Weigel creates new digital network for Fox TV stations
Robservations on the media beat:
- Those clever folks at Weigel Broadcasting, Chicago-based home of The U, Me-TV, Me-Too and This TV, among other programming services, have been tapped by Fox Television Stations to create a new 24-hour movie network for Fox subchannels nationwide. The new channel, called Movies!, will present “a variety of theatrical motion pictures in a new, viewer and advertiser friendly format, not seen on broadcast television to date,” according to an announcement Monday. It is expected to debut in May on Fox digital subchannels in 17 markets, including Chicago. “We are excited to work with the Fox Television Station Group in the creation of the next digital network franchise,” said Neal Sabin, Weigel Broadcasting's president of content and networks. “This is a real vote of confidence for what we are doing in the digital space.”
- Chicago’s public radio station is getting national attention for a new promotional campaign urging its listeners to “go make babies.” The New York Times broke the news Sunday of ads for WBEZ-FM (91.5) “meant to playfully encourage listeners in their 20s and 30s to ‘make babies’ so that by 2032, the station will have a slew of teenage listeners.” The $400,000 campaign was created by the digital agency Xi Chicago. “Certainly it’s a different approach than what one would expect from a public media station, but we hope this will reach and resonate with younger news consumers who've never heard of us,” said Daniel Ash, vice president of strategic communications for Chicago Public Media. It’s the first new marketing campaign for WBEZ in 10 years.
- As sorry as I was to report on Cara Jepsen stepping down as media critic for Illinois Entertainer, there’s good news about her successor: Rick Kaempfer, the respected media blogger, author, publisher and former Chicago radio producer, will take over the monthly magazine’s media column in April. “I'm excited to be back on the media beat,” Kaempfer told me. “I think Cara did a wonderful job over the past 20 years. She recommended me as her replacement, so I do feel some pressure to ably fill her shoes. Although, now that I say that, I don't think she wears shoes anymore — she's a yoga instructor. I'm looking forward to highlighting some of the great Chicago stars, past and present — a continuation of my work at Chicago Radio Spotlight."
- Gene Siskel, the great Chicago film critic who died in 1999, would have been 67 last Saturday. To honor his longtime partner and friend, Roger Ebert posted hourly tweets about Siskel with links to blog posts and other special memories of their extraordinary association. It was an awesome tribute. (Here's the link to a classic bit they did with David Letterman in 1996.)
- A monthlong media exhibit to mark the 30th anniversary of Harold Washington's election as Chicago's first African-American mayor, has opened at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 North State Street. Bruce DuMont, founder and president of the musem, will lead a panel discussion on The Harold Washington Legacy from 6 to 8pm February 6. Participants will include former press secretary Alton Miller, former aides Tom Coffey and Jacky Grimshaw, reporters Dick Kay and Bill Cameron, talk show host Clifford Kelley, and historian Timuel Black. Admission to the museum will be free throughout the run of Harold Washington: On the Air until February 28.
- Two Chicago broadcast news veterans have collaborated on a book about a little-known piece of Chicago history. Fire Strikes the Chicago Stock Yards: A History of Flame and Folly in the Jungle recalls the hundreds of blazes that broke out in the city's famed Union Stock Yards and the terrible toll they took over the years. The worst, in 1910, killed 21 firemen and three civilians. Published by The History Press, it's written by John Hogan, former WGN reporter and spokesman for Com Ed, and Alex Burkholder, former writer and investigative producer for WGN and ABC 7.
- Richard Dominick, who was executive producer of The Jerry Springer Show from 1994 to 2008 (and created the Steve Wilkos Show while he was at it), has launched a new multimedia venture in Chicago. Richard Dominick Entertainment Group, in partnership with Detroit-based Horizon Entertainment, plans to begin production this spring on movies, television series and record releases. “After so many years of working within the boundaries and limitations of other production companies, I now have what all producers dream — creative freedom,” Dominick said in a statement.