Robservations: Jennifer Lyons to keynote Chicago Journalists awards; Dorothy Storck finalists named; WGN News goes its own way; Fox 32 hires reporter Kasey Chronis

Jennifer Lyons

Robservations on the media beat:

Jennifer Lyons, president and general manager of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and formerly one of Chicago’s preeminent news executives, has been chosen as keynote speaker for the Chicago Journalists Association’s 2021 virtual awards ceremony November 19. Lyons was named to the top job at CBS 2 in August, following her tenure as vice president of news at NewsNation, the Nexstar Media Group cable news startup, and news director at Nexstar’s WGN-Channel 9. In her remarks, according to the organization, Lyons will “provide perspective on the current state and future of Chicago’s journalism landscape.”

Chicago Journalists Association

The Chicago Journalists Association also just named three finalists for this year’s Dorothy Storck Award, which honors outstanding work of columnists. Finalists for the $1,000 prize are: Deborah Douglas, co-editor in chief of The Emancipator; John W. Fountain, who writes a weekly column for the Sun-Times, and Neil Steinberg, veteran columnist for the Sun-Times. “I can’t say how excited we are to have Jennifer Lyons, such a well-respected news executive, as our keynote speaker,” said Stephanie Choporis, president of the Chicago Journalists Association. “And the Dorothy Storck Award finalists are once again top-notch. Our CJA board is working hard to put on a fantastic ceremony. We hope you’ll join us for this big night.” The CJA virtual event November 19 also will present a Lifetime Achievement Award to CBS 2 reporter Dorothy Tucker, Chicago Journalist of the Year Award to Block Club Chicago breaking news editor Kelly Bauer, and awards in 14 categories for journalism excellence.

Dominick Stasi

WGN-Channel 9 has pulled out of the latest pool arrangement involving video of local news events shared among Chicago TV stations. It’s similar to a cooperative newsgathering agreement that fell apart after four years in 2013. Dominick Stasi, news director of the Nextstar Media flagship, confirmed his station’s withdrawal Friday. “At the beginning of the pandemic, the Chicago television stations entered into an agreement to share the responsibilities of shooting certain news conferences or events of mutual interest in order to limit our employees’ exposures,” Stasi told me. “With the added protections now in place and the availability of vaccinations, we felt it was the right time to return to our normal procedures of sending our own photographers.”

Kasey Chronis

Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 has moved quickly to replace reporter Brittany Garzillo, who just joined Fox News as a New York-based correspondent. Hired as a new full-time reporter at Fox 32 is Kasey Chronis, who most recently was a reporter at WITI, the Fox affiliate in Milwaukee. Chronis, a Chicago native and graduate of Lane Technical College Prep High School and Indiana University, previously worked for NBC affiliate WNDU in South Bend, Indiana. Matt Piacente, vice president and news director at Fox 32, announced the hiring to staff Friday. Chronis starts here November 29.

Alyssa Donovan

Alyssa Donovan, who joins WGN-Channel 9 as a per diem reporter and per diem meteorologist, starting November 29. Donovan, who grew up in Fox River Grove and graduated from Cary Grove High School and Illinois State University, returns via WRTV, the ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, and KSHB, the NBC affiliate in Kansas City. Earlier she worked for stations in Spokane, Washington, and Peoria, Illinois. “I have been so fortunate to really love each city I’ve had the opportunity to work in,” she wrote on Facebook. “But there’s really no place like home, and I think for people in Chicagoland, there’s no station like WGN. I can’t wait to work alongside some of the best in the business.”

Terri Hemmert

Fans of Terri Hemmert won’t want to miss Dave Hoekstra’s revealing and insightful interview with the Radio Hall of Famer. It’s the latest episode of Hoekstra’s “The State of Sound” podcast series from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. (Here is the link.) Hemmert, now in her 48th year at Audacy adult album alternative WXRT 93.1-FM, describes her early encounters with sexism in radio and credits the late Yvonne Daniels as an inspiration. “She was a true pioneer and doesn’t get enough credit for it,” Hemmert said. “She sounded like herself and that made me want to sound like myself.” The Chicago radio treasure also recalls her ups and downs as overnight host in Rochester, New York, including the night she spent hours on the phone talking a woman out of suicide.

Randy Merkin

Randy Merkin, operations manager and executive producer of Good Karma Brands ESPN sports/talk WMVP 1000-AM, has just released Behind the Glass: Stories from a Sports Radio Producer. (Here is the link.) Published by Rick Kaempfer and David Stern’s Chicago-based Eckhartz Press, the book highlights Merkin’s encounters with athletes, coaches, journalists and celebrities over his three decades in the business. It also offers an inside look at how radio shows are produced and provides expert advice on how to book big-name guests. Merkin, who got his start in radio at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, worked at One-On-One Sports (later known as Sporting News Radio) before joining ESPN 1000 as executive producer of Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman’s midday show in 2007.

Friday’s comment of the day: Mike Leiderman: Having worked with Larry Harmon, I can confirm how much he was disliked. Harmon used the Boston Bozo show to syndicate to markets that didn’t have their own Bozos. The film “A Thousand Clowns,” which came out in the mid 1960s, centered on a TV kiddie show host who hated kids. The character’s name: “Leo Herman.” Not exactly coincidence. The relationship was especially acrimonious with WGN, which had to pay Harmon royalties for its own Bozo show since Larry owned the character which he bought from Capitol Records in the 1950s. Otherwise, the cast and producer – the legendary Al Hall – ignored Harmon, even changing the colors on Bozo’s outfit.