Robservations: ‘Deception’ cited in pushback to Sinclair/Tribune deal

Sinclair Broadcast Group

Robservations on the media beat:

It’s not clear what prompted FCC chairman Ajit Pai to derail the $3.9 billion acquisition of Chicago-based Tribune Media by Sinclair Broadcast Group. But in raising “serious concerns” about the deal Monday, Pai threw the future ownership of “Chicago’s Very Own” WGN-Channel 9, news/talk WGN 720-AM and 41 other Tribune stations up in the air. According to Reuters, a draft of the FCC’s order said Sinclair’s actions “potentially involve deception” and possible “misconduct.” Sinclair responded that it was “shocked and disappointed” by the setback and denied any “misrepresentation or lack of candor” involving its plans to divest 21 Tribune Media stations — including WGN. “At no time have we misled the FCC in any manner whatsoever with respect to the relationships or the structure of those relationships proposed as part of the Tribune acquisition,” the company said. Tribune Media stock fell nearly 17 percent to $32.12 on Monday’s bombshell news.

Bob Stroud

Bob Stroud, legendary midday host on Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM, was named a finalist Monday for Major Market Personality of the Year in the National Association of Broadcasters’ 2018 Marconi Radio Awards. Other Chicago finalists are Tribune Broadcasting WGN 720-AM for News/Talk Station of the Year, and Hubbard Radio WSHE 100.3-FM for Adult Contemporary Station of the Year. Winners will be announced September 27 at the NAB Radio Show in Orlando, Florida.

Jamar McNeil

Jamar McNeil, who was known as morning personality “J Niice” at Entercom Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM, has landed in Toronto as morning co-host on CHUM. This week he joined the team of Roger Ashby and Marilyn Denis on the hot adult-contemporary station. McNeil signed off in March after 10 years as host of “The J Show” at B96. “Toronto is both a hotbed for music and one of my favorite cities in the world, so I’m thrilled to head north of the border to join the great team at CHUM 104.5,” he said in a statement.

Carl Grapentine

Starting Monday, WFMT 98.7-FM has big plans for Carl Grapentine’s final week as morning personality on the classical music station. Leading up to his farewell broadcast July 27, WFMT will feature personal reminiscences, anniversary celebrations and special features during the 8 a.m. hour each day. Still no word on a successor to Grapentine, who’s retiring after more than three decades as the golden-voiced morning star of the Window to the World Communications station.


Employees of tronc newspapers (including the Chicago Tribune) were taken aback by a grim email from the company’s human resources department. In the wake of the newsroom shooting last month at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, the company announced “a renewed commitment to be as prepared as possible for emergencies,” adding: “In the event of an emergency or crisis situation, the Human Resources team needs current contact information so that we may get in touch with your loved ones.”

Monday’s comment of the day: Jeffrey Berman: Is there a soul in Chicago who would want WGN to change hands - to anyone?