‘Nude Hippo’ turns 15 — and still looks svelte as ever
Robservations on the media beat:
- When it comes to locally produced variety shows, there’s only one Nude Hippo — and it’s about to turn 15. Since its debut as The Big Fat Nude Hippo Show in 1997, its format has evolved with an array of hosts and on a number of cable and digital venues. But through it all, creator and executive producer Tony Lossano has been its guiding spirit. (Wisely, he never quit his day job as a Chicago radio producer.) To mark the milestone, Amy Zanglin will host Nude Hippo @15, a one-hour special at 9pm May 5 on the NBC Chicago Nonstop digital channel and online at NudeHippo.com. "When I started Nude Hippo, I knew then that we would be celebrating our 15th anniversary online and on an NBC digital subchannel,” Lossano said. “What I didn't realize is that we would not be broadcasting in high-definition. Have you seen how pretty our girls are on this show — and we're broadcasting in standard definition?"
- After two and a half years as 5 and 10pm Saturday news anchor at NBC 5, Lisa Parker is returning to full-time reporting duties with the Target 5 investigative unit. “As we emphasize more investigative and exclusive stories, an increased profile for Lisa’s reporting makes sense,” Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news, told staffers in a memo. The move is part of a realignment of weekend anchors at the station, effective May 5. Dick Johnson will anchor at 5 and 10pm Saturdays and Sundays, and Anthony Ponce will co-anchor with Kim Vatis from 6 to 7am and from 9 to 10am Saturdays, and from 6 to 7am and from 8 to 9am Sundays.
- Two familiar faces from Comcast SportsNet Chicago — anchor Pat Boyle and reporter Sarah Kustok — will be joining NBC 5’s sports team on a part-time basis, filling in on regular newscasts and Sports Sunday. Comcast Corp. ownership of NBC makes the arrangement possible, but station officials emphasized they’re not merging their sports departments, as the company has done elsewhere. “While Pat and Sarah will be helping us out, they will continue to be employees of Comcast SportsNet Chicago,” Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news, told staffers in a memo. “We should identify them as such.” Mike Adamle, Peggy Kusinski and part-timers Eric Collins and Laurence Holmes continue on NBC’s sports staff.
- It was a double farewell at Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5) for the husband-and-wife duo of science reporter Gabriel Spitzer and business reporter Ashley Gross. Spitzer also was the host and creator of WBEZ’s Clever Apes, and filled in as host of Eight Forty-Eight for a year. The couple, who previously worked together at Alaska Public Radio, have moved back out west, landing this time at public radio KPLU-FM in Seattle. WBEZ plans to hire replacements for both.
- Chicago magazine has a job opening for a new art director. Jennifer Moore, who’s held the job since late 2006 and spearheaded the magazine’s redesign, is shifting to art director of Chicago Home + Garden, replacing Megan Duffy Rostan, who resigned. Both publications are owned by Tribune Co. Calling it “a bittersweet move,” editor-in-chief Beth Fenner told staffers in a memo: “Jennifer has considerably strengthened Chicago magazine’s visuals since becoming art director five years ago, and we are grateful for her hard work.”
- WFMT-FM (98.7), the Window to the World Communications classical music station, wrapped up its April membership drive Thursday about $10,000 over its goal of $740,000. “This drive was the first in memory where, from the first day, making the goal was never in doubt,” Steve Robinson, executive vice president and general manager, told staffers in a memo. “That’s because we made the day goal for each of the first five days. That had never happened before — and we never had to worry much from that point on.” This marks the second year WFMT has met its goal despite reducing its annual pledge drives from three to two. (WBEZ, by contrast, did not succeed in its recent attempt to raise enough to drop a fundraiser, nor did it meet its goal last drive.)