Robservations: L.A. Times sale would cut Chicago ties after 18 years

Los Angeles Times

Robservations on the media beat:

Jim Kirk

If the reported $500 million deal goes through to sell the Los Angeles Times to biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, it would mark the end of the paper’s rocky relationship with Chicago-based tronc and predecessor Tribune Co. after 18 years. It also would dash the ambitions of tronc chairman Michael Ferro to become a mover and shaker in Hollywood. (Could the sale of tronc’s other papers — including the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News — be far off?) It’s unclear what an ownership change would mean for Jim Kirk, who was named editor-in-chief of the L.A. Times just last week. The latest assignment was Kirk’s fourth role since he resigned as publisher and editor of the Sun-Times to join tronc in August. Also included in the sale to Soon-Shiong would be the San Diego Union-Tribune. Continue reading

DNAinfo alums to launch Block Club Chicago news site

Jen Sabella, Shamus Toomey and Stephanie Lulay (Photo: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago)

Three editors from the former DNAinfo Chicago are reuniting to start up a new neighborhood news website to be funded by reader subscriptions.

Block Club Chicago is expected to be launched in April as a nonprofit venture that picks up where DNAinfo left off when it was abruptly shut down in November by billionaire backer Joe Ricketts. Continue reading

Robservations: Guild staffers picket Tribune awards

Chicago News Guild demonstration Friday (Photo: Rick Kambic)

Robservations on the media beat:

Editorial employees at the Pioneer Press suburban newspapers, the Lake County News-Sun and the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune have been without a contract since December 2016. To protest the lack of progress with owner tronc, about a dozen members of the Chicago News Guild demonstrated outside the Chicago Tribune’s annual Beck Awards ceremony Friday at River Roast. They passed out fliers and erected a large inflatable rat in front of the LaSalle Street restaurant. “The company gala came just two days after company negotiators refused to change their offer that amounts to taking money from the pockets of the few hard-working employees who remain,” said Rick Kambic, Pioneer Press unit chair of the Guild. “Tronc's divisive actions continue to far outweigh any illusion of harmony, and we're willing to call them out on it."

Monday noon update: A spokeswoman for tronc released the following statement: “We are engaged in active negotiations and do so at the negotiating table.” Continue reading

Sun-Times reinstates Richard Roeper after Twitter investigation

Richard Roeper

Richard Roeper is back on the beat following a Chicago Sun-Times investigation into whether the movie critic padded his Twitter account by buying fake followers.

"Roeper is genuinely contrite — aware, now, that these purchases were improper," the Sun-Times said in a statement released Friday night. "The Sun-Times will implement a policy to clarify what we thought was obvious — that journalists should not pay to acquire followers on social media." Continue reading

Sun-Times drops theater critic Hedy Weiss

Hedy Weiss (Photo: Rich Hein/Sun-Times)

Eight months after the Chicago Sun-Times ran an editorial declaring “We support our theater critic, Hedy Weiss,” the paper is dropping the curtain on her.

"Today is Hedy Weiss’s last day as a Sun-Times employee," editor-in-chief Chris Fusco said Friday. "She's had a remarkable 33-year career covering the theater and arts scene in Chicago, and we wish her well. The Sun-Times is excited about Chicago's burgeoning arts community, and we look forward to rolling out new coverage plans in the future." Continue reading

‘Good Day Chicago’ lineup tops most-read posts in January

“Good Day Chicago” front line (from left): Kristen Nicole, Michelle Alegria and Natalie Bomke

A couple of personnel changes at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 led the top 10 most-read stories here in January. The addition of Michelle Alegria as traffic reporter (replacing Jenny Milkowski) and Brittney Payton as a contributor brought two familiar faces to Fox 32’s “Good Day Chicago.”

To read the full posts, click on the headlines: Continue reading

Cumulus hangs onto The Loop, 101 WKQX

WLUP studio

Cumulus Media will continue to operate classic rock WLUP FM 97.9 and alternative rock WKQX FM 101.1 under an agreement reached Thursday with Merlin Media, which owns the two stations.

Cumulus risked forfeiting the stations when it moved to nullify unprofitable contracts in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing last month. Among them were deals with Merlin to acquire The Loop and 101 WKQX, which Cumulus has been operating under a local marketing agreement since 2014. Continue reading

Robservations: WXRT unplugs ‘Jazz Transfusion’ after 43 years

Barry Winograd (Photo: WDCB)

Robservations on the media beat:

“Jazz Transfusion,” a Sunday night staple on WXRT FM 93.1 for 43 years, is vanishing from the Entercom adult album alternative station. This weekend marks the final broadcast of the jazz showcase, which airs from 11 p.m. Sunday to 1 a.m. Monday. Since 1986 it has been hosted each week by Barry Winograd. “Barry Winograd will always be a part of the WXRT family, and we are keeping our relationship alive to hopefully have Barry return to the airwaves in the future for special features and special programming in the jazz genre,” Greg Solk, operations manager and program director of WXRT, told staffers Thursday. Starting February 11, Sunday nights will be hosted by ’XRT newcomer Don Davis, according to Solk. Said Winograd: “Thirty-two years doing commercial jazz on ’XRT, it’s pretty amazing, I think. It’s been a privilege to present music to people who wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to it any other way.” Winograd, who was born in Chicago and grew up in Evanston, continues to host a weekday jazz show on the College of DuPage’s WDCB FM 90.9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. He also hosts “When Jazz Was King” from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturdays on WDCB. Continue reading