On Wednesday, Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass issued an impassioned plea to his colleagues in the media to turn away from George Ryan, “the old corrupt ex-governor,” who was being released from federal prison after nearly six years.
“The old man did his time. And as long as he stays out of our public life, we should leave him be,” Kass wrote. “Just give him space. Just leave him be.”
That same day, Chicago radio host John Kass devoted an hour of his WLS-AM (890) talk show to Ryan and his release from prison. “I wrote that we shouldn’t ridicule George Ryan today — he did his time — to leave him alone,” Kass told listeners. “But I can’t leave the state alone because we have to reckon with what this day means." At one point, an emotional Kass nearly broke down recounting Ryan's crimes.
When Michael Ferro, chairman of Sun-Times Media parent company Wrapports LLC, appeared before the City Club of Chicago last May, he outlined his vision for the newspaper, including this promise: "We're going to be increasing the business section exponentially."
The centerpiece of Ferro’s plan, called Money Mondays, was described as “a full-color, irreverent and unique business section” that would include CEO makeovers, industry hot lists, up-and-comer profiles, gadget gear, power lists and other stories not found in traditional business sections.
Money Mondays never debuted that fall, as Ferro predicted, or any time since. Nor has the Sun-Times’ weekday business section increased one iota.
But now, at last, they may be giving us the business.
Robservations on the media beat:
- Those clever folks at Weigel Broadcasting, Chicago-based home of The U, Me-TV, Me-Too and This TV, among other programming services, have been tapped by Fox Television Stations to create a new 24-hour movie network for Fox subchannels nationwide. The new channel, called Movies!, will present “a variety of theatrical motion pictures in a new, viewer and advertiser friendly format, not seen on broadcast television to date,” according to an announcement Monday. It is expected to debut in May on Fox digital subchannels in 17 markets, including Chicago. “We are excited to work with the Fox Television Station Group in the creation of the next digital network franchise,” said Neal Sabin, Weigel Broadcasting's president of content and networks. “This is a real vote of confidence for what we are doing in the digital space.”
Roe Conn’s first radio gig in Chicago was filling in as a $5-an-hour afternoon host on Loyola University’s WLUW-FM (88.7). A recent graduate of Denison University in Ohio, he was moonlighting from his job with Sheila King Public Relations. Conn’s sportscaster on the show was a Loyola senior named Lou Canellis.
Fast-forward 27 years and the two veteran Chicago broadcasters are back together in the very same roles.
Robservations on the media beat:
- Sun-Times staffers say they’re being squeezed in more ways than one. First there’s the matter of ongoing contract negotiations between the Chicago Newspaper Guild and the company (which refuses to restore any of the salary cuts that were demanded to keep the paper afloat in 2009). Now, with plans to close six suburban newsrooms and consolidate editorial operations of all Sun-Times Media properties downtown, staffers are being moved to smaller workspaces. “Four desks with four computers are being squeezed into a space that used to be occupied by two desks. Each desk has a meager two drawers and a wimpy partition that doesn’t even reach eye level,” the union wrote in an online post Thursday. “Guild members are being asked to sacrifice space, privacy and the basic dignity of a 21st century workplace. This plan is a physical representation of management’s us-versus-them style. It is an issue that cuts deep into morale and spirit. The lack of creative landscape illustrates the wide space between management and staff in working together to create the best media product in the Chicago area." Update: On Friday afternoon, I received the following statement from Jim Kirk, editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media: "All union and non-union editors and reporters here will have the same desk size, including me and other newsroom leaders. The union's statement is a bit puzzling and not accurate. We're all making the 'sacrifice' together. No more offices for newsroom managers. That was always the plan and that has been conveyed in every communication to employees."
ChicagoSide Sports, the independent sports website featuring original, daily content from some of the city’s top writers and most promising rookies, is teaming with the Sun-Times, the daily long known for its local sports coverage.
Starting Friday, ChicagoSide stories will be linked from suntimes.com and appear in the pages of the paper. The ChicagoSide website, in turn, will feature live, streaming headlines and breaking sports news from the Sun-Times, with links to the paper’s website.
As a rookie reporter for the Skokie Life, I covered the two-year battle of a group of neo-Nazis from the Southwest Side of Chicago to stage a march in the heavily Jewish northern suburb, which was home to thousands of Holocaust survivors.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the events I witnessed would transform my hometown into a worldwide symbol of reawakening and resolve.
In a year of declining revenue across the board, CBS Radio’s all-news simulcast of WBBM-AM (780) and WCFS-FM (105.9) was Chicago’s top-billing station once again.
The Newsradio combo led the market in 2012 with total advertising income of $45.7 million — more than $10 million ahead of runner-up Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) with $34.1 million. WBBM/WCFS was down from $48.8 million, while WTMX was down from $34.5 million in 2011.
After three tumultuous years as operations director of news/talk WLS-AM (890), Drew Hayes is leaving the Cumulus Media station here to fill the company’s programming vacancy in Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, Hayes, 54, is expected to be named program director of news/talk KABC-AM in L.A. — a post he previously held under Walt Disney Co./ABC ownership. The position has been vacant since another former Chicagoan, Jack Silver, left last June.