Robservations: Nowhere to go but up for CBS 2 news boss

Rob Johnson and Irika Sargent

Robservations on the media beat:

Jeff Harris

Jeff Harris just stepped into what may be the toughest job in Chicago television. As the new vice president and news director of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, Harris inherits a perpetually challenged news operation with nowhere to go but up. Since his arrival from ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland two weeks ago, insiders say, he's expressed an interest in investigative reporting over crime coverage — which some see as an encouraging sign. "He likes to defy conventional wisdom," said one newsroom veteran, who described Harris as a "smart, quiet guy." In the July Nielsen sweep, CBS 2's 10 p.m. newscast with Rob Johnson and Irika Sargent trailed the market in fourth place with a 2.7 rating (89,091 households) and 5.3 share. Among viewers between 25 and 54 — the so-called money demo — it registered a scant 0.5 rating and 1.7 share.


The parent company of public television WTTW-Channel 11 and classical radio WFMT 98.7-FM is restoring the position of director of communications. Under new president and CEO Sandra Cordova Micek, Window to the World Communications is advertising the job, which includes "planning and executing the organization's aggressive promotion strategies for both media brands across platforms." The last person to hold the title was Holly Gilson, who was promoted to director of strategic partnerships and special projects before her position was eliminated in a budget cutback in 2014. Two years earlier, the company eliminated the position of Joanie Bayhack as senior vice president of communications and corporate partnerships.

Crain Communications

Crain Communications, parent company of Crain's Chicago Business, has sold InvestmentNews to Vitesse Media, a London-based publisher. The $27.1 million deal, announced Tuesday, is expected to close in mid-August. Crain launched InvestmentNews in 1997 as a weekly magazine covering the U.S. financial advice profession. "The Crain family thanks the employees of InvestmentNews for all their hard work and efforts in building a successful brand," KC Crain, president and chief operating officer of the Detroit-based family-owned company, said in a statement.

Andy Shaw

Andy Shaw, former president and CEO of the Better Government Association, has been hired as a strategic consultant by the nonprofit government watchdog group. In addition to fundraising and development work, he’ll provide media training to BGA staff, according to David Greising, who succeeded Shaw as president and CEO in March. To accommodate his new position, Shaw will step down as president emeritus and ex-officio board member. “Please join me in wishing Andy congratulations on this vital new role, which will enable him to continue to help the BGA while he sets course for the next stage of his life and career,” Greising wrote in an email.

Joel Meyer

Joel Meyer, former executive producer of talk programming at Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5, has been hired as director of programming and promotion at KUER, the NPR affiliate in Salt Lake City, Utah. He most recently was executive producer at WNYC Studios in New York. “Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work inside stations that are investing in local news, championing great shows and stories, and finding innovative ways to build upon public media’s founding principles," Meyer said in a statement. "KUER is doing all of these things in one of the most exciting -- and beautiful -- news landscapes in the country."

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Steve DuBose: Charles [Thomas] proved himself to be a class act. He could have attacked Maze Jackson as Jackson would do to him (always behind his back when Charles would step out of the studio). Melody Spann Cooper had better wake up soon and realize that Maze Jackson is toxic, a liar and an exaggerator and is ruining an historic station.