Robservations on the media beat:
If you want a good laugh sometime, check out michaelferro.com, the personal website of self-proclaimed “tech entrepreneur and philanthropist” Michael W. Ferro Jr. Four months after Ferro became chairman of Tribune Publishing and gave up his financial interest in Wrapports, the site still identifies him as “the founder and CEO of Wrapports LLC, Chicago Sun-Times’ parent company.” (For the record, Ferro was never CEO of Wrapports. That title was held by Tim Knight, who resigned last October.) Chirped one ex-employee: “Funny how tech savvy genius wizard Ferro is gonna launch ‘Tronc’ and set the publishing world on its ear, yet he can't even update his pathetic little site that he created for himself, to reflect that he no longer is associated with the Sun-Times.”
Tuesday update: As of noon, Michael Ferro’s website at michaelferro.com has been taken down. (It now links to a GoDaddy registration page.) Ferro’s Twitter account still identifies him as chairman of SunTimes Network and directs readers to the inoperative web address.
Another Tuesday update: As of 6 p.m. Ferro’s Twitter account has been corrected, identifying him simply as “inventor, investor and philanthropist.”
Chicago radio veteran Eddie Volkman is returning to the airwaves. Starting June 6, he’ll host from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on WCKG AM 1530, the west suburban talk station. Volkman, who most recently has been podcasting for the Radio Misfits Podcast Network and teaching at Illinois Media School, is one-half of the iconic duo of Eddie & Jobo (with Joe Colborn). “It’s a great chance for me to show my own personality and establish an individual identity,” Volkman says of his new gig. “My show will tend to be folksy and fun . . . I’m not into scandal and celebrity gossip.”
Tony Sculfield is signing off as evening personality at Crawford Broadcasting urban adult-contemporary WSRB FM 106.3 and heading out west. Starting June 6, he’ll host mornings at KBLX, the San Francisco station programmed by former Chicago radio exec Elroy Smith. Smith said Sculfield auditioned for the job last week and was hired on the spot. A Chicago native and longtime stand-up comic, Sculfield joined Chicago’s R&B 106.3 FM last June after nearly a decade at iHeartMedia urban contemporary WGCI FM 107.5. “I look forward to bringing exciting, compelling and fun radio to the Bay Area,” Sculfield said in a statement.
Great to see old warhorse Dick Kay greeting media friends and colleagues at the star-studded retirement party for Ron Magers last Thursday at Harry Caray’s Restaurant. It was Kay’s first public event since he underwent surgery last month to remove a cancerous kidney. On Saturday, Kay returned to hosting “Back on the Beat,” his three-hour weekly talk show on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT AM 820. Kay, 79, retired in 2006 after 38 years at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, where he rose from newswriter to dean of Chicago’s political reporters.
Two of radio’s brightest lights, Amy Guth and James VanOsdol, have teamed up to launch a new platform for curated Chicago podcasts. Yak Channel (at yakchannel.com) initially will feature Michelle L'amour (on the sensual side of Chicago), Kevin Alves (on storefront theater in Chicago) and Jerry Bryant of JBTV (on music’s brightest emerging stars), along with Guth’s and VanOsdol’s individual podcasts. Eventually the site will feature a slew of local experts on various topics, Guth said, “with the idea being that by listening to them all, one can get a pulse on Chicago via the sum of all the different content areas.” Yak Channel podcasts will be on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Soundcloud and TuneIn.
All eyes are WGN-Channel 9 as it begins its transformation from a CW Network affiliate to a full-fledged independent station. In the short run it will mean additional news, sports and syndicated programming, starting this fall. But Tribune Media bosses see an opportunity to create a model for “the independent staton of the future” and share their blueprint with indies outside the market. Whether "Chicago's Very Own" does bring back Bozo (insiders confirmed WGN is taking “a fresh look” at the possibility), the coming year could be a game changer in more ways than one.