Robservations: NPR reports Tribune payment over Ferro’s slur

Michael Ferro (Photo: Christopher Michel)

Robservations on the media beat:

As if it were possible to think any less of Michael Ferro, a bombshell report Wednesday claimed the former chairman of Tribune Publishing was heard making an anti-Semitic slur to a gathering of company executives. NPR reported that Ferro was caught on tape referring to California billionaire Eli Broad as part of a “Jewish cabal” that ran Los Angeles. NPR’s David Folkenflik reported that Tribune Publishing made secret payments of more than $2.5 million to keep a former publisher and editor of the Los Angeles Times from disclosing Ferro’s comments. Recent financial reports show Ferro's infamous $15 million “consulting fee” on his way out was reduced by $2.5 million to $12.5 million in the second quarter this year, according to NPR. Ferro resigned as chairman in March, hours before sexual harassment accusations against him were published. But he remains the largest shareholder of the Chicago Tribune’s parent company (which he’d earlier stuck with the hideous name tronc). A spokesman for Ferro denied he made the slur. Tribune Publishing declined to comment.

Jennifer Schulze

Once Edwin Eisendrath exited as chief executive officer of the Chicago Sun-Times, it was only a matter of time before his wife, Jennifer Schulze, left the company too. On Wednesday, Schulze departed as executive producer – new media. “I am forever grateful for the opportunity to help create interesting new content for the Sun-Times,” she tweeted, citing shows she produced on city neighborhoods, high school sports, food and cannabis. Carol Fowler, the digital news exec who hired Schulze, saw her position eliminated last week. Both Schulze and Fowler are former Chicago television news directors. No comment on Schulze from the Sun-Times.

Charles Thomas

Charles Thomas, former political reporter at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, has joined the Chicago mayoral campaign of Amara Enyia as senior adviser. “Unlike most of the other contenders, she is truly the independent, ‘change’ candidate,” Thomas said of Enyia. “She has a base of millennials — inspired by Chance the Rapper's endorsement — that is adding Chicagoans of all ages including ‘graybeards’ like myself. I see this campaign as a beachhead for the next generation of this city's political leadership, and I am excited to be involved.” Thomas, who retired from ABC 7 after 25 years in 2017, most recently co-hosted Maze Jackson’s morning show on WVON 1690-AM, the Midway Broadcasting African-American news/talk station.

Phil Ponce

Phil Ponce, host of WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight,” has been named a visiting lecturer at Loyola University’s School of Communication. He'll conduct a series of lectures and workshops on interviewing. Calling Ponce “a highly respected journalist and a great colleague,” John Slania, acting dean of the School of Communication, said in a statement: “He brings a new degree of sophistication and energy to our program. He has deep knowledge and experience, and our students will benefit from his lectures.” Ponce will continue two days a week with the nightly news program he has hosted since 1999 on the Window to the World Communications public television station.

“Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!”

“Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!” as a TV series? The popular NPR news-quiz show, produced by Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM, is being developed as a series by NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s Wilshire Studios, according to Deadline. The weekly radio series is hosted by Peter Sagal (with Bill Kurtis as judge and scorekeeper), but no host or production schedule has been announced for the TV adaptation. Michael Lutzky, vice president of business development for NPR, said in a statement: “We are thrilled that one of the longest-running and most listened to radio and podcast franchises in history will now entertain television audiences with a fresh and fun look at the week’s news.”

Crain's Chicago Business

Crain's Chicago Business is converting its twice-weekly newsletter on health care to its first paid-subscription newsletter offering. (Here is the link.) Starting January 7, Health Pulse Chicago will be delivered Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, “offering subscribers a more robust — and more frequent — dose of inside news and data, including developments that could change the competitive landscape.” Jim Kirk, publisher and executive editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, said in a statement: "We understand how busy health care professionals are today. And the need to stay on top of the latest news and information in this growing industry has never been greater. . . . Powered by the great reporting from Crain's, Health Pulse is the definitive word on the health care industry in Chicago, and we couldn't be more excited about this launch.''