NBC 5 meteorologist Andy Avalos to retire after ‘wonderful career’

Andy Avalos

After more than three decades on the weather front of two Chicago TV stations, Andy Avalos is ready to ride off into the sunset.

Avalos, 66, announced Friday he’s retiring as primary morning meteorologist at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. Before joining NBC 5 for the first of two runs in 1994, he spent 10 years at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7.

His last day on the air will be August 27, according to Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at NBC 5. Continue reading

Tom Skilling bids farewell to beloved dog Maddie

Maddie (Photo: Sean Lewis)

A poignant and heartfelt tribute by Tom Skilling on the passing of his beloved dog Maddie elicited an outpouring of condolences to the famed Chicago meteorologist.

More than 1,000 people wrote in comments of love and support on Facebook Wednesday after Skilling shared his sadness on the loss of  “a member of our family who has brought us such abiding love and affection and whose absence seems insurmountable at this moment in time.” Continue reading

Robservations: WGN Radio Walk of Fame turns into station giveaway

WGN Radio Walk of Fame

Robservations on the media beat:

WGN Radio Walk of Fame — 2021

There’s a new twist to the strange saga of the WGN Radio Walk of Fame. Launched in 2014 as a promotional gimmick to honor current and former personalities of news/talk WGN 720-AM, plaques for dozens of inductees were embedded in the pavement outside Tribune Tower, then home of the Tribune Broadcasting radio flagship. With the sale of Tribune Tower in 2018, the plaques were removed with talk of eventually securing a “new, suitable home” for them. At some point they wound up in a makeshift graveyard at WGN’s transmitter site in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village. Now comes word WGN has given up on finding a new site and has begun offering the plaques to the inductees. (The idea surfaced after a report here that Marlene Wells, a WGN sales promotion coordinator and 2019 inductee, already had her plaque in her garden at home.) On Tuesday Mary Sandberg Boyle, vice president and general manager of WGN, said: “While we hoped to find a suitable place to display the plaques, when we realized that the honorees would rather be in possession of them, we felt it would be a more fitting tribute to grant their request.” No word yet on how many have accepted the offer. Continue reading

Colin McMahon resigns as Chicago Tribune editor; Mitch Pugh named successor

Colin McMahon

Colin McMahon resigned Tuesday after 18 tumultuous months as the top editor of the Chicago Tribune, citing the need for “an injection of new energy and commitment” to the beleaguered newsroom.

His departure, effective August 20, marks the end of a 34-year run for McMahon, who rose from copy editor to editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune and chief content officer of Tribune Publishing.

His tenure as editor coincided with the takeover of Tribune Publishing by New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital and the departure of scores of journalists through buyouts, resignations and cutbacks. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: WBBM Newsradio, Pat Cassidy back on top

Pat Cassidy (Photo: Karen Kring)

For the first time since February Audacy all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM was the top-rated radio station in Chicago, according to Nielsen Audio figures released Monday.

WBBM Newsradio bumped iHeartMedia R&B WVAZ 102.7-FM to second place overall and also finished first in mornings with Pat Cassidy, afternoons with Keith Johnson and Lisa Fielding, and evenings with Bob Conway and Andy Dahn. Continue reading

Robservations: Justin Kaufmann, Monica Eng join Axios as Chicago reporters

Justin Kaufmann and Monica Eng

Robservations on the media beat:

Justin Kaufmann and Monica Eng, two former pillars of public radio in Chicago, have been hired by Axios as Chicago-based reporters, starting August 16. As part of the company’s growing local news initiative, they’ll write a daily Chicago newsletter, expected to be launched this fall. “Axios is a great new media company and I’m honored to be a part of their Chicago team,” said Kaufmann, who was a producer and host at Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM for the better part of the last two decades. The northwest suburban Chicago native and Columbia College graduate also spent five years on the air at Nexstar Media news/talk WGN 720-AM. “I’ve been itching to get back to telling Chicago stories, so this is a perfect opportunity,” he said. “I’m so happy to be reunited with Monica. She’s a top-notch journalist and storyteller. Her passion for Chicago is unparalleled and she plays a mean 16-inch softball. Dream come true.”

Axios

The feeling is mutual for Eng, who said: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with Justin. I think our skills and personalities will complement each other. I am glad that Axios chose to invest in experienced journalists. I think it shows the importance they’re placing on the Chicago bureau and I’m certain we will deliver.” Eng resigned last month after eight years at WBEZ, where she was the station’s “Curious City” reporter and also covered food, health, cultural and environmental issues. A fourth generation Chicagoan and graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Eng joined WBEZ after 16 years at the Chicago Tribune. Earlier she worked for the Sun-Times and Daily Southtown. “I’ve loved working in legacy newsrooms over the last 35 years, but am excited to dive into this whole new model,” she said. “I see it as highlighting the great work those outlets still do while breaking stories no one else is covering and doing it in super engaging ways.” Continue reading

Mazel tov! Here comes Jewish Chicago: The JUF Magazine

Jewish Chicago: The JUF Magazine

Just in time for the upcoming Jewish New Year (for those keeping track it’ll be 5782) Chicago’s Jewish United Fund is introducing a new name and a new look to its 50-year-old monthly magazine.

Starting with the September edition, JUF News will be rebranded Jewish Chicago: The JUF Magazine. With a monthly circulation of 40,000 and estimated readership of 200,000, it’s billed as the largest-circulation Jewish community publication in the Midwest. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago honors legendary WGN sports editor with ‘Jack Rosenberg Way’

Jack Rosenberg (Photo: Kristy Vicari/WGN)

Robservations on the media beat:

Bob Sirott

Jack “Rosey” Rosenberg, whose name was synonymous with sports on WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM for more than 40 years, is being officially honored by the city of Chicago. The southeast corner of East Illinois Street and Cityfront Plaza Drive near Tribune Tower will be designated “Jack Rosenberg Way,” thanks to a City Council resolution sponsored by Alderman Brendan Reilly. The tribute culminates a six-month campaign by WGN Radio morning star Bob Sirott to honor the beloved and influential sports editor and producer, who died in December at 94. “Jack was very caring,” Sirott said of his friend and mentor. “The first thing he’d always ask was, ‘Everything all right with you and your family?’ Now we have a permanent memorial that will always remind us of a great journalist and an even greater person.” The dedication is set for August 18 at 10:30 a.m. Continue reading

WFMT’s radio rookie scores morning-drive job in San Francisco

Maggie Clennon Reberg

Maggie Clennon Reberg landed her first radio gig in 2015 after she filled out an online application in response to an open call at WFMT 98.7-FM, the Window to the World Communications classical music station.

Now she’s headed for San Francisco — the nation’s sixth biggest media market — where she will host weekday mornings on KDFC, the noncommercial classical station owned by the University of Southern California. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Steady, professional’ Dave Marsett retires from WBBM Newsradio

WBBM Newsradio

Robservations on the media beat:

Dave Marsett

Weekends won’t sound the same on WBBM Newsradio without the authoritative voice and impeccable delivery of Dave Marsett. After 20 years on Audacy all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM the veteran anchorman called it a career Sunday. “It’s time for a change,” said Marsett, 74, on his retirement from radio as well as his other calling as an ordained minister. Marsett’s tenure as a fill-in news anchor at WBBM Newsradio followed a long run as news director at the former Satellite Music Network in Mokena and earlier stops in Buffalo, New York, and Columbus, Ohio, among other places. He began his career out of Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. Colleagues hailed Marsett as “one of our steady, professional and enduring voices,” in the words of sports anchor Dave Kerner. Continue reading