Robservations: Matrix sells northwest suburban 103.9 The Fox, Star 105.5

Eddie Volkman

Robservations on the media beat:

Two northwest suburban radio stations owned by Matrix Broadcasting — classic rock WFXF 103.9-FM and adult contemporary WZSR 105.5-FM — will be acquired by Alpha Media in a $4.7 million deal, according to an FCC filing Monday. Alpha Media has been operating the two stations under a shared services agreement since Matrix Broadcasting filed for bankruptcy protection last year. In order to comply with ownership limits, Alpha Media will spin off 103.9 The Fox to Educational Media Foundation, the noncommercial Christian broadcasting company behind the "K-Love" and "Air 1" formats, for $900,000. That's bad news for morning personality Eddie Volkman, the longtime Chicago radio star, and the rest of the station's lineup, including Alex Quigley and Pat Capone. "All I know for now is it's business as usual, so I'll keep going in to entertain until they tell me not to," Volkman said. While it will continue to operate Star 105.5, Alpha Media also will sell southwest suburban active rock WRXQ 100.7-FM to Walnut Radio Illinois for $300,000. Continue reading

WLS program boss Peter Bolger to retire

Peter Bolger

Capping a 44-year career in radio, Peter Bolger has announced he's retiring as operations manager and program director of WLS 890-AM, the Cumulus Media news/talk staton.

Bolger, 64, said he plans to move back to Portland, Oregon, where he lived and worked in the 1980s before taking on programming jobs in Miami, San Antonio and Chicago. His last day at WLS will be March 15. Continue reading

B96 rejects DreX as morning host

Gabe Ramirez, Nina Hajian and Kevin “DreX” Buchar

It’s over and out for Kevin Buchar, the radio veteran known as DreX, after 10 months as morning personality at Entercom Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM.

Friday turned out to be the last day on the air for DreX, whose brief run on B96 never approached the ratings popularity he commanded on iHeartMedia Top 40 WKSC 103.5-FM from 2003 to 2010. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, B96 tied for 18th in mornings with a 1.8 percent share. Continue reading

Robservations: Block Club Chicago hires three new reporters

Block Club Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:

Jamie Nesbitt Golden

Three new full-time reporters have been hired at Block Club Chicago, the nonprofit subscription-based digital news site founded by former editors of DNAinfo Chicago. Jamie Nesbitt Golden, who freelanced for Block Club and DNAinfo, now covers Englewood, Chatham and Auburn Gresham. She replaces Lee Edwards, who left to become a program coordinator at Free Spirit Media, based in North Lawndale. Hannah Alani, a former reporter for The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, covers Wicker Park, Bucktown and West Town. She replaces Alisa Hauser, who moved to Portland, Oregon. Jonathan Ballew, who freelanced for Block Club, now covers Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park. His position was one of two funded by a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation to expand neighborhood news coverage. “We now have a total of seven full-time reporters to go with the three editors," said Shamus Toomey, Block Club’s co-founder and editor in chief. "More reporters means more neighborhood news to share. To be able to grow after being live for just eight months is extremely exciting. We're grateful for the tremendous support of the Joyce Foundation and the ongoing trust of our loyal readers." Continue reading

Free agent Barry Rozner cuts ties with The Score

Barry Rozner (Photo: Joe Lewnard/Daily Herald)

As expected, Daily Herald sports columnist Barry Rozner has severed ties with WSCR 670-AM after 10 years as a prominent weekend and fill-in personality at the Entercom sports/talk station.

Rozner confirmed that he’s stepping down as host of “Hit & Run,” which airs from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays during baseball season. He made it official after conferring Tuesday with Mitch Rosen, operations director of The Score. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN special unearths original 'Bozo's Circus' bits

“Bozo’s Circus: The 1960s”

Robservations on the media beat:

This is big. Really big. “Bozo’s Circus: The 1960s,” a new two-hour special featuring digitally remastered full-length segments from the first decade of the legendary Chicago children's show, will premiere at 7 p.m. Sunday, February 17, on Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9. Hosted by Dean Richards and produced by George Pappas, the special includes sketches, guest circus acts and the Grand Prize Game, starring original cast members Bob Bell (as Bozo), Ray Rayner, Don Sandburg, Ned Locke and Bob Trendler. The special also will be streamed live at and on the WGN Live app, available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. It will be rebroadcast at noon Sunday, February 24. Widely regarded as the most popular and successful locally-produced kids' show in television history, "Bozo" aired on WGN from 1960 to 2001. Continue reading

WLS Radio picks up Illini football, basketball

University of Illinois

University of Illinois football and basketball will move to WLS 890-AM this fall under a new five-year agreement announced Monday with the Cumulus Media news/talk station.

Illini football and basketball broadcasts have been airing for more than a decade on Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM. Illini basketball will continue to air on The Score through the rest of the current season. Continue reading

Cliff Kelley leaving WVON afternoon show

Cliff Kelley

Cliff Kelley, the former Chicago alderman who forged a distinguished career as a news analyst and radio talk show host, is stepping down as afternoon star of urban news/talk WVON 1690-AM.

March 29 will be Kelley’s last day as the self-styled "Governor of Talk Radio" after 25 years at the Midway Broadcasting station. He broke the news to his listeners at the end of Friday's show. Continue reading