Brandmeier’s TV playhouse deals in laughs
Robservations on the media beat:
- Jonathon Brandmeier is on a roll with his freewheeling weekly variety/talk show on NBC 5. This week’s special guest is Governor Pat Quinn, who agrees to play one hand of five-card draw with Johnny B. for casino rights in Chicago. (Guess who wins?) “The mighty Quinn is the real deal,” Brandmeier told me. “I convinced him to start putting his name on projects and Chicago landmarks like Rahm [Emanuel] does. Thus the Chicago River will now be called ‘Quinn Creek.’ Bottom line: I think that viewers will see the governor having fun. I did.” Brandmeier airs at 1:05am Friday night/Saturday morning — following Last Call With Carson Daly. It also airs eight times during the week on the NBC Chicago NonStop digital channel. The former Chicago radio superstar calls the limited-run series “a work in progress for all involved.”
- It’s official: Bill White is now director of programming and news at WGN-AM (720). Hired as program director of the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station last February, White had been overseeing the news department on an interim basis since news director Charlie Meyerson left in June. On Wednesday, White confirmed his dual role as permanent. “I’ve done this previously and it’s working well to provide more continuity between our shows and the news of the day,” he told me. In a change of heart (so to speak), White won’t be hiring a replacement for former anchor/reporter Rob Hart, who joined Meyerson at Merlin Media all-news WWWN-FM (101.1) “We’re reconfiguring our news operation and moving others into roles with greater responsibility, so we aren’t planning to fill the reporter position per se, as we are at a full complement of news anchors who also report,” he said.
- Tisha Lewis, the rookie Fox Chicago reporter who seems out of her depth on just about every story she covers, isn’t doing much to endear herself to colleagues. Last week she violated provisions of two union contracts, sources said, when she spent the night with Occupy Chicago and shot the entire story herself with her iPhone camera. “The station wasn’t willing to send a union cameraman undercover with her,” one staffer told me. “But they did hire an armed escort to tag along and guard her.” Fox bosses are pushing for “backpack journalists” to be exempted by union contracts.
- Chicago Tribune home delivery subscribers are being hit with whopping new bills to cover the editorial enhancements the paper introduced last June. On Tuesday one reader’s invoice jumped from $34.45 for 13 weeks of delivery to $97.50 for the same period. When she called to cancel, she said she was offered a “discount rate” of $52.50. In other news, Tribune weekday circulation dropped in the latest six-month report by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
- Crain’s Chicago Business has revamped its blog network with a sharp (and long overdue) makeover and the addition of reporter Brigid Sweeney covering the retail, convention, nonprofit and foundation beats. Sweeney’s new blog joins first-rate personality columnist Shia Kapos, along with Greg Hinz on politics, Ed Sherman on sports, and Ann Dwyer on entrepreneurs.
- Ray Hanania, the veteran Chicago journalist, broadcaster, publicist and provocateur, returns to radio this weekend from 8 to 11am Sundays on time-brokered WSBC-AM (1240). Early this year he cited health reasons for dropping his weekday morning talk show on WJJG-AM (1530). His new show, he said, will cover politics “local, national and my favorite — international.”