Robservations: Michael Ferro exits tronc ahead of sexual misconduct claims

Michael Ferro (Photo: Christopher Michel)

Robservations on the media beat:

#MeToo, Michael? Now we know the real reason Michael Ferro retired Monday as chairman of tronc, parent company of the Chicago Tribune. Hours after his announcement, Fortune published allegations by two female entrepreneurs that Ferro had made inappropriate sexual advances toward them. (Here is the link.) Fortune also quoted former Sun-Times staffers who recalled Ferro making “sexual comments about women’s clothing and appearance” during the time he owned the paper. For a man who had done so much to undermine two Chicago news organizations (including the elimination of more than 1,125 newspaper jobs companywide in the last two years), it seemed fitting that Ferro would be brought down by the power of journalism. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: ‘Me-TV FM’ hits it bigger than ever


Days after parent company iHeartMedia filed for bankruptcy protection, urban adult-contemporary powerhouse WVAZ FM 102.7 remained firmly entrenched as the top-rated radio station in the Chicago area.

But far bigger news in the Nielsen Audio survey released Monday was the growth of Weigel Broadcasting’s WRME FM 87.7, the soft-rock oldies station known as Me-TV FM. Jumping from 21st place to sixth in one month, it delivered its highest total audience share ever. In middays the station ranked No. 2 overall — behind only V103. Continue reading

Robservations: Tronc execs get richer while Tribune cuts staff

Tribune Tower

Robservations on the media beat:

Chris Kuc

One day after the Chicago Tribune axed a dozen journalists, parent company tronc disclosed raises and bonuses for chief executive officer Justin Dearborn and chief financial officer Terry Jimenez. The notice in the company’s annual report Friday followed the award of a $15 million consulting contract to Merrick Ventures, another company owned by tronc chairman Michael Ferro. Tronc still won’t confirm the names (or even the number) of Tribune employees who lost their jobs Thursday. But sources said there were 12, including sports writer Chris Kuc, who tweeted that he learned his fate while covering a team on the road. Kuc, the son of veteran Chicago sportscaster Jerry Kuc, began working at the Tribune while in high school at Hinsdale South. Among others laid off were Washington correspondent Kathy Skiba, education reporter Diane Rado, artist Phil Geib, visual editor Michael Zajakowski, and copy editors Jason Morris and Mark Misulonas. Continue reading

Robservations: TV news goes live with NU false alarm

Chuck Goudie, March 14, 2018 (Photo: ABC 7)

Robservations on the media beat:

Northwestern University tweet

Chicago television stations broke into their regular afternoon programming Wednesday for live coverage of the lockdown at Northwestern University. It began after Evanston police received a call about a shooting at a graduate residence hall and dispatched a SWAT team to search the campus. With their helicopters in the air, TV newsrooms augmented sketchy reports with calls from NU students and staff members, who vividly described their experiences during the harrowing two-hour ordeal. One Medill senior told NBC 5’s Dick Johnson she had “confirmed information” that shots were fired in the area. To his credit, ABC 7’s Chuck Goudie raised serious doubts early on about whether there was any gunman at all. By 4:30 p.m., police determined there was no shooter and the initial call was a hoax. Continue reading

Robservations: Anthony Ponce parks at Fox 32 morning show

Anthony Ponce (Photo: "Backseat Rider")

Robservations on the media beat:

Anthony Ponce, who quit his job as reporter and weekend morning anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 to become a Lyft driver, is returning to TV news. He’s joining Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, where he’ll anchor “Good Day Chicago” from 4 to 6 a.m. weekdays with Natalie Bomke. Ponce left NBC 5 in 2016 to launch “Backseat Rider,” a podcast in which he interviews his Lyft passengers. He’ll continue to host the podcast and use segments from it on “Good Day Chicago.” A graduate of Indiana University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Ponce will be competing against his brother, Dan Ponce, who's morning news anchor at Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9. Their father, Phil Ponce, hosts “Chicago Tonight” on public television WTTW-Channel 11. Continue reading

Robservations: No-show Garry Meier throws fans for a Loop

Garry Meier

Robservations on the media beat:

It was hardly a surprise that Garry Meier was missing from The Loop’s four-hour star-studded send-off Friday, hosted by Steve Dahl and simulcast on Cumulus Media’s WLUP FM 97.9 and WLS AM 890. Dahl told listeners he made numerous efforts to get Meier to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime broadcast. Although it’s been 25 years since the breakup of Steve & Garry, Meier apparently remains as bitter and angry as ever. (Here is the link to Dahl’s show.) What was a surprise was that Meier backed out of a well-publicized agreement to appear on David Plier’s tribute to The Loop early Sunday morning on Tribune Broadcasting’s WGN AM 720. A couple of hours before the taping, Meier texted Plier that he was canceling, Plier said. (Here is the link to Plier’s show.) Meier could not be reached for comment. Continue reading