Robservations: A smaller Chicago Tribune ‘may take some getting used to,’ editor says

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

Weekday print editions of the Chicago Tribune shrank from four sections to three and the newspaper’s stand-alone feature section vanished. Those were among this week’s noticeable cutbacks as the newspaper continues to downsize under the new ownership of hedge fund Alden Global Capital (and adjust to the sudden loss of more than 40 newsroom employees through buyouts). Under Alden, Tribune Publishing newspapers were ordered to cut local and feature pages by 20 percent, move up editorial deadlines and halt most special sections, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Colin McMahon, editor-in-chief of the Tribune, outlined the newspaper’s reorganization this week in an unsigned letter to readers. (Here is the link.) “We hope that these changes, while they may take some getting used to, offer you more consistency and predictability in the makeup and order of the newspaper,” it read. “We’ll still have roughly the same amount of news space dedicated to our journalism as opposed to advertising. We measure that in column inches, and that total will be roughly the same.” In a meeting with staffers McMahon said none of the columnists who’ve left the paper will be replaced. Continue reading

Audacy promotes Greg Solk to Chicago programming and operations chief

Greg Solk

Greg Solk, the legendary Chicago radio programmer who has guided some of the industry’s most iconic brands over four decades, was promoted Wednesday to vice president of programming and operations for the Audacy station group here.

Solk, 59, has been brand manager and program director of WXRT 93.1-FM, the Audacy adult album alternative station, since 2017. Before that he was senior vice president of programming for Hubbard Radio and Bonneville Broadcasting. Continue reading

Robservations: WIND moves Sean Hannity off new afternoon lineup

Sean Hannity

Robservations on the media beat:

AM 560 The Answer

Sean Hannity will be relegated to late nights when WIND 560-AM launches a new weekday afternoon lineup on the Salem Media conservative news/talk station. Starting August 16, Charlie Kirk will air from 1 to 3 p.m., Sebastian Gorka will air from 3 to 4 p.m., and Shaun Thompson will air from 4 to 7 p.m. Hannity, whose syndicated radio show has been airing live from 2 to 5 p.m. since 2014, will lose an hour and move to tape-delay from 10 p.m. to midnight. Gorka will follow with another two hours from midnight to 2 a.m. “We are fortunate to have some true rising stars in our lineup,” said Jeff Reisman, regional vice president and general manager of AM 560 The Answer. “The response we’ve received about Shaun, Charlie and Seb has been incredibly positive and overwhelming. We knew it was time to increase their exposure on the station.” Continue reading

Robservations: ABC 7 picks up ‘Tamron Hall’ to replace ‘Windy City Live’

Tamron Hall

Robservations on the media beat:

Tamron Hall’s syndicated daytime talk show is moving to ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, where it will air in place of “Windy City Live” at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, starting September 6. Soon to kick off its third season, the New York-based “Tamron Hall” has been airing here on Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU-Channel 26 and The U since 2019. John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, recalled Hall’s decade as a local news anchor and reporter at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 from 1997 to 2007. “Tamron Hall is an especially well-known and talented personality in our city, and I know our viewers will be excited to watch her show at 1 p.m.,” Idler said. “She already has so many fans in Chicago and we are thrilled to bring her authentic, distinctive and thoughtful conversations to ABC 7.” Hall said in a statement: “My love for Chicago is deep and real. It’s a second home for me and as we know there is no place like Sweet Home Chicago. Moving to the iconic ABC 7 is like winning life’s lottery. I look forward to joining forces with everyone there. I want to thank everyone at WCIU as their support over the past two years has been immeasurable in our success.” The locally produced “Windy City Live” will end its 10-year run as a weekday series September 3. “Tamron Hall” is produced by Walt Disney Television, a unit of ABC 7’s parent company. Continue reading

Robservations: Tribune’s loss is WBBM Newsradio’s gain as digital managing editor

WBBM Newsradio

Robservations on the media beat:

Lauren Hill

As part of a “multiplatform transformation” of its news brands nationwide, Audacy is putting more eggs in the digital news basket of WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM. Lauren Hill, who was a content editor and digital producer at the Chicago Tribune before she left with a buyout last month, has been hired as digital managing editor at the all-news station. Hill starts today in the newly created position. The journalism graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia joined the Tribune in 2014 and most recently was entertainment content editor. Along with managing editor Julie Mann and traffic operations manager Kevin Scott, she’ll report to Ron Gleason, brand manager of WBBM Newsradio. In an email to staffers, Gleason said additional hiring in the coming weeks will include a content producer, two social media and community editors, a managing editor of podcasts and multimedia, and two other podcast producers. Continue reading

Chicago City Hall reporter Bill Cameron to retire from WLS Radio

Bill Cameron

Bill Cameron, who’s reported on every Chicago mayor since Richard J. Daley, has announced his retirement as dean of the City Hall press corps.

“Half-a-century of day-to-day duties on the beat is probably enough,” Cameron tweeted Friday. “Time to go see more national parks!”

August 20 will be Cameron’s last day on the air at WLS 890-AM, the Cumulus Media news/talk station, where he also hosts the weekly public affairs show “Connected to Chicago.” The date also marks his 21st anniversary at the station. Continue reading

Derek Dalton swept out as CBS 2 general manager after investigation

Derek Dalton

Derek Dalton was forced out Thursday as president and general manager of WBBM-Channel 2 as part of a housecleaning of top management at CBS-owned stations in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

The shakeup followed an external investigation into allegations of misconduct by leadership at the stations group. No specific allegations against Dalton were cited in the company’s announcement or disclosed in a staff meeting. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Windy City Live’ founder proud of show’s 10-year run

Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini

Robservations on the media beat:

Emily Barr

In 2011 there was no more daunting task in all of television than replacing “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in its home market of Chicago. That challenge fell to Emily Barr, then president and general manager of ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Defying the odds, she launched “Windy City Live,” an ambitious locally produced talk show featuring a live studio audience each day. Barr hired producers Marlaine Selip and Cindy Patrasso and tapped Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini as co-hosts after months of auditions. “Very proud of the talented staff, past and present, who kept this local show going for 10 years,” Barr wrote on Facebook Wednesday after news of the show’s cancellation broke here. “Every beginning has an ending. So glad I could play a small part in getting this launched. Be proud of what you accomplished!” Barr left ABC 7 in 2012 to become president and CEO of Graham Media Group. Continue reading

ABC 7 cancels ‘Windy City Live’ after 10 years of ‘great television’

Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini

Ten years after it replaced “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on WLS-Channel 7’s daytime lineup, “Windy City Live” is about to get blown away.

The locally produced talk and entertainment show will cease production September 3 with its final airing as a Monday-through-Friday series, according to John Idler, president and general manager of the ABC-owned station.

“As we continue to navigate through our industry’s challenging times, we have had to make a tough business decision to sunset the daily airing of ‘Windy City Live,'” Idler wrote in an email to staff Wednesday. Continue reading

Robservations: NBC 5’s Michelle Relerford follows Olympic hopefuls to Tokyo

Michelle Relerford

Robservations on the media beat:

Calling it “the biggest assignment of my career,” WMAQ-Channel 5 morning news anchor Michelle Relerford arrived in Tokyo Tuesday to cover the 2020 Olympic Games for the NBC-owned station. “For more than a year, I’ve been following local Olympic hopefuls working hard to earn a spot on Team USA,” she said in a statement. “It is an honor to share their journeys, knowing that we could be witnessing history.” Through the closing ceremonies August 8, Relerford’s live reports from Tokyo will air during NBC 5’s 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. newscasts. Also on NBC 5, meteorologist Alicia Roman will host “The Olympic Zone,” a 30-minute nightly wrap-up of Olympics highlights, at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, starting this Thursday. “We’re excited to cover every local angle like never before across multiple platforms to bring our viewers the heart and passion of every story,” said Kevin Cross, president and general manager of NBCUniversal Local Chicago. Continue reading