Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulos joins WBEZ

Dan Mihalopoulos (Photo: WTTW/Chicago Tonight)

Dan Mihalopoulos, who’s been a star investigative journalist for two Chicago newspapers, is joining WBEZ 91.5-FM, the Chicago Public Media station announced Friday.

Mihalopoulos, who most recently has been an investigative reporter and weekly political columnist for the Sun-Times, will report on politics and government for the public radio station, starting May 28. Continue reading

Sandra Cordova Micek named CEO of WTTW, WFMT

Sanda Cordova Micek

Sandra Cordova Micek, a brand-building corporate marketing executive with no experience as a broadcaster, has been named president and CEO of the parent company of public television WTTW-Channel 11 and classical radio WFMT 98.7-FM.

Micek, 48, a Wilmette resident, most recently was senior vice president of global brands for Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp. She previously held marketing positions with USA Today, NBC Universal, Yahoo! and Turner Broadcasting Sales. She also was a management consultant with Accenture. Continue reading

Robservations: Diana Steele to host middays on 104.3 Jams

Diana Steele

Robservations on the media beat:

104.3 Jams

Diana Steele, a prominent voice-over artist and former announcer for “The Arsenio Hall Show,” is joining WBMX 104.3-FM as midday personality. Starting today, she’ll be heard from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Entercom classic hip-hop and R&B station. Steele, who grew up in Elk Grove Village and graduated from the University of Illinois, previously worked for rhythmic/urban stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Until a permanent midday host is named later this year, Steele will broadcast for 104.3 Jams from her studio in the Bay Area. “We’re thrilled to welcome this legendary voice and mother of two boys and two dogs to the new 104.3 Jams,” said program director Todd Cavanah. With mornings, middays and evenings filled, the station is expected to announce an afternoon host soon. Continue reading

Robservations: Tribune drops INC. column — again

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago INC.

The original INC. column, at its best a catty mix of celebrity news and juicy gossip, was a popular staple of the Chicago Tribune for 20 years until its demise in 2001. The latest version lasted less than two. On Tuesday Tribune editors pulled the plug on the page 3 Chicago INC. franchise and reassigned its trio of reporters. Kim Janssen will work on “strategic newsroom analytics.” (“This is something I've wanted to do for a long time,” said Janssen, who recently got an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a concentration in econometrics and statistics. “It's why I went to [business] school, so I'm excited.”) Tracy Swartz will cover entertainment (including Chicago-related news on television and movies) for the arts and entertainment section, and Phil Thompson will report on sports and pop culture for the sports section. Continue reading

Sinclair amends filing for Tribune stations deal

Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair Broadcast Group moved a step closer to taking over "Chicago's Very Own" WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM Tuesday with an amended application for its acquisition of Chicago-based Tribune Media.

In what sources described as a “significant compromise” from its earlier filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Sinclair plans to sell 23 stations in 18 markets in order to comply with broadcast ownership rules. The agreement awaits approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC. Continue reading

Robservations: B96 ‘Smackdown’ hits Showbiz Shelly at Kiss FM

Christopher "Fred" Frederick, Michelle "Showbiz Shelly" Menaker and Angi Taylor

Robservations on the media beat:

103.5 Kiss FM

First WBBM 96.3-FM fired Michelle “Showbiz Shelly” Menaker after 13 years as morning co-host at the Entercom Top 40 station. Now B96 is threatening to sue her new employer if she keeps calling her daily pop-culture quiz the “Showbiz Shelly Smackdown.” A cease-and-desist order prompted iHeartMedia Top 40 WKSC 103.5-FM to rename Menaker’s segment “Showbiz Showdown” on the morning show hosted by Christopher “Fred” Frederick and Angi Taylor. Todd Cavanah, program director of B96, called the move “standard and contractual. We own the name. . . . It's really simple.” Firing back, Frederick told Kiss FM listeners: “I think it’s a low blow. I think it’s a low, low blow. . . . So dumb. Get a life, guys. Focus on your issues over there, right?” For her part, Menaker took it in stride: “I’m trying to put a positive spin on it, right? Maybe this is a good opportunity. It’s a new chapter. Maybe it’s a good time for a new name for it.” For the record, Menaker does have a trademark on her “Showbiz Shelly” name. Continue reading

Robservations: New boss coming to WTTW, WFMT this week


Robservations on the media beat:

Ten months after Dan Schmidt announced his retirement, the parent company of public television WTTW-Channel 11 and classical radio WFMT 98.7-FM has finally settled on a new president and CEO. The board of trustees of Window to the World Communications Inc. will announce Schmidt’s successor Thursday, according to Anne Gleason, senior vice president of marketing and digital media for WTTW. The board retained the Connecticut-based executive search firm Blinkhorn LLC to solicit candidates, but kept the public out of the process entirely. Schmidt, who joined the company as senior vice president of WFMT and its radio network in 1991, was president and CEO since 1998. Chief operating officer Reese Marcusson has been serving as acting CEO in the interim. Continue reading

Robservations: New WGN anchor Joe Donlon debuts Monday

Joe Donlon and Micah Materre

Robservations on the media beat:

Although he’s been making the media rounds for weeks, Joe Donlon officially starts Monday as weeknight news anchor at Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9. His first newscast alongside Micah Materre will be at 5 p.m. Donlon spent 21 years as a top anchor in Portland, Oregon, before he was tapped to replace Mark Suppelsa (who retired from “Chicago’s Very Own” in December). “I will have to start over, and prove myself every day in a city that doesn’t know me,” Donlon, 55, told Facebook friends. “But I am beyond excited about what’s ahead. I can’t begin to tell you how honored and humbled I am to join such an incredibly talented team. It is truly one of the best TV news jobs in the country.” Continue reading

Robservations: Two new co-hosts join WGN's ‘Chicago’s Best’

Lauren Scott, Elliott Bambrough and Marley Kayden

Robservations on the media beat:

Two new co-hosts are joining Elliott Bambrough on “Chicago’s Best,” the weekly food magazine show on Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9. They are Marley Kayden, former weekend traffic anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, and Lauren Scott, a feature reporter at KETV, the ABC affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska. Kayden, a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the University of Virginia, previously worked for Bloomberg News and Wall Street Media. Scott, a native of Chicago’s South Side, is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Starting in May, Kayden and Scott will succeed Brittney Payton, who left in January to become co-host of “Good Day Chicago” on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. “Chicago’s Best” airs at 10 p.m. Sundays on WGN and replays during the week on WGN and CLTV. Continue reading

Robservations: Three bidders reportedly eyeing tronc


Robservations on the media beat:

Tronc, we hardly knew ye: Three suitors are vying to acquire the parent company of the Chicago Tribune, according to several published reports. SoftBank Group, a Japanese investment conglomerate, Gannett Co. and Apollo Global Management have been identified as potential buyers of Chicago-based tronc. SoftBank last year bought the Gatehouse newspaper chain. Gannett made an unsuccessful bid to buy tronc in 2016. “We don't comment on any speculation in the market,” said Marisa Kollias, vice president of communications and public relations for tronc. It’s not clear how a takeover would alter the strategy of McCormick Media, which last week agreed to buy former head honcho Michael Ferro’s 26 percent stake in the company — more than nine million shares — for $208.6 million. Continue reading