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.

Dr. Ian Smith

Dr. Ian Smith, the Chicago physician who hosted the syndicated daytime talk show “The Doctors,” is suing the producers for alleged racial discrimination and fostering an “extremely toxic and intimidating” work environment. In a complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New York State Division of Human Rights, Smith charged he was dropped from the show after repeatedly raising concerns about diversity and racism. While the vast majority of the show’s producers were white, Smith’s efforts to diversify the staff and booking of guests were ignored, according to the complaint. Named in the unlawful termination suit are distributor ViacomCBS, production company Stage 29 Productions (which is owned by Dr. Phil McGraw) McGraw’s son Jay McGraw, who heads the firm, and the show’s executive producer Patty Ciano. No response from them yet.

Odette Yousef

Odette Yousef, who’s been a reporter at Chicago Public Media news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM since 2010, has been hired by NPR as national security correspondent, starting August 30. She will continue to report on white nationalism and extremist groups, which also were the subject of an investigative podcast series she hosted last year. Tracy Brown, chief content officer of WBEZ, praised Yousef’s “groundbreaking reporting on extremism, the care she’s given covering communities throughout Chicago, and her versatility as a reporter, on-air host and anchor.” The Harvard graduate worked earlier as a reporter at WABE in Atlanta and as an editorial assistant at NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”

Monica Eng

Monica Eng announced her resignation Tuesday after eight years at WBEZ, where she was the station’s “Curious City” reporter and also covered food, health, cultural and environmental issues. “Her ‘Curious City’ reporting has spanned in-depth reporting on Chicago classics like giardiniera and steak sandwiches, to her ongoing reporting on Chicago’s toxic lead pipes,” according to a statement from WBEZ. Eng, a fourth generation Chicagoan and graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, joined WBEZ in 2013 after 16 years at the Chicago Tribune. Earlier she worked for the Sun-Times and Daily Southtown. Wherever comes next for Eng — and it most certainly will be in journalism — her departure is a big loss for WBEZ.

Jim DeRogatis

Jim DeRogatis, the esteemed Chicago music critic, investigative reporter, author and broadcaster, shares highlights of his career and offers a chilling warning about Lollapalooza in an impassioned interview with “Chicago Media Talks” podcast hosts Charlie Meyerson and Sheila Solomon. (Here is the link.) “We are . . . days away from Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot inexplicably welcoming 100,000 people a day for four days to Grant Park for . . . this corporate music festival,” says DeRogatis. “If we have 5 percent of those 100,000 test positive for COVID, we’re gonna have to shut down Chicago again. Why is this not the lead story on every . . . front page right now?”

Sam Rubin

Sam Rubin, the Hollywood entertainment reporter who’s been a fixture on KTLA in Los Angeles for 30 years, just signed on as a contributor to news/talk WGN 720-AM. Both stations are owned by Nexstar Media Group (which also deploys Rubin nightly on its NewsNation cable network.) Rubin’s show biz reports air at 6:47 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays on Steve Bertrand’s WGN afternoon news show. “These added resources help WGN report and tell stories that other audio platforms can’t deliver,” Mary Sandberg Boyle, vice president and general manager of WGN, told staffers in an email. Dean Richards, longtime entertainment reporter on WGN-Channel 9, continues as a daily contributor to Bob Sirott’s WGN morning show.

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Doug Strickland: Can we please get the TV announcers for both NBC Sports Chicago and Marquee back on the road for calling out-of-town baseball games? If the radio announcers can do it, then why can’t the TV guys? Is it not in the budgets for both broadcast channels to let these guys travel independently from their respective teams? Not near the same quality of broadcast to have announcers calling a game in a studio off monitors and not have their real feel of being in a ballpark themselves for a game.