Robservations: Tribune to unveil new platform for comments

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

Starting at midnight Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune will introduce a new system for readers to post comments about stories online. It’s the latest tronc publication to convert its comment platform to SolidOpinion, a startup based in San Diego and New York that helps publishers generate revenue by the sale of promoted comments. Tronc’s San Diego Union Tribune was the first to remove Facebook Comments and replace them with SolidOpinion. The Los Angeles Times also launched SolidOpinion this week. On Friday the Tribune notified digital subscribers in an email that comments posted prior to April 4 will no longer be archived. It suggested that users copy and save any comments they’d posted in the past before they’re wiped out. “We believe this new platform will encourage even greater dialogue among our readers,” the email said.

Frank Mathie

Friends and colleagues toasted the incomparable Frank Mathie on his retirement Monday — 50 years to the day after he started at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Back-to-back celebrations in his honor culminated “50 Years of Frank,” a weeklong series of special reports highlighting his outstanding work as a feature reporter over five decades. “Frank has been a Chicago treasure both inside this newsroom and out in the community,” Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director of ABC 7, said in a statement. “It must have been the luck of the Irish that sent Frank our way.” Monday was proclaimed "Frank Mathie Day" by Governor Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Rick DiMaio

Yes, that was meteorologist Rick DiMaio back on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 over the weekend. He’s filling in until mid-June, according to insiders. It’s DiMaio’s third run at Fox 32, including an initial 12-year stint that began in 1995. In between he also worked at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. Fox 32 has been on the lookout for a meteorologist since Tammie Souza exited earlier this year.

Michael Horn

Chicago radio veteran Michael Horn has been hired as manager of game presentation for the Chicago Blackhawks, starting next week. His new full-time position follows four years as DJ for all Blackhawks games at United Center. (“Chelsea Dagger,” anyone?) Since 2015 Horn has been imaging director at WRME LP 87.7, the Weigel Broadcasting soft rock/oldies station branded as MeTV FM. He’d previously worked 19 years at CBS Radio Top 40 WBBM FM 96.3 as a producer and imaging director.

Jeff Kapugi

Jeff Kapugi, former program director of CBS Radio country WUSN FM 99.5, has landed at iHeartMedia as senior vice president of programming for its stations in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. He previously worked for iHeartMedia predecessor Clear Channel Radio from 1989 to 2008. During his five-year run at US 99, which ended last December, Kapugi also served as vice president of country programming for CBS Radio. He’s a Chicago native and graduate of Bogan High School and Columbia College.

Svengoolie (Photo: Tribune Content Agency)

Look for Chicago’s one and only Svengoolie to show up in Dick Tracy. Charlie Meyerson’s Public Square reports the horror-movie host played by Rich Koz will make a cameo appearance in the comic strip later this month. Dick Tracy writer Mike Curtis incorporates the character in a story about a cosplay competition “like those Sven has judged in real life,” Meyerson noted.