Chicago Public Media to acquire Sun-Times under merger plan with WBEZ

Chicago Sun-Times/WBEZ Chicago

The Chicago Sun-Times would become a subsidiary of Chicago Public Media, nonprofit parent company of WBEZ 91.5-FM, under a “historic partnership” being pursued by the two legacy media organizations.

Confirming a report here, the board of Chicago Public Media voted Wednesday to approve a non-binding letter of intent to “explore joining together as one organization to grow and strengthen local journalism in Chicago.” Target for completion of the merger is the end of this year. Continue reading

Sun-Times, WBEZ officials confirm talks to ‘become a combined entity’

Matt Moog

Top executives of the Chicago Sun-Times and the parent company of public radio station WBEZ 91.5-FM confirmed a report here Wednesday that talks are underway on a partnership agreement between the two organizations.

In separate emails to their staffs, the chief executive officers of the Sun-Times and Chicago Public Media acknowledged their negotiations. Continue reading

Robservations: Sun-Times, WBEZ close to partnership deal, sources say

Chicago Sun-Times/WBEZ Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:

Michael Sacks

The Chicago Sun-Times and public radio station WBEZ 91.5-FM would combine ownership under an agreement that could be announced this week, sources said. The board of Chicago Public Media, nonprofit parent company of WBEZ, is expected to vote on the plan in a closed meeting Wednesday night. Board approval is not assured, sources said, and the deal could still fall through. Officials of Chicago Public Media would not respond to requests for comment. Spearheading the proposal is Michael Sacks, the Chicago businessman who’s been principal investor in the Sun-Times since 2019. While continuing to cover the newspaper’s financial losses, Sacks is said to have been looking for a compatible partner to take over the company. Details of the arrangement — including whether the two newsrooms would continue to operate independently — could not be confirmed. Continue reading

WTMX morning star Eric Ferguson sued for ‘unwelcome sexual relationship’

Eric Ferguson

Radio Hall of Famer Eric Ferguson, longtime morning personality at WTMX 101.9-FM, is being sued by a former assistant producer of his show over allegations of an “unwelcome sexual relationship” in 2004.

Cynthia DeNicolo, who worked for the Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary station until last year, filed the Cook County Circuit Court lawsuit in May, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago Reader celebrates 50th anniversary with gratitude

Chicago Reader

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago Reader (first issue October 1, 1971)

The venerable Chicago Reader will honor its 50th year of publication with special anniversary issues on October 14 and October 28, featuring its origin story and articles focused on the past half-century of award-winning work. As part of the ongoing celebration, a multimedia exhibit of stories, photographs, cartoons and other archival material will be featured at Chicago’s Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street. “The Chicago Reader at 50: A half-century of revolutionary storytelling” will run from October 6 to January 22. The Reader also will mark the milestone with a 50-day giveaway, including theater tickets, a souvenir Reader newsbox, Ben Platt concert tickets, Chicago restaurant vouchers and other items. Founded by four college friends — Bob McCamant, Bob Roth, Tom Yoder and Tom Rehwaldt — and first published on October 1, 1971, the free alternative weekly shifted to nonprofit status in 2020. “We continue to be honored to helm this legendary Chicago newspaper,” co-publishers Tracy Baim and Karen Hawkins said in a joint statement. “And we are very happy to start the 50th anniversary celebrations October 1 with 50 days of ‘Reader Giving.’ This has not been an easy journey to nonprofit status during a pandemic, but we are grateful to our staff, freelancers, supporters, readers and advertisers for staying the course.” Continue reading

Robservations: Zoraida Sambolin to sign off as NBC 5 morning news anchor

Zoraida Sambolin

Robservations on the media beat:

Days after Zoraida Sambolin returned as morning news anchor to WMAQ-Channel 5 following a four-month leave of absence, she’s calling it quits. Sources said next Friday will be her last day at the NBC-owned station. It’s not clear why she’s leaving, but in a Facebook video Monday she said she had been “taking a deep dive into my physical and mental health [and] I just need to take a minute to take care of me. If you know my history, you know I have been sick in the past and I just want to make sure that I stay healthy.” (Here is the link.) Except for a two-year stint with CNN in New York, Sambolin, 56, has been the face of morning news at NBC 5 since 2007. She joined the station as a free-lance weekend news anchor in 2002. Sources said her contract runs through July 2022 so her resignation means she cannot work on the air in Chicago until after that. Continue reading

Robservations: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller signs off as full-time reporter

Steve Miller

Robservations on the media beat:

Steve Miller, who’s been a mainstay of WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM for 38 years, has stepped down from full-time reporting duties at the Audacy all-news station. Starting next month, he’ll return occasionally for fill-in work and special projects. The Texas native and University of Texas graduate joined WBBM Newsradio as a news writer straight out of the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1983. He was promoted to reporter in 1996. “We’ve been blessed with many great reporters over the years, but when it comes to digging for tough-to-find information, I can’t think of anyone better than Steve Miller,” said Ron Gleason, brand manager and news director of WBBM Newsradio. Miller told friends he plans to spend more time at his condo in Hawaii. Continue reading

Chicago’s broadcast museum announces new leadership

Jim Carlton

As the Museum of Broadcast Communications prepares to bounce back after the pandemic and works to redefine its mission, there’s a new boss in the front office.

Jim Carlton, a Chicago brand marketing executive and member of the museum’s board of directors, was named interim executive director Wednesday. He’s the third chief of the nonprofit institution since founder Bruce DuMont stepped down in 2017. Continue reading