Robservations: How Barry Rozner got Peggy Kusinski to open up

Peggy Kusinski

Robservations on the media beat:

Barry Rozner

If you didn't read Barry Rozner's column in the Daily Herald Tuesday, don't miss it. (Here is the link.) His extraordinarily sensitive and insightful report on the real reason sportscaster Peggy Kusinski stepped away from NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 has drawn an overwhelming response online and on social media. How did it come about? "Peggy had asked me to come on her podcast not long after my brother had passed and I said I just didn’t have any desire to talk about anything," Rozner told me. "I was really struggling after losing my dad and my brother two months apart. A couple weeks later I ran into her at the BMW Media Day at Medinah and I apologized for blowing her off. She asked me what happened, but I couldn’t talk about it without breaking down. That’s when she began to tell me about her sister and the Patrick Kane question, and I instantly went from tears to work mode. I told her that’s a story that needed to be told. That’s what we do, right? It’s our job to tell stories. She agreed and not long after we sat down to talk." Added Rozner: "I’d like to believe the empathy and emotion would have come through had nothing bad happened [to me] this year. I’m also not foolish enough to believe that my 2019 had no impact, or foolish enough to claim with certainty whether it did one way or another. Right now, I don’t think I’m capable of differentiating." Continue reading

Robservations: CBS 2 ratings plunge after AT&T blackout

CBS 2 Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:


As expected, the ongoing impasse between CBS and AT&T is wreaking havoc on WBBM-Channel 2’s already low ratings. The blackout of CBS 2 on DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse cable systems appears to have cost the CBS-owned station more than a quarter of its viewership. Nielsen household ratings dropped an average of 28 percent around the clock last week, with some time periods (including CBS 2’s 10 p.m. newscast) down as much as 33 percent. Chicago is one of 17 cities where CBS programming has been blacked out since July 20 when the company’s retransmission agreement expired. AT&T U-verse and DirecTV customers can receive a one-time credit of $15 by calling (800) 288-2020. Continue reading

ABC 7 to end 7 p.m. newscast on The U

Larry Mowry, Hosea Sanders, Cheryl Burton and Jim Rose

ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 will cease production of the primetime local newscast it has been producing for Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26, the two stations jointly confirmed.

"ABC 7 Eyewitness News on The U" will have its final broadcast August 30.

The one-hour newscast, which has been airing at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday since 2015, originates from ABC 7 studios at 190 North State Street. It's fronted by news anchors Cheryl Burton and Hosea Sanders, meteorologist Larry Mowry and sports anchor Jim Rose. Continue reading

Robservations: Susy Schultz named executive director of broadcast museum

Museum of Broadcast Communications

Robservations on the media beat:

Susy Schultz

Susy Schultz, the esteemed Chicago journalist, educator, writer and strategist, has been hired as executive director of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Effective August 19 she will succeed Julian Jackson, who resigned in March. Since 2013 Schultz has been president of Public Narrative (formerly Community Media Workshop), the nonprofit community media training organization. "Susy is experienced in developing and implementing innovative programs with key stakeholders,” said David Plier, board chairman of the museum. “She also has demonstrated the ability to initiate and foster robust partnerships and strategic alliances with community, journalists, sponsors and donors.” Calling the museum "a Chicago gem," Schultz said: "I look forward to working with the board in developing a strong curriculum to discuss the history, the impact and the relevance of broadcast and digital media. Chicago has and always will be integral to the history and future of television, radio and beyond.” Continue reading

Schakowsky joins protest over 'Worldview' cancellation at WBEZ


U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky has added her voice to protests over the cancellation of “Worldview,” the long-running international affairs talk show airing at noon Monday through Friday on WBEZ 91.5-FM.

The Chicago Public Media news/talk station has announced plans to drop “Worldview” when it launches a new local talk show from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays in October. The still-untitled replacement, to be hosted by Jenn White from “The Morning Shift,” is intended to shore up WBEZ's underperforming midday ratings. Continue reading

Mary Mitchell, 'voice for the voiceless,' cutting back column at Sun-Times

Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell, a Chicago original and one of the premier African American opinion leaders in local journalism, is cutting back on her workload as a columnist and editorial board member at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mitchell, 70, will reduce her output to two or three columns a month — down from two or three a week currently — but will continue to attend editorial board meetings, the Sun-Times announced today. The new arrangement takes effect August 1. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN reporter ‘furious’ over image of noose

(Photo: Courtney Gousman)

Robservations on the media beat:

Courtney Gousman

Is this a racist image? The depiction of a noose over an automobile’s gas tank cover prompted a reporter for Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9 to say it made her “sick to my stomach.” “Saw this on the way home from work and it made me furious, afraid, and sick to my stomach,” Courtney Gousman wrote on Twitter and Facebook Sunday. “Given the history of the noose and how it was used to murder black Americans, this image speaks volumes — no matter how it's explained away because it's plastered on a gas tank. #wideawake.” When a white reader suggested Gousman was “just looking for a reason to be mad,” she replied: “The depiction of a noose was clear enough — gas pump or not. There are plenty of other symbols that could have accomplished this besides this hateful reminder.” Continue reading

Robservations: Walter Flakus calls it a night at 101 WKQX

Walter Flakus

Robservations on the media beat:

Brian Phillips

Walter Flakus, assistant program director, music director and on-air host at WKQX 101.1-FM, is leaving the Cumulus Media alternative rock station to join KNDD in Seattle as assistant program director and afternoon host. "I guess now it’s time to invest in a rain jacket,” he said Monday. In addition to serving as evening personality from 7 p.m. to midnight weekdays, Flakus also hosted "Queued Up," a new music showcase from 7 to 9 p.m. Sundays. Earlier he worked as music director at The Loop and was a founding member of the band Stabbing Westward. Until a permanent replacement is named, evenings will be hosted by Brian Phillips, a fill-in host and former morning personality at 101 WKQX. Continue reading

Robservations: CBS 2 goes missing from DirecTV, AT&T U-verse

CBS 2 Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:


Just when you thought WBBM-Channel 2's ratings couldn't go any lower, the CBS-owned station can't even be seen in thousands of Chicago area homes. A dispute between CBS and AT&T has left thousands of DirecTV and U-verse viewers of CBS 2 in the dark. Chicago is one of 17 cities where CBS programming has been blacked out since early Saturday when the company's seven-year retransmission agreement expired. AT&T, which owns DirecTV and U-verse, said in a statement: “We had hoped to avoid any unnecessary interruption to any CBS-owned stations or national channels that some of our customers care about. But CBS refused.” CBS responded: “AT&T’s willingness to deprive its customers of valuable content has become routine over the last few weeks and months, and recent negotiations have regularly resulted in carriage disputes, blackouts and popular channels being removed from their service.” Earlier this month AT&T dropped carriage of 120 Nexstar Media Group TV stations in a similar dispute. Continue reading