Wert-less NBC Chicago awaiting new general manager
Robservations on the media beat:
- With Larry Wert’s industry-shaking move from NBC Tower to Tribune Tower next door, all eyes are on Valari Staab, president of NBC Owned Television Stations. Staab is expected to act quickly in appointing a replacement for Wert as president and general manager of NBC 5. The obvious insider is Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news under Wert. But Staab went outside of the company last March when she named Eric Lerner general manager of WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. Lerner, a former ABC 7 news director, most recently headed KIRO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Seattle. Wert’s departure capped a period of unprecedented upheaval for Chicago broadcast management, with top bosses departing five stations — ABC 7, CBS 2, Fox 32, NBC 5 and WGN 9 — all within the last nine months.
- The bat Ron Santo supposedly was holding when the infamous black cat ran across the field in the Cubs' 1969 series with the Mets, and a White Sox uniform from 1910 may be among treasures up for grabs on A Piece of the Game, a pilot for a sports memorabilia reality show to premiere next month on Tribune Co.-owned WGN and CLTV. Airing before Cubs games, the half-hour show will feature fans, former sports greats, big money, bidding and “more tension than a Jay Cutler news conference.” Veteran producer Don DuPree described it as "Antiques Roadshow meets Chicago sports memorabilia — on Red Bull.” The public is invited to the first taping March 4 at Harry Caray’s on Navy Pier. To appear on the show and have sports memorabilia appraised for free, check out the website at: apieceofthegame.tv.
- The Better Government Association has hired the top investigative producer from Fox Chicago News. Patrick McCraney is joining the nonprofit government watchdog group after 16 months at Fox 32, where he worked closely with reporters Dane Placko and Larry Yellen. McCraney, a Chicago area native and University of Illinois graduate, previously was an investigative producer at WITI-TV in Milwaukee. Fox 32 is advertising for a new investigative producer: “Since this is an open newsroom, the successful candidate must have a professional demeanor, an amicable disposition, and able [sic] to maintain a good relationship with staff and upper management.”
- Chicago DJs Andre Solaris and Nosmo have launched Electric Playground, a new four-hour electronic dance music show, airing at midnight Saturdays on Merlin Media alternative rock WKQX-LP (87.7). “Chicago is the city where House was born,” Solaris said in a statement. “There is such a rich palette of global dance music and I am elated to once again share it with this city.”
- I doubt I’m the only Chicagoan who remembers Paul Benzaquin, the bestselling author, newspaper columnist and radio personality who hosted a smart late-night talk show on ABC 7 in 1970. Benzaquin, who returned to Boston and spent decades as a radio and television host, died last week at 90.
- It's 30 for 20: Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of WYCC-Channel 20, the City Colleges of Chicago’s public television station.