Union says Sun-Times squeeze play ‘cuts deep into morale’
New Sun-Times workspaces
Robservations on the media beat:
- Sun-Times staffers say they’re being squeezed in more ways than one. First there’s the matter of ongoing contract negotiations between the Chicago Newspaper Guild and the company (which refuses to restore any of the salary cuts that were demanded to keep the paper afloat in 2009). Now, with plans to close six suburban newsrooms and consolidate editorial operations of all Sun-Times Media properties downtown, staffers are being moved to smaller workspaces. “Four desks with four computers are being squeezed into a space that used to be occupied by two desks. Each desk has a meager two drawers and a wimpy partition that doesn’t even reach eye level,” the union wrote in an online post Thursday. “Guild members are being asked to sacrifice space, privacy and the basic dignity of a 21st century workplace. This plan is a physical representation of management’s us-versus-them style. It is an issue that cuts deep into morale and spirit. The lack of creative landscape illustrates the wide space between management and staff in working together to create the best media product in the Chicago area." Update: On Friday afternoon, I received the following statement from Jim Kirk, editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media: "All union and non-union editors and reporters here will have the same desk size, including me and other newsroom leaders. The union's statement is a bit puzzling and not accurate. We're all making the 'sacrifice' together. No more offices for newsroom managers. That was always the plan and that has been conveyed in every communication to employees."
- Sorry to say I was never a fan of Alpana Singh as host of the weekly restaurant review show Check, Please! (Maybe it was her annoying giggle.) Now that she has announced plans to step down after 10 years to focus on running her own restaurant, WTTW-Channel 11 and executive producer David Manilow will begin the search for Singh’s replacement. Production begins on the show’s 13th season in June.
- Arbitron ratings released this week for the period from December 6 to January 2 (the “holiday book”) gave Clear Channel adult contemporary WLIT-FM (93.9) the belated Christmas present it expected. Holiday Lite drew 10.0 percent of all listeners (and a cumulative weekly audience of more than 3.2 million). Distant second was Clear Channel urban adult-contemporary WVAZ-FM (102.7) with a 6.1 share. “We take our commitment to Christmas music seriously, and we never take anything for granted,” said Tony Coles, vice president of programming and operations for Clear Channel Chicago. “It’s nice to see so many listeners come back year after year, and that they have made Lite FM a part of their Christmas tradition.” As good as it was, the number fell short of last year’s 11.3 share. Coles attributed the difference to “market dynamics,” adding: “We felt good about the growth and are looking forward to 2013.”
- Could there be hope for smooth jazz radio after all? Rick O’Dell, Chicago’s leading authority on the format and founder of SmoothJazzChicago.net, is cheered by the return of instrumentals on The Wave, CBS Radio’s KTWV-FM in Los Angeles. As the country’s original smooth jazz station, it was the precursor to Chicago’s WNUA-FM (95.5), which dropped smooth jazz for Spanish under Clear Channel ownership in 2009. “For those of us who are fans of traditional smooth jazz, this is the most encouraging thing we have heard in quite some time,” O’Dell wrote in a blog post Thursday. “Now that we have seen a vote of confidence for smooth jazz in the second largest radio market in the country, can we assume there is a glimmer of hope for the format here in Chicago, the third largest radio market?”
- Andrew Herrmann, the veteran Chicago newsman, has been hired as senior editor of DNAInfo.com Chicago, starting February 7. Herrmann, who grew up in north suburban Beach Park and graduated from Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois-Springfield, rose from reporter to managing editor during 28 years at the Sun-Times. He most recently was editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media’s west suburban Aurora Beacon-News, Naperville Sun and Elgin Courier-News.
- Olivia Clarke has resigned as editor of Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and Chicago Lawyer magazine, effective February 1. The Indiana University graduate worked for the Times of Northwest Indiana, the Arizona Daily Star and the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette before joining Law Bulletin Publishing Co. in 2006 as a reporter on the magazine. Succeeding Clarke will be assistant editor Pat Milhizer.
- Josue “Josh” Villa, a veteran Spanish radio programmer, has been named operations manager and program director at Moody Bible Institute's WMBI-AM/FM (1110/90.1). Since 2006, he was president of Breakthrough Media Services, based in Austin, Texas.
- Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones was the only media person to make Newcity’s Players 2013: The 50 People Who Really Perform in Chicago. Jones ranked 39th on the publication’s annual list of the city’s most powerful individuals in theater, dance, comedy and opera. No. 1 was Michelle Boone, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.