Working solo in the suburbs, Ed Volkman finds Star 96.7 audience ‘very welcoming’

Ed Volkman (Photo: Star 96.7)

Generations of fans grew up listening to Ed Volkman and Joe Colborn, the endearing Chicago radio duo known as Eddie & Jobo.

Thanks to their 20-year run as the highly rated morning team on contemporary hit WBBM 96.3-FM and other stops along the way (as well as their ubiquitous TV ads hawking United Auto Insurance), they became rich, famous and seemingly inseparable.

All that ended in 2014 when Colborn turned down a lucrative offer to co-host mornings on classic hits WLS 94.7-FM, suddenly leaving Volkman without a partner and without a job. “Well, that’s all, folks,” Volkman declared. “There will be no Eddie & Jobo anymore.” Continue reading

Robservations: Patrick Elwood joins Dina Bair as WGN midday co-anchor; Kate Van Etten leaves Crain’s; NBC News hires Jesse Kirsch

Patrick Elwood and Dina Bair

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. Continue reading

Robservations: Block Club Chicago wins major grant; DePaul Center to honor Bill Whitaker; Cubs writer Russell Dorsey leaving Sun-Times

Block Club Chicago journalists (Photo: Colin Boyle)

Robservations on the media beat:

Tuesday was another red-letter day for Block Club Chicago. In what it called “a wonderful vote of confidence,” the vital nonprofit neighborhood news site landed a $1.6 million grant from the American Journalism Project and a $450,000 matching grant from the Chicago Community Trust. The funding will be used to expand Block Club’s business and operations side, creating five new positions — vice president of revenue, director of member services, director of major gifts and corporate sponsorships, director of sales and operations coordinator. An expansion of Block Club’s editorial team will follow. “Local news isn’t dying, it’s evolving,” said co-executive editor Jen Sabella. “The support from Chicagoans for our ultra-local newsroom has been overwhelming, proving that newsrooms don’t need to abandon the boots-on-the-ground basics — they just need to be responsive to the communities they cover.” Block Club was founded in 2018 by Shamus Toomey, Stephanie Lulay and Sabella, three editors of the former DNAinfo Chicago. Continue reading

Robservations: Newsy relaunches ‘The Why’; George Will joins NewsNation; Goli Sheikholeslami named CEO of Politico

Tatevik Aprikyan

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 and on a variety platforms including Apple TV, Fire TV, Pluto TV, Roku, Samsung, Sling, Vizio and Xumo. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: Lite FM celebrates another Christmas season on top

Mick Lee, Edison the Reindeer and Melissa Forman

To the surprise of absolutely no one, WLIT 93.9-FM swept the radio ratings in its 21st consecutive season as Chicago’s Christmas station.

The iHeartMedia adult contemporary powerhouse finished first overall in the Nielsen Audio survey released December 28. Lite FM tied for first place the previous month with Audacy all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM. Continue reading

Looking back on a ditzy year in Chicago media

Cheryl Burton and Mark Giangreco

A few of the stories that made headlines on the Chicago media beat in 2021:

An offhand remark by Mark Giangreco at the end of a sports segment on WLS-Channel 7 (“Cheryl can play the ditzy, combative interior decorator,” were his precise words) sounded disrespectful to news anchor Cheryl Burton, who set off enough alarms that what might have been a newsroom squabble turned into a serious corporate matter for the ABC-owned station. It triggered a process that led to a payout on Giangreco’s contract and an early, bitter exit after 27 years as ABC 7’s top sports anchor — and one of Chicago TV’s all-time greatest. The year will end with WMAQ-Channel 5 shrewdly reuniting Giangreco and Janet Davies (another outcast from ABC 7) as contributors to the NBC-owned station’s New Year’s Eve special. Despite all the uproar, ABC 7 still leads in the late-news ratings, with Burton more powerful than ever. Continue reading

Court upholds former producer’s lawsuit against Eric Ferguson

Eric Ferguson

A former assistant producer’s lawsuit against Chicago radio personality Eric Ferguson over allegations of an “unwelcome sexual relationship” during their employment at WTMX 101.9-FM can proceed, according to a court ruling Wednesday.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Kubasiak denied a motion by Ferguson’s attorneys to dismiss the suit filed last May by Cynthia DeNicolo, who worked with Ferguson at the Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary station for 20 years before her job was eliminated in 2020. Continue reading

Robservations: ABC 7 shuts down State Street; Clare Lane leaving WBBM Newsradio; Celeste LeCompte joins WBEZ as chief audience officer

Cheryl Scott and Terrell Brown (Photo: Viet Phan with New Pixel Films)

Robservations on the media beat:

If competitors want to take advantage of WLS-Channel 7 for banishing Chicago’s king and queen of New Year’s Eve, that’s show biz. (“Love this!” tweeted former Chicago Tribune critic Steve Johnson. “Bring back local news wars. WLS-Ch. 7 needs to hire away Stefan Holt.”) But there’s still one big reason I wouldn’t count out the ABC-owned station’s “Countdown Chicago: 2022” next week: For the fourth consecutive New Year’s Eve, morning news anchor Terrell Brown and meteorologist Cheryl Scott will open with a glossy, show-stopping dance number — this one set to a music mix of the ’90s. To film the elaborate production just outside their 190 North State Street studios, ABC 7 closed down State Street overnight and hired lighting, camera operators and a drone operator and brought in props and costumes and who knows what else. Hosted by Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini with Hosea Sanders, ABC 7’s 30th annual blowout starts at 11:25 p.m. December 31. Continue reading

ABC 7 appoints Doug Whitmire, Nneka Nwosu Faison assistant news directors

Doug Whitmire and Nneka Nwosu Faison

In an unexpected move, WLS-Channel 7 has chosen to go inside and outside the newsroom to replace the No. 2 news executive at the top-rated ABC-owned station.

On Tuesday ABC 7 announced the appointment of two assistant news directors to fill the vacancy left by Sarah Dunlap Burke, who resigned in August to become vice president and news director of WCBS, the CBS-owned station in New York.

Sharing the title of assistant news director will be Doug Whitmire, executive producer of ABC 7’s 10 p.m. newscast, and Nneka Nwosu Faison, an executive producer of programming at WCVB, the Hearst-owned ABC affiliate in Boston. Continue reading