Robservations: ABC 7, NBC 5 to square off on New Year’s Eve

Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies

Robservations on the media beat:

New Year’s Eve Live in Chicago

It’ll be another battle of the countdown shows for Chicago viewers this New Year’s Eve. Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies will host “Countdown Chicago 2018” on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, marking their 17th year of ringing in the New Year together. Joining them from party venues around the city and suburbs will be ABC 7’s Terrell Brown, Hosea Sanders, Cheryl Scott, Liz Nagy, Val Warner, Ryan Chiaverini and Ji Suk Yi. Meanwhile, NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 will air “New Year’s Eve Live in Chicago,” hosted by Marley Kayden and Kalee Dionne, along with radio personalities Christopher “Fred” Frederick of Kiss FM and Joe Soto of V103. (But no "Chi-Town Rising" this year.) Both specials will start shortly after 11 p.m. and culminate with midnight fireworks from Navy Pier. Continue reading

Surprise! Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra getting married today

Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra (Photo: J. Geil Photography)

The 40-year romance of Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra will culminate in matrimony today.

Chicago’s legendary power couple will tie the knot before Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, surrounded by a small group of friends, Kurtis confirmed in a call just before the ceremony. “It just seems like the right time,” he said. “Forty years is a nice warm-up period.” Continue reading

Sirott & Murciano cut from new WLS talk lineup

Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano

A push by Cumulus Media to solidify WLS AM 890 as a conservative talk station is forcing out the husband-and-and-wife team of Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano as midday co-hosts. Their show has been airing for the last year from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

Starting January 1, WLS will add a Washington-based syndicated talk show hosted by Chris Plante from 9 to 11 a.m. and return Rush Limbaugh to a live broadcast from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the station announced Wednesday. Limbaugh has been airing on delay from noon to 3 p.m. Continue reading

Robservations: Year of retirements isn’t over yet


Robservations on the media beat:

Jim Ramsey

On Tuesday weatherman Jim Ramsey became the latest Chicago media personality to announce his retirement in 2017. Among those who’ve already bowed out — or said they plan to do so in 2018 — are Mike Adamle, Steve Baskerville, Terry Boers, Bruce DuMont, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Mike Imrem, Tom Joyner, Frank Mathie, Mike North, Victor Parra, Wendy Rice, Roger Simon, Gary Spears, Mark Suppelsa, Charles Thomas and Joel Weisman. That’s not even a complete list. Look for at least one more prominent figure to call it a career before the year is up. Continue reading

Fred Eychaner realigns Newsweb management

Newsweb Corp.

Charley Gross, who’s been Chicago media magnate Fred Eychaner’s right-hand man for 25 years, is retiring as president and chief executive officer of Eychaner’s Newsweb Corp., the company announced Monday.

“It has been a remarkable 25 years,” Eychaner said of his association with Gross, who was named to the non-executive position of chairman emeritus. Newsweb plans to announce a new president and CEO later this month, according to a company statement. Continue reading

Robservations: Suburban staffers protest stalled talks with tronc


Robservations on the media beat:

Editorial employees at the Pioneer Press suburban newspapers, the Lake County News-Sun and the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune, who’ve been without a contract since last December, are turning up the heat on owner tronc. In a letter to advertisers, the 25 journalists represented by Chicago News Guild said their pay rates are the same as they were eight years ago, and there has been “no sign that the company plans to make any serious offer to us.” In an effort to jumpstart talks, community leafletting will begin this week. One-quarter of the Pioneer Press staff was fired in layoffs earlier this year. "Tronc cannot cry poor when its stock is rising, the CEO salary increases to over $8 million, and it's buying new assets,” said Rick Kambic, Pioneer Press unit chair of the Guild. “Aside from that, we have numerous unresolved non-economic issues in which tronc is refusing to meet us half way." Tronc did not respond for comment. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Robservations: Harassment spotlight turns to Chicago

R. Kelly

Robservations on the media beat:

The sexual harassment scandals sweeping media, entertainment, government and corporate America have prompted two prominent journalists to focus on Chicago. Writing in The New Yorker, veteran music critic and “Sound Opinions” co-host Jim DeRogatis questioned why accusations of sexual misconduct against singer, songwriter, and producer R. Kelly haven't hurt the Chicago performer's career. DeRogatis has been virtually alone in reporting on the Kelly case since 2000. And former Chicago Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski examined “When Women Stand Up Against Harassers in the Newsroom,” recounting her decision to force the resignation of Tribune columnist Bob Greene in 2002. “The fix is not sexual harassment training, but more people in leadership who already know better,” she wrote in Nieman Reports. Lipinski now heads the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. Continue reading