Robservations: Five media groups launch election website

Chi.Vote Collective

Robservations on the media beat:

Five independent Chicago media organizations have joined forces to launch a free, nonpartisan website designed to prepare voters for the upcoming Chicago municipal election. Starting today, The Chi.Vote Collective will provide breakdowns on candidates and races, an election-related calendar, news stories and more. (Here is the link.) Its founding partners are the Better Government Association, Block Club Chicago, The Chicago Reporter, The Daily Line and The Triibe. Sol Lieberman, the vice president of strategy for the BGA who spearheaded the effort, noted that when Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago in 1983, 82 percent of registered voters turned out. "Thirty-five years later we're lucky to get half that," Lieberman said. "Democracy is sick in Chicago. Blame apathy, blame institutionalized dysfunction, blame hyperpartisanship and disintermediation — whatever the diagnosis, curing it requires collective action. A healthy Chicago votes, bottom line." The site is live now, and the full suite of features will be live January 22.

Kerry Lester

In another politically-oriented digital enterprise, Kerry Lester has been named editor of the Center for Illinois Politics, a website that uses data analysis to explore political trends. (Here is the link.) Lester is the former political editor and columnist for the Daily Herald and former Springfield bureau chief of the Associated Press. Founded by two former state senators — Susan Garrett and John Millner — the nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent venture is overseen by a board that includes Steve Baer, Suzanne Bassi, David DeCarlo, Maze Jackson, Rosanna Marquez, Chris Mooney. Dometi Pongo, Jeff Schoenberg, Dan Seals, Peter Skosey and Jon Tan. "This politically mixed board approves articles for fairness of content and tone before we publish them," Lester said. The site's first piece looks at where the women in the Chicago mayor's race are getting their money and how their candidacies compare with Jane Byrne's reelection bid in 1983.

Meghan Kluth

Meghan Kluth, a college football sideline reporter for Stadium digital sports network, has been hired as a per-diem reporter at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. She previously worked at WGNO, the ABC affiliate in New Orleans, as well as for, Comcast CN100, Tribune Broadcasting former sports/talk The Game 87.7 FM, and the Sun-Times. "I’m honored to join the #1 team @abc7chicago," she tweeted. "It’s been a dream since I was a child to report in my hometown. I’ll be covering sports and news, in the field and filling in on the anchor desk. . . . I can’t wait to tell your stories, Chicago!" Kluth, a graduate of Walter Payton College Prep High School and Boston University, is the daughter of Mike Quigley, the Democratic congressman from the North Side.

Chicago Sun-Times

There's yet another change in the alignment of comic strips at the Chicago Sun-Times. Starting with today's edition, most of the remaining comics have been consolidated over two pages rather than appearing throughout the classified ad section. The only comics continuing to run in the classifieds are "Love Is" and "Frank & Ernest," according to editor-in-chief Chris Fusco. In November the Sun-Times eliminated about half its daily comics, the crossword puzzle and the daily TV listings in a cost-saving move. It later restored the crossword and evening TV grid to its pages.

Bob Stroud

"Rock 'n' Roll Roots," the signature Sunday morning showcase that's been hosted by legendary musicologist Bob Stroud for more than three decades, is getting a second weekend run. In addition to airing from 7 to 10 a.m. Sundays, it's also heard from 7 to 10 p.m. Sundays on Hubbard Radio classic rock WDRV 97.1-FM. "The Stroud Crowd has been relentless in their quest to get 'Roots' scheduled a bit later in the day," said Rob Cressman, program director of The Drive. "Now Sundays are twice as nice.” Stroud also continues as midday personality — from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

Santita Jackson

Following Joan Esposito's two-week guest-hosting stint, two other familiar broadcasters are slated to turn up from 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT 820-AM. Filling in this week is Santita Jackson, former midday personality at Midway Broadcasting urban news/talk WVON 1690-AM and the eldest daughter of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. On tap next week is Dick Kay, weekend host at WCPT and former political editor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. The afternoon slot has been open since Ben Joravsky was cut from the station December 27. (Here is the link to Joravsky's version of events.)

Ian Simkins and Brian From

Ian Simkins, teaching pastor at Community Christian Church in Naperville, and Brian From, lead pastor of Four Corners Community Church in Darien, have signed on as co-hosts of "The Common Good," a new afternoon show on WYLL 1160-AM, the Salem Media Christian talk station. Airing from 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays, the show features perspectives on issues of faith, current events and culture. “We are so excited to welcome Brian and Ian to our lineup,” Jeff Reisman, vice president and general manager of AM 1160, said in a statement. “We believe that this show, with these two hosts, will provide a place for the important conversations that are happening in our culture today.”

ABC 7 Chicago

After 38 years at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, Tom Robison is retiring as a producer. His last day on the job will be January 25. "Tom has witnessed Chicago history while doing just about every job in the newsroom, from writer to assignment desk to sports producer to newscast producer," said Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director of ABC 7. "For about the past 20 years, Tom has produced a portion of the top-rated 4 p.m. hour newscast and his Chicago insight has served us well."

Friday’s comment of the day: Corey Ruzicka: Channel 7 did a far better job [on New Year's Eve]. Giangreco wasn't a robot like they were on Channel 5. He had fun doing it, which was fun to watch. Channel 5 treated it as a stand-up news report.