Network spotlight points to NBC 5’s Alex Perez
Robservations on the media beat:
- Yet another rising star at NBC 5 appears bound for network glory. Alex Perez, whose contract is up after more than six years as a general assignment reporter, won’t confirm a deal or say which network is wooing him, but there’s no doubt he’s in play. Colleagues speculate he may be following Paula Faris and Ginger Zee to ABC unless NBC exercises its right to match offers. A native of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Perez joined NBC 5 from KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas. Last year he participated in the prestigious American Marshall Memorial Fellowship program.
- On December 30 — the exact date of his 20th anniversary as WXRT-FM (93.1) morning personality — Lin Brehmer marked the occasion at a quiet dinner with family near Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia. Fortunately for his legion of fans, the CBS Radio adult/alternative rock station has something quite a bit bigger in mind. Great To Be Alive: Celebrating 20 Years of Lin Brehmer's Morning Show on XRT, a live, two-hour special hosted by Terri Hemmert, Mary Dixon and Marty Lennartz, will air at noon Saturday from South Branch Tavern and Grille in the Loop. In addition to insights and excerpts from Brehmer’s show, the event will feature “reactions and reflections from noteworthy musicians, celebrities, politicians, and others with whom Lin has crossed paths.”
- The Chicago Tribune newsroom is about to get smaller again. Editor Gerry Kern announced plans Monday to offer voluntary buyouts to all editorial employees (except top department managers) in advance of possible layoffs. "We begin the year with a need to reduce costs as we face the continued financial pressures from a weak economy and structural changes in our industry," Kern said in a memo published by paper. "We prefer to meet our financial goals entirely through this voluntary plan, but other actions may be required." The buyouts will take effect by mid-February.
- The death last week of legendary correspondent and Medill alum Richard Threlkeld brought back memories for CBS 2 news anchor Bill Kurtis from their days as West Coast correspondents for CBS News after Threlkeld returned from covering Vietnam. “For me his most memorable story was actually for radio,” Kurtis recalled. “He was caught in a firefight. An Army unit was pinned down taking heavy fire but a chopper managed to drop in to evacuate wounded and some reporters. Dick was among them. As he ran for the chopper, he delivered a report into his hand-held recorder, gasping for breath, hoping it wouldn’t take off without him, finally climbing into the Huey. It communicated more about Vietnam than any record-booth report could have done, and I remember it to this day.”
- The official grand opening of the new Museum of Broadcast Communications remains months away, but there’s already plenty going on inside at 360 North State Street. On February 4, Steve Darnall will kick off Jack Benny Month by hosting a live broadcast of Those Were the Days from 1 to 5pm. And the following Saturday, February 11, Bob Sirott will host A Salute to Radio Hall of Famer Herb Kent from 1 to 4pm. Reservations for both events are available at museum.tv.
- It’s still the largest radio company on earth, with more than 850 stations and multiple digital and broadcast networks. But “radio” is no longer part of its name. Last week Clear Channel Radio officially renamed itself Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to reflect its focus on a wide range of platforms. “Radio is both our history and the foundation upon which we will grow our company moving forward. That will not change,” CEO John Hogan said in a statement. “Clear Channel Media and Entertainment represents our evolution as we prove our relationship with our listeners is so much more than just our transmitters and towers.” Industry reaction was generally positive, although Radio-Info.com’s Tom Taylor sees it as a precursor to a bigger move: “Re-branding Clear Channel as radio ‘media and entertainment’ would be a more attractive description if you were going to go public with it or sell it outright,” he noted. In Chicago, Clear Channel owns urban adult-contemporary WVAZ-FM (102.7), adult contemporary WLIT-FM (93.9), contemporary hit WKSC-FM (103.5), urban contemporary WGCI-FM (107.5), Spanish pop WNUA-FM (95.5), and gospel WGRB-AM (1390). It also leases urban talk WVON-AM (1690) to Midway Broadcasting.
- Just as the CBS Radio’s WSCR-AM (670) marks its 20th anniversary as Chicago’s first sports/talk station (with an impressive, seven-part history of the Score by Dan Dorfman), a new sports talker is on deck. ESPN Deportes Radio, the Spanish-language counterpart to the Disney–owned sports network, is expected to debut February 1 on NextMedia Group’s north suburban WKRS-AM (1220), replacing its news/talk format. ESPN Deportes Radio already airs in 13 states, but it’s been absent from Illinois. But wait, there could be more: RadioInsight last week spotted the domain name ESPNDeportesChicago.com, calling it “a perfect fit signal wise” for the EMF Broadcasting/Clear Channel translator atop the Aon Center or one of Clear Channel’s AMs here.