Robservations on the media beat:
Monday marked the relaunch of “The Why,” a one-hour primetime news program originating from the Chicago studios of Newsy, the free 24/7 broadcast news network owned by E.W. Scripps Company. Billed as going “beyond the headlines with hyper-visual explanatory journalism and compelling guest interviews,” it airs at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. “We are going to provide viewers with the kind of information that offers insight into the complex issues of the day,” host Tatevik Aprikyan, a former Seattle news anchor, said in a statement. “It’s the kind of work that journalists live for. It’s a chance to make a difference for our audience.” Executive producer of “The Why” is Hank Mendheim, former executive producer of “Windy City LIVE” on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Senior producer of Newsy is Andrew Herrmann, former managing editor of the Sun-Times and former senior editor of DNAinfo Chicago. In addition to over-the-air TV (including Channel 38.7 in Chicago), Newsy is available at Newsy.com and on a variety platforms including Apple TV, Fire TV, Pluto TV, Roku, Samsung, Sling, Vizio and Xumo.
George Will, the longtime political commentator and Washington Post columnist, has joined NewsNation, Nexstar Media’s Chicago-based cable news network, as senior contributor. The company said he will play a key role in coverage of the upcoming midterm elections. “NewsNation meets a national need for news delivered without political agendas, clenched fists and raised voices,” Will said in a statement. “It offers news leavened by a sense of the complexity and grandeur of American history: this nation was not made by flimsy people, and it is not flimsy.” After three decades with ABC News, Will served as a contributor to Fox News from 2013 to 2017.
Goli Sheikholeslami, president and chief executive officer of Chicago Public Media from 2014 to 2019, has been named CEO of Politico Media Group, starting in February. She most recently was president and CEO of New York Public Radio. “What I admire most about Politico is the tenacity that underpins the organization’s fearless, fact-based journalism and its successful business model,” Sheikholeslami said in a statement. “With this strong foundation, no other media organization is better positioned for growth.” Her appointment is the first major hire by German publishing giant Axel Springer, which bought Politico last year for more than $1 billion.
Rummana Hussain, assistant city editor on the news desk at the Sun-Times, has been appointed to the newspaper’s editorial board. “We are very happy to have her come over to join us and look forward to the fresh perspective and ideas she will undoubtedly bring to our daily discussions,” editorial page editor Lorraine Forte told staffers in an email. Before being named assistant metro editor in 2017, Hussain spent 16 years as a reporter at the Sun-Times, including a long run on the criminal courts beat. Earlier she was assistant to columnist Michael Sneed. The Chicago native previously worked for the Chicago Tribune and City News Bureau.
Clare Lane, who signed off last month as afternoon traffic anchor at Audacy all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM, has joined Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM full time as a weekend reporter and substitute weekday news anchor. “Swapping my #ChicagoTraffic @WBBMNewsradio microphone for dual anchor/reporter role @WBEZ,” she tweeted. “Thanks to everyone who listens, has listened and who will soon enough. Find me down the dial. 91.5 FM.” Lane previously worked at WBEZ as a “Morning Shift” intern, production assistant and “Weekend Edition” host.
Danny Zederman, who’s been a top producer at WMVP 1000-AM since 2006, has been promoted to director of content at the Good Karma Brands ESPN sports/talk station. Randy Merkin continues as operations manager of ESPN 1000. Zederman most recently was executive producer of David Kaplan and Jonathan Hood’s morning show. He also hosts the health and fitness podcast “Armchair Nutritionist.” Before joining ESPN 1000, Zederman was a producer at Audacy sports/talk WSCR 670-AM.
Salem Media news/talk WIND 560-AM has realigned its news and traffic operations following the expiration of its agreement with Total Traffic and Weather Network and NBC News Radio. Mike Scott, who’s been morning news anchor on WIND since 2004, will take on additional duties in his new role as news director and will anchor Salem Podcast Network’s “Daybreak Insider.” Joining WIND as afternoon news anchor via Remote News Service is JoAnn Genette, former news and traffic anchor at several Chicago stations. Also added is afternoon traffic reporter Jill Urchak, a 28-year veteran of Chicago radio traffic.
Grace Goudie, executive chef of Scratchboard Kitchen in Arlington Heights, will compete tonight on Food Network’s “Chopped,” starting at 8 p.m. The Hinsdale native and daughter of ABC 7 investigative reporter Chuck Goudie graduated from the Accelerated Culinary Arts Program at The Culinary Institute of America. “I’ve dreamt of being on Food Network since I was 12 years old and decided I wanted to be a chef,” she posted on Instagram. “Well . . . I. DID. IT.”
Highly recommended reading: Mark Jacob, a former editor at the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times who now oversees the Medill Local News Initiative website at Northwestern University, has chronicled what he sees as a dramatic restructuring in Chicago journalism “that has turned the nation’s third-largest media market into a center for news experimentation.” (Here is the link.) “While the city’s media have seen brutal job cuts in recent years, including a dramatic downsizing at the Chicago Tribune, a sense of rebirth and optimism prevails,” Jacob wrote in his survey of the local news scene. “Longtime observers talk about ‘an explosion of media’ that makes it ‘more exciting than it’s ever been.’”
Dick Stone, the longtime Chicago journalist who served as news director of WIND and the former WCFL before he became a political consultant and media strategist, died Friday after a long illness. He was 80. Early in his career he worked for City News Bureau and became one of the youngest foreign correspondents hired by UPI, where he served as bureau chief in Jakarta, Indonesia. Born on Chicago’s West Side, Stone graduated from Highland Park High School and attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier. He was married to Fran Spielman, City Hall reporter for the Sun-Times. The couple met when they worked together at WIND.
Monday’s comment of the day: Scott Knitter: Again, wow and hooray for WBEZ. I remember the days when public radio was in the basement, routinely. Not here. It’s a good thing.