Robservations: WLS rounds out staff with new program boss, afternoon anchor

WLS 890 AM

Robservations on the media beat:

Stephanie Tichenor

Cumulus Media finalized the latest makeover of news/talk WLS 890-AM Tuesday with the hiring of Stephanie Tichenor as program director and Lauren Cohn as afternoon news anchor. Tichenor, an 11-year employee of WGN 720-AM, most recently was director of news and operations at the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk competitor. At WLS she replaces Peter Bolger, who retired. “All of us at WLS-AM 890 are thrilled to have someone with the experience and talent that Stephanie brings as WLS enters its 95th year of broadcasting," said Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Chicago. "Stephanie completes the rebuild of a legendary brand and positions the station for growth in 2019 and beyond. Her history in Chicago will give her the insight and knowledge to positively affect our local and nationally syndicated programming for our Chicago audience.” Continue reading

Robservations: Kris Kridel stepping back at WBBM Newsradio

Kris Kridel

Robservations on the media beat:

Kris Kridel, who's been an admired and authoritative news anchor at WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM for 34 years, is cutting back to part-time status and leaving afternoon drive at the top-rated Entercom all-news station. Starting March 25, Kridel will anchor from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays, including the “Noon Business Hour,” which she has co-hosted since 2001. Until now she’s been anchoring six straight hours a day, overlapping middays and afternoons — “the longest time on the anchor desk of anyone at the station,” according to Ron Gleason, director of news and programming. Succeeding Kridel alongside Keith Johnson from 3 to 6 p.m. most weekdays will be Lisa Fielding. Kridel joined WBBM Newsradio from the former WFYR, where she was news director and anchor/reporter. Continue reading

Chicago Sound Check turns local music scene up to 11

Brian Shamie

A music writer for the Daily Herald has turned his passion for discovering new artists and up-and-coming bands into a vibrant website that explores the Chicago and suburban music scene., which officially launches this week, is the brainchild of Brian Shamie, a multiplatform editor and page designer for the Daily Herald who doubles as the paper’s local music columnist. Continue reading

CBS 2 drops anchors Rob Johnson, Marissa Bailey

Rob Johnson

Languishing in last place and facing historically low ratings, WBBM-Channel 2 cut evening news anchor Rob Johnson and morning news anchor Marissa Bailey in an overhaul of talent announced today at the CBS-owned station.

“We have made the decision not to renew Marissa Bailey and Rob Johnson’s contracts,” Derek Dalton, president and general manager of CBS 2, said in a statement. “We thank them for their professionalism and contributions to CBS 2 and we wish them well. Continue reading

Robservations: Colleagues pulling for ‘Chicago treasure’ Art Norman

Art Norman

Robservations on the media beat:

Veteran Chicago newsman Art Norman disclosed this week that he has been diagnosed with bone cancer and will begin chemotherapy Monday. “My wife and I are ready for the difficult road ahead,” he wrote on Facebook. “There will [be] obstacles, but it is not an impossible journey.” The news brought an outpouring of support from colleagues at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and the media community. “Art is a Chicago treasure and a beloved member of our NBC 5 family,” said Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news. “Everyone here is pulling for him as he takes on this new challenge.” Norman, 71, retired in 2009 after 27 years as a news anchor and reporter at NBC 5, but returned two years later as a free-lance contributor. He still works part-time reporting “Making A Difference” stories and co-hosting “Tech Trends” on weekend newscasts. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN family and friends remember a fallen wizard

Marshall Brodien

Robservations on the media beat:

Marshall Brodien as Wizzo the Wizard

The flag in front of WGN-Channel 9 studios was lowered to half-staff Friday to honor Marshall Brodien, the famed Chicago magician who played Wizzo the Wizard on “Bozo’s Circus” and “The Bozo Show” from 1968 to 1994 on the Tribune Broadcasting station. Earlier that day Brodien died of complications from Alzheimer's at 84. The outpouring of tributes that followed, led by longtime friend and WGN entertainment reporter Dean Richards, underscored not only a genuine affection for Brodien, but the deep connection "Chicago's Very Own" has with generations of viewers. Magician Lance Burton recalled: "When I was a kid I bought 'TV Magic Cards.' Later in life I got to become close friends with Marshall Brodien. Marshall was responsible for the Lance Burton Magic Sets. . . . He was one of the kindest people I ever met. I sure will miss him." WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling called Brodien "a joy — kind, talented and without airs. An unpretentious man who who brought joy to so many during an amazing career." Rich "Svengoolie" Koz called him "a good and kind man — and the last of the original 'Bozo' cast." In 2012 Brodien was inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Continue reading