Robservations: Chess Records remote fulfills dream for Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra (Photo: Kevin Nance)

Robservations on the media beat:

Dave Hoekstra, the esteemed Chicago journalist and author who hosts weekends on Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720, will broadcast his “Nocturnal Journal” show Saturday from historic Chess Records studios, 2120 South Michigan Avenue. Airing from 9 to 11 p.m. it will feature news about the future of the landmark site from Jackie Dixon, president of Blues Heaven Foundation. “Just as the Chicago River runs through the city's canyons, the legacy of Chess Records flows through Chicago's collective spirit,” Hoekstra said in a statement. “Blues Heaven/Chess is one of the most important cultural sites in America. The opportunity to broadcast live from the studio is the realization of a once impossible dream.”

Lance Houston

Facing steadily declining ratings at WEBG FM 95.5, iHeartMedia is shaking up programming at the country music station. Lance Houston, just in from iHeartMedia stations in Boston, has been named program director and midday host at Big 95.5. He replaces Steve Stewart, who held both titles since the format launched in 2015. “Lance is one of the most talented country programmers in our industry," Matt Scarano, president of iHeartMedia markets group’s Chicago region, said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him again to win the country battle in Chicago.”

Chicago magazine

Two recent exiles of the Chicago Reader returned to print this week with an outstanding piece of journalism. Kudos to former Reader editor Jake Malooley and contributor Adeshina Emmanuel, both now freelancing for Chicago magazine. The May issue of Chicago (posted online this week) features a riveting investigative story that traces the lives of Paul Bauer, the Chicago police commander killed in the line of duty at the Thompson Center in February, and Shomari Legghette, the four-time felon who shot him. Malooley interviewed Bauer’s widow, Erin Bauer, and Emmanuel was the first reporter to talk to Legghette from jail. (Here is the link.)

Jim Avila and Jaie Avila

ABC News correspondent Jim Avila, a veteran of two Chicago television newsrooms, will undergo an urgent kidney transplant in Los Angeles today. The donor is his youngest brother, Jaie Avila, an investigative reporter from WOAI in San Antonio. Jim Avila, 62, told TV Newser's Alissa Krinsky his kidney ailment stemmed from diabetes. “I’m not crazy about the condition of my health the last few years, but we’re going to try and beat it – and I think we can,” he said. “My kids have been very supportive, my family has been very supportive. I’ve been blessed.” Before becoming a network correspondent, Avila worked for CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7.

ABC 7 Chicago

Viewers who still receive their TV signals over the air may be noticing a “crisper, clearer signal” these days on WLS-Channel 7. That’s the word from the ABC-owned station after switching on a new antenna last week atop Willis Tower. The installation followed more than a year of planning. ABC 7 has beamed from the top of Chicago’s tallest building since 1982, according to the station.

Columbia College Chicago

Students interested in broadcasting jobs of all kinds are invited to attend the annual Career Day sponsored by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The daylong event will be Saturday at Columbia College Chicago, 600 South Michigan Avenue. Among panelists will be: Paul Lisnek, political analyst for Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9; Pam Grimes, senior producer for WGN; Monica Eng, reporter for Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5; and John Owens, producer for Decades TV. (Here is the link for information.)

Monday’s tweet of the day: Dane Placko FOX 32: Thanks for the mention, Rob! My eleven year old flew home today and I jumped on a train to Northern England. Plan to spend a couple days in York before heading to Scotland—all places I’ve never visited. Also a lot cheaper to live on the road up here.