Robservations: Eddie Olczyk teams with David Kaplan at ESPN 1000

Eddie Olczyk

Robservations on the media beat:

David Kaplan

Eddie Olczyk, the former Chicago Blackhawks center turned sports broadcaster, is joining ESPN Radio sports/talk WMVP AM 1000 as co-host of David Kaplan’s midday show. Starting this week, he'll appear with Kaplan from 9 a.m. to noon two days a week (generally Mondays and Fridays). Jim Pastor, vice president and general manager of ESPN 1000, said in a statement: “What fans may not realize is that Eddie is not only a legendary hockey and horse racing broadcaster, but having grown up here, he’s also a huge fan of all Chicago sports teams. Pairing him twice a week with his good friend David Kaplan will give him a chance to put those passions on display for ESPN listeners.” Calling it “an incredible opportunity,” Olczyk said: “To work with Kap, who is a great friend and a media legend in our city, will be challenging and a lot of fun. I cannot wait to join him.” Olczyk, who recently bounced back from colon cancer, will continue as an analyst for NBC Sports, NBC Sports Chicago and Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9. Continue reading

Emails reveal what hosts really think of WGN Radio

Steve Cochran in new WGN Radio studios Monday (Photo: WGN)

Today WGN 720-AM begins a new era in multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art studios on the 18th floor of 303 East Wacker Drive. But that doesn’t mean the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station will be leaving all its old baggage behind.

In the face of WGN’s declining ratings, questionable programming moves and impending sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group, it’s a time of introspection, reaffirmation and some finger-pointing behind the scenes at “Chicago’s Very Own.” Continue reading

Elizabeth Brackett 1941-2018

Elizabeth Brackett (Photo: WTTW)

From her award-winning work as an esteemed Chicago journalist to her inspiring success as a world champion triathlete, Elizabeth Brackett brought strength, energy, passion and courage to everything she did.

Brackett, who was 76, died Sunday at Stroger Hospital, where she had been in a coma and on a ventilator since Wednesday, according to Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11. She suffered a fractured vertebrae in her neck after a bicycle accident and was found unconscious near a bike path at 39th and South Lake Shore Drive. Continue reading

Sun-Times sells Chicago Reader to African-American group

Chicago Reader

The Chicago Reader, the city’s leading alternative weekly for 47 years, has been sold to a group led by Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the African-American Chicago Crusader.

The news, first leaked at the annual conference of Rainbow PUSH Friday, was later confirmed by the parent company of the Sun-Times, which has owned the Reader since 2012. The deal is expected to close in the next 30 days, with the Sun-Times retaining a 15 percent interest in the publication. Continue reading

Robservations: Tariffs on newsprint threaten Illinois newspapers

Newsprint (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Robservations on the media beat:

The future of more than 450 daily and weekly newspapers throughout Illinois may be in jeopardy because of a tariff that could raise the price of Canadian newsprint by as much as 32 percent. A survey by the Illinois Press Association showed that 68 percent of all publishers would be forced to shrink their newspapers and 60 percent would have to reduce staff and not fill open positions if the tariffs become permanent. Some publications will be driven out of business. All 18 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois signed a letter this week urging the International Trade Commission to “take into full consideration the negative impacts of these tariffs on the newspaper industry and other stakeholders in Illinois and throughout the United States.” Continue reading

Robservations: Shia Kapos takes over Illinois Playbook

Shia Kapos

Robservations on the media beat:

Natasha Korecki

Shia Kapos, the longtime and well-connected chronicler of Chicago’s movers and shakers, is replacing Natasha Korecki as writer of Politico’s Illinois Playbook. Korecki, who’s been writing the daily newsletter on politics and government since 2015, was promoted to national correspondent for Politico. “I’ll still be here for a couple of weeks before handing over the baton,” Korecki reported. Kapos, a former columnist for the Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business, has been blogging — Taking Names at — and covering corporate governance for Acuris. “I’ve loved writing about big shareholders for Acuris, but I really enjoy digging in to Chicago news,” Kapos said. “Writing the Illinois Playbook is a dream come true. I have big shoes to fill as Natasha has become the premiere political writer in Illinois — and soon the Midwest. I think together we’ll be kicking ass and taking names.” Continue reading

Robservations: Sun-Times CEO Eisendrath fires back at critics

Edwin Eisendrath

Robservations on the media beat:

John Kass

Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath is responding to critics who’ve questioned whether the paper can cover politics and City Hall fairly under its current ownership. Foremost among them is Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, who challenged the connection between Sun-Times chairman Jorge Ramirez and his boss, investment executive Michael Sacks, whom Kass described as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “money guy, closest confidant and top fundraiser.” This week Eisendrath fired back: “The truth is the journalists do their job, and they’re not being bossed around by anyone on our board. That line is held, and it’s been clear. I don’t see any evidence that anybody is walking around me and talking to the reporters and trying to push them to do anything,” he told me. “The same way I’m able to say — in spite of clear evidence that the Tribune has a corporate point of view and a political point of view — I’m able to give credit to the journalists for the work they do. And I would expect Kass to do the same thing. . . . It’s fair to go after corporate citizenship. You bet it is. But that’s a different case. That’s not what he did. He said the reporters are going to get their marching orders from City Hall. Shame on him. He knows better.” Continue reading

ABC 7 promotes Cheryl Burton to 10 p.m. anchor

Tanja Babich, Cheryl Burton and Judy Hsu (Photo: ABC 7)

Cheryl Burton, a 26-year veteran of WLS-Channel 7, has been named to succeed Kathy Brock as co-anchor of the top-rated 10 p.m. newscast, the ABC-owned station announced Tuesday.

Starting June 28, Burton will join Alan Krashesky on the 10 p.m. newscast while continuing to co-anchor with Krashesky at 5 p.m. on ABC 7 and with Hosea Sanders at 7 p.m. on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26. Continue reading

Block Club Chicago comes alive Wednesday

Block Club Chicago staff (standing from left): Stephanie Lulay, Shamus Toomey and Jen Sabella; (sitting from left): Mina Bloom, Alisa Hauser, Lee Edwards, Kelly Bauer and Mauricio Pena

Wednesday marks the official launch of Block Club Chicago, a subscription-based neighborhood news service from the former editors of DNAinfo Chicago.

Since the startup was announced in February, more than 3,000 backers contributed $183,720 in a Kickstarter campaign to fund the nonprofit independent newsroom. Support is expected to come from a combination of subscriptions and charitable donations from individuals and foundations. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: ‘Eric in the Morning’ reigns supreme

Melissa McGurren, Eric Ferguson and Brian “Whip” Paruch (Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

As sure as the sun rises over Lake Michigan, Eric Ferguson dominates morning radio in Chicago.

The Nielsen Audio ratings report released Monday shows the Radio Hall of Famer expanding his first-place lead in May after more than two decades as morning star of Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX 101.9-FM. Continue reading