Robservations: WGN presents ‘Family Classics,’ Suppelsa farewell tonight

Dean Richards

Robservations on the media beat:

“Family Classics” airs tonight for the first time in 17 years as a special primetime presentation on WGN-Channel 9. From 7 to 9 p.m. Dean Richards will host ”Scrooge,” the film adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. “‘Family Classics’ is a WGN legacy and we wanted to make sure we got this right,” said Paul Rennie, president and general manager of the Tribune Broadcasting station. “The set pieces, the quality — which is why we chose the 1951 Alastair Sim movie ‘Scrooge.’ Likewise, we couldn’t think of a person more suited to host this than our very own Dean Richards.” The great movie series was hosted by Frazier Thomas from 1962 to 1985 and by Roy Leonard from 1985 to 2000.

Mark Suppelsa

Tonight also marks the final broadcast of Mark Suppelsa, who’s retiring as 5, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. news anchor at WGN and wrapping up an outstanding 36-year career in television news. Tributes are pouring in to the veteran newsman who attended Libertyville High School and graduated from Lincoln-Way High School in New Lenox, and Marquette University in Milwaukee. Among the highlights was a hilarious sendoff in “Noticias de mi Corazon,” the telenovela spoof starring WGN’s Dan Ponce, Lourdes Duarte and Ana Belaval. (Here is the link.) Spoiler alert: Look for cameo appearances by Ben Bradley, Robert Jordan, Rich King, Muriel Clair and even Ron Magers. Suppelsa, 55, plans to move with his wife to their cabin in Montana. He’s one of Chicago's all-time best. (In case you missed it, here is the link to my exit interview with Suppelsa.)


Less than two weeks after WYCC-Channel 20 went dark, there’s news of resurrecting the public television station formerly operated by City Colleges of Chicago. Window to the World Communications, parent company of WTTW-Channel 11, has agreed to a channel-sharing arrangement with City Colleges and a deal to buy WYCC’s station license for a reported $100,000. “The agreements, which include conditions that depend on FCC approval, will route to parties for execution over the next few business days,” said Anne Gleason, senior vice president of marketing and digital media for WTTW. “The subsequent timetable for approval of share and transfer is at the discretion of the FCC.” WTTW would air WYCC programming on a digital subchannel. Ending 34 years on the air, WYCC vacated its frequency November 27 after netting a disappointing $15.9 million in the FCC spectrum auction.


Last week’s retro rebranding of adult contemporary WLIT FM 93.9 as “The New 93.9 Lite FM” also restored a familiar voice in the night. Syndicated host Delilah Rene is back on the iHeartMedia station from 7 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday after a five-year absence in Chicago. “Delilah is a living legend in the radio industry,” Matt Scarano, president of iHeartMedia Chicago, said in a statement. “Her passion for her craft and the deep connection she has with our audience make Delilah the perfect choice.” A Premiere Networks spokeswoman said a new Chicago home soon will be announced for “On with Mario Lopez,” which had aired in the time slot. Fans can still hear Lopez’s podcast on

Daily Herald

In a highly unusual move for any newspaper company, Paddock Publications announced that it’s giving year-end bonuses to all full-time and part-time employees of the Daily Herald. “Your extra effort and commitment to the company’s strategy for growth through innovation of new products and services have set us apart from other media companies,” Doug Ray, chairman, publisher and CEO of the Daily Herald Media Group, told staffers in an email. “Paddock Publications is doing well. The newspaper brand is strong. Readers find value in the newspaper and online and subscribers are willing to pay more each year for Daily Herald journalism. As we create essential new revenue streams, it is important to understand that the newspaper itself remains our greatest asset.” (This blog operates under an agreement with the Daily Herald.)

Pat Cassidy

Somewhere “Chicago Ed” is smiling: Entercom all-news WBBM AM 780/WCFS FM 105.9 presents its annual 18-hour Good Neighbor Radiothon today to benefit the Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread Club. Morning news anchor Pat Cassidy hosts the live broadcast from Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, starting at 5 a.m. “It is a chance for WBBM's entire news team to report about the positive work being done to provide food, clothing and shelter to neighbors in need within our own community," Ron Gleason, director of news and programming at WBBM Newsradio, said in a statement. The original "Good Neighbor Food Drive" was started in 1982 by the late, great overnight radio host Eddie "Chicago Ed" Schwartz.

Mary VanDeVelde

They’re widening a couple of traffic lanes at WGN AM 720. Mary VanDeVelde, traffic reporter for Steve Cochran’s morning show and a 20-year veteran of the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station, will expand her duties to include Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder’s midday show, starting Monday. Also adding hours will be Violeta Podrumedic, traffic reporter for Roe Conn’s afternoon show. Now she’ll start her reports at noon, picking up the business hour and the John Williams show. Traffic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. previously was handled by a rotating group of voices from United States Traffic Network (USTN)/Radiate Media studios, according to Todd Manley, vice president of content and programming at WGN.

Chuck DuCoty

One of radio’s finest ambassadors is calling it a career. Chuck DuCoty has announced his retirement as chief operating officer of NRG Media, culminating a 53-year run in the business. He joined the Iowa-based company in 2005 after four years as vice president and general manager of Chicago’s alternative rock WKQX FM 101.1 under Emmis Communications. DuCoty said he and his wife plan to move back to Chicago. “I leave the industry and NRG Media with mixed emotions but after 53 years, it is time for the next chapter in my life and for enjoying time with my family and friends,” he said. “And I’m living proof that occasionally some of us do get out alive.”