Robservations: Marcus Betts to chair expanded Public Narrative board

Marcus Betts

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Marcus Betts, assistant vice chancellor for external engagement at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been named chair of a newly expanded board of directors at Public Narrative. He’ll lead board members Catherine Rabenstine, Ryan Schermerhorn, Anita Banerji, Katie O’Malley, Paul O’Connor and Katanya Raby in advancing the Chicago-based nonprofit group’s mission to provide media literacy services through projects, partnerships and training series under president and executive director Jhmira Alexander. “It is evident that our collective efforts are needed, now more than ever, to defend our democracy at the intersections threatened most,” Betts said. Founded in 1989 as Community Media Workshop, the group also presents the Studs Terkel Community Media Awards. Continue reading

Robservations: Editor Karen Hawkins named co-publisher of Chicago Reader

Karen Hawkins and Tracy Baim (Photo: GlitterGuts)

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Chicago Reader

Karen Hawkins, co-editor in chief of the Chicago Reader, has been named co-publisher of the alternative newspaper. “I am so excited to be joined by Karen as co-publisher,” said Tracy Baim, who’s been publisher since 2018. “We worked together 20 years ago at Windy City Times, and have worked to pivot the Reader these past two years. Karen’s leadership and vision will provide a critical role as we seek to navigate the next few years in community media.” The new leadership structure coincides with the Reader’s move to a nonprofit business model. Hawkins, who was founding editor and publisher of Rebellious Magazine for Women, joined the Reader as digital managing editor in 2018 and moved up to co-editor (with Sujay Kumar) in 2019. “After two years at the Reader, I believe more now than ever that nonprofit, community-focused local journalism is the future of the industry,” she said. Poised to mark its 50th anniversary in 2021, the Reader publishes daily online and biweekly in print. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago Journalists Association to honor BGA’s David Jackson

David Jackson

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David Jackson, the esteemed senior investigator for the Better Government Association, will be honored with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Journalists Association. The group’s 2020 virtual awards ceremony will stream live via Zoom from 8 to 9 p.m. on November 20. Jackson, a Chicago native and Pulitzer Prize winner, joined the nonprofit government watchdog group in August after 29 years at the Chicago Tribune. In addition to his monumental work as an investigative reporter, Jackson spearheaded a valiant effort to find a benevolent owner for the Tribune before he resigned in July. Keynote speaker at the awards ceremony will be Chris Fusco, former executive editor of the Sun-Times, now founding executive editor of Lookout Santa Cruz in California. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘News Nation’ gets trounced in election coverage race

“News Nation”

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In a week that saw some cable networks and digital sites set viewership records, “News Nation,” the Chicago-based startup launched in September by Nexstar Media Group, barely registered. At the height of Election Night coverage Tuesday, “News Nation” delivered only 95,000 viewers from coast to coast on WGN America. Compare that to 14 million viewers for Fox News, 9.3 million for CNN and 7.5 million for MSNBC. Even WGN-Channel 9, also owned by Nexstar, outdrew “News Nation” with 241,000 viewers — and that was in the Chicago area alone. Adding insult to injury, news/talk WGN 720-AM simulcast “News Nation” audio in lieu of the usual local coverage. It marked the first time in its 96-year history WGN Radio outsourced reporting presidential election returns. Continue reading

Need a little Christmas? Lite FM to turn it on at 4 p.m. this Friday

93.9 Lite FM

With 50 days to go until Christmas WLIT 93.9-FM is ready to become “Chicago’s Christmas Music Station.” Starting at 4 p.m. Friday holiday music will begin airing around the clock for the 20th straight year.

The tradition has proved to be a fan favorite and a ratings bonanza every year without fail for the iHeartMedia adult contemporary station. The earliest they’ve flipped the switch was November 2 in 2006 and 2007. Continue reading

Robservations: ESPN 1000 at the finish line for White Sox radio rights

Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN Chicago 1000

The headline here in August read: “White Sox appear headed to ESPN 1000.” Now it’s about to come true. Sources confirmed Tuesday that the Chicago White Sox have rejected a bid for the team’s radio rights by Entercom, parent company of all-news WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM. With previous radio home Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM out of the picture, that leaves WMVP 1000-AM, the ESPN Radio sports/talk station managed by Good Karma Brands, as the winner. All signs point to an announcement in the coming days. Such a move would fulfill ESPN 1000’s strategy to compete on the local front with Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, home of Chicago Cubs baseball. ESPN Chicago market manager Mike Thomas declined to comment. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey ESPN 1000 tied for 18th place among men between 25 and 54. The Score ranked 15th in the target demo. Continue reading

Robservations: Election night coverage marks radio’s 100th anniversary

KDKA Radio

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“We’d appreciate it if anyone hearing this broadcast would communicate with us as we are very anxious to know how far the broadcast is reaching and how it is being received.” With those words — uttered by announcer Leo Rosenberg — Pittsburgh’s KDKA Radio began what historians consider the first commercial broadcast in the United States. On the night of November 2, 1920, the Westinghouse station carried results of the presidential election that day between Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox. Within two years more than 500 licensed stations were broadcasting across the country — including Zenith Radio Corporation’s WJAZ in Chicago. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Excited, nostalgic,’ Carol Marin preps for final election night

Carol Marin

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As she has done before every election, Carol Marin spent the weekend at her kitchen table poring over pertinent facts and figures as if she were cramming for a final exam. “In this case, it sort of is our final exam on elections,” she told me Sunday. That’s because this election will mark the last hurrah for Marin after 48 years in the news business. The legendary broadcast journalist is stepping down as political editor of NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and correspondent for “Chicago Tonight” at Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11 at the end of the week. On Tuesday night Marin and longtime producer Don Moseley will work out of the main first-floor newsroom and studio at NBC 5 for the first time since March. “We’ll all see how long we stay on the air as results come — or don’t come — in,” she said. So how is Marin feeling? “Excited. Nostalgic. Nervous always about getting things right. Glad that I have one more election night to report. Mindful of sharing it with people I love both in front of and behind the camera. Grateful for the viewers who have so loyally and generously watched for all these years.” Marin and Moseley will continue to serve as co-directors of the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence at DePaul University, which they co-founded in 2016. Continue reading