WBBM Newsradio promotes Cisco Cotto to morning drive, Rob Hart to middays

Cisco Cotto

Making smooth transitions may be one reason WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM has managed to stay at or near the top of the ratings for most of its 53 years as an all-news station.

Whether it’s gliding seamlessly from traffic to weather reports or replacing top-line talent without missing a beat, the Audacy combo makes everything it does appear straightforward and uncomplicated.

On Monday WBBM Newsradio promoted midday news anchor Cisco Cotto to morning drive anchor and anchor/reporter Rob Hart to succeed Cotto as midday anchor, effective January 3. Neither move was much of a surprise. Continue reading

They’re back! Janet Davies, Mark Giangreco to join NBC 5’s New Year’s Eve show

Janet Davies, Matthew Rodrigues, Cortney Hall and Mark Giangreco (Photo: NBC Chicago)

Janet Davies and Mark Giangreco, who rang in the New Year together for two decades on WLS-Channel 7 before they were ousted from the ABC-owned station, will turn up for this year’s countdown show on NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.

Davies and Giangreco will reunite as they join Matthew Rodrigues and Cortney Hall, hosts of NBC 5’s “Chicago Today,” on “A Very Chicago New Year,” starting at 11:08 p.m. December 31. It also will stream on NBCChicago.com and through NBC Chicago’s free apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.

“We’re thrilled to bring this very Chicago ensemble together to start the New Year and provide viewers with an expanded show this year,” said Kevin Cross, president of NBC Universal Local Chicago. Continue reading

WBBM Newsradio morning star Pat Cassidy retiring after ‘charmed career on top’

Pat Cassidy

For more than 50 years, by the dawn’s early light, generations of Chicago area listeners have started their day to the mellifluous voice of Pat Cassidy on the radio. Now, somehow, they’ll have to manage without him.

Cassidy, 71, told colleagues Friday he’s retiring at the end of the year as morning drive news anchor at WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM, the Audacy all-news powerhouse.

“I will miss all of you, our loyal listeners, and the energy of a breaking news story,” he wrote in an internal email. “I will not miss waking up at 2:30 for 51 years or seeing the hideous picture on my work ID each morning at the front desk. I’m a very lucky guy who is ending a long, charmed career on top.” Continue reading

Retiring Daily Herald editor John Lampinen reflects on splendid career: ‘I just wanted to do good work’

John Lampinen

It’s been the privilege of my career to work for John Lampinen. I’ve never known a more thoughtful, dedicated and down-to-earth professional or a finer gentleman.

December 31 marks his retirement after 48 years at the Daily Herald, including the last two decades as editor. Over that time he has influenced and inspired countless journalists in the Chicago area and beyond.

Lampinen, 70, was born in Waukegan and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Except for a brief time in Minnesota, he worked for the Daily Herald since he began as a reporter in 1973. He moved up the ranks at Paddock Publications before being named executive editor in 1998 and editor in 2001.

On the eve of his retirement, Lampinen reflected on his amazing run at the Daily Herald, the challenges and opportunities facing our profession and whether he still may have a future with his beloved Chicago White Sox: Continue reading

CBS 2 taps Jim Williams, Marie Saavedra to co-anchor new 4 p.m. weekday newscast

Jim Williams

Jim Williams, the veteran Chicago journalist and weekend news anchor at WBBM-Channel 2, will team with reporter Marie Saavedra on a new 4 p.m. Monday-through-Friday newscast about to be launched by the CBS-owned station.

Starting January 24, Williams and Saavedra will co-anchor the one-hour newscast with meteorologist Mary Kay Kleist and sports anchor Marshall Harris. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN Radio renews morning host Bob Sirott; Mitch Michaels marks 50 years on Chicago radio; WVON program director Todd Ronczkowski resigns

Bob Sirott

Robservations on the media beat:

Legendary Chicago broadcaster Bob Sirott, who’s been a rare shining star in the ratings at WGN 720-AM, just extended his contract as morning host for two more years. “Bob has been an iconic voice in Chicago since 1973 and we’re fortunate to have his voice and talent as we head into our 100th year and beyond,” Mary Boyle, vice president and general manager of the Nexstar Media news/talk station, said in announcing the renewal. Terms of the agreement, negotiated by attorney Steve Mandell, were not disclosed. Starting January 3, Sirott’s show will air from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays — one hour later than it has since he started in January 2020. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WGN ranked third in mornings with a 5.4 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 171,100. Said Sirott: “Who knows, someday I may turn into a morning person.” Continue reading

Robservations: Julie Mann to rep Kane County; iHeartMedia continues Lurie Children’s Radiothon; Izzi Smith steps down from WBEZ

WBBM Newsradio

Robservations on the media beat:

Julie Mann

Julie Mann, the beloved newsroom leader and managing editor who just signed off after 25 years at Audacy all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM, is on to her new adventure. Without missing a beat, Mann started this week heading up the public information office for west suburban Kane County. It’s a newly created department she’ll be building from the ground up. “The Kane County Board was looking for someone who could help them communicate to the public what they do and are doing for their citizens,” Mann told me. “I saw it as an opportunity to continue working in the field of communications but in a whole new way.” Mann grew up in Kane County and graduated from St. Charles High School and Drake University. She joined WBBM Newsradio as a reporter in 1997 and worked out of the offices of the Daily Herald as suburban bureau chief. Continue reading

Robservations: Sun-Times political reporter Rachel Hinton joins BGA; Good Karma Brands acquires ESPN 1000; Tribune promotes Nina Metz to critic

Rachel Hinton

Robservations on the media beat:

Rachel Hinton, chief political reporter for the Sun-Times, is joining the Better Government Association as its first enterprise reporter. Her hiring, effective January 10, will be the first funded by the recent $10 million grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in partnership with the nonprofit investigative news organization. “Rachel Hinton’s eye for the nuances of news and her deep sourcing will enable us to provide exclusive reporting, insight and analysis that holds government accountable to the public,” said David Greising, president and CEO of the BGA. Hinton, who grew up in the far southwest suburbs and graduated from Plainfield South High School and DePaul University, joined the Sun-Times as an intern in 2017 and moved up to urban affairs reporter later that year. She was promoted to chief political reporter in 2020. “While we are happy for her and know she will continue to do great work, we will miss her as a fine colleague and first-rate journalist,” said Steve Warmbir, interim editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times. Continue reading

Former Tribune critic Howard Reich writes ballet about Japanese-Canadian internment

Howard Reich (Photo: Pam Becker)

For more than 40 years Howard Reich covered music and the arts for the Chicago Tribune with passion and sensitivity, adding six books and three documentary films to his prodigious credits as an award-winning critic.

Now, nearly one year after he accepted a buyout from the Tribune, the treasured Chicago journalist is about to unveil perhaps the most inspiring project of his career — to be presented in an entirely new realm.

Reich has written the stage scenario for “Kimiko’s Pearl,” a new multidisciplinary work to be performed by principal dancers of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Continue reading

Robservations: Nick Digilio returns with two podcasts; WFMT hosts nine hours of live music; Adeshina Emmanuel wins Sulzberger Fellowship

Nick Digilio

Robservations on the media beat:

Great news for fans of Nick Digilio: The former WGN 720-AM overnight host has not one but two new podcasts lined up in the weeks ahead. Starting in mid-January he’ll premiere “The Nick D Podcast,” a twice-weekly roundup of entertainment and pop culture, including reviews of movies, music, TV and books. His first guest will be Rich “Svengoolie” Koz. About a month later Digilio will launch “That Show Hasn’t Been Funny In Years: An SNL Podcast,” focusing on the history of “Saturday Night Live” over its 47-year run. Both podcasts will be produced by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network. Digilio was a popular presence on WGN for 35 years before he was cut from the Nexstar Media news/talk station in September 2020. Continue reading