Robservations: New morning show ‘The Jam’ dawns today

Felicia Lawrence, Jordan Cornette and Danielle Robay

Robservations on the media beat:

Promising “a fresh new approach to morning news,” Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26 kicked off “The Jam” at 6 a.m. Monday. The two-hour weekday morning show, hosted by Jordan Cornette, Felicia Lawrence and Danielle Robay, replaces “You & Me,” which aired for more than seven years on The U. “‘The Jam’ represents the core of what it means to be a Chicagoan,” Steve Bailey, head of local programming and creative for The U, said in a statement. “It’s upbeat, it’s witty, it’s fearless, it’s in your face and it’s community oriented. Our hosts are unapologetic in their delivery and tapped into what’s going on around the city.” This week’s guests include singer Alessia Cara, actress and comedian Mo’Nique, and hip hop artist and songwriter Che “Rhymefest” Smith, who composed original music for the show. Continue reading

The Mix message: ‘Eric & Kathy’ appear headed for splitsville

Kathy Hart

One of Chicago radio’s longest running mysteries — “What’s Up with Kathy Hart?” — could be reaching a conclusion at last.

Hart has been missing since late April from the top-rated morning show she co-hosts with Eric Ferguson. “The Eric & Kathy Show” has been a ratings and revenue juggernaut for Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX FM 101.9 for more than 20 years. Continue reading

‘Chickenman’ flies again — in podcast

Dick Orkin

Fifty years after Chicago radio listeners were introduced to “the most fantastic crime-fighter the world has ever known,” a new generation is about to meet the legendary “Chickenman.”

Twenty episodes of the classic serial spoof about the winged warrior, created by Radio Hall of Famer Dick Orkin, will be presented by the Earwolf comedy podcast network, starting August 2. The full 273 episodes in the original series will be available through Stitcher Premium podcasts. Continue reading

Walter Jacobson at 80: ‘I feel great’

Walter Jacobson

On the eve of a milestone birthday, legendary Chicago anchorman and commentator Walter Jacobson sounds happier than ever that he’s still in the game.

“I feel great,” said Jacobson, who turns 80 on Friday. “I feel perfectly wonderfully physically. I go through my same old Walter mishegas about what I’m doing. But I love what I’m doing. I’m exercising my brain every day, following this craziness in Washington. I’m free to write about it. So I’m feeling great!” Continue reading

WGN Radio leaving Tribune Tower next year

Tribune Tower

It’s official: WGN AM 720 will be leaving its longtime headquarters at Tribune Tower and relocating next year to new studios and offices across the Chicago River.

The decision to move, confirmed by Tribune Broadcasting Tuesday, came despite earlier assurances that management of the news/talk station had no plans to leave Tribune Tower and intended to extend its lease with the building’s new owners. The current lease expires in June 2018. Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Rhymefest’ scores original music for ‘The Jam’

Steve Bailey and Che “Rhymefest” Smith

Robservations on the media beat:

Che “Rhymefest” Smith

Famed Chicago hip hop artist and songwriter Che “Rhymefest” Smith has been commissioned to create original music for “The Jam,” the new weekday morning show soon to premiere on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26. The Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winner is working with other seasoned musicians, including Daniel Crawford. “This theme had to have live instrumentation and sound like a beautiful new day dawning . . . a day people always look forward to,” Smith said. “And I believe together we were able to accomplish that.” Steve Bailey, head of local programming and creative for The U, made the deal on the front porch of Smith’s South Side home. “Our goal was to have the music rooted in Chicago so when Che agreed to do it we were beyond ecstatic,” Bailey recalled. “This collaboration goes beyond just this theme music. It opens the door to other artists on future projects here at The U.” Continue reading

Robservations: WTTW doc to spotlight Joffrey's ‘The Nutcracker’

The Joffrey Ballet “The Nutcracker” (Photo: Cheryl Mann)

Robservations on the media beat:

Production is underway on “The Nutcracker Behind the Scenes,” a one-hour documentary on The Joffrey Ballet’s new version of the holiday classic, to air later this year on WTTW-Channel 11 and public television stations nationwide. In addition to revealing how the production was remade in 2016 to incorporate Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the film will explore the history of the ballet and the city. Set to premiere in November, the documentary is being produced by Daniel Andries for the Window to the World Communications station. “The inaugural season of Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘The Nutcracker’ was enjoyed by thousands in attendance at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre last winter,” Joffrey artistic director Ashley Wheater said in a statement. “For those who experienced the magic ‘live’ and those unable, we’re pleased to be able to share his labor of love with audiences all around Chicago and beyond.” Continue reading

Alison Cuddy named artistic director of Chicago Humanities Festival

Alison Cuddy

Alison Cuddy, former arts and culture reporter at Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5, was promoted Thursday to artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Effective August 1, she’ll move up from associate artistic director of the civic institution known for its year-round gatherings of some of the world's “most exciting thinkers, artists and performers” and celebrations of ideas. Cuddy joined the organization as program director in 2014. Continue reading

Robservations: Ebert named to Chicago Literary Hall of Fame

Roger Ebert

Robservations on the media beat:

Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic who wrote 17 books, will be inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame August 19. The ceremony, emceed by Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Kogan, will be at the new American Writers Museum, 180 North Michigan Avenue. Other 2017 inductees include Margaret Ayer Barnes, Fanny Butcher, Eugene Field, Fenton Johnson and Ring Lardner. “I am thrilled,” said Chaz Ebert, who will accept the honor on her late husband’s behalf. The movie critic for the Sun-Times and nationally syndicated television host died in 2013 at 70. Continue reading