Robservations on the media beat:
Workers are still busy building out studios and offices as WGN 720-AM prepares to leave its longtime home at Tribune Tower for impressive new headquarters high in the sky. From the 18th floor of 303 East Wacker Drive, the 16,000-square-foot space provides panoramic views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Highlights include two main showcase studios in the northwest and northeast corners, six podcast suites, a performance studio and stage for live music and dramas, and a central newsroom hub. “An investment like this represents the strength of our brand beyond traditional broadcast,” said Todd Manley, station manager and vice president of content at the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station. “It recognizes our success on every platform. What an exciting time for this 94-year-old start-up.” News will begin originating from the site at the end of May, and full-time broadcasting will start in June.
Ever since it changed hands, the Sun-Times has been taking shots at the Chicago Tribune in its ads and editorials. Now the Tribune’s star columnist is firing back. On Friday John Kass put the new owners of the Sun-Times on notice for a conflict of interest in Chicago’s upcoming mayoral election. He cited the hiring of Jorge Ramirez, chairman of Sun-Times parent company ST Acquisition Holdings and former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, by GCM Grosvenor. That’s the big investment company headed by Michael Sacks, whom Kass described as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “money guy, closest confidant and top fundraiser.” Wrote Kass: “The Sun-Times styles itself as the Chicago paper, but now, it might want to rebrand as The Chicago Way paper.” Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath confirmed that Ramirez is staying on as chairman. Given the tough shape the Sun-Times is in these days, Eisendrath knows he can’t afford to make any big mistakes.
Retired Bears running back Matt Forte has joined NBC Sports Chicago as featured analyst for NFL game-day coverage, starting this fall. He’ll also appear throughout the season on a variety of the regional network’s programs and cross-platform portals. “I am truly excited about this next chapter in my life,” Forte said in a statement. “I’ve always envisioned a career in broadcasting, and I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than joining the NBC Sports Chicago team."
Adeshina Emmanuel has been hired as the first full-time Chicago reporter for the education news outlet Chalkbeat. He’ll report to bureau chief Cassie Walker Burke, who recently joined the nonprofit news organization after serving as assistant managing editor at Crain’s Chicago Business. Emmanuel, a Chicago native who attended Loyola University, previously worked at the Chicago Reporter, DNAinfo Chicago and the Sun-Times. As a freelance writer, he wrote the controversial Chicago Reader cover story on J.B. Pritzker that led to the resignation of editor Mark Konkol.
C.C. Boggiano has resigned as manager of news operations at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 to become director of news operations for WNBC, the NBC-owned station in New York. His last day here will be May 30. “C.C.’s been a valuable member of our management team and his contributions to WLS since his arrival in 2000 are numerous,” Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director of ABC 7, emailed staffers. “He’s been a proponent of new technologies . . . and an advocate for our talented staff of news photographers, media managers and editors.” Before joining ABC 7, Boggiano worked for stations in Hartford, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.
John Rogers Jr., the prominent Chicago money man, has been named to the board of directors of The New York Times. “To be on a board like that, you learn how important quality journalism is to our country and our world,” he told “Taking Names” columnist Shia Kapos. “It’s more important than ever that we have strong, dynamic newspapers in the United States.” Rogers is founder, chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments.
Former Chicago television sportscaster Howard Sudberry will be everywhere on the radio today. Sudberry, now senior director of marketing and communications at Arlington International Racecourse, will appear in a 60-second interview on the effectiveness of radio advertising. More than 40 Chicago area radio stations will simulcast the promotion at 4:29 p.m. today. It’s the latest joint effort of Radio Broadcasters of Chicagoland to sing the praises of their medium. “Radio is an important part of our business,” Sudberry said in a statement. “The ability to change our radio advertising message frequently is the most effective way to let consumers know what is happening at Arlington.”
Chicago-born filmmaker Mick Kalber, son of the late, legendary anchorman Floyd Kalber, has spent more than 35 years filming breathtaking volcanic eruptions all over Hawaii. Last week he had to flee for the first time when lava flow from the Kilauea volcano threatened his own home in Leilani Estates, according to the Sun-Times. He’s back home now, but doesn’t know what’s next. “We can’t move forward and we can’t move backward,” Kalber told freelance writer Peter von Buol. “One day we’re encouraged and the next we’re depressed. It’s a real roller-coaster of emotions.”
Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones certainly has a flair for the dramatic. While appearing on “Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review” Friday, Jones called on his ex-boss, former tronc chairman Michael Ferro, to give back the $15 million consulting payment he received from the company and put it straight into the Tribune’s editorial budget. “He could end all these bad optics by voluntarily saying, ‘Here’s $15 million. Go do some great journalism,’” Jones said with a seemingly straight face. (Not even his fellow panelists took him seriously.) But the cheeky critic later insisted: “Why not, right? The past is the past, but he could do the right thing!”
Sad to note the passing of the great Cliff Wirth, a brilliant cartoonist and a wonderful man who delighted generations of readers with his “funny pictures.” Wirth, who worked at the Sun-Times from 1979 to 2002, died May 8 in Bedford, Massachusetts. According to the Sun-Times, he was 91 and had Alzheimer’s disease. A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, and a World War II veteran, Wirth attended Michigan State University and Meinzinger Art School in Detroit before joining the Detroit Times in 1950.
Monday’s comment of the day: Ron Magers: Oh, Johnny [Brandmeier], what fun we had. Thanks for every minute of it. Except maybe for making me ride to Northwest Indiana in the back seat of a limo with Piranha Man. Then there was the boa I wore in the parade down Michigan Avenue and the morning a listener called to tell us there were fish swimming in the lower level of Marshall Fields and . . .