Tribune bankruptcy outlasts reporter’s time in Chicago
Robservations on the media beat:
- When Chicago Tribune business reporter Michael Oneal began covering the Tribune Co. bankruptcy in 2008, he never imagined he’d still be writing about it four years later. Or that he’d be leaving Chicago before the company finally emerges from Chapter 11. But just as the story appears to be entering its final phase, Oneal, 52, is packing up and moving to California, where his wife, Anne Fiorito, has been promoted to the San Francisco office of Adobe Systems. Oneal’s bosses have asked him to continue covering the bankruptcy story from the West Coast, but his future after that is unknown. Despite the inherent conflicts involved with writing about his own employer, Oneal has won high marks for his fair and accurate reporting. “The editors clearly paid close attention to what I was writing, but to their credit, I’ve never been interfered with,” he told me. “That says a lot about the ethical standards of the organization.” Before joining the Tribune in 2003, Oneal spent 17 years with Business Week and SmartMoney.com. But nothing prepared him for the epic struggle he chronicled among his company’s creditors. “I feel like I ought to be given an honorary degree in bankruptcy law,” he said. “I had no idea about any of this until I started. Had I understood then what I know now, I would have known that once a case gets to a certain point of litigiousness, it’s down the rabbit hole.”
- Look for ABC 7 to expand its top-rated Windy City Live franchise to weekends. Starting September 15, a weekend edition of the show — featuring highlights from the previous week’s broadcasts — will air following the station’s 10pm Saturday newscast. The move undoubtedly will be seen as a strong vote of confidence in Windy City Live by John Idler, new president and general manager of ABC 7. Hosted by Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini, the live local replacement for The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted in May 2011 and airs at 9am weekdays (with a rerun at 12:05am weekdays).
- Seven Chicago stations are among finalists for the National Association of Broadcasters 2012 Marconi Radio Awards. Local finalists announced Thursday include: Lisa Dent and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens of WUSN-FM (99.5) for major market personality of the year; WBBM-FM (96.3) for major market station of the year; WBBM-AM (780) and WGN-AM (720) for news/talk station of the year; WDRV-FM (97.1) and WXRT-FM (93.1) for rock station of the year, and WSCR-AM (670) for sports station of the year. Winners will be named September 20 at the NAB Radio Show in Dallas.
- The Museum of Broadcast Communications will mark the 50th anniversary of the first transmission from the Telstar communications satellite with a daylong program Monday at the museum, 360 North State Street. Running continuously from 10am to 5pm will be tape of a panel discussion recorded Wednesday with historians Wally Podrazik and John McDonough and former FCC chairman Newton Minow. Bruce DuMont, founder and president of the museum, moderated the program, which includes clips of the actual transmission from July 23, 1962.
- Bob Vasilopulos, one of Chicago’s all-time great sports producers, is headed for London to cover his 10th Olympic Games — this time for NBC. Vasilopulos, who still lives on the Northwest Side, left CBS 2 after a long run in 1998.
- Chicago broadcasting veterans Rick O’Dell, Gene Honda and Charlie Meyerson — all alums of the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana — will be among local celebs at the first Chicago fundraiser for Illini Media Saturday at Joe’s Bar, 940 West Weed Street. “I've always felt I owed my career to the time I spent at WPGU while I was at the U of I,” O’Dell said.
- WGN Morning News anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten will emcee a comedy fundraiser for the Better Government Association July 31 at Paris Club, 59 West Hubbard Street. The event will feature a performance by The Onion Players.