Robservations on the media beat:
News this week that CBS Radio would spin off into a separate entity means the company’s seven-station Chicago cluster is assured of remaining intact. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, parent company CBS disclosed plans to take its radio division public by the end of the month. The decision to proceed with an IPO effectively ends speculation of a sale or merger with another company. CBS Radio owns 117 radio stations in 26 markets nationwide. In Chicago it includes all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9; sports/talk WSCR AM 670; Top 40 WBBM FM 96.3; country WUSN FM 99.5; adult album alternative WXRT 93.1, and classic hits WJMK FM 104.3. The Chicago station group led the market in 2015 with total revenue of $123.54 million.
Monday will bring a new name, new website and new logo to Aldertrack, the daily subscription newsletter for the local political cognoscenti. Starting next week, it’ll be called The Daily Line. Publisher Mike Fourcher said the new website (at TheDailyLine.net) will allow subscribers to search archives and share articles on social media. There’ll also be a new monthly subscription option. “The changes are a reflection of our bigger goals,” Fourcher said. “While Chicago will always be at the heart of what we do, we’d like to be about more than just Chicago, and the name Aldertrack stops working once you cross the city border.”
Will Clinger returns this weekend for a second season as host of “Wild Travels,” the weekly series celebrating quirky Americana on the road. The opener includes visits to Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, Vermont, a sneaker convention in Cleveland, and the Mermaid Show in Weeki Wachee, Florida. “Wild Travels” airs for six weeks at 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 11 p.m. Sundays on Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11. The show reunites Clinger with executive producer Harvey Moshman, two of the principals behind WTTW’s long-running “Wild Chicago.”
There’s a new 24/7 streaming talk radio platform devoted to home improvement. Home Improvement USA Radio Network is the brainchild of Steve Leventhal, president of SRN Broadcasting, based in north suburban Lake Bluff. His partner in the venture is David Rusch, who’s produced a weekly home improvement show with Leventhal for 22 years. The network launched this week online and on iTunes.com and TuneIn.com with a lineup of six weekly programs. “We're confident that with the home improvement, radio and Internet broadcaster relationships we've developed over the last two decades we'll be able to provide an excellent production for the home improvement enthusiast,” Leventhal said in a statement.
“Citizen Kelly,” the time-brokered weekend political talk show hosted by professional gadfly William J. Kelly, has expanded to five days a week on WCGO AM 1590. It now airs from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays on the Kovas Communications north suburban news/talk and foreign-language station. "To me this move represents an opportunity to make Chicago radio great again,” Kelly said in a statement. “Great like it once was but isn't now. With 'The Citizen Kelly Show,' first, we will capture the hearts and minds of people throughout Chicagoland and then . . . the world." The move cuts Jim Blasingame's "Small Business Advocate" to one hour at 4 p.m. weekdays.
Chicago radio entrepreneur Dan Lee is putting out an SOS for a kidney donor. According to the website kidneydonorfordan.org, Lee is suffering from kidney failure caused by chemotherapy to treat esophageal cancer. Now he is in need of a living donor with Blood Type O for a replacement kidney. “I rarely ask for favors — whether it is borrowing a tool or asking for a ride somewhere because I dislike imposing on others — but this is the ultimate request for a life-saving favor,” Lee wrote on the website. “Can you help me?” Founder of adult album alternative WXRT FM 93.1 and sports/talk WSCR AM 670 under Diamond Broadcasting, Lee sold the stations in 1995.