Robservations: Pat McGann returns as Emmy host; phone threat clears out WTTW; Bill Zwecker auctions memorabilia

Pat McGann

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago comedian Pat McGann has been tapped to emcee the 63rd annual Emmy Awards ceremony sponsored by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The virtual event will be live-streamed December 5, starting at 7 p.m. It’s a return engagement for McGann, who hosted the event to rave reviews in 2016 and 2020. “I’m thrilled to be hosting the Emmy Awards again,” the South Side native said. “And equally excited to still say to people ‘not that Emmys . . . the Chicago/Midwest Emmys.’ I used that line back in 2016 and even now, in 2021, it’s still true. We won’t be renting a huge tent with chandeliers as the primetime Emmys did. The chapter doesn’t have that kind of money . . . obviously, they hired me.”

WTTW

Just 30 minutes before “Chicago Tonight” went on the air Wednesday, WTTW-Channel 11 became the scene of a news story unfolding in its own studios. A threat called in by an unidentified person had Chicago police surrounding Window to the World Communications, 5400 North St. Louis Avenue, home to public television WTTW and classical music radio WFMT 98.7-FM. Without explanation, employees of both stations were ordered to leave the building at once. A company rep confirmed: “WTTW received a phone threat on October 27. The police were notified, and as of now, there has been no incident.” Area detectives are investigating, according to police.

Bill Zwecker

Bill Zwecker, the longtime celebrity columnist and entertainment reporter, is putting his show biz memorabilia on the block. Leslie Hindman’s Hindman Auctions is handling the sale of hundreds of books, photographs, letters, art work, movie press kits and other promotional items Zwecker amassed over a star-studded career that included 26 years at the Sun-Times. Among items up for bid are a framed, signed copy of Michael Jordan’s memoir, For the Love of the Game, presented to Zwecker on his 50th birthday, and personal notes from Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities. The online auction, “Seeing Stars: Property from the Collection of Bill Zwecker,” will be November 19, starting at 10 a.m. (Here is the link.)

Three radio specials of note airing this weekend in celebration of Halloween:

  • Steve Darnall’s “Those Were the Days” will present its annual Halloween show, including “Suspense: The Devil’s Saint,” “The Shadow: Murder from the Grave,” “Herman’s Cage: The Vampire’s Desire” and episodes of “Boston Blackie,” “Our Miss Brooks” and “Mystery in the Air.” The old-time radio showcase airs Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. on College of DuPage’s WDCB 90.9-FM.
  • Dave Plier’s “Terror on the Air” special, airing Saturday from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Nexstar Media news/talk WGN 720-AM, will feature an interview with Butch Patrick of “The Munsters” and a throwback conversation between the late WGN Radio legend Eddie Schwartz and the late Chicago ghost hunter Richard Crowe. Plier also will air two radio classics — “Suspense: The House in Cypress Canyon” and “Suspense: On a Country Road.”
  • Carl Amari, host of the nationally syndicated “Hollywood 360,” returns to WGN Radio with his live “Halloween Radio Theatre” Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. He will present “Mystery in the Air” with Peter Lorre, “Mystery House” with Bela Lugosi and John Carradine, and episodes of “The Whistler,” “Lights Out!,” “Inner Sanctum Mysteries” and “The Sealed Book.”

Virginia Matos

Virginia Matos, who first joined WLS-Channel 7 as an intern in 2000, has been promoted to executive producer of the ABC-owned station’s 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekday newscasts. She most recently was producer of the 4:30 p.m. newscast. “It’s gratifying that someone who started here as an intern, worked hard and rose through the ranks is now leading the way in such an important role for our newsroom,” said Jennifer Graves, vice president of news at ABC 7. “Her energy and keen understanding of Chicago will continue to be wonderful assets for us.” Born and raised on Chicago’s Northwest Side, Matos graduated from Columbia College and worked two years as a producer at WTVO, the ABC affiliate in Rockford.

Scott Jacobs

Scott Jacobs, a former reporter for the Sun-Times who went on to become an influential video journalist, award-winning documentary producer and prolific blogger and author (under the pen name of Stump Connolly), died of heart failure October 21. He was 71. He was a co-founder of the Chicago-based Center for New Television and editor of the website The Week Behind. “Scott had indelible effects on so many in his professional and personal lives,” recalled his longtime friend and mentor, Tom Weinberg, in a tribute on the Media Burn Independent Video Archive. (Here is the link.) “He was persistent, imaginative, yet remarkably adept at technical and logistic details. ‘Jake’ never stopped having strong opinions or telling everyone his ideas about the way to do things. Many were spot-on. . . . He wasn’t anywhere close to done. It was shocking and way too soon.” Jacobs, a Milwaukee native and Harvard University graduate, began as a reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinel before joining the Sun-Times in 1972.

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Kar Uchima: When “Check, Please!” first came on the air I enjoyed the fact that regular, everyday people came on and raved about their restaurant hangouts. As the popularity of the show rose I noticed that the people chosen seemed to have expensive tastes. The restaurants featured became places most people would not go to unless it was a special occasion. I thought the people chosen started to morph into theatrical types — entertaining but not down-to-earth working people who enjoy a meal away from home while working many hours.