Robservations on the media beat:
Veteran Chicago meteorologist Tim McGill debuted over the weekend on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 as a freelance forecaster. He’s expected to appear regularly over the coming months. Fox 32 parted company in February with Bill Bellis after 10 years as chief meteorologist. Mike Caplan, Kaitlin Cody and Mark Strehl continue on the station’s weather team. McGill, who holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northern Illinois University, had a 28-year run at CLTV and WGN-Channel 9 before Nexstar Media Group pulled the plug on CLTV at the end of 2019. For the past year he filled in at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. “Trust me when I say I’m not trying to set the record for appearing as a meteorologist on as many channels as possible in Chicago,” McGill wrote on chicagoweathertalk.com. “I’m hoping this will be my last stop. I’m grateful they are giving me a chance to do what I love — and that is telling you all about the weather in a city that I love.” The move reunites McGill with Fox 32 news director Matt Piacente, who earlier worked as a producer at CLTV.
Chicago radio treasure Bob Stroud is on the ballot again this year for the Radio Hall of Fame. The top-rated midday star and host of the long-running “Rock ’n Roll Roots” on Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM is a repeat nominee along with “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!,” the NPR comedy-quiz show produced by Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM. They’re among 24 personalities and programs whose nominations were announced today in six categories. (Here is the link to a complete list.) “I’m so thrilled to recognize our 2021 nominees, and look forward to our upcoming in-person induction ceremony in Chicago Thursday, October 28,” Kraig Kitchin, chairman of the Radio Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “We’ll not only welcome 2021 inductees, but we will also welcome and honor the 2020 inductee class on that special evening this fall.” The Radio Hall of Fame is based at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed the report here Friday on the hiring of former Chicago TV reporter César Rodríguez as her new press secretary. Rodríguez, 39, who was raised in the Pilsen and McKinley Park neighborhoods and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, most recently was a correspondent for The E.W. Scripps Company. Earlier he was a per diem reporter for CBS 2 and a reporter and sports anchor for Telemundo WSNS-Channel 44. “I want to thank Mayor Lori Lightfoot for allowing me to serve Chicagoans,” Rodríguez said in a statement. “Chicago welcomed my parents when they immigrated from Mexico in the late ’60s. The City of Big Shoulders gave me the resources to aspire that anything is possible with hard work. Today, as a public servant, I’m here to repay the greatest city in the world with my professionalism and dedication.”
As Chicago’s City Hall press secretary, Rodríguez is hardly the first local journalist to serve as chief spokesperson for the city’s mayor. Since the late ’70s at least six print and broadcast reporters also have held the job. Jacquelyn Heard, Jim Williams and Avis LaVelle worked for Richard M. Daley, Monroe Anderson worked for Eugene Sawyer, and Jay McMullen and Michael Sneed worked for Jane Byrne. Sneed, who promptly returned to newspapers, later referred to her brief tenure in the role as an “undistinguished eyeblink.”
Credit Terence Henderson’s recently redesigned and always excellent T Dog Media blog with insight into the sale June 30 of Wide Open West in the Chicago area to the parent company of RCN. (Here is the link.) The $661 million deal, which affects nearly 75,000 residential and 2,800 business customers in these parts, also includes WOW systems in Anne Arundel, Maryland, and Evansville, Indiana. “The acquisition expands RCN’s footprint in the Chicago area, as the telecom provider serves Skokie, Lincolnwood, Evanston and the Chicago neighborhoods of the Loop, River North and Hyde Park,” Henderson reported. “The sale comes as more and more households are cutting the cord and relying on solely broadband service as both RCN and WOW ended traditional cable installs a few years ago.”
Funeral services were held Sunday for Asher Birnbaum, founder, editor and publisher of Tennis Magazine, who later became editor and publisher of North Shore Magazine. He died Wednesday at 94. Birnbaum, a Northwestern University graduate, was working for the Sun-Times in the ’60s when he struck out on his own to launch Tennis, which he sold to the New York Times in 1971. Along with business partner William Pattis, Birnbaum acquired North Shore in 1978. “He was the consummate editor and a brilliant man,” recalled Randy Young, production manager of North Shore for 16 years. Birnbaum also created a monthly cable version of the magazine, produced and hosted by Mike Leiderman. In 1997 Birnbaum sold North Shore to the parent company of the Sun-Times. Calling his former boss and longtime friend “an under-appreciated media presence,” Leiderman added: “He was a very good man. I’ll miss him. Chicago media will, too.”
Friday’s comment of the day: Guy Postlewait: I cannot fathom working in Lightfoot’s press office. I choose waterboarding.