Robservations: Tribune tightens security ‘out of abundant precaution’

Outside the Capital Gazette Thursday

Robservations on the media beat:

Security was beefed up at the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers owned by tronc following a shooting Thursday at the company’s Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, that left five people dead. “Out of abundant precaution, we are increasing security presence at the company,” CEO Justin Dearborn told employees. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We are focused now on providing our employees and their families with support during this tragic time.” It was not clear what measures were taken in other area newsrooms. “First and foremost, we are deeply saddened by the senseless slaughter today,” Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath said in a statement. “As to our own security, for obvious reasons we do not disclose our security strategies.” The Daily Herald declined to comment. Continue reading

Block Club Chicago acquires archive of DNAinfo

Block Club Chicago

Block Club Chicago, the new subscription-based neighborhood news service, has picked up the assets of DNAinfo, including the extensive archive of stories created by the former hyperlocal news sites in Chicago and New York.

It’s quite a coup for Block Club Chicago, which acquired the treasure trove Thursday as a gift from New York Public Radio WNYC. The station obtained the assets from DNAinfo in February as part of a larger deal that included Gothamist and associated sites. Continue reading

Robservations: ABC 7’s Kathy Brock signs off ‘loving this job’

Kathy Brock

Robservations on the media beat:

Expressing gratitude for “how fortunate I’ve been to work here with these people,” Kathy Brock bade an emotional farewell Wednesday after 28 years as news anchor at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Closing out her final 10 p.m. newscast with co-anchor Alan Krashesky, Brock told viewers: “Right now at this moment in time we need smart, objective journalists — a description of my colleagues — and my departure is not going to change that. I leave loving this job, but ready for change.” The sign-off capped a day of tributes and celebrations for her splendid career. Starting tonight Brock will be succeeded on the top-rated newscast by Cheryl Burton, a 26-year veteran of ABC 7. Continue reading

Neil Steinberg never falls short on his daily blog

Neil Steinberg

Five years ago Neil Steinberg’s column in the Sun-Times temporarily was cut to one day a week as punishment for an ethical infraction that must have seemed important at the time. That’s when he came up with an audacious idea.

Rather than enjoy his reduced workload at full pay, Steinberg decided to start a blog where he could post columns about anything he liked whenever he wanted. Seven days a week, in fact. Continue reading

Robservations: CBS 2 finds latest news director in Cleveland


Robservations on the media beat:

Jeff Harris

Another itinerant news director is coming to town to fix WBBM-Channel 2, the perpetually troubled CBS-owned station. Whether he’ll have any better luck than his predecessors remains to be seen. This time it’s Jeff Harris, news director at WEWS, the ABC affiliate in Cleveland. He's expected to join CBS 2 on July 16, according to insiders. Harris also has worked in Denver and San Francisco. He will replace Jeff Kiernan, who resigned in March to rejoin WTMJ, the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee. Derek Dalton, president and general manager of CBS 2, did not respond to a request for comment Monday. A spokeswoman declined to confirm that Harris has been hired. Continue reading

Johnny B. voted in to Radio Hall of Fame

Jonathon Brandmeier with photo of Wally Phillips (1986)

Jonathon Brandmeier, who took Chicago by storm as morning star of the former WLUP 97.9-FM in the ’80s, has been elected to the National Radio Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Brandmeier, 61, was among 11 broadcasters in the 2018 class of inductees announced Monday by the Chicago-based shrine to radio’s outstanding personalities and programs. They will be inducted November 15 in New York. Continue reading

Robservations: ABC 7's Cheryl Scott ‘in such a great place’

Cheryl Scott

Robservations on the media beat:

If Cheryl Scott has ambitions beyond forecasting the weather here, she’s not letting on. Thinking about what’s next keeps the WLS-Channel 7 meteorologist up at night, she said, but she’s committed to the top-rated ABC-owned station — her TV home since 2014. “I am in such a great place right now,” Scott, 33, told Laurence Holmes on his “House of L” podcast this week. “ABC is awesome. I’m so fortunate to be where I am. So I just hope to continue to build an even better relationship with the Chicago community, and hopefully they realize that they’re stuck with me because I absolutely love this city and I love my job. It’s interesting being in the media world, in this business, and seeing how everything is kind of starting to change, and there’s so much more being done digitally. So I think it’s more of a crossover, where how you can continue to grow your brand and what you can do on other platforms, which I’ll continue to work on.” (Here is the link.) Continue reading

Robservations: Jerry Springer calls it a day

Jerry Springer

Robservations on the media beat:

There was a time when the end of “The Jerry Springer Show” would have been front-page news in Chicago. But word this week that the syndicated talk show had ceased production after 4,000 episodes and 27 seasons mainly drew shrugs of good riddance. Named the worst TV show all time by TV Guide in 2002, the sleazy slugfest originated for 17 years from Chicago’s NBC Tower before relocating to Connecticut in 2009. While it was here, the Rev. Michael Pfleger waged a lengthy public battle against Springer’s glorification of violence. At one point, the host was hauled before the Chicago City Council where grandstanding aldermen questioned him about whether the fights on his show were real or fake. Springer’s short-lived stint as a news commentator for NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 in 1997 prompted the resignations of top anchors Carol Marin and Ron Magers and the defection of thousands of viewers. “We’ve stopped production of the show,” Springer, 74, told “Entertainment Tonight.” “Whenever you make changes, it’s sad.” Continue reading

Robservations: ‘Time to step away’ for radio newsman Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart

Robservations on the media beat:

It’s hard to imagine Chicago radio without Dave Stewart on somewhere. But after more than 40 years in the business, the top-notch newsman will be retiring at the end of June. Stewart, 66, most recently anchored for iHeartRadio’s 24/7 News Network and Salem Broadcasting news/talk WIND 560-AM. Before that he spent 28 years as afternoon news anchor and City Hall reporter at Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN 720-AM. “While my desire to inform without instigating hasn’t diminished, the time has come to step away from the obligation of a clock and a format,“ Stewart said. “There’s much about the business I’ll miss, and much I won’t. But what’ll be irreplaceable will be the opportunity to work with, alongside and for so many talented people.” Continue reading