Sun-Times strikes out when boss goes to ballgame
Robservations on the media beat:
- Is this Michael Ferro dude for real? By what stretch of the imagination could anyone consider it newsworthy that the owner of the Sun-Times attended a Cubs game with his family? But there on Page 67 of Wednesday’s paper was a quarter-page photo of the Wrapports chairman with his wife and kids hanging out behind the Wrigley Field scoreboard with Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. But wait, there's more: Page 74 of the same edition carried a full-page Game Face photo of Ferro’s son, Trey, identified as a “lifelong Cubs fan and member of the golf team at Latin School of Chicago,” throwing out the first pitch at Tuesday’s Astros-Cubs game. (Olympic gold medalist Conor Dwyer, who also threw out a ceremonial first pitch at the game, was ignored.) The shameless star treatment says a lot about Ferro and how he views the Sun-Times as his personal PR toy. It says even more about editors who pander to the boss rather than stand up for what’s right.
- Also at the Sun-Times, look for the paper to launch one of Ferro’s pet projects, a Sunday supplement called Splash, on September 9. Under editor Susanna Negovan, the new weekly section will focus on “style, society and celebrities,” according to insiders. Since May, Negovan has been overseeing the paper’s Daily Splash pages, which feature essays by a rotating cast of celebs. Those pages now run in all eight daily publications owned by Sun-Times Media.
- Perhaps only a cynic or a TV critic would question the timing of CBS 2 in bringing back its weekend morning newscasts nearly four years after the same management canceled them. Could it be that they’re returning now just so they can reap political advertising dollars? “Note how the station discontinued the newscast a few months after the last presidential race (albeit in a terrible economy) and is resurrecting it just after Labor Day, when races begin in earnest,” a former TV critic friend of mine suggested. “News competitiveness has nothing much to do with it, I bet.” I agree that it can’t be for ratings, since the station hardly draws any viewers now to its weekday morning shows. On Tuesday I asked CBS 2 boss Bruno Cohen why anyone should believe he’s committed to keeping the Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts around this time. Cohen’s comeback: “Time will tell.”
- As the Museum of Broadcast Communications nears the deadline on the $6 million it owes on its mortgage, it just moved a big step closer to settling its debt. The museum this week sold the first floor of its new four-story building at 360 North State Street for $3 million to RiverNorth Capital Management LLC, which is expected to convert the space to a restaurant facing Kinzie Street. Calling it “a significant reduction in our debt obligations,” Bruce DuMont, founder and CEO said: “We’re continuing to work out other options, and I’m very optimistic about our ability to do what we need to do to move forward.”
- It’ll be a real family affair when Harry Volkman, 86, retired dean of Chicago television meteorologists, becomes an honorary member of the Schwaben Verein German Society at the group’s annual Oktoberfest in August celebration Friday in northwest suburban Buffalo Grove. Serving as the evening’s entertainment will be Chef Dan and the Appetizers, the band fronted by Harry’s son, Eddie Volkman, morning co-host on CBS Radio K-Hits WJMK-FM (104.3). The group also features Eddie’s brother Jerry on bass and sister Charlotte on vocals and keyboards. The band was started by lead vocalist Dan Coudreaut, executive chef for McDonald's, where Jerry works as his right-hand man. “It’s grown into a pretty decent and fun cover band over the last four years or so,” said Eddie, who noted that all their money goes to Ronald McDonald House Charities.
- Another media family day coming up is September 6. That’s when veteran Chicago radio and Internet newsman Charlie Meyerson and his son, Chicago Journal editor Ben Meyerson, will appear as panelists together on Steve Edwards’ Afternoon Shift. They’ll mix it up at 3pm on Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5). “It'll be like sitting around the dinner table at the Meyerson home, but without all the sarcasm, punching and yelling,” says Charlie. “Because that stuff just doesn't happen when Steve Edwards is moderating dinner.”