Chicago’s Invisible Institute shares Pulitzer Prize for national reporting

Jamie Kalven

Invisible Institute, the Chicago-based nonprofit journalism production company, won its first Pulitzer Prize Friday for its work on a year-long investigation of K-9 units and the damage that police dogs inflict on Americans.

Along with the staffs of The Marshall Project, Alabama Media Group and the Indianapolis Star, Invisible Institute was cited in the national reporting category. It was the sole Chicago winner among the 2021 honorees. Continue reading

Robservations: Owner says MeTV FM will ‘live and thrive’ despite FCC deadline

MeTV FM

Robservations on the media beat:

Paul Koplin

Great news for fans of MeTV FM: Weigel Broadcasting’s popular soft-rock oldies station at WRME 87.7-FM won’t be going away any time soon, according to owners of the low-power analog station. The Federal Communications Commission had set July 13 as the deadline for all low-power Channel 6 TV stations operating as radio stations on 87.7 FM to cease broadcasting. But Venture Technologies Group, which owns the license for the frequency, confirmed Thursday it has devised a technical solution to keep MeTV FM on the air. Paul Koplin, CEO of Venture Technologies, said the FCC has approved the company’s plans to keep its station on in San Jose, California, with the same fix currently under way in Chicago. “The only entity to oppose this has been NPR because they don’t want any signal left of their dial,” Koplin said. “We still need to make this a permanent solution. But in the meantime, MeTV FM will live and thrive, and we are lucky to have someone like Neal Sabin [vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting and creator of MeTV FM] entertain us.” In the latest Nielsen Audio survey MeTV FM ranked 10th overall with a 3.2 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 509,300. Continue reading

Robservations: Roe Conn makes ‘unexpected pivot’ to job in sheriff’s office

Roe Conn (Photo: ABC 7 Chicago)

Robservations on the media beat:

Roe Conn, the veteran Chicago broadcaster, has joined the Office of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart as a senior project manager. He’s currently working on a crime analytics team specializing in vehicular hijacking and roadway shootings. “It’s definitely an unexpected pivot, but Chicago is where I’m from and where I always want to be,” Conn, 57, told me. “It’s been the honor of a lifetime to be part of Chicago’s radio landscape – especially on two of the continent’s most legendary stations. But our town is facing a tough battle ahead and I couldn’t be more proud to get the chance to work alongside these amazing men and women who try to make our streets safer and our city better.” Conn, who hosted afternoons on Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM and Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM, continues as a contributor to “Windy City Live” on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and co-host of “Screen Time with Roe & Roeper,” a twice-weekly podcast with Richard Roeper. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Wendy and Ray Show’ debuts Saturday night on WLS

Wendy Snyder and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens

Robservations on the media beat:

Wendy Snyder and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, two of the most likable personalities on Chicago radio, are getting their own weekly show on WLS 890-AM. Starting this weekend, “The Wendy and Ray Show” will air from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturdays on the Cumulus Media news/talk station. They’ve been co-hosting a podcast since Snyder’s former partner, Bill Leff, left to focus on TV work. “After many years of seeing each other at concerts and charity events Wendy and I finally get a chance to work together,” Stevens told me. “The weekend show on WLS AM 890 will be hyper local and will cover everything from block parties to the Bears. This is a true Chicago show hosted by two lifelong Chicagoans. As Chicago opens back up, we want to be there as you get ready for your Saturday night. Chicago needs a little fun on the radio and we hope to provide.” Continue reading

Robservations: David Kaplan named to Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame

David Kaplan

Robservations on the media beat:

David Kaplan, the Chicago sportscasting dynamo, has been named to the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. He’ll be inducted October 28 at Wintrust Arena in a 2021 class that also includes former baseball outfielder Curtis Granderson, former NFL coach Mike Shanahan and baseball pioneer Andrew “Rube” Foster (posthumously). Kaplan currently hosts mornings with Jonathan Hood on Good Karma Brands ESPN sports/talk WMVP 1000-AM and hosts “Football Aftershow” for NBC Sports Chicago. He previously hosted “Sports Talk Live” on the regional sports network for more than 16 years. In announcing Kaplan’s selection, the Hall of Fame committee noted the north suburban Skokie native is the only person in Chicago media history to have hosted a daily TV show, a daily radio show and written a regular column in a major newspaper all at the same time. Continue reading

Robservations: Buyouts expected to accelerate exodus from Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

By this time next week the Chicago Tribune could be saying goodbye to some of its best-known bylines. An exodus of top talent is expected now that the newspaper is fully under the control of a hedge fund known for severe cost-cutting at newsrooms across the country. Full-time editorial employees have until Wednesday to apply for voluntary buyouts — the first step in deeper reductions expected under new owner Alden Global Capital. Next Friday they’ll be notified if they’ve been accepted. Those who are accepted will be gone by Friday, June 18. It’s the “last train out of Dodge,” according to one insider. Continue reading

‘Chicago’s Very Own’ goes digital with ‘WGN News Now’

Chip Brewster and Christine Flores

The busiest TV newsroom in Chicago just got busier.

In addition to broadcasting more than 72 hours of news each week on WGN-Channel 9, the Nexstar Media Group station just launched “WGN News Now,” newscasts produced exclusively for digital platforms, including WGNTV.com, the WGN News mobile app and social media.

News updates are presented at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The 2 p.m. report is in Spanish — a first for “Chicago’s Very Own” and a tacit recognition of the growing impact of Hispanic viewership in Chicago. Continue reading

Robservations: Joe Walsh ‘bummed’ to lose another radio show

Joe Walsh (Photo: Ashlee Rezin)

Robservations on the media beat:

You may have missed it if you blinked, but another radio show has come and gone for Joe Walsh. The former northwest suburban Republican congressman announced he’s been dropped after one year as afternoon host on the GAB Radio Network. His show airs here from 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays on Evanston Broadcasting news/talk WCGO 1590-AM. “The network is run by a big Trumper, and he’s wanted to boot me for awhile. Looks like it finally happened,” Walsh tweeted. “Not surprised, but I am bummed. I thought it was so important to have ONE anti-Trump conservative voice on the radio. . . . I’m no victim. And I wasn’t ‘cancelled.’ This is the market at work. And the market says there’s no room in the GOP or talk radio for an anti-Trump conservative.” GAB Radio Network did not respond to requests for comment, but posted the following on its website: “Regardless of what Mr. Walsh is saying on social media and the press, as you can see he is still on the network. Until we come to a production agreement, please enjoy the Joe Walsh replay.” Walsh spent six years on Salem Media news/talk WIND 560-AM before he left in 2019 to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. Continue reading

Univision Chicago has winning story with historic ratings sweep

Erika Maldonado and Enrique Rodríguez (Photo: Univision Chicago)

Friday’s post here reported on the latest ratings for Chicago’s five English-language newscasts at 9 and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, focusing on an unusual three-way tie for supremacy in a key audience measurement.

But there’s a bigger story to emerge from Nielsen’s May sweep when you include late-news ratings for the city’s two Spanish-language stations — Univision Chicago WGBO-Channel 66 and Telemundo Chicago WSNS-Channel 44. For starters, they were the only stations in the market to increase their overall viewership year-to-year. Continue reading