Robservations on the media beat:
It’s back to the Sun-Times for Tina Sfondeles as chief political reporter following a whirlwind of reporting jobs in Washington, D.C., and public relations work in Chicago. Sfondeles will rejoin the paper Monday, according to interim editor in chief Steve Warmbir. “With her excellent sourcing on local, state and national levels, she will only add to the Sun-Times tradition of political coverage that’s second to none,” Warmbir wrote in an email to staff. “She’s a phenomenal addition to our great roster of first-rate political journalists here at the Sun-Times and our new colleagues at WBEZ.” In her first run at the Sun-Times, Sfondeles rose from preps sports writer and wire reporter to chief political reporter. She resigned in 2020 to join the Washington-based political team of Business Insider, and she later covered the White House for Politico. Since January she’s been vice president of public and media relations for Mac Strategies Group, a strategic communications and government relations firm.
Thursday marks the premiere of the fifth and final season of “Jay’s Chicago,” Jay Shefsky’s critically acclaimed series spotlighting ordinary people who do extraordinary things. The season opener focuses on five people who have unusual encounters with nature, including Shefsky’s own breathtaking experience with a giant praying mantis he discovers in the wild. “Jay’s Chicago” airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays on Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11. “Growing up in Chicago, one of my heroes was Studs Terkel,” Shefsky said in a statement. “He understood that everyone has a story to tell – and that if you listen with respect, people who aren’t experts or celebrities may have the most to teach us. One of the great joys of my career has been getting to know the people in these stories, and sharing them.” Shefsky retired in 2020 after 34 years as a producer at WTTW but continued on a freelance basis until now.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined striking broadcast technicians outside WTTW-Channel 11 studios Monday in a demonstration of support for their job action against the Window to the World Communications public television station. About two dozen members of Local 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers walked off the job last week after nearly a year of contract negotiations. Also speaking at the rally in support of the union were U.S. Rep. Marie Newman and several Chicago aldermen. Local 1220 has represented employees at WTTW since 1955. This marks the first time a strike has been called at the station.
Now that WSSR 96.7-FM morning personality Kevin Kollins is running for a seat on the Will County Board, it’s not clear when he’ll be back on the Alpha Media southwest suburban adult-contemporary station. He’s also in limbo as afternoon host on Alpha Media southwest suburban news/talk WJOL 1340-AM. Listed on the ballot as Kevin “Kollins” Hedemark, he’s competing in the June 28 Democratic primary, raising the spectre of triggering the Federal Communications Commission’s Equal Time Rule. Adding to uncertainty at Star 96.7 was the resignation last week of Brooke Hunter after more than two years as morning co-host. On Monday listeners heard Chicago radio legend Eddie Volkman, program director and afternoon host at Star 96.7, filling in for Kollins on the morning show, while engineering tech Scott Childers subbed for Volkman in the afternoon.
Kim Komando, whose syndicated consumer technology show airs from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays on WLS 890-AM, is about to add a third night on the Cumulus Media news/talk station. Starting this week, the Radio Hall of Famer will host a one-hour show produced exclusively for WLS at 7 p.m. Fridays. “For over 25 years, Kim has been part of the WLS-AM family, providing our listeners with the latest tech news,” program director Stephanie Tichenor said in a statement. “Now she brings that experience to Friday nights at WLS, where listeners will learn more about why tech matters.”
Monday’s comment of the day: Mark Mardell: The teaming of Weigel Broadcasting and Block Club Chicago is nothing short of great news. Weigel has been more innovative than any other broadcast station, and Block Club has done a tremendous job of building a respected news organization. I’m excited to see what comes of this teaming. I can’t remember ever before being excited about an upcoming news-oriented program.