Robservations on the media beat:
Chris Boden won’t be returning as studio host for Chicago Blackhawks hockey broadcasts on Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM. “After four years, my time with the Blackhawks ends today, informed at season’s end the pre/postgame host position is being eliminated due to COVID-related financial losses,” Boden posted on social media Wednesday. (Here is the link.) “As this chapter ends, this lifelong Chicagoan seeks and looks forward to whatever is next.” The veteran Chicago sportscaster and former Comcast SportsNet Chicago host grew up in south suburban Burbank and graduated from Luther South High School and Columbia College.
Joe Biesk, a former senior content editor at the Chicago Tribune who was among the latest buyout recipients, has been hired as managing editor at Shaw Local News Network based in northwest suburban Crystal Lake. “Joe is an experienced editor with a deep understanding of news in Illinois,” Dennis Anderson, vice president of news and content development for Shaw, said in a statement. “He has led coverage of in-depth stories and investigations. He will elevate our journalism across all of our newsrooms.” Before joining the Tribune’s government and politics team, the graduate of Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting program was an editor at the Daily Southtown, Joliet Herald-News, Post-Tribune and Lake County News-Sun. For Biesk, who began as a reporter for the Northwest Herald, it’s something of a homecoming. “Shaw’s footprint represents a huge swath of Illinois, where there are great stories to tell,” he said. “I’m eager to get to work.”
One gauge of how much the Chicago Tribune has contracted since the buyout bloodbath can be seen in the size of its editorial board. Twenty-five years ago 10 people reported to editorial page editor Don Wycliff. Before the buyouts under editor Kristen McQueary there were six members of the board. This week incoming editorial page editor Chris Jones inherits a board of two members — Clarence Page and Alex Rodriguez. Par Ridder, general manager of Chicago Tribune Media Group, told the Tribune there are “no plans to expand the editorial board at this time.” The editorial board at the Sun-Times now outnumbers the Tribune’s board, with five members reporting to editor Tom McNamee.
Family, friends and colleagues munched on tacos, Mexican rice and beans and churros in the parking lot of WTTW-Channel 11 Wednesday as they saluted Phil Ponce on his long run as host of “Chicago Tonight.” Ponce, 71, who first joined the Window to the World Communications station in 1992, ended his regular appearances on the show this week and moved to special assignments, including guest hosting “Chicago Tonight: Latino Voices,” the Saturday night talk show. Posted Ponce: “Thanks to WTTW and my colleagues for a lovely send-off to the land of semi-retirement!”
Poinesha Barnes, a producer at KXAS, the NBC-owned station in Dallas, has been hired as special projects producer for ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, starting August 9. “Poinesha has an impressive track record producing winning newscasts and specials,” said Jennifer Graves, vice president of news at ABC 7. “She also brings great enthusiasm, leadership and a wealth of ideas to any team effort. She will be an important addition to ABC 7’s special projects and community reporting.” Barnes, a graduate of the University of Mississippi-Oxford, is studying for a master’s in industrial/organizational psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
The opening night concert of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Highland Park’s Ravinia Festival will air live on Window to the World Communications classical WFMT 98.7-FM, starting at 7:45 p.m. on July 9. The performance, led by chief conductor Marin Alsop, will mark the first major post-pandemic classical music event before a full audience in the Chicago area, according to WFMT. “We are excited to celebrate this joyous reopening event with Ravinia, the CSO and all of our WFMT listeners,” said general manager George Preston said in a statement. “This is a watershed moment for all music lovers.”
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Phil Ponce: Chris Jones, “A Man for All Seasons.” I wish him well.