Robservations: WBEZ owner completes Sun-Times acquisition; The Score keeps overnights local; ABC 7 launches streaming news

Chicago Public Media

Robservations on the media beat:

Michael Sacks

The parent company of public radio news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM finalized its takeover of the Sun-Times Monday, marking the money-losing newspaper’s conversion to a nonprofit subsidiary of Chicago Public Media. Although the newsrooms will continue to operate separately, the resulting combination is said to create one of the largest nonprofit news organizations in the country. The deal is being backed by $61 million in philanthropic support from various foundations and individuals. “I am proud to have played a part in securing the future of the Chicago Sun-Times and honoring its great legacy,” said Michael Sacks, a principal investor in the paper who spearheaded the acquisition agreement. “Together we have created a model for sustaining local journalism which we know is vital.”

Mark Grote

Overnight programming on Audacy sports/talk WSCR 670-AM will continue to be live and local for the foreseeable future. On Monday The Score announced that Chicago Bears reporter Mark Grote will host from midnight to 5 a.m. three nights a week and other personnel from The Score will rotate other weeknights. The station has been airing “Best of The Score” highlights since the death of legendary overnight host Les Grobstein January 16. “There will never be another Grobber,” program director Mitch Rosen wrote in an internal email, adding: “Mark Grote was as close to Les as anyone on our team.”

ABC 7 Chicago

ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 debuted two new weekday newscasts online Monday with the launch of a new 24/7 live and local streaming channel. Tanja Babich, Terrell Brown and Val Warner will anchor a new 7 a.m. streaming newscast along with traffic reporter Roz Varon and meteorologist Tracy Butler. Cheryl Burton and Rob Elgas will anchor a new 7 p.m. streaming newscast. The premieres coincide with the rollout of streaming channels at ABC-owned stations in eight cities. Users can access all eight streams from ABC 7’s app.

Jim Daley

Jim Daley, former politics editor and interim managing editor of the nonprofit South Side Weekly, has joined the Chicago Reader as news editor. Saying Daley’s impact on the news operation has been “immediate and profound,” Reader co-publisher and co-editor-in-chief Karen Hawkins added: “Jim’s leadership and reporting are already continuing the Reader’s legacy of groundbreaking accountability journalism.” At South Side Weekly, Daley won awards for his investigative work on police and mayoral misconduct.

Stanley Kay

Stanley Kay, a former writer and editor at Sports Illustrated, has signed on as deputy editor of Chicago magazine. Kay, a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Kay spent eight years in New York writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and its website before joining Chicago Jan. 10. As the monthly magazine’s No. 2 editor he reports to editor in chief Terry Noland, who said Kay will play a “pivotal role” there.

Richard Christiansen

Richard Christiansen, who was the distinguished theater critic for the Chicago Tribune for 24 years, died Friday at the Selfhelp Home on the North Side. He was 90. The Oak Park native began his career at Chicago’s City News Bureau and worked for the Chicago Daily News for 15 years before he joined the Tribune in 1978. He retired in 2002. “Richard Christiansen did more to secure Chicago theater’s ascendancy than any single individual,” tweeted former Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski. “All those nights reviewing storefront plays, which he took as seriously as the blockbusters. He was also among the finest colleagues I’ve ever worked with.”

Monday’s comment of the day: Edward M. Bury: With all due respect to Eric Zorn and his recent comment, I find it disingenuous to continue to bash the public relations profession. Over my career, I worked in journalism and public relations. Like in any profession, there are good players and bad players. Watch “Tucker Carlson Tonight” if you want an example of “the dark side” of journalism.