Robservations on the media beat:
The biggest local radio promotion in years kicks off Monday, with a $73,000 Corvette Stingray as grand prize. Hubbard Radio classic hits WDRV FM 97.1 will award “The Drive’s Dream Machine” to one of 50 listeners who qualify during the five-week promotion. Twice each weekday through September 5 those who identify the artist of the day can enter for a chance to win $500 and a shot at the car. “We want to make it as easy as possible for listeners to qualify and win, so the daily artists and hours they air will be no secret,” said program director Curtiss Johnson. “The calendar will be on WDRV.com, the artist and hours will be posted each day on our Facebook page and sent out on our Twitter feed.”
The last time Elroy Smith was in Chicago, he led two urban radio stations to the top of the ratings. Now he’s back in a big way. Smith’s Integrity Radio has agreed to pay a record $4.6 million for a 10-watt translator atop Willis Tower and an undisclosed price to lease the dormant HD 3 channel from Hubbard Radio’s WILV FM 100.3. Smith declined to comment on his plans, but sources say he’s favoring an inspirational format. Smith was a giant figure in radio here from 1992 to 2007 as operations manager and program director of Clear Channel’s urban contemporary WGCI FM 107.5, urban adult-contemporary WVAZ FM 102.7 and inspirational gospel WGRB AM 1390.
The Sun-Times isn’t going anywhere — at least for the time being. Officials of parent company Wrapports LLC confirmed this week that they’ve negotiated a new lease to stay put at 350 North Orleans Street. Earlier this year, the company terminated its lease with building owner Shorenstein Properties and considered moving elsewhere. The new deal significantly reduces the paper’s space from its current 98,000 square feet and consolidates all operations on the 10th floor. Some west suburban employees will be relocated to offices of the Aurora Beacon-News. The Sun-Times has occupied the former Apparel Center since 2004.
Doug Whitmire, executive producer of WLS-Channel 7’s morning news, has been promoted to executive producer of the ABC-owned station’s 10 p.m. newscast. He succeeds Richard Maginn, who resigned earlier this year. Whitmire joined ABC 7 as a newswriter/producer in 2003 from ABC affiliate WTVG-TV in Toledo, Ohio, and moved up to morning executive producer in 2008. “Doug’s knowledge of Chicago and our newsroom makes him the ideal choice to take the reins at 10 p.m.,” said Jennifer Graves, ABC 7 vice president and news director.
Robin Robinson, who just signed off after 27 years at WFLD-Channel 32, wasn’t the only seasoned news veteran to exit the Fox-owned station. Monday also marked the last day for special projects producer Ann Serafin, who worked closely with Robinson since their days at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. A former reporter for the Arizona Republic, Serafin spent 15 years as a producer at CBS 2 before joining Fox 32 in 1996. While Serafin is expected to seek freelance employment, friends wouldn’t be surprised if she and Robinson work together again.
Radio interviews of the late Studs Terkel, which aired for 45 years on classical WFMT FM 98.7, will be digitized and preserved for future generations, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. WFMT Radio Network, syndication arm of the Window to the World Communications station, was awarded $60,000 to support the Studs Terkel Radio Archive in partnership with the Chicago History Museum. Said WFMT's Tony Macaluso: “We’re eager to help artists, radio producers, scholars, journalists, teachers, students and the general public explore Studs’s work and use it as the inspiration for new ideas and projects.”
Post-Newsweek Stations, the outfit headed by former ABC 7 president and general manager Emily Barr, has a new name. As of this week it’s become Graham Media Group. Following the sale of the Washington Post last fall, the parent Washington Post Co. changed its name to Graham Holdings Co. “Much like our parent company, Graham Holdings, this new name better reflects the diversity of our creative and innovative company,” Barr said. She continues to run the five-station group from Chicago.