Robservations on the media beat:
For the third time in 17 years, the Sun-Times newsroom is on the move. Under the new ownership of nonprofit Chicago Public Media, the newspaper will be downsizing its offices to a 6,000 square-foot space in Chicago’s renovated Old Post Office at 433 West Van Buren Street. It will share the space with public radio WBEZ 91.5-FM, which will retain its offices and studios at Navy Pier. Since 2017 the Sun-Times has been leasing 22,000 square feet in a nondescript building at 30 North Racine Avenue on the Near West Side. The new space “will be optimized for flexible work schedules for a staff working remotely since the pandemic,” according to a report by David Roeder. Sun-Times CEO Nykia Wright told staffers the company signed a one-year lease and the site should be ready by August.
Look for reporter Samantha Chatman to turn up alongside Mark Rivera this weekend as Saturday and Sunday morning news co-anchor on WLS-Channel 7. She’s the first of numerous staffers who’ll be filling in following Stacey Baca’s sign-off last weekend. The ABC-owned station’s bosses say they’re in no rush to name a permanent replacement for Baca, who resigned after 20 years at ABC 7 to spend more time with her husband, retired naval aviator Todd Gilchrist.
R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday for sexually abusing underage girls — marking the ultimate vindication of Chicago journalist Jim DeRogatis and his two decades of lonely and dogged reporting on the singer’s predatory crimes. “I just think it’s horrifying that women were not believed for so many years,” DeRogatis told Nexstar Media WGN-Channel 9’s Ben Bradley and Dina Bair. “What they said to me was: ‘I was a young black girl. Who is going to believe me?’ Every system in the city . . . failed these young black girls.” DeRogatis, former pop music critic at the Sun-Times, is the author of Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly.
A report on the state of local news released Wednesday by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism paints a grim picture. Since 2005, the country has lost more than one-fourth of its newspapers and is on track to lose a third by 2025. (Here is the link to the report.) But senior associate dean Tim Franklin, director of the Medill Local News Initiative, see signs of hope: “New nonprofit digital local news startups have launched or been announced in places like Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland and Houston,” he said. “Some legacy news outlets are deftly transforming from print to digital. There are unheralded local news leaders who are adapting and experimenting with new models. And local news is increasingly being delivered through newsletters and other digital platforms. But the need to innovate is urgent.”
Seven months after the Chicago Reader published a controversial column about COVID-19 vaccinations for children written by former co-owner Leonard C. Goodman, the piece has finally been appended with a publisher’s note. “Because the below column deals with a public health issue, we realize it should have been more rigorously edited by the Reader before publication. We apologize that it was not,” it reads in part. Earlier this year Goodman threatened to hold up the Reader’s move to nonprofit status over efforts to review the column. Tweeted the Chicago Reader Union: “It’s not the note we wanted, but it’s at least a gesture in the direction of the accountability our audience deserves.”
Bob Stroud, who’s stepping down after 21 years as top-rated midday star at Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM, will join Dave Plier for a one-hour interview at 6 p.m. Friday on Nexstar Media news/talk WGN 720-AM. The 2022 Radio Hall of Fame nominee and “Rock ‘n Roll Roots” host will reminisce about his 43 years in radio and help Plier kick off his “Legends of Rock” special, featuring rock icons Stevie Van Zandt, Robert Lamm, Mick Jones, Rick Nielsen, Kevin Cronin and Elvis Costello.
“The No Name Football Podcast,” hosted by former Chicago Bears Olin Kreutz and Jason McKie, has been picked up by west suburban WCKG 1530-AM. Starting this week, it will air from 3 to 4 p.m. Fridays. “Both Olin and Jason offer outstanding football expertise that you can’t find anywhere else,” sports director Jon Zaghloul said in a statement. “They are two Bears legends filled with knowledge, and I’m excited to have them on WCKG.” In May Kreutz was dropped as a contributor to the digital media startup CHGO Sports after he reportedly attacked podcast partner Adam Hoge.
Wednesday’s comment of the day: Gary Lee: The catch phrases bring back a flood of memories, including feuds — like Larry Lujack’s on-air confrontation with Steve and Garry. And Wally Phillips targeted by Dahl’s frequent barbs. But then Steve respectfully standing at the back of the room during Wally’s farewell broadcast. We’ve been blessed with a wealth of radio personalities extending well beyond this list.