Robservations on the media beat:
Patrick Elwood, a genial general-assignment reporter at Nexstar Media WGN-Channel 9, has been named midday news co-anchor with Dina Bair, starting Monday. He succeeds Julie Unruh, who resigned in November after 20 years at WGN. A Chicago native and fourth-generation South Sider, Elwood joined WGN in 2013 after 15 years as a reporter and news anchor at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. “Between my dedicated colleagues and the work environment fostered by my bosses, every day offers a challenge to create journalism that makes a difference in all of our lives,” he said in a statement. “I am looking forward to making an impact in joining the team.” WGN Midday News airs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays.
Kate Van Etten has resigned as associate publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business to join the global software company Acrolinx as enterprise account director. Van Etten began at Crain’s in 2006 as an account executive and rose to sales manager and advertising director before being named associate publisher in 2020. In a related move, Crain’s has promoted Sarah Chow, a 15-year veteran of the company, from director of custom media to sales director. “Kate has been a terrific partner these past three years and we’re sad to see her go. We wish her nothing but success,” Jim Kirk, publisher and executive editor of Crain’s, said in a statement. “Fortunately we have a deep bench of terrific talent and couldn’t be more thrilled that Sarah is taking on this important leadership role as Crain’s continues to grow and thrive.”
Jesse Kirsch, who signed off in November as a reporter for ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, has joined NBC News as a Cleveland-based correspondent. He’ll report for all NBC News and MSNBC programs, according to the network. “I’m beyond lucky to count myself among those who can say they’re living their childhood dreams!” he tweeted. “So excited to announce I’ve become a peacock and can’t wait to share stories with you @NBCNews @MSNBC!!” he tweeted. Kirsch, who was hired straight out of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism as ABC 7’s first digital reporter in 2017, was named a general assignment reporter in 2019.
Felicia Lawrence, who co-hosted “The Jam” on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26 from 2017 to 2021, has joined NBC affiliate WTHR in Indianapolis as a Monday-through-Friday news anchor. “I’m excited for this new experience,” Lawrence said in a statement. “I look forward to growing with this community, meeting people and telling their stories.” The Chicago native previously worked for stations in in Charlotte, North Carolina; Wichita, Kansas; and Joplin, Missouri.
Dan Blom, who won seven Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards for his work as an investigative producer at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, has been hired as director of marketing and communications at Illiana Christian High School in Northwest Indiana. A 1992 graduate of Illiana, Blom also holds a journalism degree from Bradley University. His 24 years in Chicago TV news included working with investigative reporter Pam Zekman for 11 years before both were purged in the mass layoff of May 2020. Earlier Blom served as planning editor at ABC 7.
Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM wasn’t always the sonic dump it is today — languishing in 27th place with a 0.8 percent audience share. In recognition of its glorious past as “The Big 89,” the former Top 40 mecca was chosen this week for induction in the Iowa Rock Hall of Fame. “WLS is a huge part of the rock music history of the entire Midwest, and it had a profound impact on Iowa,” said Clay Norris, executive director of the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association. “Even the AM station’s daytime signal can be heard in much of eastern Iowa where 2/3 of the population lives. At night, it was heard all over the state.” The 2022 honorees will be inducted over Labor Day weekend.
Longtime Chicago radio producer and personality Harold Lee Rush Jr. died January 1. He was 71. In addition to his 10-year run as morning show producer for Bob Wall and Doug Banks at WGCI 107.5-FM, Rush worked for the former WJPC and WVON. As a broadcast instructor at City Colleges of Chicago — and a pillar of Kennedy-King College’s WKKC 89.3-FM — he recalled those years fondly with his students. “In fact, quite a few had parents who were either fans of Bob and me or Doug Banks and me,” he told me in a retirement interview in 2020. (Here is the link.) “I was very blessed to have been a part of that special time.” A lifelong Chicago and graduate of Englewood High School, Rush also performed with several Black theater organizations and won awards for his poetry.
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Dennis Byrne: I rarely agreed with Joe Fournier, but I always looked forward to seeing his work. Creative and beautifully executed. Yet another voice at the Tribune that I’ll miss.