Is new-and-improved Reader about to change hands again?
Robservations on the media beat:
- Just two weeks after editor Mara Shalhoup unveiled a stunning redesign of ChicagoReader.com, her organization was rocked with news of a possible sale. Lynne Marek of Crain’s Chicago Business reported Monday that the New York investment firm of Atalaya Capital Management is seeking a new owner for the Chicago Reader, and hired a Dallas firm, Bulkley Capital, to handle the talks. Shalhoup directed my attention to a blog post by Michael Miner, senior editor and media critic of the Reader, who ridiculed Crain’s for speculating on potential buyers — including the Chicago Sun-Times — but didn’t exactly knock down the scoop. (Then again it wasn’t clear whether he was reporting as a journalist or commenting as an insider. I counted Miner’s use of the personal pronoun “we” seven times in the piece.) Neither Crain’s nor the Reader pointed out that Richard Gilbert is a board member of Atalaya and a director and advisory board member of Bulkley Capital. He and the defunct Chicago News Cooperative’s Jim O’Shea engineered Jim Warren’s brief run as publisher shortly after Atalaya brought the Reader out of bankruptcy in 2009.
- At least one public official is blaming low voter interest in the March 20 Illinois primary in part on the decision by the Sun-Times not to endorse candidates. Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners told WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger last week that he was disappointed by the newspaper’s recent decision to opt out. “It was an easy reference source for most voters to go to learn about the judicial candidates, and I think that is a very negative consequence of the Sun-Times pulling away,” he said.
- “Should the ‘Public’ Remain in Public Broadcasting?” That’s the topic to be debated Wednesday before the Union League Club of Chicago. Arguing in favor of federal government support will be Torey Malatia, CEO of Chicago Public Media and general manager of WBEZ-FM (91.5). Arguing against will be Scott Stantis, editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune. Chris Robling will moderate the forum. Reservations are required to attend the breakfast event from 7:30 to 9am at the Union League Club, 65 West Jackson Boulevard.
- WGN-AM (720), the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station, became the latest local broadcaster Monday to align with TuneIn, a free service that lets people listen to music, sports, talk and news from around the world. The service reaches more than 30 million monthly listeners through streaming and mobile apps. “WGN is thrilled to extend our unique and original Chicago programming to new audiences through TuneIn,” Tom Langmyer, vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “This partnership greatly broadens the reach of one of America’s best known and most beloved stations, making it easier for a world of new listeners to discover the programming our fans already know and appreciate.”
- There's life after 95 WIIL Rock: Lisa Tyler, former half of The Tom and Lisa Morning Show on WIIL-FM (95.1), is the latest Chicago radio personality to shift to podcasting. Since February 20, she's been hosting The Lisa Tyler Show with Jim & Alli, a half-hour weekday talk show on pop culture, sex and relationship topics. "We also discuss personal things and Internet stuff," Tyler said. Her co-hosts are Jim Wojdyla, lead singer of Modern Day Romeos, and Alli Williams, resident entertainment reporter and "sexpert." They’ve already landed a sponsorship deal with Coors Light. It’s accessible online at: lisatylershow.com.
- Veteran Chicago journalist Susy Schultz has been named executive director of Images and Voice of Hope, a nonprofit international community of media professionals who “advocate, recognize and celebrate the role of media as agents of world benefit.” “It is a challenge I look forward to [and] an opportunity I could not pass up,” Schultz said. President of the group’s board of directors is Roberta Baskin, who began her career as an investigative reporter in Chicago. Schultz, who most recently was managing editor of The Daily Journal in Kankakee, is a former reporter for the Sun-Times and former editor of Chicago Parent.
- Eric Lerner, who was news director of top-rated ABC 7 here from 1998 to 2001, has been named president and general manager of WCAU-TV, the NBC-owned station in Philadelphia. He most recently headed KIRO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Seattle.