Robservations: WGN drops ‘Chicago’s Best,’ expands ‘GN Sports’ to weekends

Elliott Bambrough and Marley Kayden

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago’s Best

Say goodbye to “Chicago’s Best,” the delicious Sunday night food show on WGN-Channel 9. Co-hosted by Elliott Bambrough and Marley Kayden, it’s been a weekly treat on WGN (and the former CLTV) since its launch in 2010 with original co-hosts Brittney Payton and Ted Brunson. The cancellation, announced Thursday, coincides with the Nexstar Media station’s expansion of “GN Sports” to Saturdays and Sundays starting August 14. With the weekend additions, the sports highlights show will air seven nights a week at 10:30 p.m. A statement from management acknowledged “Chicago’s Best” won many awards and “brought viewers into some of the most interesting restaurants in Chicago,” adding: “We’d like to thank Elliott, Marley and the team that has worked so passionately on the show for so many years.” WGN also announced plans for “Daytime Chicago,” a locally produced magazine show to air at 10 a.m. weekdays, starting this fall. The syndicated talk show “Rachael Ray” is expected to move to afternoons.

WVON

News directors from five Chicago TV stations joined host Perri Small to talk shop Thursday on Midway Broadcasting news/talk WVON 1690-AM. (Here is the link.) One thing they agreed on is how much they dislike one of the defining cliches of their business. Said Frank Whittaker of NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5: “I hate the phrase ‘if it bleeds it leads.’ That was a phrase from many decades ago and we still get tagged with that sometimes. I don’t subscribe to that and I don’t think the others do as well.” Said Jeff Harris of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2: “This notion of ‘if it bleeds it leads’ is so repulsive. We all have to deal with the impressions that we leave upon people and the perceptions that we have. But if you look up on a day-to-day basis, what you see from these TV stations is a lot of enterprise reporting around the subject of violence.” Others on the panel were Jennifer Graves of ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, Matt Piacente of Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, and Dominick Stasi of WGN.

MeTV FM

It’s clear sailing ahead for MeTV FM — at least through the end of the year. The Weigel Broadcasting soft-rock oldies station this week completed adjustments to its transmitter and secured a six-month waiver from the Federal Communications Commission to continue broadcasting at WRME 87.7-FM. July 13 had been 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, won a reprieve to shift to a supplementary analog audio signal.

Hilesh Patel

Invisible Institute, the Chicago-based nonprofit journalism production company, has tapped Hilesh Patel as executive director, starting in September. Patel, who most recently was leadership investment program officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois, had been deputy director of the Hyde Park Art Center and a Civic Leadership Academy Fellow at the University of Chicago. He will succeed Invisible Institute founder Jamie Kalven, who’s stepping down as executive director to continue reporting and providing editorial support. “Hilesh’s commitment to maintaining respect for human rights through various forms of inquiry and storytelling coheres beautifully with our organizational values,” Kalven said in a statement. “I have every confidence that Hilesh will sustain the Invisible Institute by asking critical questions that will further advance our work to hold public institutions accountable.”

Julia Lepidi

The afternoon voice of Chicago’s WBBM 96.3-FM soon will be heard far and wide. Julia Lepidi, whose air shift runs from 3 to 8 p.m. weekdays on the Audacy Top 40 station, has been assigned to host middays for 15 other Audacy stations, including ones in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Buffalo and Milwaukee. The additional duties for Lepidi, effective Monday, are part of the company’s centralized programming strategy for contemporary hit stations, according to Inside Radio. (It’s clearly designed as a money-saving move.) Before joining B96 in 2019 Lepidi worked as morning co-host, nighttime host and promotions coordinator at WDZH in her native Detroit.

Thursday’s comment of the day: Chris Peterson: Nobody was forced to watch that [talk show] garbage, yet they were ratings hits. The market for these shows is determined by the viewers and apparently viewers enjoyed these shows. Producers aren’t to blame for trash TV, viewers are.