Robservations on the media beat:
Remember Amy Freeze? From 2007 to 2011 the aptly named weather forecaster gained a wide following at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, where she was the first female chief meteorologist on Chicago TV. Now she’s just been hired as an anchor for Fox Weather, a new 24/7 advertiser-supported video-on-demand streaming weather service, set to debut October 25. (Here is the link.) Freeze signed off Sunday after 10 years as weekend meteorologist at WABC, the ABC-owned station in New York. Before joining Fox 32, Freeze worked for stations in Philadelphia, Denver and Portland, Oregon. The native of Provo, Utah, is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Another chief meteorologist on the move is Albert Ramon, who’s bailing out of NewsNation, Nexstar Media’s Chicago-based cable news channel. Following the departure of news anchor Rob Nelson, Ramon is the second of the network’s four original on-air hires to resign in recent weeks. Before joining NewsNation in 2020, the Texas native worked at KVUE, the CBS affiliate in Austin, and KZTV, the CBS affiliate in Corpus Christi. At the time of his hiring Ramon was billed as “the only Latino chief meteorologist on national television.” NewsNation officials declined to comment on Ramon’s departure. No word yet on a successor.
Actor David Arquette has acquired ownership of the character of Bozo the Clown from Larry Harmon Pictures. Harmon, who died in 2008, bought the licensing rights from Capitol Records in 1956. Arquette plans to open an Empire Circus festival in New York, featuring a choose-your-own-adventure experience along with Bozo. “Bozo represents a world of love, light and laughter. Something we can all use more of right now,” Arquette said in a statement. “There is a Bozo inside each and every one of us, and letting our Bozo out will help make the world a brighter place.” In Chicago, the beloved “Bozo’s Circus” ran for 40 years on WGN-Channel 9 (now owned by Nexstar Media), where it became the most popular and successful locally produced children’s show in the history of television, according to WGN’s Dean Richards. The show was canceled in 2001 but the station continues to feature Bozo as a goodwill ambassador at parades and special events.
Regional Emmy Award nominations were announced online this week by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. (Here is the link.) One notable nominee is “Countdown Chicago 2021,” the New Year’s Eve show on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, in the category of special event coverage. Perennial hosts Janet Davies and Mark Giangreco were cut by ABC 7 earlier this year. The virtual 63rd annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards ceremony is tentatively scheduled for November 20.
In addition to high school football and basketball, Weigel Broadcasting now adds soccer coverage to its partnership with Chicago Public Schools. The city’s boy’s soccer championship game will air live from Lane Tech College Prep High School at 7 p.m. next Thursday on WMEU-Channel 48.1 and WCIU-Channel 26.2. Also on Weigel’s “Game of the Week” look for former Chicago Bear Emery Moorehead to turn up with Jim Blaney, Jack McInerney and Kenny McReynolds in the booth for the Simeon vs. Morgan Park public league football game at 1 p.m. Saturday. Executive producer Fred Weintraub said Moorehead “brings the kind of expert analysis on what high school students need to do to be successful on the field and what they need to focus on in college.”
Mark Caro, the former entertainment reporter for the Chicago Tribune, just launched Caropop, a new podcast and website featuring extended conversations with creative people. (Here is the link.) The opener is an interview with Caro’s favorite guitarist, singer-songwriter, Richard Thompson. Among future subjects, to be posted each Thursday, are Bruce Thomas, estranged bassist of Elvis Costello and the Attractions; Kathy Valentine, bassist for the Go-Go’s; Lonnie Jordan, singer-songwriter-keyboardist for War; and Riccardo Muti, conductor and music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “The site also features posts taking the form of columns, reported pieces, reflections on music I’m loving, blog items, all sorts of stuff,” Caro added.
Former Chicago Tribune sportswriter and columnist Fred Mitchell was among the speakers Monday at a celebration of life for Gale Sayers, the former Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back, in Nappanee, Indiana. Sayers died on September 23, 2020, after battling dementia, but the service was delayed by COVID-19 restrictions. Mitchell, who wrote the 2007 biography Gale Sayers: My Life and Times, now teaches journalism as an adjunct professor at DePaul University. “I was humbled when his widow, Ardie, asked me to speak,” he wrote on social media. Condolences also were read from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Pro Football Hall of Fame director David Baker.
Mike Kasper, former afternoon personality at Audacy country WUSN 99.5-FM, has landed as program director and afternoon host at WPGB, the iHeartMedia country station in Pittsburgh. Kasper was among dozens of staffers cut in April in a mass layoff at Audacy Chicago stations (then branded as Entercom Chicago). Kasper, who goes by his last name on the air, began his career in his native Youngstown, Ohio. He joined US 99 in 2016 from Richmond, Virginia, where he was afternoon host, assistant program director and music director at WRVQ.
A programming note: As you may have noticed, reader comments have been missing from this blog since last week due to a glitch in the Facebook comments module. I’m hoping they’ll be restored soon. Comments are also welcome on my public Facebook page. (Here is the link.)