If he succeeds in his bid for Tribune Publishing, a chain that includes The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and The Daily News, he could help shape news coverage for millions of readers.” Earlier the Wall Street Journal reported that Wyss ultimately plans to turn over control of the Tribune to a nonprofit trust.

Jeff Ruby

A bad year for Chicago restaurant critics just got worse. Jeff Ruby announced Tuesday he’s quitting as dining critic of Chicago magazine. “Due to the pandemic we haven’t run a dining review in a year, and Jeff let us know that he’s decided to embark on a new career path in another field,” said Susanna Homan, publisher and editor in chief of Chicago. “He’s incredibly talented and we wish him the very best.” Ruby, who joined Chicago in 1997 when he applied on a whim to be the magazine’s dining assistant, was named chief dining critic in 2010. He also spent 11 years as the magazine’s humor columnist. “It’s kind of the only real job I’ve known. And it was a good one,” Ruby tweeted. “But the world has changed a lot in the past year, and so have I. I am ready to move on.” Earlier this year dining critic Phil Vettel left the Chicago Tribune and “Hungry Hound” Steve Dolinsky left ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7.

The Drive

WDRV 97.1-FM, the Hubbard Radio classic rock station, was named winner of a 2021 Crystal Radio Award from the National Association of Broadcasters. The Drive was the only Chicago station among the 10 recipients honored Tuesday at the online NAB Show Premiere. The awards recognize stations for “outstanding year-round commitment to community service.” Winners were chosen from among 50 finalists by a panel of judges from the broadcast industry, community service organizations and public relations firms.

Allison Harris

Allison Harris, a reporter for Fox-owned KDFW in Dallas-Fort Worth, has joined NewsNation, the Chicago-based cable news network owned by Nexstar Media Group. As a correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau, she will cover the White House for NewsNation. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Harris previously worked for KOTV, the CBS affiliate in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and KXII, the CBS/Fox dual affiliate in Sherman, Texas.

WNIJ

WNIJ 89.5-FM, one of two noncommercial public radio stations licensed to Northern Illinois University, will mark its 30th year on the air April 28. To celebrate the milestone, listeners have been invited to share their memories of the station at wnij.org. Throughout the month, “30 Reasons to Love WNIJ” has been airing daily during NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” (Here is the link.)

Manfred Gursch

Manfred Gursch, host of one of the longest running locally produced German-language programs on Chicago radio, died March 26 in Skokie. He was 89. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Gursch hosted “Oesterreicher Rundfunk” for more than 60 years. The show most recently aired from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Saturdays on WKTA 1330-AM, the north suburban brokered ethnic and foreign language station owned by Polnet Communications.

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Trisha Andrews: I’m glad Club Steppin’ is back on the air after almost two years online. Great news for lovers of “dusties.”