Robservations: Chicago Reader celebrates 50th anniversary with gratitude

Chicago Reader

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago Reader (first issue October 1, 1971)

The venerable Chicago Reader will honor its 50th year of publication with special anniversary issues on October 14 and October 28, featuring its origin story and articles focused on the past half-century of award-winning work. As part of the ongoing celebration, a multimedia exhibit of stories, photographs, cartoons and other archival material will be featured at Chicago’s Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street. “The Chicago Reader at 50: A half-century of revolutionary storytelling” will run from October 6 to January 22. The Reader also will mark the milestone with a 50-day giveaway, including theater tickets, a souvenir Reader newsbox, Ben Platt concert tickets, Chicago restaurant vouchers and other items. Founded by four college friends — Bob McCamant, Bob Roth, Tom Yoder and Tom Rehwaldt — and first published on October 1, 1971, the free alternative weekly shifted to nonprofit status in 2020. “We continue to be honored to helm this legendary Chicago newspaper,” co-publishers Tracy Baim and Karen Hawkins said in a joint statement. “And we are very happy to start the 50th anniversary celebrations October 1 with 50 days of ‘Reader Giving.’ This has not been an easy journey to nonprofit status during a pandemic, but we are grateful to our staff, freelancers, supporters, readers and advertisers for staying the course.” Continue reading

Robservations: Zoraida Sambolin to sign off as NBC 5 morning news anchor

Zoraida Sambolin

Robservations on the media beat:

Days after Zoraida Sambolin returned as morning news anchor to WMAQ-Channel 5 following a four-month leave of absence, she’s calling it quits. Sources said next Friday will be her last day at the NBC-owned station. It’s not clear why she’s leaving, but in a Facebook video Monday she said she had been “taking a deep dive into my physical and mental health [and] I just need to take a minute to take care of me. If you know my history, you know I have been sick in the past and I just want to make sure that I stay healthy.” (Here is the link.) Except for a two-year stint with CNN in New York, Sambolin, 56, has been the face of morning news at NBC 5 since 2007. She joined the station as a free-lance weekend news anchor in 2002. Sources said her contract runs through July 2022 so her resignation means she cannot work on the air in Chicago until after that. Continue reading

Robservations: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller signs off as full-time reporter

Steve Miller

Robservations on the media beat:

Steve Miller, who’s been a mainstay of WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM for 38 years, has stepped down from full-time reporting duties at the Audacy all-news station. Starting next month, he’ll return occasionally for fill-in work and special projects. The Texas native and University of Texas graduate joined WBBM Newsradio as a news writer straight out of the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1983. He was promoted to reporter in 1996. “We’ve been blessed with many great reporters over the years, but when it comes to digging for tough-to-find information, I can’t think of anyone better than Steve Miller,” said Ron Gleason, brand manager and news director of WBBM Newsradio. Miller told friends he plans to spend more time at his condo in Hawaii. Continue reading

Chicago’s broadcast museum announces new leadership

Jim Carlton

As the Museum of Broadcast Communications prepares to bounce back after the pandemic and works to redefine its mission, there’s a new boss in the front office.

Jim Carlton, a Chicago brand marketing executive and member of the museum’s board of directors, was named interim executive director Wednesday. He’s the third chief of the nonprofit institution since founder Bruce DuMont stepped down in 2017. Continue reading

Robservations: Friends rally to support moribund Chicago Reporter

Friends of The Chicago Reporter

Robservations on the media beat:

Laura Washington

It’s been a year since The Chicago Reporter abruptly went on hiatus, halting the crucial work of the nonprofit investigative news organization focusing on race, equity and justice. Despite vague promises of an internal restructuring by Community Renewal Society, publication of original investigative reporting never resumed. Now nearly 100 prominent journalists and community leaders have formed Friends of the Chicago Reporter to urge its reinstatement as the local media treasure approaches its 50th anniversary next year. (Here is the link to their video.) The independent group is headed by Laura Washington, Sun-Times columnist, ABC 7 political analyst and former editor and publisher of the Reporter. “We are thrilled and grateful for the support of so many journalists and community and civic leaders who have officially signed on to this crucial campaign,” Washington said. Continue reading

Jonathon Brandmeier to host Radio Hall of Fame ceremony

Jonathon Brandmeier (Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Chicago radio legend Jonathon Brandmeier has been tapped to emcee the 2021 Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the Museum of Broadcast Communications announced Tuesday.

Brandmeier, who was inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame in 2018, will host this year’s event October 28 at Wintrust Grand Banking Hall, 231 South LaSalle Street, in Chicago. (Here is the link for tickets.) Continue reading

Robservations: WCPT hires Edwin Eisendrath as Saturday afternoon host

Edwin Eisendrath

Robservations on the media beat:

Even he knows you don’t replace a Dick Kay. But in the nine weeks Edwin Eisendrath has been filling in Saturday afternoons on WCPT 820-AM, he’s shown himself to be an adept, articulate and inspired choice as successor. Now it’s official: Eisendrath has been hired to host “The Big Picture” from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays — the slot held by Kay’s “Back on the Beat” for 13 years at the Newsweb progressive talk station. A native Chicagoan with a Harvard education, Eisendrath, 63, brings a wealth of experience — from alderman of Chicago’s 43rd Ward to CEO of the Sun-Times — to his new role. “His point of view is informed and progressive but not dogmatic,” said WCPT general manager Mark Pinski. In a statement Eisendrath said: “I step into this mindful that Dick Kay came before me. Dick was the first person who interviewed me after I was elected to the City Council and the last to interview me when I ran for governor many years later. He was a giant and one of a kind. No one can replace him, so this will be a new adventure that the radio audience and I can go on together.” Kay died May 13 at 84. Continue reading

Robservations: Gaynor Hall to co-anchor WGN weekend mornings with Sean Lewis

Sean Lewis and Gaynor Hall

Robservations on the media beat:

Gaynor Hall, a general assignment reporter at WGN-Channel 9 since 2008, has been named co-anchor of the Nexstar Media station’s Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts alongside Sean Lewis. Starting this weekend she’ll succeed Tonya Francisco, who shifted to co-host of “Daytime Chicago,” the new weekday morning lifestyle show, with Amy Rutledge. “Gaynor is an outstanding reporter who is tenacious, driven and knowledgeable,” said WGN news director Dominick Stasi. “As one of Chicago’s Very Own, she will be a huge asset to our WGN weekend morning news, bringing her unique perspective to the stories of the day.” Hall, a Chicago native and graduate of Whitney Young Magnet High School and Syracuse University, previously worked for CLTV, the former Chicago cable news channel, and WMGT, the NBC affiliate in Macon, Georgia. Continue reading

Robservations: B96 leaves listeners wondering: ‘Where’s Nina?’

Nina Hajian

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago radio’s latest guessing game involves the whereabouts of Nina Hajian, who co-hosts mornings with Gabe Ramirez on Audacy Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM. For nearly three weeks Hajian has been missing from the show with no explanation to listeners. “We have given Nina an extended period of time off to spend time with family and friends,” B96 program director Todd Cavanah said in response to an inquiry Tuesday. “I’d like to respect everyone’s privacy on this matter at this time.” No word on when (or whether) she’ll return. In June Hajian was named winner of a 2021 Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation for her show’s coverage of protests and unrest in Chicago last summer. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, “The Gabe and Nina Show” ranked 25th with 1.3 percent share and a cumulative weekly audience of 233,400. Continue reading

Robservations: Mark Giangreco snubs Silver Circle induction ceremony

Mark Giangreco

Robservations on the media beat:

Former Chicago sports anchor Mark Giangreco was a no-show Sunday when the long-delayed 2020 Silver Circle Awards finally were presented. Anchorman and 2018 Silver Circle inductee Jim Williams, who emceed the virtual program for the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, presented and accepted the award on Giangreco’s behalf. (Here is a link to the video.) Giangreco was the only one of the six living honorees who did not submit a video biography or record an acceptance speech. Initially selected for the career honor in November 2019, Giangreco was fired last March after 27 years at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Reached Monday, he said he had planned to travel out of the country last week but canceled the trip and ran out of time to select a presenter or prepare a video. “I certainly didn’t mean to demean the award or disrespect the other honorees,” he said. Continue reading