So long, Phyllis: Schwartz bails out as Fox 32 news director
Robservations on the media beat:
- Well, that didn’t last long. Less than a year after she flounced into town, the perpetually pissed off Phyllis Schwartz is on her way out as vice president and news director of Fox 32. Claiming “strictly personal” reasons for returning to San Diego, where her family lives, Schwartz told staffers Tuesday the decision was hers alone. She insisted that she wasn’t passed over for promotion when Fox Television Stations reassigned general manager Mike Renda to Detroit and replaced him with Dennis Welch from Orlando. Ratings have remained dismal under Schwartz, who previously was news director at NBC 5 and ABC 7 here. Her trademark style of management by fear and intimidation won her few admirers this time around. No successor has been named. Assistant news director Chris Myers will serve as interim news director.
- Holiday spirit must be in short supply at CBS Radio. Lawyers for the company that fired Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon last week after 20 months as the morning team at K-Hits WJMK-FM (104.3) are holding them to the remaining four months of their contracts. So Eddie & Jobo were forced to cancel appearances on WGN Morning News (where they’re regularly parodied by Mike Toomey and Jeff Hoover) and on Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5). It’s hard to imagine either one of those to be competitors of K-Hits — or any other CBS Radio stations in the market.
- Veteran broadcaster Ben Larson, who was the founding host of Chicago's longest running financial news program, died November 27 in Arlington Heights. He was 86. Larson spent 10 years at CBS Radio WBBM-AM (780), first as a staff announcer and later as news director. He was succeeded by John Callaway, who oversaw the station's transition to an all-news format. In 1967, Larson joined Weigel Broadcasting where he launched The Stock Market Observer on WCIU-Channel 26 and hosted the live daily business news show for 22 years. "Let's just say I was directed to retire," he told me when he was forced out in January 1990. "Any time you can work 22 years in a job you love, you have to consider yourself fortunate."
- Ben Meyerson, editor of the almost defunct Chicago Journal, has landed a new job with Sun-Times Media’s Pioneer Press. Starting January 7, he’ll oversee five of the group’s north suburban weeklies. Having been unable to find a buyer for Chicago Journal, publisher Dan Haley will fold the Oak Park-based publication after this week. Meyerson, a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Maryland, is the son of Charlie Meyerson, veteran Chicago radio newsman and digital editor.
- Leave it to Tom Taylor, radio’s most respected analyst, to put last week’s massive layoffs at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in perspective. Under the headline “More bad press and bad vibes — fallout from Clear Channel’s synchronized job cuts,” Taylor wrote: “Even one Wall Street guy is appalled — ‘I’m a numbers guy, so I understand the end of a company’s calendar/fiscal year, and there is a superficial “neatness” in making personnel decisions. But putting those decisions into effect can be moved around by weeks, if not months, and not materially impact income statements or balance sheets. What I find hard to understand is how well-paid top executives figure that firing someone between Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukah is anything other than ruthless and uncaring — plus it is unnecessary fiscal timing.’ ”