Robservations: Time may be up for Darlene Hill at Fox 32

Darlene Hill

Robservations on the media beat:

Darlene Hill, a well-liked news anchor and Peabody Award-winning reporter at WFLD-Channel 32, appears to be on a collision course with her bosses after 23 years at the Fox-owned station. Hill has been missing from “Good Day Chicago” without explanation since her contract expired at the end of September. Neither she nor Fox 32 officials would respond to requests for comment. Hill spent part of last week in New York, according to her Facebook page. If Hill doesn’t return to Fox 32, as many insiders expect, she’d be the latest well-paid veteran to exit under current management. Advising her is civil rights attorney and media agent Andrew Stroth, who also represented Robin Robinson, another prominent news anchor who was forced out in 2014 after 27 years at Fox 32.

Chicago Bears/Fox 32

Chicago Bears preseason football broadcasts will continue to air on Fox 32 under a five-year extension announced Monday. It’s been the TV home of the Bears since 2008. Related programming will include in-season weekly shows “Bears Gameday Live” and “Bears Gamenight Live” along with two new ones — a postgame show and a 30-minute weekly show on Friday evenings — and three or four specials. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Fox 32 and appreciate all of their support over the last decade,” Ted Phillips, Bears president and CEO, said in a statement. “The two new shows illustrate the commitment Fox 32 and Chicago Bears Network have to expanding programming for our fans, which we are extremely excited about.” Last month the Bears announced a renewal of their radio deal with CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9.

Chicago Sun-Times

Workers this week began removing the iconic 12-foot tall letters identifying the Chicago Sun-Times on the west and south sides of 350 North Orleans Street — the newspaper’s home on the Chicago River since 2004. It’s in preparation for the paper’s move next month to new headquarters at 30 North Racine Avenue. The letters made of aluminum casing are believed to weigh about 150 pounds each and contain about 90 feet of fluorescent lighting, according to Sun-Times reporter Stefano Esposito. The “Chicago” parts of the signs will be donated to the city for an undetermined use. “We look forward to utilizing it in a way that reflects its history and celebrates Chicago,” a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel told Esposito.

Northwestern University

Also in advance of the relocation of the Sun-Times was the paper’s donation this week of its archive of pop music and television photos to the special collections library of Northwestern University in Evanston. The treasure trove includes 23 file drawers of black-and-white prints of pop musicians; four file drawers of TV slides, CD-ROMS and press kits, and eight boxes of slides of celebrities, according to entertainment editor Darel Jevens. The deal was inspired by an item here September 19 in which Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath said the paper’s new location cannot accommodate storage of the files. Earlier the Sun-Times announced the donation of its collection of movie press kits and related memorabilia to the archives of Roger Ebert at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Shawn Campbell

Noon Saturday will mark the launch of CHIRP Radio (Chicago Independent Radio Project) as a terrestrial broadcaster at 107.1 FM on the North Side of Chicago. The milestone culminates a 10-year effort by the nonprofit community radio station founded by indefatigable general manager Shawn Campbell. CHIRP was instrumental in passing the Local Community Radio Act in 2009, resulting in more than 700 new low-power FM stations across the country, with many operating in large cities. Listeners and staff will gather at 11:30 a.m. Saturday to toast the broadcast launch at Hopleaf, 5148 North Clark Street. Another public celebration will be November 4 at Dovetail Barrel Loft, 1800 West Belle Plaine Avenue. Tickets are at Focusing on music, arts, and culture, the station airs live and local from 6 a.m. to midnight daily from studios in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood.

Jim DeRogatis

This week’s must read is Mark Caro’s eagerly awaited and insightful Chicago magazine profile of Jim DeRogatis, the acclaimed rock critic and crusading journalist. (Here is the link.) Caro recounts DeRo’s 17-year mission to investigate and expose allegations of sexual abuse against R&B superstar R. Kelly. “It’s tempting to cast DeRogatis as the obsessed Inspector Javert in a modern-day ‘Les Misérables’ — except that DeRogatis hates musical theater (yes, even ‘Hamilton’) and rejects the comparison,” Caro writes.

Monday’s best comment: Gene Christianson: Of course we know why CBS wants to move 'BBM's transmitter site: Because a bunch of suits can sell the Itasca site to a developer, and put untold millions of dollars into their pockets. They're dumping the radio station pretty soon anyway, so it no longer matters. A 30% drop in power will cause “no significant reduction in coverage"? Seriously? Wow. They sure have wasted a lot of electricity over the years then.