Robservations: WGN staffers still mum on Sinclair setback


Robservations on the media beat:

Tom Skilling

No matter how dead the deal may look, employees of WGN-Channel 9 and WGN 720-AM aren’t ready to speak out about the apparent collapse of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s acquisition of their Tribune Media parent company. Though many privately expressed relief that the FCC has derailed the $3.9 billion transaction, most declined to comment publicly. One exception was WGN’s superstar meteorologist, Tom Skilling, who said: “I don't know how final these latest developments are and want to be careful not to get out ahead on this. Ours is a very special television station and I work with an amazing group of people here. My hope is however this comes out that my fellow WGN employees feel secure and happy at the outcome.” Paul Rennie, president and general manager of WGN, was out of the country and could not be reached.

Patricia Callahan

Patricia Callahan, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, has been hired as a senior reporter covering business for ProPublica. She’ll join the independent, nonprofit newsroom August 31. “This is a critical time to be reporting about business and the dismantling of regulations that impact every aspect of American life,” Callahan said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to join such an innovative group of investigative journalists.” A graduate of Maine South High School and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Callahan worked for the Wall Street Journal and the Denver Post before joining the Tribune in 2004.

Jenniffer Weigel

Jenniffer Weigel, the Chicago journalist, author and broadcaster, has joined the Sun-Times as director of community development. In her new role, Weigel will be creating special events, podcasts and video content for the company with a focus on the community. She'll report to Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath. Weigel, a former video reporter/columnist for the Tribune, is the daughter of the late sports anchor Tim Weigel and sister of Rafer Weigel, news anchor at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32.

Tony Macaluso

Tony Macaluso has resigned as director of network syndication for WFMT Radio Network to move with his family to Leeds, England. In addition to heading the national distribution division of Window to the World Communications classical WFMT 98.7-FM, he also oversaw development of the Studs Terkel Radio Archive and served as executive producer of numerous radio series. Before joining WFMT Radio Network in 2012, Macaluso was director of marketing for the Grant Park Music Festival. He's a graduate of Glenbard North High School, Augustana College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chet Coppock

People who have read Chet Coppock’s fifth and latest book say it’s his most thoughtful and introspective yet. Your Dime, My Dance Floor: Chet Coppock in Pursuit of Chet Coppock, published by Rick Kaempfer and David Stern’s Eckhartz Press, features numerous stories about the sportscaster’s athletic heroes. But it also includes reflections on life decisions he has made, career bridges he has burned, and the difficulties he has encountered as a father and husband. It will be released August 8 with a signing that night as part of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library’s Books and Brews series at Eddie’s Restaurant, 10 Northwest Highway, Arlington Heights.

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels, creator and executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” will headline a gala fundraiser for Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications August 10. It’s in conjunction with the museum’s ongoing exhibition, “Saturday Night Live: The Experience.” “The exhibit is fun, interactive and educational and a must-see for any SNL fan,” Julian Jackson, executive director of the museum, said in a statement. “The relationship between Chicago and SNL is historic.” Tickets for the event at the museum, 360 North State Street, are available at Guests will have access to the exhibit.

Friday’s comment of the day: Shane Gericke: I’m still mildly shocked--but very pleased--that an FCC run by a Trump appointee is putting the kibosh on a right-wing corporation's purchase of WGN and other Tribune broadcast properties. Especially when this same FCC so brazenly neutered net neutrality. Sinclair's scheme was outrageous, of course: Selling WGN to a car dealer with ties to Sinclair's boss? P.T. Barnum wouldn't have had that much chutzpah! But this administration normally doesn't care about legal niceties when they interfere with Big Business. Color me impressed.