Robservations: WGN finds Suppelsa’s replacement in Portland

WGN News (Photo: WGN)

Robservations on the media beat:

Joe Donlon

A longtime news anchor from Portland, Oregon, is close to signing on for the top job at “Chicago’s Very Own” WGN-Channel 9, sources said Sunday. The post has been vacant since Mark Suppelsa retired from the Tribune Broadcasting station in December. Expected to replace him alongside Micah Materre at 5, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. weekdays is Joe Donlon, a 21-year veteran of KGW, the NBC affiliate in Portland. If all goes as planned, he’ll start sometime this spring. WGN officials declined to comment. Donlon, a St. Louis native and graduate of Marquette University, previously worked for stations in Tucson, Arizona, and Corpus Christi, Texas. Ratings have held steady since Suppelsa's departure, with a variety of insiders filling his role in the interim.

Rick Telander

Another Sun-Times star is facing an uncertain future. Sources said senior sports columnist Rick Telander has been working under a two-month extension since his contract expired at the end of last year. But there could be a new role in store for Telander, according to insiders. No comment from Sun-Times bosses, but Telander’s agent, attorney Steve Mandell, confirmed he’s in discussions with the Sun-Times and others. The Peoria native and star defensive back at Northwestern University joined the Sun-Times in 1995 from Sports Illustrated, where he was a senior writer. Under new ownership, the Sun-Times has been shedding high-priced talent as it hopes to achieve profitability as a digital media enterprise.

Mike Flannery

“Flannery Fired Up,” a new weekly political talk show, debuted over the weekend on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, with veteran political editor Mike Flannery in the starring role. The half-hour show airs at 9:30 p.m. Fridays (with a rebroadcast at 8:30 a.m. Sundays). Flannery’s first guest was former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, a possible mayor candidate, who made a case for why Jason Van Dyke could escape a murder conviction in the Laquan McDonald case. Fox 32 typically preempts the second half of its 9 p.m. newscast on Fridays with sports shows or specials to remove the low-rated half-hour from its ratings averages.


ChicagoMOD magazine, which debuted last spring with plans to publish six issues a year, never made it past three. The latest entry in Chicago luxury lifestyle publication market ceased printing last week, according to staffers. Its website remains in operation. Parent company MOD Media, which also shuttered New York Spaces, owes employees for their work, according to Editor at Large. The glossy bimonthly targeted “Chicago's most affluent residents between the ages of 35 and 55.”


New to the Sun-Times is Sheila Reidy, who’s been hired as interim vice president of circulation. She previously was vice president of operations at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and director of distribution at the Chicago Tribune. At the Sun-Times she replaces Bill Chinetti, who’s out as vice president of circulation and operations. Chinetti joined the Sun-Times as director of business development and operations analysis in 2012 from the Tribune, where he had been senior manager of strategy and pricing.

Friday’s best comment: Ted Allen: I sat next to Bill [Zwecker] (we called him “BZ”) when we both toiled in the trenches of the weekly Lerner newspaper “Skyline,” more years ago than either of us will care to remember. . . . Believe me, BZ’s platform at Chicago’s Fox affiliate is more than big enough for him to continue causing plenty of trouble!