When it comes to media manipulation, Emanuel’s a master
Robservations on the media beat:
- One of Rahm Emanuel’s few public flareups since he was elected mayor was a testy encounter with NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern when she tried to ask about plans for his inauguration. A few months later he came close to losing it again when Ahern questioned him about where his children would be going to school. But those were exceptions. In a revealing profile for Northwestern University’s alumni magazine, freelance writer Cate Plys describes Emanuel’s media strategy as shrewd, relentless and sometimes overwhelming. “Oh, my God, it’s ridiculous,” Ahern tells Plys. “Crazy! Sometimes I don’t even answer the phone in the afternoon. Every single day, usually around 2:30 or 3, they [Emanuel’s press people] call. ‘Just checking, what are you working on?’ ‘I’m working on news. What are you working on?’ If I dare to say what I’m working on, they say, ‘That’s not a story. That’s not a story.’” Nevertheless, Ahern says of Emanuel: “He’s impressive. I think he could probably be — who’s to say? — but maybe folks will end up saying this guy was our best mayor ever.” In a fascinating sidebar, Plys analyzes the various rhetorical devices Emanuel uses to dismiss, deflect and misdirect the media — skills he learned when he pursued a master’s degree in rhetoric and argumentation at NU.
- Throughout her 15 years as president and general manager of ABC 7, Emily Barr rarely appeared on the air. But now that she’s between jobs (on her way to starting as president and CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations), she’s making an exception for public television. Barr will be among Joel Weisman’s guests on Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review at 7pm Friday on WTTW-Channel 11. Topics will include how local stations are preparing to cover NATO.
- It’s a promise she may live to regret, but HLN Morning Express host (and former Chicago news anchor) Robin Meade agreed to record a duet with Jonathon Brandmeier of The Moo Moo Song on her next album. (Her first CD, Brand New Day, was a critically acclaimed collection of country songs.) Meade made the promise on this week’s Brandmeier, airing at 1:05am Friday night/Saturday morning on NBC 5 (and repeating on NBC Chicago Nonstop). Johnny B. also welcomes retired White Sox slugger Frank Thomas to the show, now in its second season.
- Veteran Chicago broadcaster Jack Taylor, who’s had a program on the air in one form or another for 65 years, thought it was over when north suburban WKRS-AM (1220) went Spanish sports last February and canceled his Saturday morning talk show. But along came Midwest Ballroom host John Russell with an offer he couldn’t refuse: A Few Minutes with Jack Taylor soon will begin airing at 5:50pm Saturdays on College of DuPage’s WDCB-FM (90.9). Taylor describes it as “two minutes of anecdotes, observations and recollections.”
- Few musical genres or radio formats engender as much loyalty as smooth jazz. So despite the recent demise of Chicago’s Smooth 87.7 on the former WLFM-LP, it’s wonderful to see former program director and midday personality Rick O’Dell keeping the community together online. Together with colleagues Bill Cochran, Scott Adams and Loni Taylor, (known informally as Rick O’Dell & The Smooth Crew), he’s established Chicago Smooth, a website focused on smooth jazz music, artists, concerts and happenings in the area. “With each day that passes, with every email I get and every note someone posts on my Facebook page, my feelings grow stronger,” O’Dell blogged. “Something this meaningful to people, something this near and dear to them, something that prompts a discussion this honest and heartfelt — a force this positive, in other words — should not be taken away!”
- Chicago ad man David Plier, who’s been a guest countless times plugging the Museum of Broadcast Communications on Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720), is stepping up to the role of guest co-host. At midnight Thursday, he’ll share the microphone with WGN overnight personality Bill Leff. Among their guests will be Betty White, who’s headlining the museum’s 25th anniversary event June 12. When Plier contacted White about the interview, he told her it was his first time as a host. “I’d love to do it, dear,” Plier recalls her telling him. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been somebody’s first!”