Mary Schmich bids farewell to Chicago Tribune in buyout exodus

Mary Schmich

With the wisdom, humility and grace that shined through every column she wrote, Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Schmich bowed out Saturday after 36 years with the Chicago Tribune.

In posting a pitch-perfect farewell to readers, Schmich joined the exodus of marquee talent to opt for voluntary buyouts under Alden Global Capital, the newsroom-slashing hedge fund that acquired Tribune Publishing. Continue reading

ESPN 1000 set to launch FM simulcast on new HD2 channel

ESPN Chicago

WMVP 1000-AM, the ESPN sports/talk station and radio home of Chicago White Sox baseball, is set to launch its first FM digital transmission with a full-time simulcast on an HD2 channel.

Good Karma Brands, which operates ESPN 1000, has signed a local marketing agreement with Hubbard Radio to broadcast 24/7 on 100.3 HD2, a previously dormant HD2 channel associated with adult contemporary WSHE 100.3-FM. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago magazine loses top editor, senior writer in Tribune buyouts

Susanna Homan

Robservations on the media beat:

Bryan Smith

Susanna Homan, editor-in-chief and publisher of Chicago magazine, is leaving the city monthly owned by Tribune Publishing, making her the highest ranking employee to exit in the company’s current round of voluntary buyouts. “I am so proud of the work that we’ve done together in the last five years and look forward to even greater things from my extraordinary colleagues,” Homan said Wednesday. The former social columnist for the Sun-Times launched Michigan Avenue and Splash magazines before she took on the top job at Chicago magazine in 2016. Among others taking buyouts from Chicago is senior writer Bryan Smith. The celebrated journalist and author was a reporter for the Sun-Times before joining the magazine in 2003. Continue reading

Eric Zorn adds his name to Chicago Tribune’s ‘tremendous loss of talent’

Eric Zorn (Photo: Chicago Tonight/WTTW)

Eric Zorn, a mainstay of the Chicago Tribune for more than 40 years and one of its most prominent progressive columnists, just became the latest to join the exodus of top talent from the newspaper.

“I’ve decided to put in for the latest buyout offer, one that will have me leaving at the end of next week,” Zorn, 63, announced in his weekly email newsletter Wednesday. It will mark the end of an exemplary run for a true Chicago media treasure — and one of the most decent fellows you’d ever want to know.  Continue reading

Chicago’s Invisible Institute shares Pulitzer Prize for national reporting

Jamie Kalven

Invisible Institute, the Chicago-based nonprofit journalism production company, won its first Pulitzer Prize Friday for its work on a year-long investigation of K-9 units and the damage that police dogs inflict on Americans.

Along with the staffs of The Marshall Project, Alabama Media Group and the Indianapolis Star, Invisible Institute was cited in the national reporting category. It was the sole Chicago winner among the 2021 honorees. Continue reading

Robservations: Owner says MeTV FM will ‘live and thrive’ despite FCC deadline

MeTV FM

Robservations on the media beat:

Paul Koplin

Great news for fans of MeTV FM: Weigel Broadcasting’s popular soft-rock oldies station at WRME 87.7-FM won’t be going away any time soon, according to owners of the low-power analog station. The Federal Communications Commission had set July 13 as the deadline for all low-power Channel 6 TV stations operating as radio stations on 87.7 FM to cease broadcasting. But Venture Technologies Group, which owns the license for the frequency, confirmed Thursday it has devised a technical solution to keep MeTV FM on the air. Paul Koplin, CEO of Venture Technologies, said the FCC has approved the company’s plans to keep its station on in San Jose, California, with the same fix currently under way in Chicago. “The only entity to oppose this has been NPR because they don’t want any signal left of their dial,” Koplin said. “We still need to make this a permanent solution. But in the meantime, MeTV FM will live and thrive, and we are lucky to have someone like Neal Sabin [vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting and creator of MeTV FM] entertain us.” In the latest Nielsen Audio survey MeTV FM ranked 10th overall with a 3.2 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 509,300. Continue reading

Robservations: Roe Conn makes ‘unexpected pivot’ to job in sheriff’s office

Roe Conn (Photo: ABC 7 Chicago)

Robservations on the media beat:

Roe Conn, the veteran Chicago broadcaster, has joined the Office of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart as a senior project manager. He’s currently working on a crime analytics team specializing in vehicular hijacking and roadway shootings. “It’s definitely an unexpected pivot, but Chicago is where I’m from and where I always want to be,” Conn, 57, told me. “It’s been the honor of a lifetime to be part of Chicago’s radio landscape – especially on two of the continent’s most legendary stations. But our town is facing a tough battle ahead and I couldn’t be more proud to get the chance to work alongside these amazing men and women who try to make our streets safer and our city better.” Conn, who hosted afternoons on Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM and Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM, continues as a contributor to “Windy City Live” on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and co-host of “Screen Time with Roe & Roeper,” a twice-weekly podcast with Richard Roeper. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Wendy and Ray Show’ debuts Saturday night on WLS

Wendy Snyder and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens

Robservations on the media beat:

Wendy Snyder and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, two of the most likable personalities on Chicago radio, are getting their own weekly show on WLS 890-AM. Starting this weekend, “The Wendy and Ray Show” will air from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturdays on the Cumulus Media news/talk station. They’ve been co-hosting a podcast since Snyder’s former partner, Bill Leff, left to focus on TV work. “After many years of seeing each other at concerts and charity events Wendy and I finally get a chance to work together,” Stevens told me. “The weekend show on WLS AM 890 will be hyper local and will cover everything from block parties to the Bears. This is a true Chicago show hosted by two lifelong Chicagoans. As Chicago opens back up, we want to be there as you get ready for your Saturday night. Chicago needs a little fun on the radio and we hope to provide.” Continue reading