Robservations on the media beat:
More than five months after Mark Suppelsa announced he was retiring from WGN-Channel 9, the Tribune Broadcasting station still hasn’t found a replacement for its top anchorman. News director Jennifer Lyons confirmed that there would not be a successor in place for the February rating sweep, which starts next Thursday. As the anchor search goes on, a variety of insiders have been filling in alongside Micah Materre at 5, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. WGN continues to hold a wide lead over Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 at 9 p.m., according to Nielsen figures for January.
It’s Viva Las Vegas for Sam Panayotovich, who’s signing off after six years as weekend sports anchor and sports reporter at Tribune Broadcasting WGN AM 720 and the voice of UIC Flames men’s basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball. He’s been hired as a host for VSiN (Vegas Stats & Information Network), starting February 5. Based at the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa in Las Vegas, the network dedicated to sports gambling information was launched by Chicagoan Brian Musburger. It stars Musburger’s uncle, legendary sportscaster Brent Musburger.
Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications responded to an urgent call this week from “Saturday Night Live.” With Will Ferrell set to host this weekend’s show, producers needed to secure his original costumes as Harry Caray and the Spartan cheerleader. Both have been on display as part of the yearlong “Saturday Night Live: The Experience” exhibit at the museum. “It was all very confidential and hush-hush,” said Justin Kulovsek, the museum’s vice president of innovation. “I had to use protective gloves and wrap each item in plastic and take photos of the garments before boxing them up and sending them off to New York.” The two costumes are expected to be back on display in Chicago next week.
There were plenty of skeptics when founding editor Jon Greenberg launched The Athletic, a subscription website aimed at covering professional and college sports “with thought-provoking writing and enlightening statistics.” That was two years ago this week. Today it’s thriving with sites in Chicago, the Bay Area, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and seven cities in Canada. With the addition of famed baseball insider Ken Rosenthal (and recently hired Chicago beat writers Patrick Mooney, Dan Hayes, Darnell Mayberry, Kevin Fishbain and James Fegan), January is on pace to be the site’s biggest subscription month ever.
A tip of the hat to Rick Klein, president and chief curator of the nonprofit Museum of Classic Chicago Television, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. It’s been a true labor of love for the devoted video preservationist, who’s planning a redesign of his FuzzyMemories.TV website later this year. Klein’s YouTube page boasts 25,000 subscribers and more than 30 million total video views since its inception. The latest gem is a rare color kinescope of a 1971 newscast on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, featuring Fahey Flynn, Joel Daly and meteorologist John Coleman.