Robservations on the media beat:
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.
Rounding out the new top management team at CBS 2 is Robert Breen, who signed on Monday as vice president and director of sales. Breen most recently was director of national sales and political station strategist at Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9. “Ratings and revenue are critical to supporting our mission,” CBS 2 general manager Derek Dalton said in announcing the hiring. “I am confident Robert will help lead the charge.” Breen replaces Stephanie Keenan, who exited after 21 years at CBS.
It’s a big week at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, where 6 and 10 p.m. news anchor Kathy Brock is stepping down after 28 years at the top-rated station. Her last night on the air will be Wednesday. Starting Thursday, Cheryl Burton will replace Brock alongside Alan Krashesky at 10 p.m., while continuing to co-anchor with him at 5 p.m. New to the 6 p.m. newscast with Krashesky will be Judy Hsu. And Tanja Babich will add 11 a.m. newscast duties with Terrell Brown, while continuing to anchor from 4:30 to 7 a.m. with Brown.
Steve Stewart, former program director and midday personality at iHeartMedia country WEBG 95.5-FM, has landed as director of programming operations for Cox Media Group in Orlando, Florida. He will serve as program director of WWKA and also oversee WCFB, WPYO, WMMO and Solo Exitos. “I’m incredibly excited to work with the CMG Orlando team and everyone at Cox Media Group,” Stewart said in a statement. “The energy and talent in this group have us poised for success.” He was replaced at Big 95.5 in April by Lance Houston, formerly of the iHeartMedia stations in Boston.
Jerry Harper, a staff announcer at CBS 2 for 32 years, died June 9 in Carol Stream. He was 90. “Jerry was a wonderful announcer,” former CBS 2 news anchor Bill Kurtis told Bob Goldsborough in a Chicago Tribune obituary. “It was a signature voice. It’s so good to have something like that identified with a station or a product.” The Chicago native and graduate of Fenger High School worked in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, and Tampa, Florida, before joining CBS 2 as a reporter and announcer in 1960. He retired in 1992. Harper also served as president of the Chicago Press Club in the ’70s.
Monday’s comment of the day: Ralph Sherman Sr.: Having worked with Art Hellyer, I can't think of ANY other broadcaster with the talent this man had. In his best years — 1950-1960 — he dominated Chicago radio, and yet he is not given the recognition he deserves. Too bad. In his 90s now, his time has passed, but for those who enjoyed his talents, I am sorry he was not recognized. There is NO ONE who deserves it more.